The General Resurrection and the Last Judgment According to Orthodoxy

St. Cosmas the Hymnographer the Bishop of Maiuma

St. Cosmas the Hymnographer the Bishop of Maiuma

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

THE GENERAL RESURRECTION AND THE LAST JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO ORTHODOXY

Revelation (Apocalypse) 20:1-3 "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."

After the defeat of Antichrist, Saint John saw an Angel descending from heaven who had a key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. This Angel "laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent...and bound him a thousand years..." Saint Andrew of Caesarea interprets this passage in this way: by this "thousand years" one must understand the whole time "from the Incarnation of Christ to the coming of Antichrist" (St. Andrew, ch. 60). With the coming of the Incarnate Son of God on earth--and in particular from the moment of His redemption of mankind through His death on the Cross--Satan was bound, paganism was cast down, and there came upon the earth the thousand-year reign of Christ. The thousand-year Kingdom of Christ on earth is to be understood as the victory of Christianity over paganism and the establishment on the earth of the Church of Christ. The definite number one thousand is used here in place of an indefinite number, signifying the long period of time until the Second Coming of Christ.

20:4 "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which has not worshipped the beasts, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

This picture symbolically depicts the Kingdom of the Christian faith after the overthrow of paganism. Those who have assumed judgment and sit on the thrones are all Christians who have attained salvation, for to them has been given the promise of the Kingdom and the glory of Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:12). From this choir, the Holy Seer of Mysteries singles out in particular "those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Logos/Word of God," that is, the holy Martyrs. Saint John (the Evangelist and Theologian) says, "I saw the souls of them that were beheaded." From this it is clear that these Saints who participate in the thousand-year reign of Christ are reigning with Christ and performing judgment not on earth but in heaven, for it speaks here only concerning their souls which are not yet united with their bodies. From these words it is evident that the Saints take part in the governing of the Church of Christ on earth, and therefore it is natural and proper to appeal to them with prayers, asking their intercessions before Christ with Whom they reign.

"And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." Their "living" is of a moral and spiritual nature. The Holy Seer of Mysteries calls this "the first resurrection" (verse 5), while further on he speaks of the Second bodily resurrection. This reigning of the Saints with Christ will continue until the final victory over the dark impious powers under Antichrist. Then the resurrection of bodies will occur, and the last frightful Judgment will begin, when the souls of the saints will be reunited with their bodies and will reign with Christ forever.

20:5 "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."

The expression "lived not again" means the dark and difficult condition of the souls of the impious sinners after bodily death. It continues "until the thousand years were finished." As in many other places in Sacred Scripture, this particle "until" (in Greek EOS) does not signify the continuation of an action only to a certain boundary; on the contrary, it is a complete denial of any limit (see, for example, St. Matthew 1:25). In other words, it means that the impious dead are denied "forever" the blessed life.

20:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."

"From the Divine Scripture we know that there are two lives and two deaths: the first life is temporal and fleshly because of the transgression of the Commandments, while the second is the eternal life promised to the Saints for the keeping of the divine commandments. Corresponding to these, there two kinds of death: one fleshly and temporal, and the other eternal as chastisement for sins, which is the fiery Gehenna" (Saint Andrew, ch. 62). Consequently, it is understood that if here on earth one has lived in Christ Jesus and has come before Him after the first death (that is, bodily death) with fervent faith in Him and filled with His grace, then one has no need to fear the second death, that is, the fiery Gehenna.

These first verses of the twentieth chapter of Revelation (Apocalypse) have served as a pretext for the development of a false teaching concerning the "thousand-year reign of Christ on earth" which has received the name Chiliasm. In essence it teaches that not long before the end of the world, Christ the Savior will come again to earth, defeat Antichrist, resurrect the righteous, and make a new kingdom on earth. As a reward for their struggles and sufferings, the righteous will reign together with Christ for the course of a thousand years, and will enjoy all the good things of temporal life. Only then will there follow the Second, Universal Resurrection of the dead, the universal judgment, and the general giving of eternal rewards...In the first century this teaching was held by the heretic Cerinthus and other judaizing heretics: the Ebionites, the Montanists, and in the fourth century by the Apollinarians...To hold Chiliasm even as a private opinion was no longer permissible after the Church, at the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 A.D., condemned the teaching of the heretic Apollinarius concerning the thousand-year reign Christ. At the same time this was confirmed by the introduction into the Symbol of Faith (the Creed) of the words "of His Kingdom there will be no end."

One must likewise know that Revelation (Apocalypse) is a book which is profoundly mystical, and therefore to understand and interpret literally the prophecies contained in it--especially if such a literal understanding contradicts other passages of Holy Scripture--is entirely opposed to the rules of hermeneutics. In such cases, it is correct to seek in perplexing passages a metaphorical or allegorical meaning. (Source: The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity by Archbishop Averky Taushev and Father Seraphim Rose)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OFYOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George