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Grant Osborne: Premillennialism believes that Christ will return to earth, destroy the evil forces, and reign here for a thousand years. This period will end with the rebellion and final destruction of Satan followed by the final judgment and the beginning of the future age. Amillennialism holds that there will be no literal earthly reign of Christ following the parousia (they say his reign is now, during the church age). Rather, Rev. 20:1–10 is symbolic and describes the situation during the church age between the advents of Christ (so Cruz 1999: 86–87, who calls this a “historical prophetic approach”).   Postmillennialism argues that the thousand-year period will be a time of the triumph of the gospel and a period of peace that will precede the second coming of Christ.

Buist Fanning: The millennial reign of Christ and his resurrected saints will witness the binding of Satan for a thousand years and at its end his ultimate condemnation following a short-lived final rebellion against Christ’s rule.

Tony Garland: As we have continued in our study of the book of Revelation, we have observed how the number of fellow saints who share our understanding of the text dwindles ever more as we proceed. This is because interpreting the book of Revelation is like traveling along a series of roads from a point of origin to a destination. As with any roadway, along the route we meet with numerous forks in the road which head off in different directions—leading to varied destinations. The fork in the road which looms before us in Revelation 20+ is the thousand years: the Millennial Kingdom. Is the thousand year reign described here that of a literal kingdom on earth? And is it a future reign—or is it already in progress? Are the two resurrections which bracket the thousand years to be understood as literal, physical raisings from the dead? Or are they spiritual resurrections, related to faith? Or are they some combination of the two? When Satan is bound for the duration of this period, how complete is his binding? Who binds him and how is he bound? Is he bound even now? These are just some of the questions which confront the reader of Revelation 20+.That a kingdom would be the subject of this chapter is not unexpected. In the previous chapter we saw Christ ride forth under the declaration that he would (1) strike the nations, and (2) rule them with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:15+). The striking took place during the Campaign of Armageddon. Now, the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16+) is to take up His promised earthly reign (Mat. 6:10). It would seem most natural that if His Second Coming occurs in Revelation 19+, then the rule described here (Rev. 20:4+) would follow upon His physical return. Alas, there is great confusion over what should be obvious. The reader may recall the introductory material which we studied prior to our verse-by-verse exposition. He may recall the premise which motivated such preparation: If we all read the same text, how is it that such widely-different understandings result? The answer, to a great degree, was found in differing Systems of Interpretation which are themselves the result of different views concerning how to interpret the text, especially Interpreting Symbols. There is perhaps no more dramatic illustration of the significant affect that interpretation has upon meaning than the divergence of opinion attending the Millennial Kingdom which comes before us in this chapter. The view we set forth is that of the earliest Church Fathers, known as premillennialism or chiliasm—the belief that Christ returns before His kingdom commences on earth for one thousand years.

Key Interpretive Issues in Revelation 20:1-6:

Charles Swindoll: The good news is that the book of Revelation promises a golden age in which all weapons of warfare will be fashioned into implements of peace. Prosperity will be shared. Peace will be the banner of all people. The light of justice will illumine every corner of the world. This condition will not be achieved through educational funding, political change, social programs, cultural awakening, or even religious revival. As promising as some of these things may be in the short term, fallen humanity ultimately foils all efforts at self-reformation. Praying for world peace sounds noble and pious, but such prayers are futile. True global transformation will occur only when Satan and his minions are ousted, allowing Jesus Christ and His glorified saints to rule over the earth. Theologians call this period of Christ’s perfect rule the “millennial kingdom” or the “thousand-year reign.” The primary passage describing the millennium is Revelation 20:1-6.

John MacArthur: The millennial kingdom is called by many names in Scripture.  In Matthew 19:28 Jesus calls it “the regeneration.”  Acts 3:19 describes the kingdom as “times of refreshing,” while verse 21 of that chapter calls it “the period of restoration of all things.”  The apostle Paul refers to it in Ephesians 1:10 as “an administration suitable to the fullness of the times.” . . .

