The Two Resurrections: John 5:19-29 and Revelation 20:4-6 By Aaron Orendorff
The interpretive history of Revelation 20 is a virtual battleground for hermeneutical,
theological and eschatological agendas.1 Due in part to the Icarian rise of dispensational
theology in post-war years of the early 20th century, no other single passage of Scripture has received as much hotly contested evangelical attention as the first ten verses of this apocalyptic chapter. The various interpretive debates, even at a popular level, present a compelling
argument in favor of postmodernisms wholesale abandonment of recoverable meaning. Yet despite these stifling, nearly overwhelming discouragements, eschatology the systematic study of eventualities as J. Oliver Buswell defines it is far from a mere peripheral disciple in the world of Christian theology. On the contrary, as Anthony Hoekema has written, Eschatology must not be thought of as something which is found only in, say, such Bible books as Daniel and Revelation, but as dominating and permeating the entire message of the Bible. From first to last, Moltmann declared, and not merely in the epilogue, Christianity is eschatology, is hope, forward looking and forward moving, and therefore also revolutionizing and transforming the present It is the medium of the Christian faith the key in which everything in it is set.
In light, therefore, of both the difficulties inherent and the necessities at stake, rather than trying to assess this embroiled chapter in its totality, particularly as it pertains to the all too often centralizing question regarding the millennium, my approach will be to address one issue
the nature of the two resurrections in v. 4-6 and this tangentially, that is, through the didactic lens of John 5:19-29. V. 28-29, which close the pericope, are a favorite proof-text of both a- and postmillennialists alike. There Jesus states:
John 5:28-29 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour (w[ra) is coming when all (pa,ntej) who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.