Revelation 20:1-6

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

THE REIGN OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

There are basically three major interpretations one thousand years in Revelation of Jesus Christ 20 .

1. The literal and premillennial interpretation. People who believe this believe that the millennium is a literal period of one thousand years which is preceded by the second coming of Christ and followed by resurrection and judgment. This is what we believe. When we say that we believe in the premillennial return of Christ, we mean that the second coming of Christ is before the millennium. There will be an actual period of one thousand years following the second coming of Christ, which is known as the millennium.

2. The amillennial interpretation. This view holds that there is no literal one thousand year period known as the millennium. They spiritualize this one thousand year period. They believe that the new birth and the millennium began with the first coming of Christ. The saints are pictured as reigning in heaven with Christ. Many people who typically believe in the literal interpretation of the Scriptures make an exception to their literal understanding when it comes to prophecy. They spiritualize the text. We do not believe that the amillennial interpretation of the millennium is Biblically correct.

3. The postmillennial interpretation. This view regards the thousand year reign of Christ as being completed before the second coming of Christ. In other words, the second coming of Christ occurs after the thousand years are finished.

According to this view, the gospel is viewed as triumphant during the last one thousand years of the present age. Although this view was common in the 1800s, very few people believe it today. We likewise do not believe that the postmillennial interpretation of the millennium is Biblically correct.

I. THE BINDING OF SATAN - 20:1-3

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:1-3 - (1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (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.

I [i.e. John] saw is the same word translated I beheld a number of times in Revelation.

What John saw was an angel come down from heaven.

Come down is coming down, going down, or descending. Its tense denotes action occurring at the same time as the action of I saw. John saw this while it was happening.

From heaven is literally out of the heaven. This angel was in the heaven where God dwells rather than in the atmospheric or stellar heavens and came out of heaven before coming down from heaven.

Some have assumed that the angel is Christ; but since there is no proof of this, it is better to assume that it is another great angel operating at the command, and in the authority, of God.

Not only was the angel coming down out of heaven, he was also having [or holding] the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

The key of the bottomless pit is the key of the abyss. In Revelation of Jesus Christ 9:1-2 an angel with a key to the bottomless pit was also seen.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 9:1-2 - (1) And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. (2) And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

The key of the bottomless pit gives this angel access to the bottomless pit and control over it while the key is in his possession.

The bottomless pit is the abyss. Contrary to public opinion, the bottomless pit does not refer to a teenage boy's stomach, although having raised 4 boys through their teenage years teenage boys do seem to have bottomless pits when it comes to eating. This term translated bottomless pit has also been seen in Luke 8:31 . The demons who had been inhabiting the maniac of Gadara requested that Jesus not send them into the deep, i.e. into the pit or the abyss.

Luke 8:30-34 - (30) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils [i.e. demons] were entered into him. (31) And they [i.e. the demons] besought him [i.e. kept begging Jesus] that he would not command them to go out into the deep. (32) And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they [i.e. the demons] besought him [i.e. kept begging Jesus] that he would suffer [i.e. permit, allow] them to enter into them [i.e. into the swine]. And he suffered [i.e. permitted, allowed] them. (33) Then went the devils [i.e. demons] out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. (34) When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.

This bottomless pit seems to be a place of confinement for fallen angels or demons. One cannot help but wonder if the bottomless pit and Tartarus, which is translated hell in II Peter 2:4 , are one and the same place.

II Peter 2:4 - For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [i.e. Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.

Similarly, Jude 6 says,

Jude 6 - And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Is the bottomless pit the same place as Tartarus where fallen angels of the worst sort are confined until the judgment but where others may be released for a limited time to carry out God's purposes? Or, is the bottomless pit a place similar to Tartarus but separate and distinct from it? Not enough information has been revealed in the Bible to be able to answer this question.

Not only does the angel in this first verse have the key to the bottomless pit, but he also has a great chain in his hand [or upon his hand], which suggests that the chain may have been looped over the angel's hand.

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

He laid hold on the dragon is he seized the dragon in the sense that he took the dragon into custody, he took the dragon into his possession, he arrested the dragon, or he apprehended the dragon.

The dragon has been seen a number of times in Revelation.

He is also known as that old serpent from the episode which occurred in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 . It is literally the serpent (or the snake), the old (or ancient) (one).

