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Revelation: Chapter 20


As seen in the chronology of Revelation, John is viewing all of these many events from several vantage points, in heaven, on earth, the bottomless pit, and the lake of fire.  

This chapter concludes the seven years of tribulation and introduces first the millennial reign of Christ, Satan's release from the abyss, followed by his final rebellion, and then the great white throne judgment.  There are so many important events that flow into the full purposes of the Lord, which is to be with mankind for the future eternity.  Ezekiel chapters 40-48 provide details of the Lord's millennial reign from the perspective of the children of Israel.  This chapter is from the saint's perspective who returns with Christ Jesus to rule as priests and kings with the Lord.

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-3 Satan thrown into the bottomless pit
4-6 The completion of the first resurrection
7-9 Satan's release for a short season
10 Satan thrown into the lake of fire
11-15 The second resurrection

Satan thrown into the bottomless pit     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 20:1-3, after the end of the battle of Armageddon, and after the Antichrist and false prophet have been cast into the lake of fire, John now observes an angel coming down from heaven who already had the key to the Abyss as seen in Revelation 9:1-2.  This time this angel will have a great chain.  He will seize Satan and bind him for a 1,000 years, the entire time that Christ will be reigning over this world.  These passages also reveal some of the other names for Satan, as the dragon, ancient serpent, and devil.  Once Satan is thrown into the abyss, it is locked and sealed with Satan in the pit.  He is kept there to prevent him from deceiving the nations during Christís millennial reign.  However, Satan will be released for a short time after the 1,000 years has passed, as will be seen later in this chapter.

The completion of the first resurrectionChapter OutlineTop

In Revelation 20:4a Ė John reports seeing thrones and those seated having authority to judge.  There are several other instances of saints being seated on thrones in scripture, such as the scene in Daniel's vision where the saints are seated before the Ancient of Days during the judgment of the beast, Daniel 7:9-10.  As a result of the judgment, the power of the Antichrist will be destroyed and the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High, Daniel 7:26-27.

Jesus also promised the Twelve that when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne (at the millennium), those who followed Him will sit on twelve thrones, Matthew 19:28-30.  Then there are also the 24 thrones in heaven about the throne of the Father, which represents the church during the tribulation, Revelation 4:4.

Finally, Paul wrote to Timothy, how that we will reign with Christ during His earthly reign, 2Timothy 2:11-13.  In the message of Christ to the churches, the Lord stated to them that overcame, that they would sit down with the Lord on His throne, as the Lord had overcome and set down on the Father's throne, Revelation 3:21-22.

This section of Revelation is the beginning of the kingdom that Jesus first announced to Israel during His first advent, a message that the nation of Israel rejected, Luke 10:1-16.  The time period following the battle of Armageddon is a glorious time for those who ever believed in Christ for their salvation, for at that time His kingdom is established on the earth as has been the prayer of the church since Christ taught us how to pray in Luke 11:2.

The millennial reign of Christ will be the first time since the Garden of Eden when Satan will not been allowed to be the cause of any mischievous activity and tempt, seduce, or lie against mankind, nor about the person of Jesus Christ.  What an incredible period to live through. Christ will rule with a rod of iron over those who are His enemies, but to those who love and accept Him as their Savior, He will be the loving Shepherd. Christ is not taking away free will for man; He is just taking away an excuse for not following Christ and being obedient to his word. As mentioned in Zechariah 14:16-21.  His enemies will be forced to assemble once a year to appear before the Lamb of God during His millennial reign.  For Christians, this will be a great breath of fresh air, but for His enemies, a terrible time.

