- are blessed and holy (Ephesians 1:3-4)
- are not influenced by the power of the second death (John 5:24; Romans 6:9)
- are priests to God and Christ (1Peter 2:5,9)
- reign with Christ for a thousand years
John said he saw thrones (Revelation 20:4), and they sat (viz. Father and Christ) upon them and judgment (i.e. a decision or verdict) was given (viz. by God) to them, i.e. the souls that John saw. These souls lived (again – i.e. were born again) and reigned with Christ for a thousand years… This is the 1st Resurrection.
Compare Ephesians 2:5-6, which says when we were dead in our sins, (God) has quickened us together with Christ. In Colossians 2:13 we are told that God raised us up and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. According to these Scriptures, we have already been resurrected by God, and, though we walk upon the face of the earth, we sit together with Christ in heavenly places.
John 5:24 says if we hear Christ and trust our Father we have everlasting life and shall not be judged, but we already have passed from death to life. Verse-25 says: “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live.
Can it be any clearer that this is the first resurrection? Why must people cling to an idea born in a man’s vain imagination instead of what Scripture clearly reveals? 2Corinthians 5 tells of putting off our tabernacle (body) at death and being immediately present with Christ and being clothed with a new eternal body. 1Thessalonians 4:14-17 says when Christ’s parousia occurs, the dead in Christ shall rise first. It is generally believed that then everyone who is alive and in Christ will immediately rise as well. But this is not what this Scripture says. It says those already dead will rise first, then those who are alive (viz. 2Corinthians 5:1-8) will put on their incorruptible body when this tabernacle is cast aside. Remember Revelation 20:5 says that the first resurrection lasts not for a moment but the entire period known as the thousand years or the Millennium if you prefer (compare Revelation 20:5b with verses 4 & 6).
In 1Thessalonians 4:13-14 Paul spoke of those who are dead in Christ as asleep (cf. 1Corinthians 11:30). However, in 2Corinthians 5:1-8 he did not speak of sleep but being immediately present with Christ and immediately receiving our new bodies. I do not know the time lapse between these letters, but it seems to me something must have occurred between them. Paul claims in Romans 13:11 that our salvation is nearer than when we (the leaders, including the apostles and Paul) believed. Some folks think this means our salvation in nearer than when we began to believe, but that is not what Paul says here. He gives no indication that the word began should be inserted here. He simply says our salvation which comes to us in three parts. First our salvation has a past. I was once dead in my sins, but Christ made me alive (Ephesians 2:5). He has reconciled me to God 2Corinthians 5:14 through his death. In other words, I have been justified. What Jesus did for me speaks of my justification. Secondly, I am being saved at this present time. At this time I am to reckon or consider my life in Adam dead and trust that I live in Christ (Romans 6:3, 10-11, 14) where in I am not to permit sin to reign in my life (Romans 6:12-13). This is salvation going on in my life today (James 1:21) and Jesus is able to complete it (Hebrews 7:25). This speaks of my sanctification. So, I have been justified in the past, but I am being sanctified in the present, but I will be glorified in the future (2Corinthians 5:1-8) when my body will be like his (1John 3:2). I have been saved from sin’s penalty in the past. I am presently being saved from sin’s power, but in the future I shall be saved from sin’s very presence, to which time my spirit presently groans for its manifestation (Romans 8:23-25).
Therefore, Paul in Romans 13:11 says that this day for which we groan is nearer than when we (Paul and the leaders of the Church) believed. Something occurred to show that it was no longer true that when a person dies he simply goes to sleep (1Corinthians 11:30), because when Paul wrote the Corinthians again, he testified that we no longer sleep but are alive and present with the Lord (2Corinthians 5:1-8). Something significant happened to show Paul the time or our glorification was nearer than when he believed. This is all part of the 1st Resurrection. It begins when we are born-again, but it is completed when we go to be with the Lord.