The passage clearly teaches that Christ’s return precedes the millennial kingdom—a scenario incompatible with postmillennialism and amillennialism, but exactly what premillennialism teaches. To get around the difficulty the chronology of Revelation poses for their views, postmillennialists and amillennialists must deny that chapter 20 follows chapter 19 chronologically. But such a denial ignores the chronological significance of the phrase kai eidon, as noted above. It also ignores the continuity of the context: Having dealt with Antichrist and the false prophet in chapter 19, Christ deals with their evil master, Satan, in chapter 20. Why reject such an obvious chronology? It is apparently done for no other reason than to eliminate premillennialism, not because there is any justification in Scripture.

Daniel Akin: After the tribulation Christ will establish His millennial kingdom with His saints; then He will finally and forever judge Satan and his followers for their rebellion.

  1. Before the Kingdom Satan Is Bound                (:1-3)
  2. During the Kingdom the Saints Will Reign    (:4-6)
  3. After the Kingdom Sinners Will Be Defeated  (:7-10)


A.  (:1) Implements of Imprisonment

And I saw an angel coming down from heaven,

  1. Key of the Abyss

having the key of the abyss

Albert Mohler: The concept of “keys” locking and unlocking is used to depict God’s sovereign control and authority over Stan and the demonic spirits.  The point is that Satan is bound in the Abyss, he cannot escape, and therefore he can no longer deceive the nations.

  1. Great Chain

and a great chain in his hand.

Grant Osborne: Here the angel has not only the “key” but a “chain” in order to bind Satan all the more securely. The purpose of the ἅλυσιν μεγάλην (halysin megalēn, large chain; probably a manacle to chain the hands to the wall; see Mounce 1998: 361) is to intensify the prison imagery. When Satan is not only thrown in the abyss/prison but shackled inside with a “great chain,” and then the angel “locks” the gates shut, he is not going to escape. The Gadarene demoniac was strong enough (due to demonic influence) to “tear the chains apart” (Mark 5:4), but this chain is too “great” for that, even for the dragon himself. The abyss is his Alcatraz, and God is in complete control.

B.  (:2a) Identification of Satan by Various Titles

  1. The Dragon

And he laid hold of the dragon,

David Thompson: That verb “laid hold” means John saw this angel grab Satan in a very forceful, strong, overpowering way in total strength and domination (G. Abbott-Smith, Greek Lexicon, p. 256).

  1. The Serpent of Old

the serpent of old,

Tony Garland: This alludes to the serpent in the garden of Eden, which Satan used to deceive Eve (Gen. 3:1-6). His title as dragon and serpent were seen in the heavenly war, when he was cast out: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9+).

  1. The Devil

who is the devil

  1. Satan

and Satan,

C.  (:2b-3) Imprisonment of Satan

  1. (:2b)  Duration of Imprisonment = 1,000 Years

and bound him for a thousand years,

Buist Fanning: References to binding a spiritual being with a chain and sealing him in a deep pit underground are symbolic rather than woodenly literal descriptions, but what they symbolize is absolute imprisonment and cessation of influence.

John MacArthur: The first matter for the King’s attention as He sets up His kingdom is the confinement of the chief rebel. The removal of “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the prince of the power of the air … the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2), will dramatically change the world. By this time, God will have destroyed all human rebels. Those who survived the Tribulation judgments will have been executed at Armageddon (19:11–21) or the goat judgment (Matt. 25:41-46). The ringleaders of the worldwide rebellion, the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet, will have been thrown into the lake of fire (19:20). The final step in preparation for the kingdom will be the removal of Satan and his demon hosts, so that Christ reigns without the opposition of supernatural enemies.

John Walvoord: This passage introduces, for the first time in Scripture, the exact length of Christ’s earthly kingdom. Six times in this passage the fact is stated that the period is a thousand years or a millennium.

