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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
Revelation 20:4a Luke 22
v 29a 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
v 30b 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
Revelation 20:4b Revelation 6:9
And I saw the souls (accusative) of those a … I saw underneath the altar the souls of those
who had been beheaded who had been slain
because of their testimony of Jesus c because of the testimony which they had maintained;
and because of the word of God, b 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
Revelation 20:4c 1 Corinthians 15
and those (nominative) who had not worshiped the beast or v 51 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 v 52 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).