We have no reason to believe that this way of contrast and antithesis is changed from CHAPTER 21 to 20. We have every reason to believe that it is so because even Premillennialists admit that the Millennial Reign of Christ happens prior to the Eternal State, and therefore belongs to the “old” and “former” things. If that earthly Millennial reign belongs to the present world, the use of “first” and “second” in the same passage (Rev. 20:5-6) becomes very interesting as those words are also found in CHAPTER 21 (Rev. 21:1, 4, 5, 8). Therefore, seeing that these things do not merely speak about sequence, but rather quality and antithesis, we believe that the First Resurrection belongs to this side of eternity in Heaven, while the second resurrection is the general resurrection of all the dead. The First Death is the physical death which is shared by all people (except those at the time of the Rapture), which believer are not exempt from. The First Death ushers the believer into a new existence as they reign with Christ in Heaven, while it ushers the unbeliever into conscious disembodied torment, waiting until the resurrection and judgment of the last day. We conclude with the words of Vern Poythress who writes:
As the second death implicitly includes and accompanies an act of bodily resurrection, so the first resurrection implicitly includes and accompanies bodily death. We find an allusion to just this bodily death in 20:4, the souls of those who had been beheaded. The phrase refers to those who have suffered martyrdom for not worshiping the Beast. These are now disembodied souls living in the presence of God and of Christ, as represented in 6:9-10. The important thing to see is that these souls are living, triumphant, because of their union with Christ and victory through his blood (12:11). [emphasis original]
Blessed and Holy
Because of these things believers are blessed when they die. Revelation 14:13 says:
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
They are blessed because they rest from their sins and persecution and they are reigning with Christ. They have the fulfillment of the promise made to them in Revelation 2:26; 3:21. Their rest does not imply that they are inactive or that they are not reigning. Meredith Kline writes that “the biblical concept of sabbath rest includes enthronement after the completion of labors by which royal dominion is manifested or secured (cf., e.g. Isa. 66:1).” The Church is also told by the Savior to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10-11). The believers will receive this crown after their death. Moreover, as Revelation 20:6 says in connection with the Millennium:
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ...