The First Resurrection in Revelation 20

Matt Waymeyer | May 23, 2016

Revelation 20 is often seen as the most significant biblical passage in the debate over the timing and nature of the millennium. In verses 4–6, John describes individuals who “came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (v. 4) and calls this coming to life “the first resurrection” (v. 5). According to premillennialism, this passage provides compelling evidence for two physical resurrections separated by a thousand years—a resurrection of the righteous at the Second Coming (vv. 4–6) and a resurrection of the wicked after the millennial reign of Christ (vv. 11–15). In contrast, amillennialists argue that the first resurrection is not physical but spiritual, referring to either (a) the regeneration of the believer or (b) the believer’s entrance into heaven at the point of death. But a careful evaluation of the amillennial arguments for these views demonstrates that the first resurrection cannot be spiritual in nature and therefore must refer to the first of two physical resurrections in Revelation 20, just as premillennialism teaches.

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Matt Waymeyer B. A., The University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh) M. Div., The Master’s Seminary Th. M., The Master’s Seminary Th. D., The Master’s Seminary Matt Waymeyer began teaching hermeneutics at The Master’s Seminary in 2010 and joined the full-time faculty in 2011. While a student at TMS, Matt taught English grammar at the seminary and served as a pastoral-resident at Grace Community Church, where he was ordained by the elders in 2003. After graduating, Matt became the Pastor-Teacher of Community Bible Church in Vista, California, where he served for seven years. During this time, he had opportunity to travel overseas and teach at training centers in Albania and Russia. He is the author of Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate, A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism, and Amillennialism and the Age to Come: A Premillennial Critique of the Two-Age Model. Matt and his wife, Julie, live in Jupiter, Florida, and they have five children.

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