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Who is resurrected at the second coming prior to the commencement of the millennium (according to premillennial theology)? Is it:

  • All who are saved–alive and dead
  • NT Christians–alive and dead
  • Christians who were martyred during the tribulation and/or Christians still alive?

To clarify, I'm not sure if there is consensus on this and I am not sure if there is a different view in either 'historical' and/or 'dispensational' premillennialists. So that may impact the answer somewhat. If there's disagreement within premillennialism, I'd like an overview of positions.

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Both dispensational and historic premillennialists hold that all Christians who died or were raptured prior to the beginning of the millennium will reign with Christ during it.

One standard dispensational commentary, the Moody Bible Commentary, describes two groups of people that will reign with Christ in its treatment of Revelation 20:

Verses 4a-b refer to the Church saints resurrected at the rapture, who rule and reign with Jesus. After this, John saw the resurrection of another group, the tribulation saints, those who had been beheaded (martyred) during the tribulation for resisting idolatry. "They came to life" means that their bodies had now been joined, through resurrection, to their souls that were already in heaven. They also "reigned with Christ."

This commentary views both of these groups as part of the "first resurrection":

The phrase "this is the first resurrection" (v. 5b) summarizes the experience of all believers, including those martyred in the tribulation.

Prominent Dispensationalist John MacArthur says in a sermon on this passage:

So you've got resurrected Old Testament saints, you've got resurrected saints who followed Jesus during His lifetime, you've got resurrected New Testament saints, and now you've got resurrected Tribulation saints and it's all the resurrected saints who reign. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [emphasis added]

Historic premillennialists like Wayne Grudem see things similarly.

After that time of tribulation at the end of the church age, Christ will return to earth to establish a millennial kingdom. When he comes back, believers who have died will be raised from the dead, their bodies will be reunited with their spirits, and these believers will reign with Christ on earth for one thousand years. [...] The believers who have been raised from the dead, and those who were on the earth when Christ returns, will receive glorified resurrection bodies that will never die, and in these resurrection bodies they will live on the earth and reign with Christ. [bold added]

Given the disagreement over the finer points of interpretation of Revelation, it's quite likely that some espousing premillennialism will diverge from this position. But it's significant that these prominent proponents of their respective eschatological views agree that all dead and raptured Christians will reign during the millennium.


Grudem's summary is found in his Systematic Theology, chapter 55, page 1112. The notes from Moody Bible Commentary are found in the section on Revelation 20:4–6. I cleaned up the formatting and made several unmarked omissions of parenthetical remarks when quoting from the latter.

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Who exactly is resurrected and reigns in the millennial city in premillennialisim?

To clarify a bit, there are three “rasings from the dead” that could be called resurrection.

At the rapture those who have died in Christ return with Jesus and those who are Christian meet them in the air and receive their new bodies. It is fair that this is technically not a resurrection as both those Christians who have physically died and those who are still alive already have eternal life.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Those raised at what is called the “first resurrection” in Revelation are the Old Testament saints (believers), and those who died in faith during the tribulation.

The second or last resurrection is for those who had no faith and they will be judged according to their works.

Jerusalem will be the capital of the world during the millennium. Israel has a special role as the kingdom is finally restored. Israel will be ruled by the disciples.

Luke 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

We may not have a complete idea of how the world will be administered and what specific roles Christians and Old Testament saints will have, but we can be sure that whatever our work, it will be to bring honor and glory to he who saved us from our sins.

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    Which premillennialist view does this represent? – Nathaniel is protesting Sep 24 '15 at 14:39
  • After reading this response I suspect that perhaps my question could have been made a little more precise. The intent of this question is to clearly define/understand who is living in the physical earthly millennial kingdom. That said, my question is literally asking about who is resurrected at the second coming itself. This answer discusses the multiple resurrections held by dispensational pre-milleniallisum, which confuses the answer somewhat. That said, I appreciate @timf taking time to contribute to the answer, thanks! – Jay Sep 25 '15 at 1:56
  • That said, to clarify, it appears your answer is: All believers—NT and OT–rise from the dead at the first resurrection, and the rest of the dead rise at the second resurrection for judgement. – Jay Sep 25 '15 at 2:01

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