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. At this point on Israel's prophetic timeline, the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and Christ with the blowing of the 7th trumpet is fully realized, Revelation 11:15. In His millennial reign the Lord has fulfilled His role as our kinsman redeemer where He married the church, Revelation 19:7-9, and threw the usurper into the pit for 1,000 years, Revelation 20:1-3. This is the time when all the Lord promised the seven synagogues, or churches, will come to fruition because they were overcomers and had an ear to hear. these survivors rule with Him over the nations, Revelation 2:26, be a kingdom of priests, Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:9-10, Revelation 20:6, and with the Lord, they will rule with an iron scepter, Psalms 2:6-12, Revelation 2:27, Revelation 3:21. During His reign, every morning the Lord will cutoff every evil doer from the Lord’s city, Psalms 101:8. This is also the time when the Lord again takes the Passover cup as He promised His apostles the night He was betrayed, Luke 22:15-22.

This chapter concludes the seven years of tribulation, and shows the binding of Satan in the abyss temporarily. This chapter then introduces the millennial reign of Christ, followed by 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 40:1-49 through Ezekiel 48:1-35 provide details of the Lord's millennial reign from the perspective of the children of Israel. Revelation 20:1-15 is a very short chapter, but is packed with information showing how our Lord Jesus Christ has fully satisfied all His promises to those who believed on His name and were called according to His purpose, Romans 8:28.


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
  • 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 observes an unnamed angel coming down from heaven who had the key to the Abyss, the location seen in Revelation 9:1-2. This time this angel will have a great chain in his hand. He will seize Satan and bind him for 1,000 years, which is at the beginning of Christ's eternal reign 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 Christ's 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 resurrection
  • Outline
  • Top

In Revelation 20:4, 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 that 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.

Paul wrote to Timothy, that we, the Body-of-Christ, will reign with Christ Jesus during His earthly reign, 2Timothy 2:11-13. In the seven letters of Christ to the churches in Revelation 2:1-29 and Revelation 3:1-22, the Lord stated that those who overcame, they would sit down with the Lord on His throne, as the Lord had overcome and sat 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 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 be 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 from man; He is 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 believe and confess Christ as your Savior, Romans 10:8-10, or not, will determine which of two categories. You will either be part of the sheep who enjoy God's 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.

The beginning of the millennial reign of Christ Jesus is a time of great joy and exhilaration for the saints of God, as the first resurrection is completed. The first resurrection is for saints in their eternal bodies to be with the Lord. It has three major components in order, 1Corinthians 15:23

  • First, Christ Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection, 1Corinthians 15:20, with the saints who were resurrected from the dead immediately after the Lord’s resurrection, Matthew 27:52
  • Second, is when the Lord Jesus comes in the clouds
    • Just as He ascended in the clouds, it was proclaimed He would return for the church in like manner, Acts 1:9-11, John 14:1-4
    • At that same time He is coming for all those who died in Christ (meaning those who died after the Lord's resurrection), 1Thessalonians 4:13-16.
    • Then those who are alive at His appearing, will be transformed at the twinkle of an eye and be snatched up (raptured), to be with Him for evermore, 1Thessalonians 4:17-18, 1Corinthians 15:51-58
  • Third, will be the resurrection of all the remaining saints to live and reign with Christ, from before the Lord’s resurrection, along with those who died after the rapture of the Body-of-Christ, Rev 20:4, John 5:25
    • The tribulation saints will sit on thrones, Revelation 20:4
    • The righteous in Israel will sit on thrones, Daniel 12:1-3

This passage concerning the millennial reign of Christ is in addition to the passages of Ezekiel chapters 40:1-49 - Ezekiel 48:1-35. 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 20:1-15 is dealing with the resurrected saints.

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 Lord's 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. 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 Jesus 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 children of 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), but they 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, which is summarized in the following chart.

