The First Resurrection

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
1. “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them and judgment was given to them.”
2. “And the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.”
3. “And those (οιτινες) which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark in their foreheads, or in their hands.”
The first division is general, embracing all who reign with Christ, taken up at the Rapture. He sees not only thrones, (as Dan. 7:99I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. (Daniel 7:9); where for “ cast down,” read “ set”) but sitters on them; they are now occupied.
The two latter classes who seem to have lost the earthly blessings of the kingdom by death, are specially named as having gained by death a place in the heavenly glory, with those who then reign with Christ.
The first of these — the sitters on the thrones — have been raised or changed at the rapture; and the last two are said, in company with them, to ‘‘live and reign with Christ a thousand years”; and are all then named “the first resurrection.”
My chief difficulty was, how that Isaiah (25:8) used the words, “He will swallow up death in victory” — referring to the resurrection at the end of the tribulation and deliverance of the remnant of Judah. While Paul uses the same passage, quoting it in 1 Corinthians 15:5454So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54), with reference to those caught up before it begins, and when Christ comes, whether raised or changed. I may here remark that Isaiah 24:2121And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. (Isaiah 24:21) gives the judgment of the hosts of the high ones on high — Satan’s power (Rev. 12), and the Kings of the earth upon the earth (Rev. 19). Then, after that, in Isaiah 25, in the details of the deliverance to the remnant of the Jews, and the removal of the vail of idolatry from the nations, he uses this passage: — “He will swallow up death in victory,” with reference to what happens at the end of the tribulation.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul quotes and applies it to those who are taken up — raised or changed —before the tribulation. This seemed strange. But the moment you understand that the “first resurrection” is a class of persons running all through the crisis, or time of judgment, from the rapture of the saints, till Christ’s appearing, it is readily seen how the prophet and apostle legitimately use the same words, having a similar class before them, which are split up into sections, as I may say, in Revelation 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4), and are technically named “the first resurrection,” though not raised and taken to heaven at the same moment of time.
Words of Truth 4:186, 187.