BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 25, Day 3: Revelation 20:4-6

Summary of passage:  John sees thrones where those given authority to judge are seated.  He sees the souls of the martyrs who died for Jesus alive and reigning for 1000 years during the first resurrection.  The rest did not come to life.  Blessed are these.


6a)  “Because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.”  They were raised from the dead and reigned with Christ for 1000 years.

b)  Personal Question that I’m tired of answering:  It doesn’t.

See Lesson 16 Day 4 for repetition.

7a)  Risen from the dead and all believers will share in it.

b)  The second death.

8 )  Priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  Everything.

Conclusions:  Rich passage.  Strike out the personal questions and add more interpretation especially with the different deaths and resurrections.  This was VERY confusing to me and only after I researched it did I have an idea what John was talking about.  Perhaps the notes will address this but I need to understand NOW not after the lecture.

End Notes:  This passage fulfills Revelation 2:10-11.

Who is sitting on these thrones?  Possibilities:  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).

“Those given authority to judge” are all those who had been redeemed by His blood, resurrected from the grave, and raptured into His presence. These (the saints) will reign as kings and priests with Christ (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10).  Note they reign for the same amount of time Satan is bound.

These beheaded (executed in ancient Greek) ones are the souls we saw under the altar in Revelation 6:9.  More have been added (Revelation 6:11) during the Tribulation.  In essence, all will reign (Revelation 2:26-28, 3:12,22; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3) but the martyrs here are encouraged and specified for all they have suffered.

Scholars debate if this is a bodily resurrection or not.  Some point to Ezekiel 37:12-14 where a nation is described as being resurrected and to Isaiah 26:19 where he is speaking figuratively after Babylon of victory.

The “rest of the dead” are the unbelievers who did not take part in the “first resurrection” with the redeemed and did not accept Jesus as Savior.
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)
The “first resurrection” refers to the resurrection of the redeemed.  It includes: resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:23; Revelation 1:5), resurrection of the church (the dead in Christ – 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16); and resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Revelation 20:4; Isaiah 26:19; Dan. 12:2). The rest of the dead (unbelievers) will be raised in the second resurrection (Revelation 20:12-13).

The second death, which is referred to in Revelation 20:14-15, is a spiritual death.

In essence, those who suffered death by martyrdom will not suffer spiritual death.  They are promised the first resurrection.  Those who didn’t suffer death by martyrdom will face the second or spiritual death and their resurrection (the second) will be seen in the White Throne room in verses 11-15.

The Bible discusses two “deaths” and two “resurrections”.

The “first death” is the death of the body (Hebrews 9:27).  The “second death” is the eternal death and suffering that only affects unbelievers.  (v.14).  This explains John’s words in verse 6.

There are two “resurrections.”   The word “resurrection” is a Greek word meaning “to make to stand” or “rise up.”  This occurs when the soul reenters the body after the physical death and rises up.  All resurrect because all die.

Believers take part in the “first resurrection” and acquire a new body in the process (Phil.3:20-21; 1 Cor.15:52).  Scholars debate whether the first resurrection will have many parts beginning with Jesus and encompassing the Tribulation martyrs amongst others  (Matt.27:53; 1 Thess.4:16-17; Rev.11:11).  This depends on when you believe the rapture will occur.  Pretribulationists believe it will be in many parts.  Posttribulationists believe it will be one event.
Unbelievers not in Christ take part in the “second resurrection”.   They do not receive a new body and this occurs one time after the Millennium, which explains verse 5.

In John 5:28-29, Jesus mentions these 2 resurrections.  The 2 are separated by 1000 years as believers are raised first and then non-believers.

We see the Fifth Beatitude in verse 6.

17 thoughts on “BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 25, Day 3: Revelation 20:4-6

  1. This is so confusing. I hoped for deeper study and clarity. So much skipping around this year. I’m in my 13th year of BSF and find this a most muddled study. I’m ready for Revelation 2.0.