As discussed above, much of the opposition to the futurist interpretation has been leveled at this concept of a literal thousand years. Some amillennial scholars argue that it is obvious that the thousand years should be interpreted nonliterally, based on the argument that Revelation is apocalyptic literature. But Benware demonstrates that the vast majority of the numbers used in the book of Revelation are to interpreted in the normal way, meaning as expressions of a quantity.

In addition, while Scripture sometimes uses the term “day” in other than a literal sense, never in the Bible is “month” or “year” used in other than its literal sense. Even the word day, used for a period of time in reference to “the day of the Lord,” is used literally throughout the book of Revelation. It may also be faithfully held that all numbers in the Revelation are literal. Certainly there is nothing inherently impossible in a thousand-year period in which Christ will reign upon the earth. So it must be stated again that there is no good exegetical reason for taking the thousand years of Revelation 20 in other than their literal sense.

  1. (:3a)  Disposition of His Imprisonment

a.  Location

and threw him into the abyss,

b.  Locking Up

and shut it and sealed it over him,

Tony Garland: Examples of sealing elsewhere in Scripture indicate its complete effectiveness:

  • Nebuchadnezzar sealed Daniel in the lion’s den ( 6:17).
  • Daniel was told to seal the book of Daniel until the time of the end ( 12:4).
  • Pilate commanded that Jesus’ tomb be sealed ( 27:66).
  • Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 2Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30).
  • Jesus’ testimony was sealed (John 3:33).
  • Jesus was sealed by the Father (John 6:27).
  • The 144,000 witnesses from the twelve tribes were sealed on their foreheads (Rev. 7:3-8+).
  • The things which the seven thunders uttered were sealed up so they would not be recorded by John (Rev. 10:4+).
  • The contents of the book of Revelation are not to be sealed ( 20:3+; 22:10+).

c.  Limitation

so that he should not deceive the nations any longer,

until the thousand years were completed;

David Thompson: Satan is bound so that all Kingdom prophecy pertaining to Israel may be fulfilled. There are many, many passages that predict that Israel will have a peaceful kingdom of total and complete righteousness in her land. In order for that to actually happen, Satan cannot exist on this earth or he would prevent that — Jer. 33:15-16; Ezek. 11:17-21; 34:11-15,25-31; Zech. 14:9-11.

  1. (:3b)  Discharge from Imprisonment for Temporary Purpose

after these things he must be released for a short time.


A.  (:4a) Blessing of Privilege and Participation

  1. Privilege

a.  Reigning

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them,

Charles Swindoll: God’s glorified people will enforce the will of Christ and adjudicate disputes between their subjects. But who will their subjects be? Those who survive the Tribulation in their mortal, nonglorified bodies (1 Cor. 6:2). These will include the 144,000, the preserved remnant of Israel, who will be gathered back to the Promised Land to reestablish the nation of Israel under the Messiah. These subjects will also include Gentile survivors of the Tribulation who had not received the mark of the Beast but who had also managed to avoid execution at the hand of the Beast and his wicked regime. These mortal survivors, Hebrews and Gentiles alike, will be responsible for repopulating the earth during the thousand-year earthly reign of Christ.

b.  Judging

and judgment was given to them.

Tony Garland: These seated on thrones are from two major resurrection events, both of which are part of the category known as the first resurrection:

  • OT Saints – Those who came to faith and died prior to the baptizing work of the Spirit which began on the Day of Pentecost. These are the OT saints, many of whom are Jews, and who were resurrected after Jacob’s Trouble and the Great Tribulation (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19).
  • Church Saints – Those who came to faith and lived beyond the Day of Pentecost to be baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, the Church. These were resurrected or translated at the Rapture of the Church (John 14:3; 1Cor. 15:51; 1Th. 4:13-18).
  1. Participation

a.  Martyred Saints

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded

because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,

b.  Loyal Saints

and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image,

c.  Undefiled Saints

and had not received the mark upon their forehead

and upon their hand;

Buist Fanning: John does not comment here on faithful Christians who will not be martyred but survive the intense persecutions and judgments of those final days and join in Christ’s reign also, but their share in Christ’s rule is pledged in 2:26-28; 3:21; 5:10.  Martyrdom is never said to be the universal fate of God’s people in those days (cf. 7:3-8; 14:1-5 for one group of survivors) or cited as a condition for co-ruling with Christ (cf. 1 Cor 6:2-3; 2 Tim 2:12; Heb 2:5-9).  The martyrs are cited explicitly, but they are representative of the larger group of faithful people who will reign with him.  John focuses on the martyrs in this verse to emphasize that costly fidelity – even to the point of death if necessary – is the pathway to glory and exaltation, a pathway that Christ himself exemplified.

