A first resurrection suggests at least a second. The verse clearly says the second occurs one thousand years after the first. That verse 6 states that death has no power over those in the first resurrection strongly indicates that death will have power over those in the second. The second resurrection, therefore, must be a resurrection to physical life. Verse 6 also repeats from verse 4 that those in the first resurrection will reign with Christ. This means that His government is established, functioning, and executing judgment, among other things.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Final Harvest
Only the just, the righteous, will rise at Christ's second coming. God will raise the martyred saints to eternal life, but the unjust dead will not be resurrected until the end of this period. If we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us when we die, we will be resurrected through the power of that same Spirit at that time (Romans 8:9, 11, 14). In addition to the dead in Christ, those who are true Christians at His coming will rise in the first resurrection. The Feast of Trumpets celebrates the second coming of Jesus Christ to intervene in world affairs, resurrect the firstfruits, and establish God's Kingdom on earth (Matthew 24:30-31; Revelation 11:15).
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: The First Resurrection
Those in the first resurrection will reign and work with Christ through the Millennium as kings and priests. We can have a part in the first resurrection if we have been obedient and faithful to the Eternal with the help of the Holy Spirit imparted from God through Jesus Christ. In our duties as kings, we will have the power to correct many of the problems of society and lead the people in God's way of life. As priests of God, among other things like teaching and counseling, we will be responsible for offering sacrifices.
Martin G. Collins
The Sacrifice of Praise
With Jesus Christ ruling as King over all the earth, we, as co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17), will be regarded as princes ruling under Him. He will give His true followers positions of rulership in His Kingdom, where, it is specifically stated, "we shall reign on the earth."
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved
While the Bible speaks often of death, one death in particular, the “second death,” mankind knows little of. The phrase “second death” is found only in the book of Revelation, the first time in the letter to the church at Smyrna: “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).
This verse does not tell us much about the second death, only that the way to avoid it is to overcome faithfully. Revelation 20:6 provides a little more detail: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
Just as overcomers will not be hurt by the second death, the same holds true for those who rise in the first resurrection. Popular Christianity maintains that the soul departs to its destination immediately after death, but the Bible teaches that nothing happens until or unless a resurrection occurs. In the grave there is no thought, no consciousness, and unless God resurrects someone by placing his or her spirit into another living body, that is the end of the story (see Ecclesiastes 3:19-20; 9:2-5, 10; Psalm 146:4).
The first resurrection, one to immortality for those in Christ (see I Corinthians 15:50-54; I Thessalonians 4:13-17), occurs at His return. It is also the “better resurrection” for which the heroes of faith qualified because they did not accept deliverance (Hebrews 11:35). Those in the first resurrection are raised with incorruptible, spirit bodies. These saints have been given immortality by God—there is no longer any fear of death; it is swallowed up in victory.
David C. Grabbe
What Is the Second Death?
The first part of verse 5 inserts a parenthetical statement that refers to a second resurrection, described in verses 11-15. After the Millennium, God will raise up to physical life all those who have never had an opportunity for salvation. Christ will judge all those who lived throughout human history yet have not been called. Ezekiel 37:1-14 prophesies of God resurrecting all Israel. At the same time (see Matthew 12:41-42), He will raise all the Gentiles and extend to them the same offer He does to Israel (Romans 2:7-11; I Timothy 2:4). If they satisfy God's judgment, He will at some point grant them eternal life and give them spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:44-49).
After all have had their opportunity, God will perform still a third resurrection. Those who will not repent of their rebellion against the Almighty will be raised to physical life and cast into the Lake of Fire, which provides a merciful, permanent death (see Matthew 25:41).
Martin G. Collins
Holy Days: Last Great Day
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 20:6:
1 Samuel 16:13
1 Corinthians 2:2
1 Corinthians 15:23
1 Peter 2:7-10