Revelation chapter 20

Satan is imprisoned. The martyrs are resurrected. Satan loses the final battle. The wicked are judged and thrown into the Lake of Fire. [UPDATED]

 


 

SATAN IS IMPRISONED

 

VERSE 1. I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

the abyss. The Greek word is ἄβυσσος (“abussos”). It means boundless, bottomless, unfathomable depth. It is the home of the dead and of evil spirits.

Luke 8:31. They begged him that he would not command them to go into the abyss.

Romans 10:7.  or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)”

Revelation 9:1. The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.

Revelation 9:11. They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is “Abandon”, but in Greek, he has the name “Apollyon”.

Revelation 11:7. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.

Revelation 17:8. The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.

Revelation 20:1. I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

Revelation 20:2. He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years,

Revelation 20:3. and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time.

 

VERSE 2. He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years,

a thousand years. The Greek words are χίλια ἔτη (“chili etē”).

However, the Latin approximation is more relevant to most Christians: mille annus. From that word mille we get the English word, “Millennium.”

Some Christians focus on the Millennium. They anticipate a golden age when Jesus Christ will reign on the earth for 1,000 years. This focus is called Millennialism.

 

VERSE 3. and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time.

cast him into. Satan will be imprisoned for a thousand years.

the abyss. This is a bottomless pit. It is the home of demons.

Luke 8:31. They begged him that he would not command them to go into the abyss.

Romans 10:7.  or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)”

Revelation 9:1. The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.

Revelation 9:11. They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is “Abandon”, but in Greek, he has the name “Apollyon”.

Revelation 11:7. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.

Revelation 17:8. The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.

Revelation 20:1. I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

Revelation 20:2. He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years,

Revelation 20:3. and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time.

that he should deceive the nations no more. There will be a thousand years of peace.

the thousand years. These are the same Greek words as we saw in verse 2 above.

 

THE MARTYRS ARE RESURRECTED

 

VERSE 4. I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn’t worship the beast nor his image, and didn’t receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

those who had been beheaded. John is seeing martyrs for Jesus Christ.

for the testimony of Jesus. They were killed for talking about Jesus Christ.

and for the word of God. They were killed for talking about the Bible.

They lived. That is, they came to life. It is beautiful that the first people to be resurrected will be martyrs.

reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Together with Jesus Christ, the martyrs will rule the earth for a thousand years.

In the kingdom of Jesus Christ, humble people will be greatly exalted!

 

VERSE 5. The rest of the dead didn’t live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

until the thousand years were finished. Everybody else waits to be resurrected until after the thousand years.

the first resurrection. Apparently there will be more than one resurrection.

This resurrection of the martyrs is the first resurrection. It does not take place right after the person dies. Instead, it is a collective event. It takes place in the future.

 

VERSE 6. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him one thousand years.

the second death has no power. Those who have been resurrected are invulnerable to death.

 

SATAN LOSES THE FINAL BATTLE

 

VERSE 7. And after the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison,

After the thousand years. The thousand-year rule of Jesus Christ on earth does not last forever.

Satan will be released from his prison. The ultimate battle will soon commence.

 

VERSE 8. and he will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

he will come out to deceive the nations. Jesus Christ has been reigning on earth for a thousand years.

After a thousand years of that, people can still be led astray from Jesus Christ. We humans are very weak in our convictions.

the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. In ancient days, God told Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the sand on the seashore.

In the End Times, the forces of evil will attract many people. It will be as numerous as the sands on the seashore.

 

VERSE 9. They went up over the width of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. Fire came down out of heaven from God and devoured them.

They went up over the width of the earth. From every corner of the world, countless people walk to the city God loves. There, they will launch a ground assault.

the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. Probably Jerusalem.

Fire came down … and devoured them. The battle is over before it began.

 

VERSE 10. The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are also. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

the lake of fire and sulfur. The Lake of Fire is also mentioned in:

Matthew 25:41. Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels;

Revelation 19:20. The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked the signs in his sight, with which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Revelation 20:14. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8. But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

the beast and the false prophet. They had already been thrown alive into the lake of fire.

They will be tormented. How will they be tormented?

day and night forever and ever. People in the lake of fire will endure an endless succession of days and nights.

Their existence in the lake of fire will be very different from the existence of those in eternity

The realm of eternity will be unlike anything we know from the time-space continuum.

 

THE WICKED ARE JUDGED AND THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE

 

VERSE 11. I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them.

a great white throne. This is the throne of God Almighty. The judgment that is about to take place is sometimes called the Great White Throne Judgment.

Him who sat upon it. God the Father is seated on his throne.

earth and heaven fled away. Some people say the cosmos will be completely annihilated. The time space continuum will be no more.

heaven. The Greek word is οὐρανός (“ouranos”). That could mean “the heavens” as in what we see in the sky. Or it could mean “Heaven” as in the spiritual heaven.

This verse could be saying that the spiritual realm of heaven will be destroyed. After all, the ultimate destination is not “Heaven” but rather “Eternity.”

no place was found for them. There is no place for the earth or heaven.

 

VERSE 12. I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.

the dead, the great and the small. All people who have ever existed will gather in this one place, all at once. It will be gargantuan assembly.

standing before the throne. They stand before the throne of God Almighty.

they opened books. From this verse, people get the idea that God is keeping an eye on them, and transcribing their every evil deed into a book, and that this book will be referenced at judgement day.

They see God as a record-keeper.

the book of life. The Greek word for “life” is ζωῆς (“zōēs”). It means both physical life and spiritual life. The context would suggest that this book of life pertains to spiritual life.

judged out of the things which were written in the books. How were these dead people judged? By what criteria?

Many preachers tell us the criteria will be whether or not we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. However, this verse gives us a very different answer. People will be judged:

according to their works. The dead are not judged according to their faith, but according to their deeds. This is echoed in other passages:

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

 

VERSE 13. The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.

the sea gave up the dead. Some people say there should be no burials at sea. Their rationale is that the body is completely destroyed and even God could not “reassemble” it.

However, God is entirely capable of “reassembling” the dead from the sea.

Hades. The Greek word is ᾅδης (“hadēs”). It is the unseen place, the invisible realm were all the dead had been residing. It is the dwelling place of all the departed.

When people die, they go there to await the final judgment.

 

VERSE 14. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Death … thrown into the lake of fire. The reality of death is done.

Hades … thrown into the lake of fire. Hades is done. It has fulfilled its purpose.

This is the second death. The first death is when our earthly life comes to an end. The second death is this spiritual one. After the final judgment, people are cast into the lake of fire.

the lake of fire. When most Christians speak of eternal “life,” what they mean is NOT going to the lake of fire:

Matthew 25:41. Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels;

Revelation 19:20. The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked the signs in his sight, with which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Revelation 20:14. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8. But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

 

VERSE 15. If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

the lake of fire. In popular culture, people imagine that the ultimate destination for the damned is “Hell.”

However, it is not “Hell.” Rather, it is this lake of fire.

 


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REVELATION

CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

RESOURCES: Summary, Outline, Memorize

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


 

Author: Todd Van Natta

I was given a great gift. It is to be passionate about Jesus Christ and the Bible and the spiritual life. I am a Christian believer. I believe in Jesus Christ. I’m in love with Jesus! I believe the Bible. I love the Bible. For decades, I've been reading it cover-to-cover, again and again and again. I’ve memorized a whole lot of Bible verses. Most of all, I want the Bible to help us fall more deeply in love with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, with other people, and with ourselves. And I've been reading the great writings from the entire Christian heritage for decades. At Explore the Faith, I share what I have discovered.

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