    Question with boldness, demand the truth, speak without fear. Aspire to inspire before you expire. Carole Conway Sent from my iPhone


  2. Another good discussion by AtoZ to fill in the empty type questions that have been with us all year! I saw in a commentary: If born once— die twice (physical death plus spiritual death)

    If born twice (physical birth plus new rebirth)– then die once (physical)

    Maybe the notes will have more on the “parade” and order of the first resurrection of all the believers. I appreciated the short but concise summary given by AToZ in our notes above.


  3. So glad I stumbled across this blog. You have helped validate my answers as well as provide insight to others and I’m glad i’m not the only one who struggles with the repetitive questions. I’m very grateful for the time you put into this.


  4. Here’s a great summary of how God raises the righteous, from a pretrib dispensational interpretation:

    1. Jesus Christ, the first fruits, 1 Cor 15:23
    2. Some saints after the resurrection (though temporarily, like Lazarus), Matt 27:52-53
    3. The Rapture of the saints, 1 Thess 4:13-18
    4. The Two Witnesses, Rev 11:3, 11
    5. The Tribulation Martyrs, Rev 20:4-5
    6. The Old Testament Saints (at the same time), Isa 26:19-21, Eze 37:12-14, Dan 12:2-4
    7. Saints who die during the Millenium, Rev 12:13

    This is taken from a commentary written by Thomas Constable, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor, now with the Lord. I have found them very helpful and reliable. The above summary cleared up a lot of confusion for me. Also, on p.212 of his Revelation commentary there is a graphic that summarizes “What happens to a person after he or she dies”. This really helped as well.


  5. I’m so ready for the original (I hope) study of the Gospel of John. I truly hope it hasn’t been messed with since Miss Johnson did it. I’ve tried to have a good attitude as a leader. I have prayed. I have been the best shepherd I knew how to be but it has been a draining year because of the structure and repetitive nature of this new study. I thank the Lord that my group was full of mature Christian women, most of whom have been in BSF awhile, and who bonded early or this year would have been completely awful. I work. Most of mine work, too, even though we are in a day class and have children, community, and church responsibilities, and BSF is where we all come to dig in God’s word and get those wells FILLED for service. I recognize that you can only do so much because of what’s in Revelation. My own application questions have gotten repetitive! Maybe it should have been combined with Daniel or Job or 1, 2, 3 John. Maybe we should have spent a week on each church and dug in deep on the history of each of those cities John wrote about in this apocalyptic work.

    Some of my frustration is how can they assign 27 chapters in Moses in one week…and expect working people to function and not give up and quit…and in this one…we raced through the beginning…and now, we dragging one short chapter at a time with repetitive questions and material…and I still don’t have a good grasp of what is going on!!! And I’m a leader!!! And I’m not stupid. Behind the scenes, people are giving up and sharing books and commentaries just to get what we’re not getting in the notes and lectures.

    It’s clear for those of us with BSF friends/leaders in other cities and states that BSF has reined in teaching leaders this year. Divisions are the same. Principles are almost word perfect with each other. Compare notes and you’ll find that other than illustrations, most sound identical with each other. Some people are at the point where they just want to graduate from BSF and finish the studies but now, with the “new” History of Israel, Year One and Year Two, study, that will be another seven years. People are weary. I know we need to endure and press on!

    Isaiah was incredibly hard, but people felt like they had a decent grasp of the material after it was over. Then, there was the revamped Acts of the Apostles. We went back to Genesis. The beautiful study of the Gospel of Matthew was next and much appreciated. So many were upset that Minor Prophets didn’t happen after that when it should have. Even then, there was talk of it being redone because of how hard it had been. So they did the Life of Moses again. I have friends who have done that three times in leadership and they are done because of how much reading is in that one. They cannot do it again.

    We had this study of Revelation ahead of us and I knew when I first heard about it at Retreat that it would bring out all the old timers and loads of new people but worried about if and when and how it would be structured. We prayed so hard over this study. I suspect I know what happened but it is what it is. At some point, someone with years of experience with BSF will have to take it and rewrite it. Or…long time BSF-ers will have to admit that it’s no longer the challenging study it used to be and either start writing their own or find something new.