Which is the devil is who is the devil, (i.e. the slanderer).

He is also known as Satan, which means the adversary.

Bound is tied, and the context implies that the angel bound Satan with the chain before casting him into the bottomless pit.

A thousand years indicates the time throughout which Satan will remain bound with the chain in the bottomless pit.

Binding a spirit being with a chain is the language of appearance. John saw the angel with the chain in his hand. Whatever the physical character of the chain, the obvious teaching of the passage is that the action is designed to render Satan inactive. The intention is not to represent Satan as merely restricted but as rendered completely inactive.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 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.

Cast is the same word used to describe the casting of the beast and false prophet into the lake of fire in chapter 19.

It means that after this angel had bound Satan, he threw him into the bottomless pit, i.e. into the abyss.

And introduces something else this angel did: he shut him up, which means that he locked him up or barred him (from escaping). The purpose of the chain and the shutting of Satan in the bottomless pit is to keep him from escaping.

The angel also set a seal upon him, which means he provided a seal above him. The purpose of the seal is to keep Satan from getting out of the bottomless pit prematurely.

That [i.e. in order that or for the purpose that] he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled provides the reason the angel bound Satan a thousand years, cast him into the bottomless pit, shut him up, and set a seal upon him.

The tense of should deceive along with the negative and the word translated more indicates that Satan will never so much as one time deceive the nations again until the thousand years have been completed or have been fulfilled.

Till is until, and the thousand years is the period of time throughout which Satan will be confined to the bottomless pit. The idea that Satan's period of confinement is to be one thousand years was introduced in verse 2.

Should be fulfilled is should be brought to an end, should be finished, or should be completed.

After that is literally after these and means after the thousand years.

He must be loosed a little season indicates that Satan will be confined in the bottomless pit throughout the millennium until the very end of the millennium. At that point in time as mentioned in verses 7-10, he will be set free for a short time, during which he will go out and deceive the nations one last time in his final rebellion, after which he will be thrown into the lake of fire.

II. THE JUDGMENT AND RESURRECTION OF TRIBULATION SAINTS - 20:4

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:4 (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.

I [i.e. John] saw is the same word which has been translated I beheld a number of times in Revelation. It was also used in verse 1.

What John saw is thrones.

They sat upon them is they sat down upon them. They who sat on the thrones may be vague or specific, depending on what is intended by the fourth and in verse 4, the one before I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus. If it introduces another thing which John saw, then the ones John saw sitting on the thrones is a much larger group but includes those beheaded for the witness of Jesus. On the other hand, if this and is intended to be understood in the sense of even or in the more emphatic sense of indeed or in fact, then the ones sitting on the thrones are those beheaded for the witness of Jesus. In either case, they who sat upon these thrones that John saw includes 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.

A number of promises have been made that some would reign in the millennial kingdom. This includes believers from the Old Testament era, from the church age, and from the tribulation.

In Daniel 7:27 the Old Testament saints were promised that they will reign in the millennium.

Daniel 7:27 - And the kingdom and dominion [or sovereignty], and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

In Matthew 19:27-28 , the apostles were told that they will sit upon the throne of Christ's glory and that they will also sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel,

Matthew 19:27-28 - (27) Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (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 [i.e. in the millennium], ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

New Testament saints will judge the world and also angels according to I Corinthians 6:2-3 ,

I Corinthians 6:2-3 - (2) Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (3) Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

Those who endure in the church age will reign with Christ according to II Timothy 2:12 ,

II Timothy 2:12 - If we suffer [i.e. endure, meaning, if we hold fast our faith in Christ through trials and misfortunes], we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.

The overcomer in the church age will reign with Christ according to Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:26 and 3:21.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:26 - And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:21 - To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

In Revelation of Jesus Christ 5:10 , the twenty-four elders said, And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Furthermore, judgment was given unto them, i.e. to the ones who sat down on the thrones.

By judgment John means judging, which is the function of a judge. In other words, they functioned as judges.

Back to Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:4

I saw the souls of them that were beheaded indicates that John saw the souls of the ones who had been beheaded with axes. These are tribulation saints who had been martyred.

Were beheaded means were beheaded with an axe, and its tense indicates that its action had already occurred prior to the time that John saw them. John sees them in his vision during the millennium, but they had been beheaded during the time of the tribulation.

