SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 20
In this chapter, John now retraces back to the point when the Devil was defeated at the Crucifixion of Christ, and Satan was then stripped of much of his abilities to control the world. This allowed the Church to grow leaps and bounds and flourish throughout the whole world. This period of time is the age of the Church from the time of the Crucifixion of Christ until He comes again in glory. But 3 and half years before the 2nd coming of Christ, Satan will be allowed to exercise the same amount of power that he had before, and the Church will face severe persecution. Also, John gives us another summary of the battle of Armageddon and also Judgment day, after everyone’s bodies have been raised from the dead.
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.
Premillennialists: Papias (c.60-120), Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Victorinus,
Jewish Chiliasm: A national restoration of Israel, a rebuilding of the temple, and the
centrality of Jerusalem.
Eusebius: St. Papias gives accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition…To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures. For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Irenæus and anyone else that may have proclaimed similar views. (Church History 3.39.13)
Justin Martyr is the first Christian author to write on the Apocalypse. In his “Dialogue with Trypho” chapter 80, he claims that all “right-minded Christians” believe that “there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” He goes on to write in chapter 81: “And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.”
Irenaeus, towards the end of the second century, also takes a Chiliastic interpretation of Revelation. In his “The Refutation (Detection) and Overthrow of Gnosis Falsely So-Called,” usually called “Adversus Haereses” or “Against Heresies,” he writes of the millennium:
“John, therefore, did distinctly foresee the first “resurrection of the just,”(7) and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth; and what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonize [with his vision]. For the Lord also taught these things, when He promised that He would have the mixed cup new with His disciples in the kingdom. The apostle, too, has confessed that the creation shall be free from the bondage of corruption, [so as to pass] into the liberty of the sons of God. (8) And in all these things, and by them all, the same God the Father is manifested, who fashioned man, and gave promise of the inheritance of the earth to the fathers, who brought it (the creature) forth [from bondage] at the resurrection of the just, and fulfils the promises for the kingdom of His Son; subsequently bestowing in a paternal manner those things which neither the eye has seen, nor the ear has heard, nor has [thought concerning them] arisen within the heart of man,(9) For there is the one Son, who accomplished His Father’s will; and one human race also in which the mysteries of God are wrought, “which the angels desire to look into;”(10) and they are not able to search out the wisdom of God, by means of Which His handiwork, confirmed and incorporated with His Son, is brought to perfection; that His offspring, the First-begotten Word, should descend to the creature (facturam), that is, to what had been molded (plasma), and that it should be contained by Him; and, on the other hand, the creature should contain the Word, and ascend to Him, passing beyond the angels, and be made after the image and likeness of God.(11)
Apringius of Beja: In Greek letters, one thousand is designated with an ‘alpha.’ In the name of Christ (Χριστος) we have the cross, which is our victory and the destruction of the evil enemy. Therefore, both by the cross he bound the enemy of the world who deceived those who dwell upon the earth. For to that eternity no time is added, and the eternity of his time will be enclosed by no end, nor will there ever be an end to the number of years. And so by the sovereignty of the Lord through the power of the cross he bound him in the abyss.
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
The thrones and those seated upon them is not reference to the last judgment, but it is reference to Apostolic authority of the Church, which was given to the 12 Apostles and passed on to the Bishops, when Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 18:18),” and, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20:22).”
Reigning with Christ for a thousand years means to be among the elect of the Church in Heaven and on earth. The Church is now called Christ’s kingdom (Matt. 25:34), and Christ reigns with us now, for He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20).” who did not worship the image of the beast and receive his mark, meaning those from the Great Tribulation who did not receive the Mark of the Beast, the came to life, that is their souls in Heaven because here it says the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God; and reigned with Christ for a 100 years, meaning they reign with Christ in Heaven because while the reign of Christ is postponed on earth during the Great Tribulation while the Devil is reigning, the reign of Christ never ended in Heaven. He says that they came to life, which does not mean a physical resurrection, but the resurrection of the soul, the same kind that St. Paul talks about, “If you have risen with Christ, seek the things which are above (Col. 3:1).” Before people are saved they are dead in their trespasses sins (Eph. 2:1), but with salvation Paul says “made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:5-6).”
Oecumenius: If you follow the sequence of the argument and subject every thought in obedience to Holy Scripture, you will understand that those who did not worship the beast and did not receive its mark or its image, are those who did not agree with the rest of the Jews in their plots against the Lord, and who refused to obey the propositions of the abominable and blasphemous Devil. For this is to worship him and his image. For by the word image he means the imprint of [the Devil’s] will in the hearts of the Jews. He also means that this mark includes both control and action. For the head, of which the forehead is a part, stands for control, and the hand stands for action.
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years.
The rest of the dead are those who are not of the people of God, for they are dead in their trespasses and sins whom Jesus spoke of when He said, “Let the dead bury the dead (Matt. 8:22).” They are the ones who die the second death, that is, not only the death of the body but the soul being eternally separated from God. St. John says that the people of God shall be priests of God and of Christ, that is, they are the faithful who exercise their priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation.
BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON ( also Rev. 16:13-21; 19:11-21)
7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison
That is, he will be allowed to exercise his full power.
8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Since John gave 2 other accounts of Armageddon, he now mentions very few details in this account. Gog and Magog is reference to all the nations that are united with the Antichrist, not just two nations. And the camp of the saints and the beloved city is not references to one place, but it is all the places throughout the world where the people of God will be, since the Church is spread all over the world.
The fire coming down from Heaven is not what kills the army of the Antichrist since we know that they were slain by the sword of the Lord’s mouth (see Rev. 19:21), but John skips that detail and tells us that fire comes down and consumes their dead bodies, and then afterword’s that fire will be used to cleanse the earth, which is what St. Peter mentions in his 2nd letter, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire (2 Peter 3:10-12)!” This is done for the preparations of the new heavens and earth.
But the saints who survive the Great Tribulation are taken from the earth before the fire consumes the earth, and the final resurrection takes place within this period of time, St. Paul tells us, “15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord (1Thes 4:15-17).” So, the resurrection of the dead actually happens right before the fire consumes the earth, and when the saints rise from the dead, the saints who are still alive at that time will also be caught up to meet the Lord in the sky. Read more here about ARMAGEDDON
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15 and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Now that the resurrection has taken place, everyone, that is, saved and unsaved, are seen here standing to receive judgment. All of our bodies will be raised from the dead and our souls will be reunited with them, and we are all to be standing before God. The mention of the open books is not to be understood as actual books, but it is to be understood figuratively as God’s divine knowledge, which knows how we have lived our lives and are to be judged. The first set of books is the record of all the unsaved, while the other book, that is, Book of Life, is of the saved. Unfortunately there will be many more who are unsaved than there will be who are saved, which is why the first set of books is used in plural while the one book is singular.
The sea gave up the dead means all those who died and their bodies were in the sea. Death and Hades means all those whose souls were being held in Hades, they were thrown body and soul into the Lake of Fire.