Revelation 20: The Millennium; The Great White Throne

Posted on March 7, 2021

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By David Ettinger

What This Is
Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, I taught a Sunday school class verse by verse on the Book of Revelation. This series represents my notes for each class. (I have done some updating as some of my understandings have changed over the years.) I came across them recently and decided to post them. If you wish to use these notes as a study guide, the way to do it is as follows: Read the verse first in your Bible, then look at the corresponding notes here for commentary.

For some reason, I don’t have notes for Chapters 1-3, therefore this series begins with Chapters 4-5. Following the Chapter 4-5 study notes, each chapter will be presented individually.

Read Chapter 4-5 notes here.
Read Chapter 6 notes here.
Read Chapter 7 notes here.
Read Chapter 8 notes here.
Read Chapter 9 notes here.
Read Chapter 10 notes here.
Read Chapter 11 notes here.
Read Chapter 12 notes here.
Read Chapter 13 notes here.
Read Chapter 14 notes here.
Read Chapter 15 notes here.
Read Chapter 16 notes here.
Read Chapter 17 notes here.
Read Chapter 18 notes here.
Read Chapter 19 notes here.

Overview
* This chapter covers the 1,000-year Kingdom, or the Millennium.

* It is also covers the judgment of Satan, and the Great White Throne Judgment of the unsaved.

VIEWS OF THE MILLENNIUM

* A major division in the theology of the Church has been the question of whether there will be an actual 1,000-year reign of Christ after His Second Coming.

* Both the Postmillennial and Amillennial views hold that fulfillment of the Millennium – if indeed there is one – is achieved before His coming, with Amillennialists more or less explaining away a literal fulfillment.

* Amillenialism minimalizes the promise of a Kingdom on Earth, saying there is no literal Kingdom on Earth with Christ reigning on the throne. In America, this is what is most being taught in churches.

* Some Amillennialists believe that the entire present age (since Christ’s resurrection) is the Millennium, with Christ reigning in the hearts of men and women who believe in Him.

* Postmillennialism says that the events of Revelation have already happened, finding their culmination with the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

* Premillennialism says that there will indeed be a literal 1,000-year Kingdom on Earth when Christ does rule as King. This is my view, as well.

SUPPORT OF A LITERAL MILLENNIUM

* The concept of a Golden Age upon Earth is by no means found only in the Book of Revelation.

* Old Testament Scripture is replete with references of a Golden Age. What we get from Revelation is the duration of this age.

* Golden Age passages include: Isaiah 11:1-9; Isaiah 2:2-4; Psalm 72; Jeremiah 23:3-8; Jeremiah 30:3-11; Jeremiah 31:3-14; Ezekiel 20:33-38.

The Binding of Satan
Verse 1
* The chain in the strong angel’s hand is for the binding of Satan.

* The Abyss is the natural home of Satan and his fallen angels.

Verse 2
* As in Chapter 12, we given 4 names for Satan:

1) “Dragon” – meaning crafty.

2) “Serpent” – subtle.

3) “Devil” – accuser.

4) “Satan” – adversary.

* The angel from Heaven has the authority to bind Satan and cast him into the Abyss.

* The exact number is given for the amount of years Satan will be bound: 1,000 years.

Verse 3
* The Abyss is locked and sealed over Satan, assuring believers in the Millennial Kingdom that he cannot escape.

* The purpose of binding Satan is clearly given: That he will be unable to deceive the nations.

* For the second time, we have the exact number of 1,000 years told us.

* Satan is not merely limited, as some teach, but totally inactive during the Millennium.

* Satan will be set loose one more time at the end of the Millennium, but his time will end quickly.

THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS

Verse 4
* We are not sure who the judges on the thrones are. Perhaps they are the 24 elders on the thrones of Chapter 4.

* The next group is easy to identify. It is the martyred saints of chapter 6. This is the fifth seal – martyrs under the altar.

* Here, they are resurrected and honored.

* There possibly could be a second group: Those who did not take the mark of the beast, but were not martyred (they survived until Christ’s return).

* All these were resurrected to reign with Christ during the Millennium.

* The third mention of the 1,000 years.

Verse 5
* The “rest of the dead” are the wicked dead who are not resurrected at this time. That will happen at the end of the 1,000 years (the fourth mention).

* The first resurrection is for the righteous in Christ who live in the Millennial Kingdom.

Verse 6
* “Blessed”: Those in the Millennial Kingdom will be blessed because they will be in God’s presence.

* They will be holy before God at all times.

* The “second death”: The Great White Throne Judgment and the condemnation to the lake of fire.

* This judgment has no effect on the Millennial saints, for they will be “priests” of God (1 Peter 1:9).

* 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: All believers to enter the Millennial Kingdom.

* Fifth mention of the 1,000 years.

Verse 7
* Sixth reference to the 1,000 years.

* Why is Satan released?

1) To demonstrate that humanity left to itself will rebel against God.

2) To show that even in ideal circumstances, humanity will still follow Satan.

3) Satan’s wickedness is demonstrated and that even 1,000 years of inactivity doesn’t change this.

Verse 8
* Satan resumes his “work” of deception.

* The nations of Millennial Earth are identified as “Gog and Magog.”

* See Ezekiel 38:1-6.

* In Ezekiel, Gog and Magog represent a great army from the north (of Israel) that invades the Holy Land.

* Here, however, these nations represent those that are enemies of God. Therefore, read “Gog and Magog” as enemies of God.

* “Sand on the Seashore”: There will be a multitude of unbelievers during the Millennial Kingdom.

Verse 9
* They come to Jerusalem – “the city He loves” – to make war against God’s people.

* This rebellion by Satan and those who follow him is brief and ineffective.

Verse 10
* The wickedness of Satan justifies God’s judgment upon him as he is thrown into the lake of burning sulfur for eternity.

* There, Satan joins the Antichrist and his false prophet, who had been cast down there 1,000 years previously (19:20).

* The fact they will be tormented “for ever and ever” shows that the lake of burning sulfur is not a place of annihilation, but of continuous punishment.

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

Verse 11
* White is the symbol of purity.

* Who is seated upon it? (See John 5:22-23; Philippians 2:9-11).

* This is the time of the second resurrection.

* “Earth and sky fled away”: No more Earth and sky? Is it time for all to enter the eternal state?

Verse 12
* All unbelievers who ever lived come before Jesus for judgment.

* The books show that these people have no justification to stand before God, because they have rejected Christ and must stand on their own works, which won’t get them into Heaven (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9).

* The “book of life”: For believers only and NOT based on works.

Verse 13
* This is a judgment of the dead only – the unrighteous.

* The righteous have already been resurrected for the Millennial Kingdom.

* Hades: The holding place for the unrighteous.

* The sea: Those who died at sea and whose bodies disintegrated cannot escape. God keeps watch over the soul, and it is the soul that is being judged.

* Again, the unrighteous have nothing but their works to stand on.

Verse 14
* Death and Hell are judged and subject to eternal punishment.

* The first death is physical death in this world; the second death is condemnation in the lake of fire for eternal punishment and permanent separation from God.

Verse 15
* The message is clear: Only believers in Christ will be in the book of life and anyone’s name not found there will be condemned to eternal damnation.