Revelation, Chapter 20

This will begin by giving you the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible, then will go into our description of what the verses mean. You will be able to read various additional information contained in more specific files under "Research Materials".

To skip the Introduction for Revelation chapter 20, Chapter 20 Scripture Begins Here

Revelation chapter 20 is one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible, not because it contains anything essentially complex, but because it touches on a subject of preconceived bias.

Now is the time when Satan will be taken, bound and put into the bottomless pit (abyss) where his influence will not have any effect on the Tribulation Saints who have lived through the seven years of Tribulation. Can you imagine a life where Satan isn't around to temp anyone? Do you think that the 1000 year millennium will be a time of paradise? That nothing bad will happen?

No one will enter into the 1000 year millennium unless they are a believer. Most will live for the entire one thousand years and will procreate and have children. Yes even the curse on the animals is lifted and the wolf will lie down with the lamb and will live in peace with each other.

But human nature is what it is. The children of those Saints will still have to be taught about Jesus, even though He will be with them constantly. Many will not accept Him. Remember, the heart is very wicked and unfortunately, that is the nature of man. Many of those children will be rebels and with a tremendous population explosion during those one thousand years, there will be probably billions of people at the end much like it is now. However the unbelievers at that point will be as "the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea", verse 8.

Chapter 20

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. 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 not Jesus Himself but is a ministering spirit that Jesus has given authority to. This angel comes from heaven (near the throne). We can assume from this that Jesus has turned the key to the bottomless pit over to this specific angel and has given him power and authority for this job. This "great chain" in this angel's hand, shows the power God has given him over the devil for this task, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.

The key shows authority, and the chain depicts imprisonment and binding. Before the millennial kingdom begins, Satan is bound in the Abyss. Satan

When he bound the devil for the 1000 years, the angel put him in the abyss, not in the burning hell. This burning hell was reserved for his final punishment.

Here we see the devil spoken of as the dragon which we read about in a previous lesson. We also see him recognized as the serpent. You see, he was the one who deceived Eve in the garden. The devil will not be here on the earth to harass the Christians until the millennial 1000 year reign of Jesus is over.

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 seal indicates god's authority and guarantee that Satan will not be released until a thousand years have passed. During the Millennium (Latin for "one thousand years") Satan will not be able to tempt or deceive the nations. Any temptation to sin during the Millennium must come from within those people who are born after the kingdom begins. It must be assumed that all of Satan's demons or fallen angels are also imprisoned at this time (Isaiah 24: verses 21-23). Christ will reign on earth without opposition, and His kingdom will be characterized by righteousness, peace, and love (Isaiah 2: verses 3 and 4; 11: verses 3-5, 2; Dan 7: verse14; Zech. 14: verse 9). However, after the thousand years Satan will be released for a short while (v.7-9).

At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will once again be released to deceive the nations. He will find many unsaved descendants of those who lived through the millennium. There will be a very large number as we are told in verse eight as they will be like the sand of the seashore or a vast uncountable multitude.

Satan's deceptive way of getting those sinners to revolt against God is not revealed, but it will fit into God's plan when He destroys those rebels. These rebels will come from the four corners of the earth is and this is also known as Gog and Magog. The first mention of Gog and Magog was in Ezek. Chapters 38 and 39 (which I suggest reading), and is mentioned here in verse eight. Gog and Magog

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 had not worshipped the beast, 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.

Many of the writers do not believe that this thousand years is a literal time. I personally do. They believe that this is spiritual, and that Jesus bound the devil when He defeated him on the cross. If that were so, who is this terrible thing that has been nipping at my heels all the time that I have been working for God. The devil is real. Just as he brought trials and tribulation (with permission from God) on Job, Christians are allowed to go through tribulation here on this earth to make them strong. Believe me; the devil is not locked up now.

In the scripture above, we find that the martyrs and those who refuse to take the mark of the beast will reign with Christ right here on this earth. Christians, from all generations, will live here on this earth during the millennium and will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus. We will rule with Christ during those years but we will not be equal as we will reign as His subordinates. Won't it be wonderful to reign with the martyrs like Stephen?