    I feel like this is a Seeker and new Christian study. That’s what I am hearing from women. That’s what I’m hearing from other leaders. And it’s not like people are sitting around complaining in public. NO ONE ever does that. People love and respect BSF too much for that. People will whisper and say, “Is it just me or…?” Everyone in public has put the best face on this they know how to do. We’ve prayed until we’re dry bones. It breaks my heart to see how few people even respond anymore on this site. I know leaders who knock out the study in one morning, afternoon, or evening, and do other things for their daily study. It’s pretty sad when re-writing your children’s story or doing your Homiletics for Training Day takes longer than answering the questions. “How does this strengthen your faith? How has this changed the way you think or worship?”

    I have written this letter week after week and then, out of loyalty to BSF, I’ve deleted it before posting. I’m done deleting. “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is named Faithful and True.”

    This is my truth. I want to quit but I love shepherding children or women on their faith journeys for Christ. I press on. I know others have it worse. The class secretaries dealing with Satellite groups…the night groups that can’t get people to stay for “taped lectures”…the working women in day classes being shamed for not staying for lectures…when they are all so hungry for God’s word and an in depth study and fellowship with other men and women and prayer and accountability that is lacking in so many church Sunday school and small groups. They don’t want to watch videos, listen to tapes, sing hymns they don’t know for fifteen minutes, buy books, and eat doughnuts. They want to drive in for their power fix from Almighty God. They want to park and bond and share their labored over answers with each other.

    Instead we’re still using a model that was designed for stay at home moms fifty years ago. One hour lectures are killing us. People can’t take off for three hours one morning a week plus the commute. When did CS Lewis and Corrie ten Boom become the only people to draw illustrations from? I’m tired of defending it. After Christmas I was done. When a woman shared her issues, I said, “BSF is a tool. It’s not a cult. It’s a four fold program. It’s okay to just use the part of the program that is working for you. I’m not here to judge you. If you need to leave, leave. If you need to skip Opening, skip Opening. If you can’t find time to read the notes, just read the boxes. If you’re falling asleep in lecture every week, go home and take a nap before your kids get home or you have to go back to work. It’s a season. It’s a journey.”

    I’m not going to shame, blame, and scold. We get enough of that in our local leader’s meetings. That’s where I would love to go online. The training meetings get longer and longer every year. Even with my short commute, I lose two full mornings a week. Fellowship Days/Training Days are worse. I lost another hour and a half plus commute. That’s a lot for people with jobs!!! We are scolded and shamed if we try to get out of attending fellowships for work, doctor’s appointments, meetings, etc. We are volunteers. We do not get paid. We do this for love of Christ. If the only time my doctor can see me is during a fellowship, that doesn’t conflict with training, class time, or my work schedule, guess what? That’s when I will see her!

    I really feel sorry for the Admin leaders and the Children’s leaders. Training Day and Leaders’ Lesson Time is their only chance to share their lessons. With 50, 75, or more leaders, they get to answer one question if they’re lucky. I don’t know why we don’t break into smaller groups each week to do the lesson and allow group leaders to practice leading. Either that or Group Leaders need to remain silent so those hard working people can a chance to share. There is no way groups that large can bond, pray for each other, and come along side each other and lift each other up.

    Then, there is regular class day or evening. Some groups are DRAINING when they are full of seekers, baby Christians and so many needy people with mental health issues, divorces, financial difficulties, wayward children, health issues, caregiving, and end of life issues. Our class sizes have increased. The days of 14 are no more. People have 18 and 22 and even 28 in some satellite groups. We are told we aren’t to be mental health fixers but either we call/email/text or we hide from it. Right now I know of half a dozen group leaders not coming back because of the lack of sympathy for absences or “tardies” for morning school drop offs with commutes, serious family health issues, cross country visits to grandchildren, etc. The constant shaming and questioning is disrespectful and people are done. We’re volunteers. It’s not like people are being irresponsible.

