Revelation 20

This is a hotly debated chapter, it introduces what is commonly referred to as 'The Millenium'.
There are six references here to long period of time : 1,000 years, hence the name 'The Millenium'.
Is this 1,000 real or symbolic?

Three basic approaches to 'The Millenium'
Pre-Millenium : Jesus comes before and ushers in this 1,000 year period.
Some take this period to be symbolic others literal.
This is the most common approach in the west.
Post-Millenium : The Church, by way of Gospel and outpouring of the Spirit, ushers in this 1,000 year period.
Some take this period to be symbolic others literal.
Jesus comes after this period.
A-Millenium : The 1,000 year period started at the Ascension of Jesus - He is seated ar right hand of the Father.
Here the period is obviously taken to be symbolic, we are in this period, although some in early church took it literally.
This period will continue until the second coming of Jesus - when there will be judgement.

So which one is right / our preference?
Lets skip that for now, designations can get in the way, still have reservations.
God's blessing of us does not rest on our take of the Millenium.
Revelation 20 has something for everyone - there are encouragements and reminders for all of us.
We must read chapter 20 in the light of the rest of the book of Revelation and in the light of the Bible in general.

Revelation 20:1-3
In view of the genre of the book all numbers should be read symbolically.
Seven things to consider when reading this.

(1) The number 10 speaks of completion and fullness.
  10 commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), 10 plagues (Exodus 7-12), 10 days (Revelation 2:10).
Three sets of numbers (10*10*10) suggests a long or ideal period of time.
There are a number of places in the Bible where the number 1,000 is used symbolically.
  God owns the cattle of a 1,000 hills (Psalm 50).
  One day is like a 1,000 years (2 Peter 3:8).
This symbolic understanding does not take one into either of the three camps mentioned above.

(2) The binding of Satan should be viewed as a "now, but not yet" reality.
We read he has been "bound", "shut" and "sealed"
In light of the world we see around us how can anyone think we are in the millenium now?
In 1 Peter 5:8 we are warned about Satan prowling around (while locked away in chains?).

Jesus stated "The Kingdom of Heaven is near", "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" Matthew 4:17.
Jesus did not just say this - he evidenced this.
He pointed to things suggesting Kingdom of God was invading the world.

One of those evidences was the freeing of those in bondage to demons.
His critics claimed He could do this because He was empowered by the prince of demons.
Jesus answered with Mark 3:26-27 - first bind the strong man (Satan), can then plunder his house.

Satan is limited, governed. Saw this in Revelation 12, but still active in Revelation 13.

(3) In Revelation 20:1 we see an angel who has a key. Keys are important.
Reminded of Revelation 1:17-18 where Jesus has the keys.

In Matthew 16:18-19 we see Jesus giving Peter keys.
Binding mentioned here as well

Whats does Jesus give us which not only sets people free, but binds Satan in the process?
What is it that the gates of Hell will not prevail against?
What will open the gates, bind the oppressor and free the oppressed?
The answer : the Gospel
The keys represent the sacrificial death and the grave conqueing resurrection of Jesus.

(4) Revelation 20 contains another example of the book's use of recapitulation.
This style of writing very popular in the genre, it is a style of writing which doubles back on itself.
It shares the same event using different symbols / metaphors and from different perspectives.

Compare with Revelation 12:7-9, war in Heaven.
Angel from Heaven, seizes dragon, throws dragon.
Our keys - blood of lamb, our testimony, not shrinking back.
Then in Revelation 12:17 we have war!

We have seen war throughout the book of Revelation.
Is Revelation 20 a new scene or a retelling of the same scene?
Is it a retelling of Revelation 19, with this time the focus being on Satan, the power behind the beast.

Revelation 19 and 20 are the fullfilment of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
This is not a physical war.
This is a single war, not two, one final war.

(5) There is a totality described in Revelation 19:18-21.
No one left!
In Revelation 20:7-8 who is left to deceive?

(6) The New Testament's theme of protection in the midst of persecution with a burst of intensity at the end is hinted at in Revelation 20.
We are not promised protection from persecution, but protection in persecution, and protection through persecution.

We see this with the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls and seven thunders of Revelation.
With seals 1/4 of world affected, with trumpets 1/3 or world affected, with bowls total calamity - escalation.
Jesus affirms this idea His use of the metaphor of birth pains Matthew 24:8.
Birth pains - repetitive, becoming more frequent, increasing intensity, then baby.
In Matthew 24:21 this culiminates in a period of great distress.
The elect are not removed from those days - but for their sake those days will be shortened.
Jesus mentions false Christs and prophets - we see the same in Revelation with the beast and false prophet.

Things will ramp up and become so bad that "if possible" even the elect will be led astray.
Jesus' point - it is not possible Matthew 24:24.
For their sake those days will be cut short - Satan has limited power.

Satan free for only a short burst Revelation 20:3.
We see the same thing in Revelation 12:12.
The war is described also in Revelation 16:12-15 - then Jesus comes, like a thief, Satan's time short.

Paul seems to affirm this in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12.
Lawlessness is already at work - see 1John 2:18 we are in the age of anti-Christ.
We see sword from Jesus' mouth in both 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:21.
To those who refuse to believe the truth God sends a strong delusion Romans 1.
God gives them what they want.

Satan caged and getting angrier, venting fury against the woman's offspring Revelation 12:17.
Jesus' ascension to return longer than we think, but end will be quicker than we assume.

(7) Other New Testament texts speak to and affirm this approach, but not as explicit as Revelation.
Only place in Bible which mentions Jesus reigning for 1,000 years.
Revelation does not give us new information, but presents things we see elsewhere in different ways.

See Matthew 16:27, could we insert the 1,000 years here?
Judgements and rewards in Revelation don't happen until after the 1,000 years.

At return of Jesus are all things made new or will there be a 1,000 year delay? NO!


(a) We need to be reminded of the power of the cross
Revelation 20:7-10 Jesus shows up
No battle, Jesus just shows up.

(b) Our position now in Revelation 20:4-6
We reign with Christ Ephesians 2:4-6.

First resurrection from death to life.
Romans 6 We have gone from old to new life.

We are resurrected now, spiritually (new birth).
Bodily resurection to follows.

(c) The reality of judgement Revelation 20:11-15
What we do this side of heaven matters.
Not saved by deeds, but deeds matter - we will all have to give an account 2 Corinthians 5:10.

2 Corinthians 5:10 A healthy tree produces healthy fruit (deeds).
That is the best indicator of our faith.

Revelation 20:12 books are opened, then another book.
So we have at least three books - the last one being 'the book of life'.
Seen this book before in Revelation 13:8.

This last book reminds us our deeds don't get us to heaven.
What is written in the other books is not good enough - we need our name in the book of life.
We are saved by grace alone, by our Saviour the slain lamb - requires humility.
Today is the day of salvation, come Lord Jesus, come. There will be no more delay, his return will be sudden / unexpected.

Further Reading

Revelation 19:1-5
Revelation 11:15-19
Revelation 4:4-10; Psalm 19
Revelation 19:6-10; Psalm 93
Psalm 106
Revelation 22:8-9