Setting

In the previous chapter, we saw the war between Christ and the beast. The beast and the false prophet were captured and cast into the lake of fire, and the beasts’ followers were killed with the sword. In this chapter we read of the binding and release of Satan as well as the reign of believers with Christ. Like the beast and false prophet, Satan will also be cast into the lake of fire after a futile attempt to make war with God’s people. Then the dead are judged, and anyone not found written in the Book of Life is also cast into the lake of fire. This final judgment marks the end of world history and the beginning of a new heaven and new earth.

Key Verse

(20:6)

Did You Know...?

1. Common interpretations of the millennium: 1) Premillenialists believe that Christ will come before the millennium begins to reign in the world with His saints. 2) Postmillenialists believe that we are now in the millennium, and that Christ will come at the end of the millennium. 3) Amillenialists believe that there is no literal reign for a thousand years, and that the millennium is a spiritual reign at the present time.
2. Gog and Magog (20:8): “Names of a ruler, Gog, and his land, Magog, in the Bible. Gog is the leader, in Ezekiel 38 and 39, of an invading army from ‘the uttermost parts of the north’ who will attack Israel ‘in the latter years.’” [ref]

Outline

  • Binding of Satan
    (20:1-3)
  • Thousand-Year Reign
    (20:4-6)
  • Release and Doom of Satan
    (20:7-10)
  • Great White Throne Judgment
    (20:11-15)

Segment Analysis

  • 20:1-6

    1a.

    Who bound the dragon and why was he bound?

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    The angel bound the dragon and shut him up in the bottomless pit so that he should deceive the nations no more.

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  • 1b.

    What does the binding of the dragon symbolize?

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    The binding of Satan symbolizes the removal of Satan’s power and activities from the earth.

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  • 1c.

    What does this passage tell us about the nature and extent of Satan’s power?

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    Despite Satan’s great power, he still has to submit to God’s authority. He can exercise his power only with God’s permission.

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  • 2a.

    What is the function of the thrones in 4?

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    These are thrones of judgment. They who sit on them will reign with Christ.

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  • 2b.

    Who will reign with Christ?

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    The souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads. These are the faithful followers of Christ who did not love their lives to the death (cf. 12:11).

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  • 3.

    How is the binding of Satan connected to believers’ reign with Christ?

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    In order for Christ and His saints to reign with complete authority, Christ must put a stop to Satan’s work so that people may restore their spiritual eyesight, be released from sin’s bondage, and acknowledge Jesus as Lord (cf. Mt 12:28,29; Lk 4:18; Acts 26:18).

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  • 4.

    What is the first resurrection? Is it a physical or spiritual resurrection? Support your answer.

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    View A: Physical resurrection. Since the resurrection of the rest of the dead in verse 5 is physical resurrection, it would be natural to understand the first resurrection in verse 4 as referring to physical resurrection. The phrase “they lived and reigned,” when placed in connection with “but the rest of the dead did not live again until,” suggests that both verses 4 and 5 refer to bodily resurrection. The passage also does not indicate otherwise.
    View B: Spiritual resurrection. In Jn 5:25 and 28-29, Jesus made a distinction between spiritual and bodily resurrection. So the first resurrection should be a spiritual one and the final resurrection a bodily one. In other words, those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ participate in the first resurrection (Eph 2:1-5). The resurrection passages of 1Thess 4:15-17 and 1Cor 15:51,52 make no mention of a millennial reign with Christ after the bodily resurrection; i.e. there is only one bodily resurrection and the resurrection in Revelation 20 should be referring to a spiritual one.

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  • 5.

    What is the second death? What does it mean that the second death has no power over those who have part in the first resurrection?

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    The second death is being cast into the lake of fire (14). Sinners will resurrect on the last day to be judged and their souls will be condemned and thrown into the lake of fire (21:8). But those who have part in the first resurrection are believers who have overcome through the redeeming work of Christ. Since Christ has conquered death, His believers will not be harmed by the second death (Jn 11:26; 1Cor 15:54-57; Rev 2:11)

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  • 6.

    How will the believers reign with Christ during the thousand years?

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    They will be priests of God and of Christ (6). Believers are redeemed by Christ to be royal priests and kings (1Pet 2:5-9; Rev 1:5,6; 5:9,10). They have power over sin and dedicate themselves to God’s will (Rom 5:17; 6:12-14). They will offer up intercession and thanksgiving (cf. 1Tim 2:1; 1Pet 2:9; Heb 13:15). They will also judge the world and angels (1Cor 6:2-3; Rev 20:4).