    The turnover in Children’s Leadership and Admin is sad but some of the possible fixes just aren’t done because they are at the discretion of the local leadership. Some teaching leaders are amazing, sweet, kind, loving, and Spirit filled. BSF needs to realize that not all Teaching Leaders are sweet, giving, loving saints. The worst day of my week is Training Day. It’s the biggest joy stealer in my life. I’m already dreading the next retreat year and the bullying we’ll endure and how we’ll be forced to all rent a bus and ride together held hostage to the whims and decisions of one leader telling us when we and if we can eat and use the toilet rather than a joyful trip with shared interests in a small group in cars stopping and eating and using the restroom when necessary. My blood pressure sky rockets just thinking about enduring another retreat year. It’s not fun spending $500+ for two nights and two days with forced travel arrangements, catered food you didn’t select that is so raw you can’t eat it or so unhealthy you don’t want to, just to hear things that could be shared via satellite feed in a local church. I want to quit every time I think about another retreat year. It is a terrible use of money that could be better used for God’s glory in translating studies, helping foreign BSF groups, etc.

    I refuse to give up because God has called me to this. I refuse to give up because there are hurting woman that God has called me to help. I refuse to give up because there are women on the cusp of spiritual maturity that God has called me to encourage and mentor and cheerlead on to Victory in Jesus! I am not quitting. I am not giving in. I am not giving up. Jesus is calling us the Harvest Field. It is ripe. I appreciate you more than you know, AtoZ Mom. I appreciate BSF even when it’s been a huge struggle this year. We are under attack. I am praying Satan down. He’s trying to spread all over the land. The mothers need to pray. The fathers need to pray. The preachers need to shout him down. The Church needs to love so much there’s not a space he can fill. He can’t have our children. He can’t have our cities. He can’t have our churches. He can’t have our countries. He can’t have our BSF. We have got to stand up. If Moses could change God’s mind, so can we. Shout him down. Proclaim the name of Jesus. Stand alone on the word of GOD.


    1. Thanks, Sweet Mama! You have voiced so much of my heart where BSF is concerned. To begin with, the John study has been “revised” according to our TL. The minute I heard that I knew it was bad news. We will see the same repetitious personal questions as in this study. I’m not returning even though we are being “pumped” with excitement over it in our class. I have been in BSF for many years and this is by far my worst year in so many ways. The lessons seem so shallow with the same questions over and over. I feel we are being guilted if we don’t have a new experience to share. I have a leader who chooses not to engage me at all other than an occasional text. She rarely asks if I have an ASK request so it’s one more disconnect for me from my group. It’s the only time in my BSF history that I haven’t made a connection with my leader. I have also been in leadership so I know how it works and look back fondly to some of the friendships that I made by connecting with my group as a leader. I am thankful for our TL, she is the one bright spot in the whole thing. I talked to a gal at church who is in her first year and she is very frustrated and is not returning. She said: I’d always heard how great BSF was and I couldn’t wait to try it. She should have been in during the early years. I would imagine that all traces of Miss Johnson will soon be gone from BSF. Maybe if we hadn’t known the original then it wouldn’t seem quite so bad. You are also right that no one openly discusses their issues and disappointment with the study. I privately mentioned my concerns to a “friend” and she reprimanded me and made it my problem. Maybe it is?? So thanks for your honesty, it really helps that I’m not alone. And good for you to keep on keeping on!! Thanks!


      1. Nothing wrong with you and it’s not just you (I’m right there with you).

        I was asked last week if I had any thoughts on a question and I said “No. None whatsoever.”

        Be true to yourself. That’s all you can do.


    2. Thank you so much, Sweet Mama! I have been wondering where you’ve been and how you’ve been doing.

      I think you covered it all so again thank you! It is definitely a calling and we must keep on with the struggle.

      I was asked recently why don’t I take my concerns to BSF. I have. Through this medium. I hope and pray they read some of these comments and take it to heart.

      Much love your way!


      1. Much love to you, too. I come here for the COMMON SENSE, RESEARCH, and to keep my SANITY. I love Bible Study Fellowship and I love your blogs! Big Hugs!


  6. Thanks atozmom! You are an encouragement to MANY of us. Thanks for all that you do and for the amount of time that you spend to make up for all that BSF is skipping, missing, glossing over. Be blessed!!


