Questions From Readers
▪ Revelation 20:5 says that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” Will this be before the final test or after it?
This expression evidently applies to the time when humans reach perfection at the end of the Millennium, but before Satan is released from the abyss and brings the decisive test on mankind.
The context of Revelation 20:5 is about anointed Christians whom God resurrects to be joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) These will ‘come to life and rule as kings with the Christ for a thousand years.’ (Revelation 20:4) After making that point, but before speaking further of these rulers, Revelation 20:5 injects a comment about those who will live on earth, saying: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.”
Those who physically have died and will be resurrected on earth during the Millennium will still be imperfect humans. Also, those surviving the war of God will not be made perfect and sinless immediately. As they continue faithful to God during the Millennium those who will have survived on earth evidently will gradually progress toward perfection. Hence, as long as persons in both categories are not free of inherited sin, they will in a sense be “dead” (and could not yet be fully alive) in God’s sight.—Luke 9:60; Ephesians 2:1.
Whether persons had been resurrected, had survived the “great tribulation” or had been born during the Millennium, their prospects can be bright. (Revelation 7:14) If they are faithful to God and accept the benefits of Christ’s ransom, by the end of the thousand years they will no longer suffer under sin and imperfection; inherited ‘death will no longer rule as king’ over them. (Romans 5:14) To the contrary, they will have reached human perfection, being in the condition that Adam and Eve were in before they sinned.
Hence, by the end of the Millennium persons serving God on earth, “the rest of the dead,” will ‘have come to perfect human life.’ Jesus successfully will be able to turn over to his Father a race of perfect humans. (1 Corinthians 15:28; Revelation 20:14) As Revelation 20:7-10 goes on to show, Satan will then be let loose for a decisive test of mankind. Those proving loyal to Jehovah under that test will qualify for everlasting human life in Paradise.