Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (Revelation 20:1)

The angel that will subdue Satan is anonymous. It is not Jesus Himself, nor is it Michael or Gabriel or any other high-ranking angel.

Many people give great importance to satan. How important satan is indicated by the fact that it is not the Father who deals with him, nor the Christ, but only an unnamed angel.

This is a dramatic declaration that Satan is not God’s opposite or equal; and that God could easily stop Satan’s activity at any time. Yet God allows Satan to continue, because even in his evil, he indirectly serves the purposes of God.

2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. (Revelation 20:2-3)

Till the thousand years were finished
This thousand-year period is often known as the Millennium.

The Millennial Kingdom
The Millennial Kingdom is the title given to the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Some seek to interpret the 1000 years in an allegorical manner. They understand the 1000 years as merely a figurative way of saying “a long period of time,” not a literal, physical reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.

However, six times in Revelation 20:2-7, the millennial kingdom is specifically said to be 1000 years in length. If God wished to communicate “a long period of time,” He could have easily done so without explicitly and repeatedly mentioning an exact time frame.

The Bible speaks of the conditions during the millennium as a perfect environment physically and spiritually.
It will be a time of…

  • peace (Micah 4:2–4; Isaiah 32:17–18)
  • joy (Isaiah 61:7,10)
  • comfort (Isaiah 40:1–2)

Christ will rule as king (Isaiah 9:3–7; 11:1–10). Jerusalem will be the political centre of the world (Zechariah 8:3).

 

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them:
Who sits on these thrones?
There are three possible answers to this question:

1.The Twenty-Four Elders representing the Church 
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. (Revelation 4:4)

2.The Apostles
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)

3.The Apostles or the company of saints as a whole 
2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)

And judgment was committed to them:
This judgement could be the “judging of angels” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, but it is more likely that these are the saints ruling on and over the earth during the millennial reign of Christ.

Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.
Here John sees the spirits of those who became martyrs in the Great Tribulation because they did not worship the beast or his image and also because they refused to take the mark of the beast on their hands or foreheads.

Why does John only mention the Tribulation saints?
This could be a special vindication for the Tribulation saints. They suffered under Antichrist who had said, “I will rule the earth;” now they are in authority and Antichrist is destroyed. So, these martyrs are literal, but also representative of all those who give their lives in faithfulness to Jesus.

5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 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.
Even though the First Resurrection will occur in three stages, they are known as the First Resurrection. In other words, the First Resurrection has three principal phases:

Phase- I (The Resurrection of Christ)
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:22-23)

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, (Revelation 1:5)

Phase- II (The Resurrection of the Church)
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:22-23)

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

Phase-III (The Resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation saints)
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

The rest of the dead (those are the unbelievers) will be raised in the second resurrection, described in verses 12 and 13.

In John 5:28-29, Jesus described two resurrections: Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Daniel 12:2 also speaks of two resurrections:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

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)

The two events are separated by this 1,000 year period because the rest of the dead are not given their resurrection bodies until the thousand years were finished.

The First Resurrection is described as a…..

  1. Resurrection of blessing (blessed and holy is he)
  2. Resurrection of power (over such the second death has no power)
  3. Resurrection of privilege (they shall be priests of God . . . shall reign with Him a thousand years)

7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. (Revelation 20:7-8)

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison
Here we see that when the 1000 years have been complete or have come to an end, then and only then will satan be loosed from the bottomless pit, which remember in verse 3 we learned that he must be turned loose. This verse plainly teaches that this is a ‘literal’ 1000 years and not some indefinite period of time as some falsely teach, because we clearly see a definite end or expiration of this 1000 years.

For thousand years of the direct reign of Jesus over this earth, satan was bound and inactive. But after the thousand years are over, he will be released and successfully organize many people of the earth in another rebellion against God.

Question: If Jesus has reigned so wonderfully for a thousand years, then why will the earth rebel against Him?

God will allow it, as a final demonstration of man’s rebellion and depravity. This tells us that many will outwardly conform to the rule of Jesus but inwardly they will be people who have still not submitted to His Lordship.

Also, in this we see God’s wisdom for satan to be loosed after the 1000 year period. In all of human history, man has wanted to blame his sinful condition on his environment. Have you heard people say, “Of course I turned out the way I did because of my background, because of my family, because of the locality that I grew up in etc”.

With the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus, God will give mankind a thousand years of a perfect environment – with no Satan, no crime, no violence, no evil, or other social pathology. But at the end of the 1,000 years, man will still rebel against God at his first opportunity. This will powerfully demonstrate that the real problem is in us, not only in our environment.

Gog and Magog are prophetic terms used to described the enemies of Israel.

9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:9-10)

Surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city
We really don’t know if the saints referred to here are glorified saints who reign with Jesus, or earth-inhabitants who come to faith in Jesus during the Millennium. Either way, the strategy of this vast Satanic army is clear: to destroy God’s people, and the “headquarters” or “capital city” of His administration, Jerusalem (the beloved city).

Fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured 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. At this point, God finally deals with the devil and his followers forever.

Cast into the lake of fire . . . they will be tormented day and night forever and ever
After this aborted battle, Satan is then judged and tormented forever – together with the beast and the false prophet, who were cast into the lake of fire at the beginning of the thousand years (Revelation 19:20).

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

A Great White Throne
The Throne is called “great” because it is here that the eternal destiny of all men and women who rejected Christ is finally resolved.

The Throne is called “great” because it is not only the Supreme Court of the Universe, but it is the Supreme Court of the Ages.

However, the Throne itself is not nearly as great as the God Who sits upon it in Judgment.  God is so great and so powerful that the Earth and the atmospheric heavens, which we call “Space,” will actually flee from Him, looking for a place to hide.
Why do the Earth and atmospheric heavens flee from God at this time of Judgment?  Because they have been defiled by the sins of mankind.  They have been defiled by the rejection of Jesus Christ.  They have been defiled by mankind’s welcomed infestation of Satanic and demonic powers.

The Throne is also called “white.”  It is “white” because it is Holy.  It is “white” because the One Who sits upon it is the embodiment of Holiness.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. (Revelation 20:12-13)

Everyone who ever lived and died rejecting Christ will be there, small and great.  From the most unpopular, ignored human being to the most popular, in demand human being.  If they died rejecting Christ, this is one appointment they cannot reschedule.

Notice, they are ‘standing before God’ and not sitting. In plain words, this is a sentencing and not a trial.

Books were opened
What are these books? Many people have given very fanciful explanations regarding these books. Some have said that these are life accounts of individuals that have been maintained by angels and God will judge them according to what is written. Maybe! but we don’t know for sure.

The most logical and biblical explanation is that these books opened are the books of the bible. Every man will be judged according to the written word of God just as a human court judges individuals according to the law of the land.

14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)

This is the second death
Someone said, “As there is a second and higher life, so there is also a second and deeper death”

Back to Bible Commentary