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Revelation 20:1-6 “The Imprisonment Of Satan and The Thousand Years”

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THE TEXT:

Revelation 20:1-6

(1)  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
(2)  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
(3)  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
(4)  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
(5)  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
(6)  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

A very basic outline of the final division of Revelation includes:

  1. Rev 19 – What immediately precedes eternity with the Lord?
  2. Rev 20 – The opening stage of eternity with the Lord (1000 year reign – a time of judgment)
  3. Rev 21 – The subsequent stage of eternity with the Lord pictured as a great city
  4. Rev 22 – The subsequent stage of eternity with the Lord pictured as Eden restored

We have already looked at Revelation 19: where we saw the Lord being praised for defeating the powers of darkness under the control of Satan (Rev 19:1-6).  We then saw the Lord uniting eternally with the saints in preparation for living eternity with them (Rev 19:7-10).  Likewise, we saw the powers of darkness, including all of lost mankind, consigned to the Lake of Fire eternally separated from Christ following their defeat (Rev 19:11-21).

In chapter 20:, we pick up with the narrative that we left in chapter 19.  Immediately following the defeat of the powers of darkness, we find the Lord disposing of Satan in the Lake of Fire just prior to the first phase of eternity, which is called the one thousand years.

In the chapter before us (Revelation 20:), we use a very simple outline:

1.  Binding Of Satan (20:1-3)
2.  The Thousand Years – The first phase of eternity with Christ (20:4-6)
3.  Satan and the Lost Loosed For Judgement  (20:7-10)
4.  Great White Throne (20:11-15)

 

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 

Revelation 20:1-6

Following Christ’s defeat of the kingdoms of Satan (19:11-21), we now see Christ imprisoning Satan immediately prior to the beginning of eternity…

 

(1)  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

Following Christ’s defeat of the powers of darkness, John now sees an angel.  The several truths about this angel can be identified using his three-fold description:

  1. come down from heaven – this angel finds his origin in heaven. He is authorized by God to do God’s bidding.
  2. having the key to the bottomless pit – he possesses the control over the inhabitants of the bottomless pit (Rev 9:1)
  3. a great chain in his hand – he is capable of binding Satan rendering him impotent (2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6)

It is interesting to notice that all three of these descriptions previously pointed to Christ and the authority He holds over the powers of darkness. (Rev 1:18, 9:11, 10:1, 18:1).  Once again, it is possible that this angel is the symbolic representation of Christ Himself imprisoning Satan for 1000 years.

The term “bottomless pit” is translated from a word that means “deep place”.  It is simply another term that is used to describe the Lake of Fire.   The Lake of Fire is given this title to emphasize the inability of its inhabitants to affect the events taking place on earth (see Luke 8:31, Jude 6, Rev 9:1,2,11, 11:7, 17:8, 20:1,3).

 

(2)  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

John, then sees this angel seizing Satan and rendering Him helpless during the first segment of eternity (1000 yrs). In this passage, we can learn a lot about Satan based upon the titles he is given by John:

  1. dragon – from word meaning “to fascinate”. Satan’s ability to mislead and keep men’s attention from Christ
  2. old serpent – from words meaning “the ancient, sharp sighted one”. Satan discerns man’s desires and weak areas.
  3. Devil – from a word meaning “slanderer or accuser”. Satan falsely accuses the people of God in the presence of Christ
  4. Satan – from a word meaning “opponent or enemy”. Satan is the enemy of the Lord, constantly opposing Him.

Satan is rendered impotent for a period described as “1000 years”, the initial period of eternity on the New Heavens and New Earth in the presence of Christ.

 

(3)  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Now that Satan has been bound, John sees him being thrown into the bottomless pit and shut up so that he cannot escape.

Upon Satan is placed a “seal”, a mark, placed upon him showing everyone that he has been placed in this prison under the authority of Christ.    This seal is much like the seal placed upon the lion’s den in the days of Daniel (Dan 6:7) and the seal placed upon the tomb of Christ (Matt 27:66).  Both of these seals declare that they have been placed there under the authority of the ruling government of their day.

Satan’s imprisonment keeps him separated from the events taking place during the 1000 year reign.  He can no longer intervene among men, nor can he attempt to oppose the workings of Christ.   He will not be released from this prison until the very end of the 1000 yr reign.  At that point in time, he will be loosed to stand before God to be judged for his rebellious, wicked deeds.

 

Satan’s imprisonment is the final event that must take place prior to the saints enjoying eternity with Christ on the New Heavens and Earth.  John’s attention is now turned to the events of the first phase of eternity with Christ… the 1000 year reign.