In Revelation 20:6, those who have part of the first resurrection are blessed, as seen in the following table. In addition, remembering that the book of the Revelation, is a prophetic book written by the apostle to the circumcision, to the seven synagogues, churches, which are Jewish led, Revelation 1:3-4, the saints from the tribulation churches will:

  • Have a part in the first resurrection
  • Have no part in the second death (the lake of fire)
  • The second death has no power over them
  • Be priests of God, like Christ after the order of Melchizedek, and reign with Him for 1,000 years
  • Eat of the tree of life
  • Have a crown of life and not be hurt by the 2nd death
  • Enjoy Hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it
  • Rule over the nations with a rod of iron
  • Be clothed in white raiment, and have their name in the book of life
  • Be a pillar in God’s temple and with Christ’s new name on them
  • Sit with Christ Jesus on His throne
Verse blessing
1 Revelation 1:3 Blessed are those who read, hear, and do what is written in this prophecy
2 Revelation 14:13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on
3 Revelation 16:15 Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes on him
4 Revelation 19:9 Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb
5 Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection
6 Revelation 22:7 Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book
7 Revelation 22:7 Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and go through the gates into the city

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 Lord's 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 will further show that people who chose to be with Christ were not of Christ, John 2:23-25, John 6:43-71, 1John 2:19. 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 God's 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 enemy's 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

Satan’s release is the agent God uses to precipitate the remaining evil in the world that was dormant during the Lord’s millennial reign.

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 Lord's 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 Satan's 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 Satan's 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.

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 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 suffering will be perpetual, where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched, Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:43-48.

The unrighteous are bound until the 2nd resurrection

Those who die and chose not to believe in Christ Jesus, are not part of the first resurrection. In a section above is a chart on the life's choice and eternal experiences. It is a simple view of a person's eternal life depending if they believe on Christ Jesus nor not, 1Corinthians 15:1-4. For the unrighteous, at their death their soul will immediately go to hades and wait until after the millennial reign of Christ Jesus for the second resurrection, Revelation 20:5. An example of this is rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31. Then aa the unrighteous will appear before the Lord Jesus Christ who sits on the great white throne judgment. They will not all appear and be judged as a group, but each person will stand alone before the Lord in judgment, Revelation 20:11. This is the second resurrection, Revelation 20:13, John 5:28-29, when the books will be opened along with the book of life, Daniel 12:2, Revelation 20:11-15. Those whose name are not in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire to suffer for eternity, Revelation 20:15. The other books are not to determine their degree of righteousness, but the degree of their punishment, Luke 12:42-48. The place of their eternal torment is the lake of fire, which is the second death, Revelation 20:14. This is a lake of burning sulfur, where its occupants will be tormented perpetually, Revelation 20:10, Matthew 25:46, Jude 1:7.

In Revelation 20:11-13, is the judgment for all the wicked who were born on earth. They will be raised from the dead with their eternal bodies. This is the second resurrection and the end of the “day of the Lord”, Rev 20:11-13. John saw a great white throne and the Lord Jesus Christ seated on it, John 5:22, where:

  • The earth and sky fled from the presence of God
  • 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
  • The sea gave up the dead
  • Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, representing the body turning to dust (death) and the soul in hades Hebrews 4:12, Ecclesiastes 3:20-21, 12:6-7, Revelation 6:7-8, thus representing the 2nd resurrection
  • Each person will be judged according to Paul’s gospel, Romans 2:16
  • They will also be judged according to their deeds and put into the lake of fire since they were not covered by the blood of Christ, and clothed in His righteousness, Romans 2:6-11, 1Peter 1:17-21

In Revelation 20:14-15, is the end of all the judgments of mankind, as eternity future with God is introduced to the righteous in the presence of God, and the unrighteous in eternal punishment. 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, since there will be no more sin in the kingdom of God, all things have been divinely reconciled justly and equitably. It will all be concluded at that time. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone's name not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. There are no exceptions, waivers, or excuses for not believing in the Christ Jesus to be covered by His blood and be justified, Romans 5:9. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Psalm 14:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, 9:1-2, Romans 3:10. Now all sin has been judged and a permanent separation between the righteous and unrighteous with an impenetrable barrier is established, the Lord reveals eternity future to John, Revelation 21:1-27. Find more information on this subject in this site by following the link: God is made all in all.