For the witness of Jesus is because of (or on account of) their testimony about Jesus. They had been testifying of (or about) Jesus. Because of this, they had been beheaded.

Another cause for their having been beheaded is for the word of God which is because of (or on account of) their word of God where the word of God means their word (or their message) about God.

Not only were they beheaded with axes, but they also were ones which had not worshipped the beast.

Which is such ones who, and its use indicates that this group which John saw is larger than these tribulation martyrs who had been beheaded and also includes those who had been martyred in some other manner. Verse 5 also suggests that this group may include more people than just those who had been martyred by beheading.

Had not worshipped is did not worship, did not fall down and worship, did not do obeisance to, or did not reverence. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. The tense of had not worshipped implies that they had never, not even one time, worshiped the beast or his image.

The beast is the antichrist, who was introduced in Revelation of Jesus Christ 13 as the beast out of the sea.

Neither his image is nor his (i.e. nor the antichrist's) image (or likeness). It refers to the image or likeness of the antichrist which the false prophet had set up and had somehow made to speak and which people had been required to worship or die.

Neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands is literally, And they did not receive the mark upon their forehead or upon their hand. Not only had they not worshiped the beast; but also they had not received his mark, which was given to all those who had worshiped the beast.

The tense of neither had received indicates that they had never received his mark upon their foreheads or in their right hands. This means that they had not been able to buy or sell because they had defied the law requiring the mark of the beast. The beast worshipers had all received this mark in their foreheads or in their right hands. This mark of the beast marks the beast worshipers as belonging to the beast.

The fact that the mark was upon the forehead or upon the hand suggests that the mark was on the surface of the skin where it could be readily seen.

Also, regarding these tribulation saints who had been beheaded, they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Although they had been murdered, they lived. This necessitates a resurrection from the dead.

Also they reigned with Christ is they became kings with Christ or they ruled as kings with Christ, which suggests that Christ was also reigning with them.

A thousand years is the length of time throughout which they reigned with Christ. It refers to the period of time known as the millennium.

III. THE FIRST RESURRECTION - 20:5-6

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:5-6 - (5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (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.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to what has been stated in verse 4, that those who had been 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 . . . lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

But the rest of the dead refers to the unsaved dead. It is but the others of the dead or but the remaining ones of the dead.

The group of people referred to as the dead includes two subgroups of people: the saved dead and the lost dead. The saved dead are those who had demonstrated their faith by refusing to worship the beast or his image or to receive his mark on their foreheads or right hands even though it may have cost them their lives.

The saved dead does not include saved people who managed to live through the great tribulation period because they would not have died. Hence, they would not be part of the group known as the dead.

The second group of dead people are those who demonstrated their lost spiritual condition by worshiping the beast or his image and by receiving his mark upon their foreheads or in their right hands rather than being killed. Saved people did not earn salvation by refusing to worship the beast or his image or by refusing to receive his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands, and lost people did not lose their salvation by worshiping the beast or his image or by receiving his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands. Each group, person by person, merely demonstrated the reality of his faith in Christ or the lack of saving faith in Christ by his actions.

The rest of the dead [i.e. the rest of the unsaved dead] lived not again until the thousand years were finished is did not live again (or did not come to life again) until the thousand years were finished but clearly indicates that they did live again after the thousand years were finished. Their resurrection will take place just as definitely as the resurrection of the tribulation saints who have been martyred for their faith, but it will take place one thousand years later.

Until the thousand years were finished is until the thousand years were brought to an end or until the thousand years were completed, and the thousand years refers to that period of time during which, according to verses 2-3, Satan will be bound with a chain and confined to the bottomless pit and during which, according to verse 4, the tribulation martyrs will reign with Christ.

In this context this is the first resurrection refers to the resurrection of the martyrs of the tribulation.

This refers to the phrase they lived in verse 4. It is referring to the resurrection from the dead of the saved people who had been martyred for their faith during the tribulation.

That it is the first resurrection implies that there is going to be a second resurrection.

First is used in the sense of first (of several). Regarding the resurrection, it is the first of two. In the Scriptures the first resurrection is a resurrection to life (i.e. to eternal life in heaven) and ultimately includes all those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ.

The second resurrection is a resurrection to death (i.e. to everlasting punishment in hell, the lake of fire) and includes all those who have rejected God's remedy for their sins and who will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire.