Please keep in mind, during Christ’s second coming , not only are the lost defeated, but in the process the fiery wrath of God falling upon them also renovated the earth and heavens, making them sinless and prepared for eternity.  This great event is described in 2 Peter 3:7-13…

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.   Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,    Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?   Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  

The current heavens and earth are remaining to exist, awaiting the day when Christ will come and remake them as He destroys the powers of darkness and lost mankind at His second coming.  When Christ comes again, it will be unexpected by the lost.  The fire that Christ sends to destroy the powers of darkness, including lost mankind, will also renovate the sinful heavens and earth remaking and purifying them them to be inhabited for an eternity by Christ and His people.    John will symbolically describe this New Heavens and New Earth in great detail in Rev 21: and 22:.

 

It is upon this New Heavens and New Earth the 1000 years takes place…

(4)  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands;

John’s vision now progresses into eternity on the New Heavens and New Earth, specifically, THE FIRST PHASE of the Christian’s eternity in the presence of Christ.

What will take place during this time?

“Judgment was given unto them” – Judgment of the believer’s works is rendered resulting in rewards given based upon their faithfulness.   (Luke 14:13-14; Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 4:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Tim 4:8; 1 Ptr 5:4; 2 John 8;)   One of the types of rewards that they receive is authority to rule during this “1000 year” period.  (Matt 25:20-23, 28-29; Luke 19:16-19, 24-26,).  This is the purpose for the thrones.  They are places of authority held by believers after their works have been judged and rewarded.

John then describes those who will stand before the Lord:  “The souls of them that were”…

  1. beheaded for the witness of Jesus, – Those killed due to their testimony (in word and deed) for Christ
  2. beheaded … for the word of God, – Those killed due to proclaiming God’s Word to others
  3. which had not worshipped the beast, – Those who did not submit to the wishes of Satan’s political powers
  4. which had not worshipped… neither his image, – Those who did not submit to the wishes of Satan’s religious powers
  5. neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, – Those who did not submit to Satan in their thoughts and desires
  6. neither had received his mark upon … or in their hands; – Those who did not submit to Satan in their actions

Any one description, or a combination of descriptions, refers to all the different types of genuine believers in Christ.  Whether martyrs, teachers, those who place Christ as their first authority in life, those who guard their minds and actions.  In this vision John is seeing all Christians being judged and rewarded for their various acts of faithfulness and self-sacrifice.    These are the saints that had died on earth and were now reaping the rewards for their faithfulness to Christ.

This is the same group of “souls” are also found in Rev 6:9 where John describes them as Revelation 6:9…  “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:”. 

 

This reminds us of the great sacrifice each and every Christian makes for the cause of Christ.  They are sacrifices given to God for His glory.  In some cases, they are physically sacrificed (martyrs) or they become living sacrifices to God dedicated to serve Him throughout their lives (Romans 12:1).  This is why John describes this group as “souls”, emphasizing the physical life within them.  They have dedicated their entire life (or “soul”) to Christ and this aspect of their earthly life is what is being judged.  These Christians, who are in their glorified bodies are standing before Christ awaiting His judgment.

 

and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (5)  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.

These are the ones who are now enjoying eternity with Christ.  Although they once were dead, now their bodies have been glorified and they are living with their Lord in this first stage of eternity on the New Heavens and New Earth.  The lost, who have been defeated and consigned to the Lake of Fire, are not enjoying presence with the Lord. They are spiritually dead, separated from the Lord and from this wonderful eternity.

Why is the period that God judges the saved described as “a thousand years ?”, perhaps, it is speaking of a literal 100 year time period, but keeping with the symbolic nature of the book of Revelation,  it probably is symbolic of other truths about this time period.

In the Bible, one of the most common usages of the number 1000 is to represent a complete group (“all” of something):

  1. Deut 7:9 – God merciful in all generations
  2. Job 9:3 – Man could not give God an answer in all divisions of time
  3. Job 33:23 – One among all men
  4. Psa 50:10 – God owns all the cattle on every hill
  5. Psa 84:10 – A day in God’s court better than all other days
  6. Psa 105:8 – God faithful to all generations
  7. Eccl 6:6 – If he lives throughout all the years twice over
  8. Isa 60:22 – If a little one spawns all the men in the world

Please notice especially, the Lord uses 1000 to describe ONE COMPLETE TIME PERIOD in His sight…

Psalms 90:4 – “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

2 Peter 3:8 –  “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

 

The 1000 years symbolizes for us that this is one distinct time period recognized by God to judge and reward His saints for their faithful service to Him.  Although it is a part of a far greater eternity, it is one complete segment with a beginning and an ending.  In other words, the Lord will not be judging His people throughout all of eternity, but this segment will come to a definite end.

