Revelation 20:4 Explained
By Uriah Smith
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
The Exaltation of the Saints. — From the devil in his gloomy confinement, John now directs our attention to the saints in victory and glory, — the saints reigning with Christ — their employment being to assign to the wicked dead the punishment due their evil deeds.
From that general assembly John then selects two classes as worthy of especial attention: first, the martyrs, those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus; and secondly, those who had not worshiped the beast and his image. This class, the ones who refuse the mark of the beast and his image, are of course the ones who hear and obey the third message of Revelation 14; but these are not the ones who are beheaded for the witness of Jesus, as some who claim that the last generation of saints are all to be slain, would have us believe. The word rendered which, in the expression, “and which had not worshiped the beast,” etc., shows that there is another class introduced. The word is the compound relative, [hostis], not merely the simple relative, and is defined by Liddell and Scott, “Whosoever; whichsoever; any one who; anything which;” and by Robinson, “One who; some one who; whosoever; whatsoever.” As one class, John saw the martyrs, and as another, he saw those who had not worshiped the beast and his image. p. 692, Para. 2.
Lest any one should say that if we render the passage “and whosoever had not worshiped the beast,” we thereby include millions of heathen and sinners who have not worshiped the beast, and promise them a reign with Christ of a thousand years, we would call attention to the fact that the preceding chapter states that the wicked had all been slain, and the seal of death had been set upon them for a thousand years; and John is viewing only the righteous company who have part in the first resurrection. p. 693, Para. 2.
To avoid the doctrine of two resurrections, some claim that the passage, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished,” is an interpolation, not found in the original, and hence not genuine. Even if this were so, it would not disprove the main proposition that the righteous dead are raised by themselves, in a “first resurrection,” and that there is a second resurrection a thousand years later, in which all the wicked are brought from their graves. But the criticism is not true. All scholarship is against it. The Revised Version retains the passage. p. 693, Para. 3. Daniel and the Revelation – Uriah Smith