B.  (:4b-5) Blessing of Resurrection Prior to the Millennial Kingdom

  1. (:4b)  Purpose of Resurrection of the Saints = Reigning with Christ

and they came to life

and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Tony Garland: Their coming to life and reigning with Christ is a future event which is the fulfillment of the prayers of the saints throughout history that God would bring His kingdom to earth (Mat. 6:10).  This is the beginning of the literal kingdom on earth which smashes all other earthly kingdoms and fills the globe. Both Jesus and the saints rule in the kingdom..At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, it was announced that “He shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15+). The reign of Christ and the saints eventually extends beyond the thousand years and on into the eternal state (Rev. 22:5+).

  1. (:5a)  Postmillennial Resurrection of the Wicked

The rest of the dead did not come to life

until the thousand years were completed.

  1. (:5b)  Preferred Resurrection = Prior to the Millennial Kingdom

This is the first resurrection.

John MacArthur: John calls the resurrection of the saints from all ages the first resurrection. That resurrection is also called in Scripture the “resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14; Acts 24:15), the “resurrection of life” (John 5:29), the resurrection of “those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:23),and the “better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35). The use of anastasis (resurrection) offers further evidence that the resurrection described in verse 4 is a physical resurrection. The word is used forty-two times in the New Testament, always of a physical resurrection (except in Luke 2:34, where the context clearly demands another meaning).

Tony Garland: Participation in Births, Death, and Resurrections

John Walvoord: At the end of the church age the rapture of the church will take place, and the dead in Christ will be raised. At the end of the great tribulation, the tribulation saints will also be raised from the dead. It would seem clear from these facts that the term “the first resurrection” is not an event but an order of resurrection including all the righteous who are raised from the dead before the millennial kingdom begins. They are “first” in contrast to those who are raised last, after the millennium, when the wicked dead are raised and judged. Just as there are two kinds of physical death, the first death that results in burial, and the second death that is described as being cast into the lake of fire (20:14), so there are two kinds of resurrection, a first resurrection of the righteous and a second resurrection of the evil. They are separated by at least a thousand years. Just as the first death did not occur to all in one moment but is experienced individually by those who die over a long period of time, so the first resurrection is fulfilled according to the groups that are in view. . .

The main burden of this passage, however, is to demonstrate beyond any question that there will be a thousand-year period between the resurrections of the righteous and the evil. Passages such as Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28–29, which refer in general to the resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous, must be interpreted as declaring the fact of resurrection rather than that the two events take place at the same time. The significance seems to be that the time will come when both the righteous and the wicked will be raised without designating exactly when it will occur. The main facts of this passage are clear when the general rule is applied that that which is plain should interpret that which is obscure.

C.  (:6) Blessing of Functioning as Priests and Rulers

  1. Holy

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection;

  1. Untouchable

over these the second death has no power,

Sola Scriptura: The second death has no authority.  The phrase second death occurs in the Revelation four times.  Revelation 20:14 defines the second death as the lake of fire or eternal punishment.  All of those who partake in the first resurrection have no fear of eternal punishment.  This can only mean that no one who partakes in the first resurrection is unholy or is damnable. This confirms that the first resurrection will only involve the righteous.