Also, the rewards for faithfulness will be enjoyed during this time period, not necessarily throughout all eternity.  It is very possible that when the second stage of eternity begins, all rewards will have been placed at the feet of Christ and all the saints will then be on equal footing one with another.  All of whom will be sharing dominion over the New Heavens and the New Earth much like was first given to Adam in the garden prior to the fall.

 

This is the first resurrection.   (6)  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

We are now told that participation in the 1000 years is a characteristic of “the first resurrection”.

To help us to understand the meaning of “the first resurrection”, we are then given four characteristics concerning those who take part in this first resurrection:

  1. Blessed and holy – They have received the blessings of God. They have been separated from the enslavement of sin to willing service to Christ.
  2. the second death hath no power – They will not feel the effects of the second death (eternal separation from God, facing God’s eternal against sin)
  3. they shall be priests of God and of Christ – They have direct access to God and Christ.
  4. and shall reign with him a thousand years. – They will participate in the rewards of authority and rulership during the 1000 years.

This helps us to see that clearly “the first resurrection” is speaking about an event that takes place in the lives of genuine believers only.   This makes perfect sense, because we know that these are the only ones that participate in the events of the thousand year reign are all the saints of God who are receiving the judgement of their works and the receipt of rewards based upon that judgment.

 

 

To better understand what is meant by “the first resurrection”, we need to notice the teachings found in John 5:24-27:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

 

but is passed from death unto life

The first resurrection of the believer is a resurrection of His soul. This resurrection gives to the one who is dead in trespasses and sins spiritual life.   Note that Christ tells us that this resurrection takes place as the result of our hearing His word and then placing our trust in the Lord.

Eph 2:1-7  “And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;… Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:”

 

“the hour is coming and now is… and they that hear shall live”

The Lord now helps us to understand that the resurrection for the believer has a present age and future age aspect to it…

  1. In this present age (“the hour now is” ) the spiritually dead individual will hear the voice of the Son of God (His call to salvation) and shall live (receive spiritual life). (Eph 5:14, Ro 6:4, Col 2:13, Rev 20:3-6).

This is the first resurrection that the believer experiences, it is A SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION.

  1. At the very end of this age (“the hour is coming”) the dead body of the saint that is in the grave will hear the voice of the Son of God (at His second coming). At that time, the body will be resurrected from the grave, glorified, and meet the spirit of the believer which has been abiding with Christ in heaven. (1 Cor 15:42-54, 1 Thess 4:14-17, Phil 3:21).

This PHYSICAL, BODILY RESURRECTION is the second resurrection that is experienced by the saints of God.

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this set of Scriptures, we have seen Christ revealed as the Victor over Satan Himself and the gracious, kind, faithful Lord who will usher His people into eternity.

When we look at these two ideas as a whole, we can see an amazing truth about Christ.  Stop and think about it.  If we were talking about a human being who has just totally dominated and clearly defeated his lifelong foe, leaving him without opposition, we would also see a spirit of arrogance, and a tendency to begin abusing those who are beneath him, knowing that no one can stop him.  This great victory would “go to his head” and “puff up his chest”, as he began to think about the great, permanent victory he had just won.  He would forget about “the little guy” and begin to see how he could best enrich himself through them and their labors.   Not so with Christ.

Even though Christ clearly demonstrated absolute control and supremacy over all His enemies, ridding the New Heavens and Earth of them all, He still remains kind and faithful to those He loves, entering into eternity with them… just as He had promised.

He humbly worked on behalf of His people, prior to this great display of victory…

2 Corinthians 8:9 – “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

 

Even after His wonderful defeat of all the powers of darkness, He continues to humbly work on behalf of His people, finishing the job by bringing them into eternity with Him.   He did not forget His own, nor did His attitude change towards them in any way.   Those upon whom He has placed His redemptive love, He will bring into eternity with Him  …

Romans 8:29-31 – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.   Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.   What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Philippians 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

John 6:38-40 – “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.   And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.   And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

May we all love others as our Lord loved us… with a love that will always keep us humble and working for their good no matter what events may transpire in our lives.

Likewise, may we all follow Christ’s example in being on guard against the Satanic attacks following great victories in our lives.  Many times, immediately after a victory, we have a tendency to become self-reliant, no longer looking to Christ as the great Lord of our life.  In doing so, we become spiritually weak and susceptible to Satanic attack.

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. […] Revelation 20:1-6 “The Imprisonment Of Satan and The Thousand Years”. […]

  2. […] via Revelation 20:1-6 “The Imprisonment Of Satan and The Thousand Years” « Settled In Heaven Blog. […]

  3. SLIMJIM says:

    Thanks for this post. Very long. Was actually looking forward to seeing what you have to say about the Millennium.

  4. Thank you, Rob! I truly benefited from this.
    Maria

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