The thrones represent the administration of the messianic kingdom. Those whom John sees come to life are the Tribulation martyrs, who refused to worship the beast.

Christ will rule through three classes of kingdom administrators:

  1. Old Testament saints (Isaiah 26:19; Dan. 12:2), who will be resurrected at this time;

  2. The apostles and the church (Matt. 19: verses 28 and 29); and

  3. Tribulation saints (Luke 19: verses 12 to 27). Only believers will enter the Millennium at its beginning (John 3: verses 3 - 5).

God's promises to Abraham (Gen. 12: v.2-3) and David (2 Sam 7: v.16) will be fulfilled (Luke 1: v.31-33; Rom. 11: v.15 and 29). After the Millennium, Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father and will then be appointed Ruler forever (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

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

The first part of verse 5 is a parenthesis, and comes chronologically after verse 11.

A parenthesis is defined: A qualifying or amplifying word, phrase, or sentence inserted within written matter in such a way as to be independent of the surrounding grammatical structure.

The first resurrection is the resurrection included in verse 4. It has three principal phases:

  1. The resurrection of Christ (the firstfruits-1 Cor. 15: v.23; Rev. 1: v.5);

  2. The resurrection of the church (the dead in Christ - 1 Cor. 15: v.23; 1 Thess. 4: v.16); and

  3. The resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation saints (v.4; Isaiah 26: v.19; Dan. 12: v.2). The rest of the dead (unbelievers) will be raised in the second resurrection, described in verses 12 and 13.

The first resurrection is a resurrection to life The First Resurrection (John 5:28, 29), whereas the second resurrection is a resurrection to death.  The second death is eternal punishment in the lake of fire (see verses 14)

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.

We Christians are the blessed. You can easily see that the wicked dead have no part in this resurrection. We believers in Christ (the redeemed) are not subject to death because we have life (which Jesus breathed into us), when we were born again. We will never die. This second death mentioned here is for the lost. Not only will the Christians reign on this earth with Jesus for 1000 years, but we will live for all eternity in heaven with Jesus, because we have eaten of the Tree of Life which is Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is the Millennium - Christ's 1000 year reign upon David's throne is the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham, Isaac, Israel and to David, but its more than that. It is the final proof of the incorrigible nature of man's sinful heart. Christ is present in Jerusalem, ruling the world, and the saints of all ages in resurrected bodies administer the kingdom righteously under His direction. All evil is prohibited and punished immediately. Even Satan is locked away so that he cannot in any way influence mankind.

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

Satan and his demons will be imprisoned in the abyss for 1000 years while Christ rules with unopposed sovereignty. They are not permitted to interfere in the affairs of the kingdom in any way.

All those who initially went into the kingdom were without doubt redeemed sinners who had turned to Christ in faith. The bad news is that they still will possess a sinful human nature. That sin nature is passed on to their children, grandchildren, etc.

Thus each generation born in the millennium will have need for salvation. Many will come to salvation but amazingly despite the most moral society the world will ever know, a great number will love their sin and reject Him.

When Satan is loosed, he provides the leadership needed to bring the latent sin and rebellion to the surface of those unrepentant sinners. This act of rebellion will start immediately when he is released. Satan's Final Conflict

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.

Gog and Magog: The use of these names here and in Ezekiel 38 - 39 has confused some readers. A thorough reading of the two passages will reveal that the events are not the same. The one thing these events have in common is that both national entities (Gog and Magog) are driven by the spirit of rebellion against God. In these two cases, God uses the same names because of the deceptively satanic spirit that motivates them both. Gog and Magog

They will muster their forces from one corner of the globe to the other and will march on Jerusalem, where they will "surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city." But there will be no battle. No call to arms. No defensive strategy or late night negotiations or propaganda campaign or deploying of gigantic nuclear weapons.