We have reached the point where your decision to either accept Christ as your Savior, or not, will put you into one of two categories. You will either be part of the sheep who enjoy Godís blessings, or you will be in Hades awaiting your appearance before God at the great white throne judgment. If, after the rapture of the church, you happen to live through the tribulation period, you will be separated out as a goat from the sheep, and be forever marked as an enemy of Christ until your death.  Afterwards, you will appear before God at the Great White Throne judgment. Now is the time to accept Christ, and not put it off any longer, Matthew 25:31-46

This passage concerning the millennial reign of Christ is in addition to the passages of Ezekiel chapters 40-48.  The passages in Ezekiel were dealing with Christ's physical and centralized worldwide government in the land of Israel and His fulfillment of all the promises he gave to Israel.  However, this part of Revelation 20 is dealing with the resurrected saints, which consists of three basic groups:

  • The Old Testament saints.  Jesus had spoken of the resurrection of the Old Testaments, John 5:24-30, which is the same as in Daniel 12:1-3.
  • The church.  The Lord had told the disciples that he would prepare a place for them and return, which is the church, John 14:1-7.
  • The slain tribulation saints.  The slain tribulation saints were seen under the altar of God, who were slain for the word of God, and for their testimony, Revelation 6:9-11.

A great number of tribulation saints, Revelation 20:4 will be beheaded during the tribulation because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. This is the same group identified with the opening of the fifth seal, asking the Lord how long before the Lordís judgment and vengeance for their blood Revelation 6:9-11. They did not worship the beast (the Antichrist), his image, nor received his mark on their foreheads or their hand. Recall that during the tribulation, an angel loudly proclaimed that anyone who worships the beast, his image and received his mark on his forehead or hand will drink the wine of God's fury, in full strength, Revelation 14:9-11. These tribulation saints have been resurrected to reign with Christ for a 1,000 years.

Life during the millennial rule of Christ will be very different than what we are accustomed in our present world.  During the millennial reign of Christ, three basic groups of peoples will exist contemporaneously:

  • The resurrected saints (old and new testament saints)
  • The surviving saints of God from the tribulation (Jews and Gentiles)
  • The survivors who do not accept the Lord as their own personal savior

In Revelation 20:5, a distinction is made between the first and second resurrections.  Those who died before the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ, and were not part of the first resurrection (the righteous), will be part of the second resurrection (the unrighteous). The tribulation saints who were slain in Revelation 20:4 are part of the first resurrection.

In Revelation 20:6, those who have part of the first resurrection are blessed, as seen in the following table.  They will have no part in the second death (eternal suffering in the lake of fire), nor will the second death have power over them.  Those of the first resurrection, like Christ who is after the order of Melchizedek, will be priests of God and of Christ and reign with Him for 1,000 years.


Verse in Revelation


Blessed are those who read, hear, and do what is written in this prophecy
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on
Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes on him
Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection
Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book
Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may the right to the tree of life and go through the gates into the city

Satan's release for a short season     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 20:7-9, the timeframe is after the Lord has reigned 1,000 years.  The importance of this duration of time is to indicate when Satan is released from the bottomless pit.  Note that this is not the end of the Lord's reign on earth when Satan is released; this period of time is just the beginning of Christ's eternal reign over this world and mankind. After Satan's release from the Abyss, he will resume the old practice to deceive the nations throughout the world, including Gog and Magog.  Satan will be preparing these nations for the final rebellion against the Lord and gather them for war against Christ at His holy city.  The numbers of peoples who are part of this rebellion are like the sand on the seashore, which is indicative of two things; the incredible population explosion that will occur under Christ's reign, and the final proof of the innate wickedness of man's heart.  A common question to ask is why Satan will be released.  A reason may be that Satan's activities will expose the true state of those living during the millennium as to whether or not they are surrendered to God's will, or continue to live according to their self-will.  During the millennium, many will enjoy the blessing of the Lord, without ever believing in Him.  This is exemplified during the Lordís First Advent when He separated Himself from the crowds at the beginning of His ministry because he knew their hearts.  He knew that they believed in Him because of the many miracles he performed, but their hearts were not perfect toward Him, John 2:23-25.  So Satan's final deceitful acts will separate the believers in Christ from those who do not believe in Him.  It will also demonstrate that under the reign of Christ all things would grow and flourish, but the unregenerate heart would still exist, Romans 5:12. This demonstrates that people who chose to be with Christ were not of Christ, John 6:43-71   The final act of rebellion will be the march by those who reject Christ's lordship, from all parts of the world and assemble around the holy portion of Israel.  Because of this rebellion fire comes down from heaven and devours all those who have rebelled against the Lord.

