Chapter 20

This is the start of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. We will see that the old serpent is bound and cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. John sees the souls of the martyrs of the tribulation period living and reigning with Christ for a thousand years. We will see Satan loosed again after the thousand years, and then he takes his final abode in the lake of fire. We will also see the Great White Throne of Judgment, and may I say that this is not the judgment that you or I want to stand before.

Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

Revelation 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

Revelation 20:3 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.

Once again I remind the reader that we have taken this account in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, from chapter one through this chapter, literally, as we will take the following chapters.

Unless there is figurative language or symbolic language this book will not make sense unless we take it for what it says, literally.

The fact of the millennium is certain; it is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. If we are to believe the literal translation of scripture, then we must also believe in the millennial reign of Christ for this is the teaching of scripture.

Dr. John F. Walvoord in his book Prophecy in the New Millennium states that: “The premillennial view is based on the system of interpretation that finds Revelation 19-22 in chronological order.” In other words, the destruction of the enemy follows the second coming of Christ in chapter 19. Satan is bound in Revelation 20:2 and the martyred dead of the Tribulation are resurrected in verses 4-6. Now, of chapter 20, are there other views? Yes there are, but scripture must suffer damage in order for anyone to accept these other views.

First there is the ‘amillennial’ view where it is believed that the millennium is not a literal period of time. This would follow the Augustinian explanation that it is fulfilled in this present age when Christ is Lord in the hearts of current believers. This view makes no attempt to interpret the passages we are looking at, and therefore, without any evidence assumes that the prophecies cannot be taken literally. Scripture must be denied and the passage must be taken spiritually or symbolically.

Second, there is the ‘postmillennial’ view. This view takes the stand that the gospel will be victorious, everyone will come to Christ and Christ will come at the end or climax of that thousand year period. This view believes that the world is getting better as it moves further along, or evolves. All we need to do is look at the world around us to see that this is not the case. There are more conflicts in the world today, more violence, more decay, homosexuality is rampant and the governments of the world are making laws to protect this lifestyle.

Things are not getting better, things are deteriorating, the morals of the world are slipping into the sewer and the world will soon be ready for the ‘one world ruler that will be able to bring it all together’, the antichrist. He will bring order and a false peace through deception.

Dr. John F. Walvoord also points out that coupled with this view is the belief that the scriptures are not inspired. For a detailed explanation of the millennium I would recommend the aforementioned publication by Dr. John F. Walvoord.

Verse one stated Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

This angel descends from Heaven with power and authority given by Christ with the key to the pit and a chain that will be able to bind Satan. The chain is said to be ‘a great chain’ meaning that it is strong, supernaturally strong. This angel is very serious and is about to accomplish an event that is a first in all of history.

Revelation 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

This angel is able to grab hold of Satan wrap him in this great chain and then,

Revelation 20:3 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.

The angel casts Satan into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. He then seals up the pit so that Satan no longer can tempt, test, beguile, trick or deceive the nations of the world. This makes me wish that it could happen right now.

Satan will again be set free at the end of the thousand years just to prove that even in a perfect society evil is still there waiting in the wings to burst forward and deceive and beguile the nations again. Praise God that it will be brief, a little season.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (MKJV)

This begs the question, who sits on these thrones and how many are there? For this answer we need to look at two other verses of scripture, first in Matthew 19:28.

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Here we have Christ making the promise to His disciples that they will sit on twelve thrones and be judges in Israel. The when is also listed here for us because until the millennial reign of Christ He will not have a literal throne here on planet earth. Therefore some of the thrones, at least 12, that we see here in Revelation 20:4 will be occupied by the apostles.

Now, are there more than 12 thrones? For the answer to this let’s go to Luke 22:30.

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.

This verse is also referring to the twelve apostles. If we look at the context of both the Luke passage and the Matthew passage we find that they both are speaking about the apostles. I am unable to find any reference to all the saints sitting on thrones in the millennial kingdom or in the New Jerusalem which is the Heavenly City.

Now to be quite honest I have read some expositors that believe that there are more than 12 thrones, not counting the throne that our Lord sits upon or His co regent David which would make 14, but they take the passage to be symbolic and not literal. Therefore I must reject their view, for they hold that there will be thousands of thrones and some even take the millennium to be a Jewish myth, which I reject.

Well that covers the first sentence of verse 4 so let’s move on to the next.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (MKJV)

We are looking here at the martyred dead of the tribulation period. Those people who were not willing to take the mark of the beast, not willing to worship the beast or his image. These folks had maintained a testimony in favor of the Lord Jesus Christ, they were talking about Jesus to their friends and relatives and it cost them their lives.

