Revelation 20:4 Index
"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."
Research Material

" . . . thrones . . . "

" . . . they sat . . . "

  • Or, "took their seats." (7BC 880)

" . . . judgment . . . "

  • Greek krima, "sentence," "verdict," "a decision rendered."
  • Here krima seems to mean the authority to pass sentence. The passage does not refer to a verdict in favor of the righteous. The saints sit upon thrones, which fact indicates that they are the ones who will pronounce sentence. The passage is doubtless an allusion to (Daniel 7:22), where the prophet notes that "judgment was give to the saints of the most High." (7BC 880)
  • The work of judgment referred to by the revelator is doubtless that spoken of by Paul: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? (1 Corinthians 6:2) . . . Know ye not that we shall judge angels? (1 Corinthians 6:3). The work of judgment will doubtless involve a careful investigation of the records of evil men, so that every man will be convinced of the justice of God in the destruction of the wicked. (7BC 880)
  • Then I saw thrones, and Jesus and the redeemed saints sat upon them; and the saints reigned as kingsand priests unto God. Christ, in union with His people, judged the wicked dead, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Word of God, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then they meted out to the wicked the portion which they must suffer, according to their works; and it was written against their names in the book of death. Satan also and his angels were judged by Jesus and the saints. Satan's punishment was to be far greater than that of those whom he had deceived. His suffering would so far exceed theirs as to bear no comparison with it. After all those whom he had deceived had perished, Satan was still to live and suffer on much longer.
    • After the judgment of the wicked dead had been finished, at the end of the one thousand years, Jesus left the city, and the saints and a train of the angelic host followed Him. Jesus descended upon a great mountain, which as soon as His feet touched it, parted asunder and became a mighty plain. Then we looked up and saw the great and beautiful city, with twelve foundations, and twelve gates, three on each side, and an angel at each gate. We cried out, “The city! the great city! it is coming down from God out of heaven!” And it came down in all its splendor and dazzling glory and settled in the mighty plain which Jesus had prepared for it. (EW 290-291)

" . . . was given unto them . . . "

  • At the general conference of believers in the present truth, held at Sutton, Vermont, September, 1850, I was shown that the seven last plagues will be poured out after Jesus leaves the sanctuary. Said the angel, “It is the wrath of God and the Lamb that causes the destruction or death of the wicked. At the voice of God the saints will be mighty and terrible as an army with banners, but they will not then execute the judgment written. The execution of the judgment will be at the close of the one thousand years.”
    • After the saints are changed to immortality and caught up together with Jesus, after they receive their harps, their robes, and their crowns, and enter the city, Jesus and the saints sit in judgment. The books are opened—the book of life and the book of death. The book of life contains the good deeds of the saints; and the book of death contains the evil deeds of the wicked. These books are compared with the statute book, the Bible, and according to that men are judged. The saints, in unison with Jesus, pass their judgment upon the wicked dead. “Behold ye,” said the angel, “the saints, in unison with Jesus, sit in judgment, and mete out to the wicked according to the deeds done in the body, and that which they must receive at the execution of the judgment is set off against their names.” This, I saw, was the work of the saints with Jesus through the one thousand years in the Holy City before it descends to the earth. Then at the close of the one thousand years, Jesus, with the angels and all the saints, leaves the Holy City, and while He is descending to the earth with them, the wicked dead are raised, and then the very men that “pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7), being raised, will see Him afar off in all His glory, the angels and saints with Him, and will wail because of Him. They will see the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet, and where they thrust the spear into His side. The prints of the nails and the spear will then be His glory. It is at the close of the one thousand years that Jesus stands upon the Mount of Olives, and the mount parts asunder and becomes a mighty plain. Those who flee at that time are the wicked, who have just been raised. Then the Holy City comes down and settles on the plain. Satan then imbues the wicked with his spirit. He flatters them that the army in the city is small, and that his army is large, and that they can overcome the saints and take the city. (EW 52-53)
  • During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. The apostle Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent. “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Corinthians 4:5). Daniel declares that when the Ancient of Days came, “judgment was given to the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:22). At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. John in the Revelation says: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them” (Revelation 20:4). “They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, “the saints shall judge the world” (1 Corinthians 6:2). In union with Christ they judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out, according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death.
    • Satan also and evil angels are judged by Christ and His people. Says Paul: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). And Jude declares that “the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
    • At the close of the thousand years the second resurrection will take place. Then the wicked will be raised from the dead and appear before God for the execution of “the judgment written” (Psalm 149:9). Thus the revelator, after describing the resurrection of the righteous, says: “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5). And Isaiah declares, concerning the wicked: “They shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited” (Isaiah 24:22). (GC 660-661)

" . . . souls . . . " (Revelation 6:9; Psalm 16:10)

" . . . beheaded . . . "

  • Greek pelekiso, literally, "to cut of with an ax," specifically, "to behead."
  • The word comes from pelekus, "an ax."
  • The ax was the usual instrument used in executions in ancient Rome. Later it was replaced by the sword. (7BC 880)

" . . . witness of Jesus . . . "

" . . . word of God . . . " (Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9)

" . . . which had not worshipped . . ."

  • In other words, they had heeded the warning of the third angel (Revelation 14:9-12) and refused to render obeisance to the power represented by the best, even though threatened with boycott and death (Revelation 13:15; Revelation 13:16; Revelation 13:17). Only two classes of saints are mentioned in this verse, martyrs and victors over the beast. This does not mean that they are the only ones to share in the millennial reign, for it has already been shown that all the righteous dead (not only the martyrs) come forth in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:1; Daniel 12:2).. Perhaps the martyrs and the victors over the beast are singled out because they represent those who have suffered most. (7BC 880-881)

" . . . lived . . . "

  • The Greek may be translated either "lived" or "came to life." The context seems to favor the latter translation, otherwise the declaration, "This is the first resurrection" (Revelation 20:5) is without proper antecedent. However, the victors over the beast are alive in the time immediately preceding the coming of the Son of man, and the majority, if not all, will require no resurrection (Revelation 20:1). Hence, some suggest that "lived" should be understood as an explanatory term thus: "They began to live, that is, to reign with Christ." (7BC 881)

" . . . reigned . . . "

  • The question is raised, over whom will the saints reign if all the wicked have been destroyed? They are said to reign "with Christ." When the seventh angel sounds, "the kingdoms of this world . . . become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ" (Revelation 11:15). Daniel speaks of the "kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom" being "given to the people of the saints of the most High" (Daniel 7:27). The saints have been under the oppressive rule of kings who had drunk of the wine of Babylon's fornication (Revelation 18:3) Now the tables have been turned. (7BC 881)
  • True, the wicked are dead (Revelation 20:2), but they will return to life at the end of the millennial period (Revelation 20:5). They are shut up, as it were, later to receive their punishment. In the meantime the saints assist in the work of judgment that determines the punishment to be meted out. After the wicked return to life they go down in utter defeat, receive their punishment, and are annihilated (Revelation 14:10; Revelation 20:9). (7BC 881)

" . . . with Christ . . . "

  • The millennial reign is with Christ in heaven, not on earth as many Bible interpreters assert (Revelation 20:2). (7BC 881)

" . . . thousand years." (Revelation 20:2)