The Twelve Disciples, Departed Saints, and Living Saints
The groups of individuals mentioned in Revelation 20:4 are the twelve disciples, believers who have died, and believers who are living. They can be identified by means of their parallel passages in Luke 22:29-30; Matthew 19:28; 25:31; Revelation 6:9; 20:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 15:22-23 and 51-52.
|The First Group
|The Twelve Disciples Sitting on Thrones Judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel
|and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom,
|v v 29b-30a
|I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table
|in My kingdom,
|Then I saw thrones (accusative), and they sat on them,
|and you will sit on thrones
|and judgment was given to them.
|judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
|John, being one of the twelve who would sit on the twelve thrones, assumes that the reader would remember
|what Jesus had promised the disciples at the Last Supper in Luke 22:29-30.. Jesus in Matthew 19: 28 stated, “Truly I
|say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious
|throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” When will the Son of Man on his
|glorious throne? In Matthew 25:31 Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with
|Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”
|The Second Group
|The Departed Saints
|And I saw the souls (accusative) of those
|… I saw underneath the altar the souls of those
|who had been beheaded
|who had been slain
|because of their testimony of Jesus
|because of the testimony which they had maintained;
|and because of the word of God,
|because of the word of God, and
|John saw this group twice. In Revelation 20:4 they represent all of the believing dead, not simply martyrs.
|This can be seen from the fact that in the next two verses John refers to this as “the first resurrection” (Rev 20:5-6).
|From other passages we know that it is at the second coming that all the believing dead are raised: “For the Lord
|Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and
|the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16). “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But
|each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor 15:22-23).
|The Third Group
|The Living Saints
|1 Corinthians 15
|and those (nominative) who had not worshiped the beast or
|Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we
|his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead
|will all be changed,
|and on their hand; and they came to life
|in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet;
|and they came to life
|for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
|and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.2
|imperishable, and we will be changed.
|The believers living at the time of the second coming will be “those who had not worshiped the beast or his
|image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand>” (Rev 20:4c).