Anastasis (resurrection) in Revelation 20:4-5


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Aside from the two occurrences of the word anastasis in Revelation 20, the word appears 38 other times in the New Testament; not once does it refer to mere spiritual rebirth.

In fact, the only time which it could refer to anything other than a literal, physical resurrection is in Luke 2:34 ("And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against"); and even in this verse where it is translated as "rising again", one cannot rule out the possibility that Simeon was subtly prophesying a literal, physical resurrection.

In light of this, it seems to me that preterists have a problem. If one maintains that the "first resurrection" of the saints in Revelation 20 is a spiritual rebirth that happens at conversion, then what of the phrase in 20:5 "the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished?" Do the "rest of the dead" also experience this spiritual rebirth, albeit after the millennium (whatever is meant by millennium)?

Keep in mind that in John 5:29, Jesus speaks of two distinct resurrections and He uses the word anastasis to refer to them both: "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." Doesn't this fit the two resurrections of Revelation 20? If so, then doesn't consistency demand that we treat the word anastasis in Rev. 20:4-5 as referring to the exact same thing in both appearances (either a physical resurrection, or a spiritual resurrection)?

If anastasis in Revelation 20 refers to a spiritual resurrection, then we have universalism. If it refers to a physical resurrection, then we create no thorny theological problems to solve and it conforms to what Jesus has already told us in John 5:28-29.