The four quarters of the earth refers to the entire globe. Gog is used as a title for an enemy of God's people, not a particular person. Magog seems to be the term used here to describe area where the sinful rebels of all the nations come from that gather together for the last war in human history.

The number of these rebels will be like the sand of the seashore which is a figure of speech used in the bible to define a vast and uncountable multitude.

Consider how when Joseph sent for his father and family that a total of 70 people came to Egypt. A little over 400 years later there were millions who God lead out of Egypt. There will be a lot more people left than 70 that will go into the millennium and there will be 250% more time for procreation. There will probably be many billions of people at that time so Satan could have a huge gathering that will join together for that final battle. "the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea."

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.

These enemies of God here come against Jesus and the saints. In fact, they surround the saints. The "beloved city" here mentioned is Jerusalem. When the devil thinks he has won, fire comes down from heaven (from God) and devours them.

Again like in the battle of Armageddon before the millennium started, this battle too will in all reality be an execution. As the rebel forces moved in to attack, they are swiftly and totally exterminated. They will be physically killed and their souls will go into the realm of punishment awaiting final sentencing to the eternal hell that will shortly take place.

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 beast and false prophet have been waiting for Satan in the lake of fire and brimstone for the last one thousand years. Now their deceiver joins them.

There will not be a moment's peace for them all the rest of eternity.

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.

This is judgment day. Now John describes the terrifying scene set before him. He sees the Judge who is seated on His throne of Judgment and all of the accused standing before Him. The verdicts handed down from this throne will be equitable, righteous and just.

We also remember Ecclesiastes 12 verse 14, which promises, "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" as well as Romans 2 verses 5 and 6, where Paul speaks of the day of God's wrath "when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done".  It is a fearful thing even to imagine standing before God "from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away", and have nothing but your own wicked works to show for the time on earth the Almighty had given you. On that day the words of Paul the apostle will come true: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God". (Rom 3 verse 19) The final word, of course, will be God's.

This vision follows those of the Second Coming and those of the Millennium, immediately preceding that of the new heaven and new earth. New Heaven and New Earth

The use for the earth is over. The earth, heaven, and everything in them are under control of God, and if He tells them go they will have to. This is an amazing, incredible statement that is describing the un-creation of the universe. The earth was reshaped by the tribulation judgments, restored during the millennial kingdom, now God will create a new heaven and a new earth as it states in 2 peter 3, verse 13. "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness"

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.

The "dead" are those who are spiritually dead because of their rejection of Christ. They will stand in their resurrected state before Jesus to be judged by Him. Judgment

The books contain the record of every unsaved person's life. Each unsaved person is judged in accordance with his works (Rom. 2: verses 6 and 16), which clearly show that each one is a guilty sinner (Rom. 3: verses 9 to19) deserving of eternal death (Roman 3: v.23; 6: v.23).

These statements immediately call our attention back to the words of the Lord Jesus: "What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" (Luke 12 v.3). And "There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8 v.17)

Remember that the Christian dead have already won their victory. Those are judged by Jesus at the Bema Seat. Bema Seat Judgment Now is this final fearful scene, where these include all unbelievers who have ever lived. This is the resurrection of judgment and they stand before Christ now at the White Throne Judgment. Great White Throne Judgment

The scope of the scene is chilling. The great mass of these unbelievers before God's throne includes everyone from presidents and kings, to paupers. There is no partiality with God as all will now face judgment.

"books" is plural here. There are books which contain a person's every thought, word and deed. Book of Life - All Books Nothing will be hidden. Think about the fact that God knows the secrets of one's heart.

God has kept perfect, comprehensive and accurate records of every person's life (deeds), and those will be measured against God's perfect and holy standard.

Those who didn't accept Jesus will have to stand or fall on their deeds. Of course, they will all fall if they didn't accept Him, because scripture clearly tells us that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

The Book of Life is the Lamb's Book of Life where the names of all believers are written who have accepted, believed and followed Christ. The Christian's sins have been done away by the blood of Jesus. Those Christians all have their names written in the Lamb's book of life and will not taste of the second death. Second Death

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.