  7. I am disappointed in this Revelation study. Too many repetitive questions regarding my life application, thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. That space could have been used for more questions clarifying the different resurrections, the bowls, etc. It seems that multiple people worked on designing a section(s) of the lesson(s) and maybe this is why there are so many duplicate personal practical application questions. One contributor did not know what the other contributor was doing. I think this because the formatting of the questions are different; some typists are not consistent in their formatting and this is evident when I convert the PDF file into a Word Document. This study is not as deep as I thought it would be or as it could be. I will finish the course, but I feel as if I’m spinning my wheels.


    1. The contributor theory may be a possibility but I doubt it. Wouldn’t they have people who proof read the entire lessons before they print and distribute them? With all of the “scholars” who were suppose to have worked on these lessons, how could they all be so shallow in their material and findings? I think there had to be a final approval from someone at the top of BSF and they dropped the ball. Sadly, the reputation and future of BSF is at stake if they continue to “revise” all of Miss Johnson’s lessons and turn them into such watered down versions of the originals.


      1. And what about the pilot groups who did Revelation two years ago? I’m wondering what the feedback was on that. Did the participants give honest critique or were they afraid to do so? What’s the point of a pilot when obviously this study is severely lacking?


      2. Thank you Barb for your input. I would think there would be a final review and proof by a scholar. If so, surely they had to see the repetitive and repeated personal questions and addressed the issue. I wonder if there was more than one proof reading session and more than one proof reader. I hesitate to approach our lecturer/leader or discussion leader about this, so when the repetitive personal questions are asked in group, I just wait until we move on. I am hesitant to approach this subject because I don’t think it would be well received. I tried this before on the Moses study and won’t do it again. It’s difficult to understand this attitude when I am free to ask my church Bible study leaders and/or one of the ministers to clarify things or question something. Those classes are, within reason, open to questions/discussion. I wish I could feel positive about signing up for John, but if it’s anything like Revelation, I will leave after the first few discussions. This saddens me because I had to wait until I retired to join BSF and now wish the lessons were structured differently and deeper. Bless you for all you do. I appreciate your hard work and sharing your knowledge with us, as your blog is so interesting and informative.


  8. I just read Sweet Mama’s post and even though I am not a discussion leader (I think I’m too independent and out spoken), I can see how frustration will set in after awhile. There are mostly older women in my class, and most of us have been studying the Bible over the years and the questions seem to be toned down to fit the level of a baby or mid-level Christian. I’ve taken two Precepts classes and starting a third at church. If someone wants to go deep into a study, this is it. Lots of homework, but lots of learning and it’s a challenge. I enjoy studying and learning how to break down God’s word and to see the message that I might have glossed over. Because of this, BSF, especially this study on Revelation, seems underdone. I love the friendships and fellowships and will miss it when I don’t return next September. Blessings to all, and thank you atozmom for your conclusions and notes and explanations/discussion at the end of your postings! I get more out of your observations than I do in the actual study. Thank you for all your hard work! Be blessed.


  9. After reading the notes for Lesson 25, I continue to be mystified as to why BSF has refused to mention the Rapture, since it is a major topic in the Pretrib Premillenialist view, to which they espouse. It was mentioned in the initial handout given right at the beginning of the year, but the word has not been uttered since. Did anyone else notice that when discussing The Day of the Lord in earlier lessons, they discussed 2 Peter, but never mentioned 1 Thessalonians 4? All I can think is that they are afraid that the topic would have been “divisive”. One of the basic principles of Biblical interpretation is that Scripture is always the best interpreter of Scripture. Any thoughts?

    Many of those who believe that 1 Thess 4 speaks of the Rapture interpret Rev 20:4 just as it reads: John saw the souls of Tribulation martyrs resurrected. Other believers were resurrected at the Rapture. It seems quite a stretch to read it as BSF does, that these are not only martyrs, but includes “all who have eternal life because of faith in God’s Messiah”. It seems that they interpret it this way to avoid the discussion of the rapture. All BSF says is that “it may be best to see not two groups in this text, but only one.” Why? This seems disingenuous at least, and frustrates me. Why not give the different interpretations and allow us to decide?


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