This brings us to the final reason for the release of Satan from the bottomless pit and allowing his final rebellion. The Apostle Paul wrote of the mystery of Godís will that He purposed in Christ when times have reached their fulfillment to bring all things in heaven and on earth under one head, Christ, Ephesians 1:9-10. It was written that the Son of Man was made a little lower than the angels, and God crowned Him with glory and honor and put everything under His feet, Hebrews 2:6-9. When the end will come, then the Lord will hand over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all enemies dominion, authority and power, 1Corinthians 15:22-28:

  • The Lord must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet
  • The last enemy to be destroyed is death, Revelation 20:14-15
  • When the Lord has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to the Father who put everything under Him so that God may be all in all

What happens to the millennial saints

At this point, the world's sin past and present is being dealt with.  However, during the millennial reign of Christ, there are a great number of saints who have been born.  They have accepted Christ's righteousness unto themselves through His saving grace, by believing on Him for their salvation.  So what has happened to the righteous at this time?  Clearly, the conditions that are described in this chapter to end Satan's final rebellion are not conducive to the continuance of living in physical bodies.  There appears to be nothing in scripture that details with what happens to the millennial saints when God rains fire upon the rebellious against the Lordís reign, Revelation 20:9.  Again, what happens to the millennial saints?  It is the opinion of this website that since the rapture of the church would have occurred over millennia of time previous to Satanís final rebellion, it becomes the precedence for the millennial saints. As with the rapture of the church and the example of Enoch, Genesis 5:21-25, the millennial saints who are still in their physical state will be raptured before the judgment of God occurs on earth.  

This will be a singular event that may happen immediately before the time when the Father ends Satanís rebellion and the rebellious and all the unrighteous in human history would then experience the second resurrection and appear before the great white throne judgment.  However, for the righteous, as Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 15:50, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Then Paul goes on to talk about the rapture of the church. Therefore, it is necessary for the millennial Saints to be transformed in order to be in the presence of the Lord through eternity future. It is thought that the millennial saints will experience what the church will, the rapture. They will be transformed, in a twinkling of an eye from their physical fleshly bodies to their eternal bodies. When human kind enters into eternity future, all the saints of God will have their resurrected, transformed, eternal bodies and be in the presence of God forever. The souls and resurrected bodies of the unrighteous will be in the lake of fire for eternity future as seen in the following passages.

Satan thrown into the lake of fire     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 20:10, Satan is seen being thrown immediately into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is described as burning sulfur, Revelation 14:9-11. The Antichrist and the False Prophet were the first to occupy the lake of fire, and will have been there for a 1,000 years before Satan is thrown into it, Revelation 19:19-20. This is the same place that is reserved for those who worshiped the beast, his image, or had his mark on his body, Revelation 14:9-12. The lake of fire is also identified as the second death, which is separation from God and in no way infers annihilation, but as seen earlier, it is eternal judgment, Revelation 21:8.  

The second resurrection     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 20:11-15, the situation concerning the judgment of the wicked is now described as the second resurrection.  John saw a great white throne and the Father seated on it.  Also he sees the earth and sky flee from the presence of God and the dead of all rank in life were before the throne.  The books were opened, and also the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done, since they did not accept or believe the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore were not in the robe of the Lord's righteousness.  The totality of every person ever born on this earth appearing before God for judgment, whose name is not in the Lamb's book of life, is seen when the sea gives up the dead. Death and Hades give up the dead that are in them.  These represent the body turning to dust (death) and the soul in Hades, Ecclesiastes 3:20-21, Ecclesiastes 12:7, thus representing the second resurrection. Each person will be judged according to what they had done, since they were not covered by the blood of Christ, and His righteousness, Romans 2:5-11, 1Peter 1:17-21.

This is the end of all the judgments of mankind, as eternity future with God is introduced to the righteous.   The end of all these matters is when death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire so that there is no further judgment, or areas set aside for future judgment.  It will all be concluded at that time.  The lake of fire is the second death.  Anyoneís name not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Find more information on this subject in this site by following the link:  God is made all in all.

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last edited August 2014