These people are now resurrected from the dead and are said to live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. This is very plain and the literal sense of the passage makes good sense. Those people that die in the tribulation period having come to faith in Christ are not resurrected until the end of the tribulation period.

For a further look at the resurrections and the quantity of them, look in the Questions and Answers page.

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

Now we get into a passage that is quite interesting, in that we have the rest of the dead lived not again until. Notice the phrase this is the first resurrection, is it? Do we have some people resurrected and others not?

This is exactly what we have here. The martyred saints are resurrected and other people are not, that’s what it says.

So what about this first resurrection you say? Wasn’t the church the first?

This verse should be translated this is the resurrection unto life, and there are several resurrections unto life, but only oneresurrection unto death. Dr. Walvoord stated “The destiny, not the time, determines to which part of the resurrection program any event is to be assigned.”

The resurrection unto life is made up of many component parts, while the resurrection unto death is a single event.

The church was not first, Jesus Christ was the first. Jesus is the first One to be raised from the dead never to die again. This is the start of the resurrection unto life. See the Question and Answer section for the complete explanation.

Revelation 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.

This verse should help explain the unto life part. Does the church have a part in the resurrection unto life? Yes, they certainly do as the church becomes the bride of Christ and this is glorious.

The martyred dead have a part in this also, eternal life with our Lord, and there are others.

It is exciting to think that saints will rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years.

Now, look at the words the second death. This is not for the church or the righteous in Christ or the Old Testament saints, those having died looking forward to the coming of Christ. It is for unbelievers. There is no other way around it, we can receive the free gift of salvation or burn in the lake of fire. It is a choice of our own free will. The next verses should give us all a clue about the depravity of mankind.

Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

Rev 20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

For one thousand years Satan has been bound and in prison in the pit. Jesus Christ has been sitting on the earthly throne and the sacrificial system is reinstated in remembrance of what Jesus Christ accomplished by shedding His blood on the cross. The sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God. There has been a thousand years of peace and tranquility, no one has suffered want, there has been plenty of food for all and all is right with the world. Or is it?

Remember, only believers entered the millennial reign of Christ. However, the believers had children who had children who had children. Although everything is going well, multitudes of the children and the children’s children have not bought into the fact that this world belongs to Christ and that He should have the rule over it.

Millions are just giving lip service as far as belief in Christ is concerned. Sort of sounds like our churches of today don’t you think. To prove that man’s heart is desperately wicked and left to his own ways will rebel against God, Satan is released from his prison.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The only people that Satan can deceive are those that are not in Christ.

We see this by the fact that Satan deceives the nations in the four corners of the earth, which means the whole earth. In a perfect society people, because of the evilness in their own heart, will align with the devil and attempt to overthrow the Lord Jesus.

Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

The invading army comes like a swarm covering the land, thinking that because of their great number they will win the battle. They must have believed that they could defeat the One that created the universe. Thanks be to God they will be wiped out in a storm of fire that will devour them in a short time.

Now as a side note, this is one more example of the fairness of God. God has given the nations a thousand years to see that His ways are the best ways and yet they rebel. Their chances are now over and it is time for judgment. It will be swift, it will be just, and it will be eternal as we will see in the following chapters.

First, the devil, Satan, is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where it is said the beast and the false prophet already are.

Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The Bible teaches that there will be eternal torment; it does not get any plainer than this. Some faiths teach a secession of being but that will not fit the literal meaning of verse 10. The body does not cease to exist, it continues in an unregenerate state for eternity in torment. This is a good reason to ask yourself or your friend or neighbor if they are born again.

Now we see the concluding verses of this chapter and the proof that belonging to Christ is far better than what is to come here in these final verses of chapter 20.

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This period is called the Great White Throne Judgment. Remembering that God is fair and just, that He rewarded the church at the judgment seat of Christ, non believers now have their opportunity to stand before Him and plead their case. Everyone that has had an opportunity to receive the gospel message, everyone that has been told that Jesus loves them, everyone that has ever heard of the plan of salvation will now be judged for rejecting the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The dead come out of the sea; they come out of the grave whether it is land or sea. The book of life is opened and another book which is the book of works. I believe that in these books are written the times that each of them were presented with the choice to receive or reject Jesus Christ. When the name cannot be found in the book of life, then the name is found in the book of works. In this book is the evidence that works cannot save. It is by faith that we are saved, not by works. If it were by works, then we would boast of our own goodness. We have no righteousness apart from that of Jesus Christ.

Death and the grave are now both cast into the lake of fire. People that belong to Christ will now live for eternity with Christ, eternally full of joy, ruling and reigning with the Master.

The second death will never touch the Christian because they are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Amen.