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  • 7.

    When will the binding of Satan and the thousand-year reign begin? a. During Jesus’ earthly ministry? The establishment of the true church in the last days? After Christ’s victorious battle in 19:11- 21? b. Before or after the tribulation period?

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    a. View A: Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Lord Jesus exercised power over Satan through His powerful ministry and thereby inaugurated the thousand-year reign on earth (Lk 10:18,19; Mt 12:28,29).
    View B: The establishment of the true church in the last days. God poured out His Holy Spirit once again in the early 1900s (latter rain) and revived His true church on earth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers were able to cast out and subdue Satan while winning souls to Christ. So the revival of the true church marks the beginning of the thousand-year reign. The difficulty with the above two views has to do with the binding of Satan. While Christ exercises authority over Satan through the church, the work of Satan has not been removed from the earth. Satan still continues to “deceive the nations.” Unless we interpret “the nations” as believers rather than the people of the world (an interpretation that doesn’t seem to fit the context because in verse 8, it is the nations of the world that Satan will deceive after his release), it is difficult to explain why Satan’s work on earth is still rampant although the thousand-year reign has already begun.
    View C: After Christ’s return. This view is held by those who interpret the first resurrection as bodily resurrection. It follows the chronological sequence of Revelation begun at 19:11, where Christ returns to earth and defeats the anti Christ. After the binding of Satan and resurrection of believers, Christ reigns with His saints for a thousand years. 1Cor 15:22-26 also seems to support this sequence (i.e. resurrection—Christ’s reign on earth—destruction of Death). This view also has its difficulties. In other passages in the Bible, the final judgment and destruction of the universe seem to immediately follow Christ’s return (Mt 25:31,32; Jude 14,15; 2Pet 3:10). There is no mention of Christ’s earthly reign after His return.
    b. If we adopt view A or B to the previous question, then the reign of Christ must begin before the tribulation period. In other words, the tribulation will take place either during or after the millennial reign. If we adopt view C, then the thousand year reign would come after the tribulation period.

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  • 20:7-10

    8a.

    Why do you think God released Satan?

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    The release of Satan will be in preparation for the final judgment. Those who do not submit to Christ’s rule will join Satan in the battle against God’s people. Their actions will mark them out for condemnation at the final judgment (cf. 2Thess 2:9-12).

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  • 8b.

    What will the nations of the earth do?

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    They will gather to battle, surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city (8,9).

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  • 9.

    What is the camp of the saints and the beloved city?

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    The church—the community of believers (cf. 21:2; Heb 12:22,23; Gal 4:26; Rom 9:25).

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  • 10.

    What will happen to the devil and his armies?

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    Fire will come down to devour the enemies and the devil will be cast into the lake of fire.

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  • 11.

    What kinds of spiritual battles are you going through today?

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  • 20:11-15

    12.

    What does it mean that the earth and the heaven fled away from God’s face?

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    This refers to the passing away of the old world (Ps 102:26; Is 51:6; 2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 6:14; 16:20)

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  • 13a.

    Who will be judged at the final judgment?

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    The dead, small and great.

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  • 13b.

    On what basis will Christ judge the dead?

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    He will judge everyone according to their works, by the things which were written in the books (12; Mt 12:36,37; 25:31-46; Rom 2:6; 2Cor 5:10; Ps 62:12). A person’s lot is also determined by whether he is found written in the Book of Life (15).

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  • 13c.

    If we are saved by grace through faith, why is the judgment also based on a person’s works?

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    Our works are the outward manifestation of our hearts, and they will demonstrate whether we are true believers (Mt 7:21-23; Eph 2:8-10; Jas 2:17,22).

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  • 14.

    What does the casting of Death and Hades into the lake of fire represent?

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    There will be no more death (1Cor 15:26,52-55; Rev 21:4).

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  • 15.

    On what basis will believers be spared at the judgment and escape from the lake of fire?

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    The atonement of Jesus Christ (Jn 3:16; Rom 8:1,34; 1Thess 1:10). According to verse 15, anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev 13:8 tells us that this Book of Life belongs to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Only those written in the Book can be preserved from the deception of the beast. So it is by the slain Lamb who takes away our sins that we can escape the second death.

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  • 16.

    How does your study of the reign with Christ and final judgment affect your own life?

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