What does Revelation 20:4 mean?
ESV: Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
NIV: I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
NASB: Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
CSB: Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
NLT: Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Verse Commentary:
Strictly speaking, the resurrection John sees here involves a specific group of Christians: the martyred believers of the great tribulation. The "first resurrection" includes those who are raised at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16), along with these end-times believers, into eternal life. Those who are part of the "second resurrection," described later, face only judgment (Revelation 20:5; 20:11–15).

The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:12 that Christians will reign with Christ. Revelation 2:26–27 promises that overcomers will receive authority over the nations and will rule them with a rod of iron. Also, it appears the armies of heaven will reign with Jesus (Revelation 19:14). The armies are the saints who accompany Christ to the earth. Further, tribulation martyrs will be resurrected to participate in the administration of Christ's earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4). Based on Daniel 12:1–3, some scholars believe that Old Testament believers will also be raised to rule in this administration.

Whom will these individuals rule? The "sheep" at the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:33–34) will enter the kingdom in their physical bodies. Many of them will procreate, and the cycle of birth will continue during the kingdom reign. Each generation will come under the rule of God's people. Although righteousness will prevail, sin will erupt occasionally and require the judicial attention of those who reign with Christ (Isaiah 65:20; Zechariah 5:3–4).
Verse Context:
Revelation 20:4–10 focuses on the reign of Christ during the millennium: the thousand years of Christ's rule on earth, as well as what happens at the end of that era. The millennial reign begins after the Devil is imprisoned in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1–3) and before the unrighteous dead of all periods of history are judged and consigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15). These events precede the descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven (Revelation 21).
Chapter Summary:
Revelation chapter 20 represents the final lesson, final judgment, and final victory of the end times. Satan is bound, but not destroyed, and released after a thousand years of peace and righteousness. Proving that no evidence or reason to believe in and follow Jesus is enough for those determined to rebel, some follow Satan and are destroyed in a rebellion. Those who died without faith in Christ, through all of history, are resurrected to face the great white throne judgment. There, they are sentenced for sin and consigned eternally to the lake of fire.
Chapter Context:
This chapter comes between the account of our Lord's decisive victory at Armageddon and the descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven to earth. It focuses on the beginning of Jesus' reign on the earth and the great white throne judgment when unbelievers from all periods of history are judged and sentenced to eternal suffering in the lake of fire. Daniel 7:18, Isaiah 11, Joel 3:16–21, Obadiah 1:21, and Micah 4:2 are just a few of the Old Testament references to the reign of Jesus on the earth. After this point in the end times, evil has been entirely and completely defeated.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
Accessed 5/26/2024 5:34:34 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com