Those who are lost wait in torment in a place of punishment until judgment day. The terrible thing is that they are aware that they will be thrown into the lake of fire on judgment day. These are all of the unbelievers though all ages who have died. They will be raised up by Christ for judgment called the second resurrection.

Before the sea was uncreated and disappeared out of existence, it gave up the dead that were in it. The sea may be mentioned as it is seemingly the most difficult place from which dead bodies could be resurrected. But God will summon new bodies for all who perished in the sea throughout history.

Death symbolizes all of the places on land from which God will resurrect new bodies for the unrighteous, unrepentant dead.

As the next scene in this courtroom drama unfolds, the lost will be summoned to appear before the judge. Since their deaths, their souls have been tormented in a place of punishment, now the time has finally come for them to be judged and sentenced.

20:14-15 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The second death is eternal punishment in the lake of fire, experienced only by the unsaved. Once this final judgment occurs, there is no further need for either death or hell (Hades) (1: v.18; 6: v.8, Isaiah 25: v.8; 1 Cor. 15: verses 26 and 55). An eternal separation is now made between those who have life and those who have "death" (Dan. 12: v.2; John 5: v.29).

It does not mean these places are thrown into the lake. It means the inhabitants of these places.

This final hell is described as the lake of fire. It may already exist but presently is not occupied until the beast and the false prophet is cast into it. They don't arrive there until the end of tribulation.

Those who die in their sins in this world will die a second death in eternity. They will be sentenced to the lake of fire forever at the great White Throne Judgment.

Whether this fire is symbolic, the reality it represents will be even more horrifying and painful. The bible also defines hell as a place of total darkness, which not only separates the unbelievers from the light, but from each other as well.

What is written in these last two verses should drive each of us to continue to spread the gospel as long as there is breath in your body. I cannot bear to think of anyone I know going to this terrible place of torment.

And that's it. In a ball of celestial flame, the rebellion is over. There will be no repeat of the plagues of the Tribulation, nor of the judgments of the Great Tribulation. Once and for all, human rebellion will have been wiped out of existence. And once and for all, it will be crystal clear to a watching universe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely essential for making the unrighteous human heart into a receptacle of God's holiness. The Millennium will prove that even the best of conditions, a thousand years of peace, prosperity, safety, long life, health, abundance, cannot change the wickedness of the unredeemed human heart. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that!

Awesome is the Word - It probably is not humanly possible to meditate on these awesome truths for extended periods of time. Who can long ponder the lake of fire, an eternal place of torment, possibly billions of unredeemed souls, a divine Person "from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away," or fear some books of judgment that seal the fate of the unsaved?

And yet our Lord tells us of these awesome events. Why? To give us every opportunity to escape the terrible judgment that is to come. Remember, no believer in Christ will stand before God at the great white throne. That terrible spot is reserved only for those who have rejected Christ as Savior, who have decided to crown themselves king, and who have refused to accept Jesus Christ as their true Lord.

Do not make that terrible mistake! Instead, place your faith in the Lord Jesus and ask Him to forgive your sins; then you will be ready "to stand before the Son of Man" at the judgment seat of Christ. (Luke 21 v.36) One thing is certain: You will stand in one place or the other. Hell or heaven. Make sure its the latter. And don't think that you can choose not to believe there is such a thing as heaven or hell. Makes no difference. Everyone will be judged and assigned to one place or the other. As on earth, it is the same there, ignorance is no excuse of the law!

Sometimes, when I am with a group of people who I feel are lost, I cry for hours. I am not a crier, but I remember this Scripture. It is so easy to get your name written in the Lamb's book of life. In chapter 10 of Romans verses 9 and 10 tell you how.

You see, Jesus must be our Lord as well as our Savior. If you truly believe, you will repent and be baptized. If your name is not written in the book of life, do not delay, do it today. How Do I Become a Christian

Click on the link below "The Meaning of Worship" and see what it's like to worship the risen Savior. Also be sure to click the link regarding "Can you Lose Your Salvation" once you have it.

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