  1. Priests

but they will be priests of God and of Christ

Grant Osborne: The priestly aspect of Exod. 19:6 in the second clause of Rev. 20:6 is followed by the royal aspect (“kingdom of priests”) in the third, as the saints “reign with him a thousand years” (see 20:4d). As Christ is the “priest-king,” so the victorious saints will share in his royal as well as his priestly status. These last two describe the activity of the saints during the millennium as well as in the new heavens and new earth—they will worship God as priests and reign with him as royalty (Krodel 1989: 341; Giesen 1997: 435–36).

Sola Scriptura: God has always had a priestly representative on the earth. The first priest we meet in the Scriptures is Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20).  In what is truly one of the great mysteries of Scripture, Melchizedek appears and disappears without a beginning or an end.  Subsequently, Israel becomes “a kingdom of priests.”  The priestly function was to represent man before God.  Through sacrificial mediation, the priest communicated to God on behalf of man.  In what sense then will the resurrected faithful serve as priests to God and Christ?  During the millennial kingdom, the saints will reign with Chrit.  Their job description, if you will, will involve their representation of Christ to the millennial constituents and visa versa.

The fact that the reign of the resurrected is limited to 1000 years signals an important detail.  This reign cannot involve a spiritual reign in heaven.  The Lord’s promise to the overcomers in Revelation 2:26-27 makes no sense if a spiritual reign is the goal.  There is no appreciable effect on the nations, if the saints are reigning in heaven in the sense intended in Revelation 2:26-27.  To use 1000 years to describe the present reign of the saints (now 2000 years for some and may be less than six months for those killed just prior to the Lord’s return) renders the whole concept nonsensical.  Revelation 5:10 explicitly states that those purchased by the blood of Christ “will reign upon the earth.”

  1. Rulers

and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

John MacArthur: A final blessing for the participants in the first resurrection is that they will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ for a thousand years, along with believers who survived the Tribulation.  Politically and socially, the rule of Christ and His saints will be universal (Ps. 2:6-8; Dan. 2:35), absolute (Ps. 2:9; Isa. 11:4), and righteous (Isa. 11:3-5).  Spiritually, their rule will be a time when the believing remnant of Israel is converted (Jer. 30:5-8; Rom. 11:26) and the nation is restored to the land God promised to Abraham (Gen. 13:14-15; 15:18).  It will be a time when the Gentile nations also will worship the King (Isa. 11:9; Mic. 4:2; Zech. 14:16).  The millennial rule of Christ and the saints will also be marked by the presence of righteousness and peace (Isa. 32:17) and joy (Isa. 12:3-4; 61:3, 7).  Physically, it will be a time when the curse is lifted (Isa. 11:7-9; 30:23-24; 35:1-2, 7), when food will be plentiful (Joel 2:21-27), and when there will be physical health and well-being (Isa. 33:24; 35:5-6), leading to long life (Isa. 65:20).

John Walvoord: Psalm 72 gives a similar picture of the righteous reign of Christ, describing righteousness as flourishing and abundance of peace as continuing as long as the moon endures. Christ’s dominion is stated to be from sea to sea with all kings bowing down before Him, all nations serving Him, and the earth being filled with the glory of the Lord. Then will be fulfilled the desire of the nations for peace and righteousness, for the knowledge of the Lord, for economic justice, and for deliverance from satanic oppression and evil. For the whole period of a thousand years the earth will revel in the immediate presence of the Lord and His perfect divine government. Israel will be exalted and Gentiles also will be blessed. The major factors of the millennium, therefore, include a perfect and righteous government with Christ reigning in absolute power over the entire earth. Every nation will be under His sway, and God’s purpose in originally placing man in charge of the Garden of Eden will have its ultimate fulfillment in the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will reign over the earth.


Grant Osborne: There are five aspects of this scene:

  • the release of Satan,
  • his deception and gathering of the nations for the final battle,
  • their surrounding God’s people,
  • fire descending from heaven to devour the nations,
  • and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire. . .

Block sees five theological motifs:

  • Yahweh is the “unrivaled lord of human history”;
  • his reputation is connected to the welfare of his people;
  • he is faithful to his covenant;
  • he is the God of grace and mercy;
  • and the experience of that grace by the believer is humbling.

