Revelation 20:4-6 4 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 forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Activity during the Millennium.
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them: Who sits on these thrones? Perhaps the twenty-four elders representing the church (Revelation 4:4) or the apostles (Matthew 19:28) or the company of saints as a whole (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
Revelation 4:4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.
Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said to them, “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. I Corinthians 6:2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 2. What are they doing? And judgment was committed to them: To whoever was sitting on the thrones. Perhaps this is the “judging of angels” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, but it is more likely that these are the saints ruling on and over the earth.
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 forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
These seemed to not have bodies. They were the believers who were killed during the tribulation. Literally they were martyred. The reason was because of their testimony concerning Jesus and the belief in the word of God. They had not bowed to and worshiped the beast or his image, nor received the mark on their forehead or their hand.
One thing we know for sure. They had resurrected from the dead. They were alive no matter what state they were in. They also were resurrected to reign with Christ all during the Millennium.
They reign by administering the entire earth under the leadership of King Jesus. Their administration carries the earth from the tribulation earth to the millennial earth.
At this point John only mentions the tribulation saints who were beheaded. The reason likely is to give encouragement to them. To let them know that they are being rewarded for their suffering and martyrdom.
It does not necessarily overlook others who will reign with Christ, but just that special attention is given to the tribulation saints.
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
During the tribulation many will die. Before the tribulation the believers will be raised to meet Christ in the air. “The dead in Christ shall rise first.”
Dr Lehman Strauss says The resurrection of the human body from the grave is clearly taught in God’s Word. Job, the oldest of the patriarchs, said: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-26). It is evident that Job was firm in his belief in the resurrection of his body and a future life beyond the grave. Abraham, the founder and father of his race, lived to be one hundred seventy-five years old, and “died in a good old age” (Genesis 25:7-8), but “he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). He never saw that city in his earthly pilgrimage, for earth to him was a “strange country.” The godly old patriarch shared with others who “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). But Abraham believed that the heavenly city would be inhabited by a fleshly body, “accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead . . .” (Hebrews 11:19). David was confident of a future life. He said: “My flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:9), and “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). These words of the man of God refute the erroneous teaching that the resurrection refers to the spirit of man, and not to his body. Neither the soul nor the spirit of man dies, but it is his body which dies and is buried. Therefore it must be the body that is raised from the dead, and not the soul or spirit. When our Lord Jesus was here upon earth, He taught that all men who die will be raised again at some future date. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth . . .” (John 5:28, 29). We affirm and avow our belief in the resurrection of the human body from death and the grave. Without this hope our Christian faith is vain, our brightest hopes are merely bursting bubbles, the Bible is not a true and reliable record, the men who wrote it were poor deluded victims of falsehood, and Jesus Christ is the world’s biggest impostor. But so clear is the Bible on the subject of the resurrection that we admit no confusion or doubt.” The Bible clearly teaches two resurrections. The first resurrection is in parts. Not all at once. The second resurrection is all at once.
Jesus taught the two resurrections.
The First Resurrection 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). (1) When our Lord was crucified on the Cross, we read: “And, behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:51-52). (2) There is the second stage of the First Resurrection to which we already have made mention (1 Thessalonians 4:16), when all true believers are raised at the first appearance of Christ. To this we add the Apostle Paul’s word in First Corinthians: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). (3) The third and final stage of the First Resurrection occurs about seven years after the resurrection of saints at Christ’s coming at the rapture. “Those resurrected near the close of the seven years’ period of the tribulation are the multitude of believers who were led to the truth through the witness of the 144,000.” Because they would not receive the mark of the beast in their hands and foreheads, they were martyred. These are brought forth from the dead at the end of the Tribulation just before Christ comes to earth to reign for one thousand years. 5. How to be really blessed. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. The promise from God is that all of you who are a part of the First Resurrection: (for us that means the rapture) the second resurrection has no power. We will reign with Christ as priests of God and of Christ. And that reign will be all during the millennium. 6. What is a priest? Exodus 19:6 “and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” As priests we are representatives of God. God called Israel to be a kingdom of priests. Priests are to be holy. As believers in Jesus Christ we are also priests. The missional purpose of the church is to be a kingdom of priests. I Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
A priest also serves as a proclaimer of the excellancies of God. We become exhibit A of the grace of God. We both represent and present God to a world in darkness.
Douglas Stuart’s commentary on Exodus in the New American Commentary Live (Incarnate) – Israel would be an example to the people of other nations, who would see its holy beliefs and actions and be impressed enough to want to know personally the same God the Israelites knew. Proclaim (Invite) – Israel would proclaim the truth of God and invite people from other nations to accept him in faith as shown by confession of belief in him and acceptance of his covenant. Intercede – Israel would intercede for the rest of the world by offering acceptable offerings to God (both sacrifices and right behavior) and thus ameliorate the general distance between God and humankind. Preserve (Inscribe) – Israel would keep the promises of God, preserving his word already spoken and recording his word as it was revealed to them so that once the fullness of time had come, anyone in the whole world could promptly benefit from that great body of divinely revealed truth, that is, the Scriptures.
Be filled with the Holy Spirit so that your life is His life being lived out through you, in order that the non-believers would want to have what you have. Express your faith to others in action and words. Let the New Covenant of Grace be an example and share the truths of the gospel with everyone. Invite them to know Jesus. Intercede for people who do not know Jesus. Let them know of the finished work of Christ as the final sacrifice for sin. Read, Study, Memorize and share the word of God, the Bible, with all who will listen. Share its truths.