The first resurrection takes place in several stages at different times and includes several different groups of people. The first resurrection includes the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of some in Matthew 27:52-53 where the graves were opened where . . . many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came up out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

It also includes the resurrection of the believers from the church age whose resurrection takes place at the rapture, and the resurrection of Old Testament saints and tribulation saints, both of whom are resurrected from the dead following the second coming of Christ.

I Corinthians 15:21-24 is pertinent here,

I Corinthians 15:21-24 - (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (24) Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

The second resurrection takes place at the great white throne judgment at the end of Revelation of Jesus Christ 20 , and everyone who is resurrected in the second resurrection will spend eternity in hell, i.e. in the lake of fire.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 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.

The saints martyred during the tribulation had been publicly humiliated. Now God selects them for public triumph on the occasion of the establishment of His kingdom in the earth.

The fifth beatitude or blessing in the Book of Revelation is introduced by blessed which means happy or fortunate. Blessed is used to describe the one who has part in the first resurrection.

A second description of the one who has part in the first resurrection is holy, which is used in the sense of consecrated to God.

As indicated by the italics, is has been supplied by the translators.

He that hath part in the first resurrection is the one who is blessed and holy. It is literally the one having (or the one who has) part in the resurrection, the first (one).

A part is a share, which means that he participates in the first resurrection. It is the resurrection to life in which all saved people will ultimately share. It is the first of two resurrections. This appears to be a more general statement than the one in verse 4 and seems to include not only the tribulation martyrs but the saints resurrected at the rapture and the Old Testament saints resurrected at the second coming.

On such the second death hath no power is the first of three reasons given in verse 6 indicating why those who have part in the first resurrection are blessed.

On such is on these and means on these persons who have part in the first resurrection.

The second death is literally the death, the second (one); and its meaning is clarified in verse 14, And death and hell (i.e. hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This being cast into the lake of fire is the second death; and according to verse 15, whoever's name is not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.

Hath no power is has no ability in the sense of has no capability or has no might.

The tense of hath or has indicates a continuing or ongoing situation which is not going to change. The second death always or continuously has no power over those who participate in the first resurrection, or the second death never has power over those who participate in the first resurrection. Their sins have been forgiven, and they will never come into condemnation.

Romans 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

John 5:24 - Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

We also read in -

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:11 - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Who is the overcomer? John answers this in I John 5:4-5 -

I John 5:4-5 - 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Back to Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:6

But indicates a strong contrast with on such the second death hath no power.

The contrast is first that they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and, secondly, that they shall reign with him a thousand years.

They refers to those individuals who have part in the first resurrection, and there is no limitation indicating that it refers only to the tribulation saints rather than to the church age saints or to the Old Testament saints.

Shall be priests of God and of Christ is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to occur. It speaks of the individual priesthood of the believer.

Of God is likely a reference to God the Father, but it might possibly refer to Christ.

If God refers to God the Father rather than to God the Son, i.e. to Christ, then and is used to indicate that those who have part in the first resurrection will be priests of two Persons of the Godhead, i.e. of God the Father and of Christ.

If, however, God refers to God the Son rather than to God the Father, then and must be understood in the sense of even or in the emphatic sense of indeed or in fact.

In either case, as individual believer-priests, saved people do not have to go through any human being in order to gain immediate access to God the Father. Christ has made this access possible by shedding His blood on the cross. Furthermore, inasmuch as all saved people are individual priests before God, they all have equal standing in God's sight as far as access to Him is concerned. There is no hierarchy among believers in God's sight. All believers have equal and immediate access to God's presence through Christ, and there are no waiting lines. A word of caution is in order at this point: the individual priesthood of the believer does not grant any believer the license to disobey the Scriptural teaching or commands and claim that he can do as he pleases because he has soul liberty.

A third thing is true of each and every person who has part in the first resurrection: he shall reign with him a thousand years.

Shall reign is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen and means shall rule or shall be (a) king.

With him means with Christ.

A thousand years indicates the period throughout which the saints will reign with Christ. It is the same thousand-year period throughout which Satan will be bound and confined in the bottomless pit according to verses 2-3 and during which, according to verse 4, the tribulation martyrs will reign with Christ. It is also the same time period which separates the first and second resurrections. There is no reason to believe that these are not literal years of 365 days each.