I would add that for the unbeliever Yahweh is a God of wrath and justice. He is sovereign, and those who arrogantly repudiate his mercy cannot escape.

A.  (:7a) Timing of the Final Uprising

And when the thousand years are completed,

B.  (:7b) Temporary Release of Satan from Prison

Satan will be released from his prison,

J.A. Seiss: It seems like a great pity, after the world has rested for a thousand years, that this archenemy of its peace should again be let loose upon it. But there seems to be some sort of necessity for it. The statement to John was, that “he must be loosed a little time”… Some interest of righteousness and moral government renders it proper that he should be allowed this last limited freedom. If for nothing else, it is not unimportant that he should have this opportunity to prove how little an imprisonment of a thousand years had served to change him, or reform his malignity. Even the Devil is granted a final trial to make a better record to himself, if so minded. But neither judgment nor mercy has the least effect. He is, and remains to the last, the same depraved and wicked being, and employs even the little time of freedom before he is cast into perdition in tempting, seducing, and deceiving the happy and peaceful world. Perhaps, too, it was necessary for the millennial nations to be taught that, even after having been so far redeemed as to live a thousand years of holy obedience, they still are unable to stand without the special help and grace of Almighty God. At any rate, this brief period of Satan’s last freedom proves, that he is still Satan, and that man is still man, after a thousand years of bonds and imprisonment for the one, and a thousand years’ experience of the next thing to Paradise for the other; the Devil being just as eager to tempt and deceive, and man liable to be tempted and deceived. Nor can it be of small account to the after ages, or for the generations to whom it is foretold, that the full demonstration of these facts should be made before things are finally settled into the eternal state. Hence, Satan is let loose for a little time.

C.  (:8) Treachery of Mobilizing the Nations

  1. Mobilizing by Means of Deception

and will come out to deceive the nations

which are in the four corners of the earth,

Grant Osborne: His purpose is twofold, to “deceive the nations” and to “gather them for battle” (parallel infinitives). Revelation emphasizes strongly that Satan does not overpower people but rather deceives them.

Sola Scriptura: “the nations” – where did they come from?  Since Revelation 19:11-12 indicates the destruction of the nations.  However, Revelation 19:11-21 does not indicate that every single nation on the face of earth was destroyed.  It says that the kings of the earth and their armies were destroyed.  It does not naturally follow that every single individual from every single nation on the face of the earth was killed.

In fact, Matthew 25:31ff clearly indicates that there will be people left from al the nations of the world who are sheep (followers of Jesus Christ).  These individuals inherit the kingdom on earth.  During the 1000-year period, there will be a great increase in the population of the earth (Isaiah 65:17ff).  Since those who enter God’s kingdom in natural bodies will be able to have babies, subsequent generations will have a choice to follow or not to follow Christ.  Thus, His need to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 2:26-27).

  1. Mobilizing Key Coalition of Powerful Forces

Gog and Magog,

Buist Fanning: named as the leaders or nations whom Satan assembles, and they move to attack Jerusalem.

Grant Osborne: The nations are now further identified as “Gog and Magog,” referring to Ezek. 38–39, where Gog (the king of the northern lands) and “Magog” (meaning “the land of Gog”) come to wage war against the people of God. . .

The prophecy looks to the king of a northern land, Gog, who decides to invade the “peaceful and unsuspecting people” of Israel (Ezek. 38:11) to plunder their land. They will establish a coalition of “many nations” (38:5–6) to invade with “a mighty army” (38:15–16). Yet God is in control and allows all this so that “the nations may know” that God is indeed Yahweh (38:16, 23; 39:6–7, 22, 28). This becomes an eschatological war, as seen in the “after many days”/“in future years” of 38:8 and the “shaking of the heavens” imagery of 38:18–23. Thus, God’s purpose is to destroy the coalition of nations and to restore his people so that all will recognize that he is God (39:25–29).

