Who are the beheaded saints of Revelation 20?

Question: I have a question re- the beheading reference in rev 20:4.

I am new to bible study, I had read the bible 4 times before but since June the words have different meaning to me. I do not now know if my new interpretations are in the correct direction or indicative of a misunderstanding. Or each person interprets the word differently, based on their experiences and stage in life.

I was studying Ephesians 1 and was then drawn to the letters addressed to the churches in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 the letters seem to represent a systematic progression towards the kingdom of God while on earth.
then i was led to read Revelation 20:4

I have quietly approached people during conversation at my church to gauge their abilities or interests in bible interpretation, but it is hard to ask in-depth questions to people of differing backgrounds, everyone has their own opinion.

rev 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Here are my questions -

  1. “beheaded because of their testimony” - is this the when a person surrenders completely to God and have died in the flesh, to be reborn in the spirit. the word (sword) of God has severed the spiritual head from the physical body. the person has passed through the inner door to the kingdom that exists within. The person then arrives at the realization that the kingdom inside, outside and the kingdom of heaven are one and the same.
  2. “They had not worshiped the beast” - is the beast our "flesh body" that the holy spirit lives within. We die in the flesh , meaning give up wants, desires, defects, …
  3. “They came to life” - a person dies to the body of flesh and awakens to the spirit within. we still walk the earth but our perspective has changed. like when the blind are given sight, it is the people blind to the kingdom of God are given sight and not blind to the kingdom of Gd
  4. “This is the first resurrection” - is this a reference that some people enter the kingdom of God while alive as they have surrendered fully without reservation to the will of Gd. the 2nd resurrection is for others who remain blind spiritually to the kingdom of Gd. These blind people do not enter the kingdom until they die physically and are buried.
  5. “they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” - a person that has entered the kingdom while alive in the physical body. This person while dead in the flesh but alive in the spirit is given tasks to perform. Tasks/functions/callings (refer to Ep 4:11) while completing the will of Gd. while some people remain blind to the kingdom. The thousand years refers to the rest of the physical life which will be a period of time.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
al

 

Answer:

The questions you pose appear can be answered with another question:

"How does one interpret the Bible, especially in regards to prophetic writings like Revelation? Literally? figuratively? Alegorically? Contextually? Culturally?


The best answer to the question of how to interpret the Bible is to view how the New Testament interprets the Old Testament.

OT prophecies and events were taken literally unless there were specific, clear, obvious reasons to do otherwise.
For example, in the Book of Daniel, there are dreams which carried figurative meanings (tall statue, tall tree cut down), yet actual supernatural events (fiery furnace, lion's den).  Daniel 3, Daniel 4, Daniel 5

The King had actual dreams and Daniel was thrown to real lions, the three friends walked in literal fire.
It is not as if the fire represented a trial and the Lions were a figure of Daniel battling Satan.
In the same way, your questions about the saints who were beheaded are literal believers who John sees in the future.
The beast is the world leader - known as the antichrist.
They are real people.


In Revelation, however, there is a lot of figurative language. Fortunately, we can tell when John is describing these images because he uses the words "like" or "as". Revelation 9: 7 "And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men."

I would recommend that you start your quest by determining how you should interpret the Bible. A good book to read on the subject is "Things to Come" by J. Dwight Pentecost. It's become a standard, comprehensive reference book on Bible prophecy. However, it is different from many other prophetic books in that the first 65 pages deal with the issue of how to interpret the Bible.

Specifically, the answers to your questions:

There is no indication in the chapter to say these bodies, resurrections and people are not real.  What they experience is a miracle.  While the "beast" is a name given to indicate a person's beastly character, he is a real human.

“beheaded because of their testimony” - is this the when a person surrenders completely to God and have died in the flesh, to be reborn in the spirit. the word (sword) of God has severed the spiritual head from the physical body. The person has passed through the inner door to the kingdom that exists within. The person then arrives at the realization that the kingdom inside, outside and the kingdom of heaven are one and the same.


 This means there will be believers in the Tribulation that will be executed for disobeying the antichrist's decree to worship his idol.
There is nothing in the context of Revelation about surrendering oneself to God.
This teaching is taught quite straightforwardly in Romans 12:1

 “They had not worshiped the beast” - is the beast our "flesh body" that the Holy Spirit lives within. We die in the flesh, meaning give up wants, desires, defects, …


 This beast is a real person, a world leader who demands worship as a god.
Again, read the context of the chapter.

 “They came to life” - a person dies to the body of flesh and awakens to the spirit within. We still walk the earth but our perspective has changed. like when the blind are given sight, it is the people blind to the kingdom of God are given sight and not blind to the kingdom of God

 These believers are raised back to by physically alive again.

 “This is the first resurrection” - is this a reference that some people enter the kingdom of God while alive as they have surrendered fully without reservation to the will of Gd. the 2nd resurrection is for others who remain blind spiritually to the kingdom of Gd. These blind people do not enter the kingdom until they die physically and are buried.

 There are two literal resurrections - firstly for believers who will live in heaven.
They are saved eternally. The second resurrection is described Revelation 21 where the eternally lost are given a just sentence for their sins and condemned to a literal Lake of Fire.

“they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” - a person that has entered the kingdom while alive in the physical body. This person while dead in the flesh but alive in the spirit is given tasks to perform. Tasks/functions/callings (refer to Ep 4:11) while completing the will of Gd. while some people remain blind to the kingdom. The thousand years refers to the rest of the physical life which will be a period of time.

 There will be a literal throne, a literal calendar that can mark of a literal thousand years and a literal group of people who will participate in the administration of the earth with Christ.

 Shad Sluiter