John Walvoord: While many explanations have been made, one of the intriguing ones is that Gog refers to the ruler and Magog to the people as in Ezekiel 38. Hence, what the passage means is that the nations of the world follow Satan, including the rulers (Gog) and the people (Magog) under the rulers. Another plausible explanation is that the expression is used much as we use the term “Waterloo” to express a disastrous battle, but one related to the historic origination of the term.

  1. Mobilizing for the Purpose of Fighting the Messiah

to gather them together for the war;

Robert Mounce: Apparently a thousand years of confinement does not alter Satan’s plans, nor does a thousand years of freedom from the influence of wickedness change people’s basic tendency to rebel against their creator.

  1. Mobilizing Innumerable Forces

the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

Grant Osborne: One of the purposes of this passage is to justify the necessity of eternal punishment. This book proves that even the equivalent of fourteen lifetimes (based on the current life expectancy of about seventy years divided into one thousand years) are not enough to overturn their allegiance to Satan. Therefore, the eternal lake of fire is a necessity.

Charles Swindoll: During the thousand-year reign, the mortal survivors of the Tribulation —Jews and Gentiles —will populate the earth by marrying and having children. By the end of the thousand years, the world will be filled with numerous generations of their descendants, who will still have bodies of mortal flesh and, more importantly, will still struggle with sin and temptation as we do. Those subjects of the kingdom will not be like the resurrected rulers, who will be immortal, glorified, and neither marrying nor giving in marriage (Matt. 22:30). Yes, during the thousand-year reign the physical world will be made like Eden, harmonious and peaceful (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:20-25; Ezek. 36:33-36). Yes, the corrupt system of human government underwritten by Satan and his demonic powers will be replaced by Christ and His saints (Dan. 7:21-22). However, the human population will still have a sinful nature —after the likeness of fallen Adam rather than perfected and glorified after the likeness of Christ.

At the end of the thousand years, the descendants of the Tribulation survivors will be tested. After his thousand-year imprisonment in the abyss, Satan will be released for a short time (20:7), during which he will be successful in rapidly recruiting a massive force of rebels willing to march against the King of kings and Lord of lords. How will this be possible? Who in the world would turn against the Messiah enthroned in Jerusalem? The term “Gog and Magog” may give us a hint. This is a general term in the Bible for the enemies of God spread throughout the remotest parts of the earth (Ezek. 38–39; Rev. 20:8).

  • Those enlisting in Satan’s army will likely be geographically remote, from among those cities and regions farthest from the center of the Messiah’s kingdom in Jerusalem.
  • They will also be generationally removed from their original ancestors who survived the onslaught of the Beast, the memory of which will sound to these distant descendants like mere fables.
  • Finally, the rebels will be spiritually distant, perhaps conforming to the outward expectations of worship and civil duty, but inwardly harboring cynicism, selfishness, and rebellion.

D.  (:9) Turning the Tables on the Attackers

  1. Strategic Attack

And they came up on the broad plain of the earth

and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city,

John Walvoord: As the battle is joined in verse 9, Satan and his armies surround the camp of the saints. The word for “camp” refers to those engaged in battle and who are in battle array, hence a “fortress” or “citadel.” Here the term seems to refer to the city of Jerusalem itself, which is described as “the beloved city” (cf. Ps. 78:68; 87:2). Apparently Christ permits the army to assemble and encircle His capital city. No sooner has Satan’s army been assembled, however, than fire comes down from God out of heaven, and the besiegers are destroyed, like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus is shattered the last vain attempt of Satan to overthrow the throne of God and usurp His prerogatives. This also ends the false theory that human beings in a perfect environment will willingly serve the God who created and redeemed them. Even in the ideal situation of the millennium, innumerable people respond to the first temptation to rebel. This is the end of the road for the nations who rebel against God as well as for the career of Satan.

  1. Sudden Destruction

and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

E.  (:10) Torment in the Lake of Fire Forever

  1. Thrown into the Lake of Fire

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also;

  1. Tormented Constantly

and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.