Keys to Revelation – Chapter 20
Taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York
International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
BIBLE TEXT COMMENTARY
REV 20:1 And I saw an angel coming [coming down] – John is most likely
down out of heaven, having the key situated on the earth looking up to
to the Abyss and holding in his heaven and sees an angel descending
hand a great chain. out of the Third Heaven.
[key] – A key allows the owner to
exercise authority over an object or
place. Here it is a symbol of God’s
absolute authority over the Abyss.
[Abyss] – The place of confinement
for the wicked angels who are await-
ing the final judgment of the Lake
of Fire. Jude 6 reveals that it is
a place of darkness where angels are
bound with chains. It is a place so
terrible that the demons in Luke 8:31
begged Jesus, “…repeatedly not to
order them into the Abyss.”
[great chain] – A real chain in the
hand of the angel, that was large,
long, and indestructible.
REV 20:2 He seized the dragon, [seized the dragon] – He is a mighty
that ancient serpent, who is the angel, which could imply the angel
devil, or Satan, and bound him for was Michael the Archangel, who has
a thousand years. great strength. He was the one in
DAN 10:13 that had to “free” another
angel of God who was being detained
by the wicked forces of evil, that
were the power behind the Persian
[bound] – Satan is literally tied up
by the great chain that God has made
for the purpose of incapacitating the
Father of Lies.
[thousand years] – A literal period
of 1,000 years that coincide with the
thousand year rule of Christ on the
earth. In fact, Jesus had the evil
one bound to ensure Millennial peace
of His Kingdom.
REV 20:3 He threw him into the [He threw] – The angel bound Satan
Abyss, and locked and sealed it with the chain and then threw him
over him, to keep him from into the Abyss. This is the same
deceiving the nations anymore until way the unbeliever is treated after
the thousand years were ended. the judgment of REV 20:14. God does
After that, he must be set free for not merely “send” or “place” them
a short time. into torment, but rather, He has them
“thrown” into judgment. While our
God is a loving God, He is also a
God of judgment, who is an enemy to
those who refuse to love and obey
[after that] – After the 1,000 years
are over, God in His wisdom lets the
evil one go free for a short time. It
could be to show mankind that evil
still lurks in the heart of the
unredeemed of the Millennium, for as
soon as Satan is released, he leads
them in rebellion against God.
REV 20:4 I saw thrones on which [thrones] – These thrones are part of
were seated those who had been the King’s Court that will rule over
given authority to judge. And I saw the earth for one thousand years.
the souls of those who had been Jesus is the king of the earth and
beheaded because of their testimony has given the authority to judge to
for Jesus and because of the word those seated on these thrones.
of God. They had not worshiped the
beast or his image and had not [seated] – The identification of
received his mark on their those seated on the thrones is not
foreheads or their hands. They came limited to one specific group. We
to life and reigned with Christ a can find numerous verses that speak
thousand years. of various groups that will rule
during the Millennium. In DAN 7:18
and 7:27 we see the Old Testament
Saints promised a part in the rule
of the Kingdom.
The Apostles are promised thrones
when Jesus sits on His “Glorious
Throne” (MAT 19:28). Every New
Testament Saint is promised the task
of judging the world in a coming day
(2CO 6:2). There can be numerous
thrones (millions) in the Millennium
replacing the civil courts of law
of this age. In this case John does
not tell us exactly who is sitting
on the thrones. But we do know it is
[saw the souls] – Somehow in Heaven
souls (Spirits) are visible even
before the resurrection of the body.
Here, John sees the souls of those
from the Tribulation Period and then
watches as their glorified bodies are
resurrected and reunited with their
souls (end of verse 4).
[beheaded] – These Tribulation Saints
literally were beheaded because they
refused to deny Christ and worship
the Antichrist. It is interesting
that France, one of the nations of
the revised Roman Empire, has been
considering the revival of the old
guillotine style of capital punish-
[They came to life] – This is the
final phase of the resurrection of
the Righteous. The first phase was
the resurrection of the King of
Righteousness — Jesus Christ, then
came the firstfruits — the Rapture
of the Church, and finally this last
phase where the Tribulation Saints
are resurrected along with all
the Old Testament Saints (EZE 37:12;
DAN 12:2, 12:12; 1CO 15:23).
It might be noted that during the
Millennium there will be others who
become Christians, but they will not
die, rather they will be translated
into their glorious bodies at the
end of the 1,000 year Kingdom.
[reigned with Christ] – All the
Saints of all ages will rule and
reign with Jesus for the 1,000 years.
What a truly glorious time when the
name of Jesus will be honored and
those who try to do evil will be
REV 20:5 (The rest of the dead did [rest of the dead] – These are the
not come to life until the thousand unbelievers from all ages (billions)
years were ended.) This is the that we see alive and standing their
first resurrection. final judgment in REV 20:11-15.
REV 20:6 Blessed and holy are [second death] – The first death is
those who have part in the first our physical death. The second death
resurrection. The second death has is the eternal torment of the Lake of
no power over them, but they will Fire (REV 20:14) reserved solely for
be priests of God and of Christ and those who refused God’s Way of Grace
will reign with him for a thousand through Faith in Christ, Repentance
years. of sins, and Submission to the Lord
Jesus — The Eternal and Holy God.
REV 20:7 When the thousand years [Satan…released] – God does not
are over, Satan will be released tell us why He allows Satan to again
from his prison exercise his wicked power on the
earth. It does show that man, whose
heart has not been changed by Christ,
is still easily controlled by the
REV 20:8 and will go out to [the nations] – These are all the
deceive the nations in the four countries of the earth with the
corners of the earth–Gog and exception of Israel. They are given
Magog–to gather them for battle. the title of the enemies of God —
In number they are like the sand on Gog and Magog.
[number…like the sand] – Amazing
that after a 1,000 reign of peace by
Jesus and His Saints, there are still
multitudes who have refused to submit
to Him and try to destroy the Savior
and His people. These are the youth
of the Millennium, under the age of
100. Those who become Christians in
the Millennium will not die. But the
unbeliever will be allowed only 100
years to “come to Christ,” after
which he will be killed (ISA 65:20).
REV 20:9 They marched across the [camp of God’s people] – The city He
breadth of the earth and surrounded loves is Jerusalem (PSA 78:68; 87:2).
the camp of God’s people, the city
he loves. But fire came down from [but fire came down] – These wicked
heaven and devoured them. forces never got to “fire a shot”
because to Mighty Savior Jesus Christ
called down fire from heaven to
destroy the attacking armies.
REV 20:10 And the devil, who [devil…thrown] – This is the last
deceived them, was thrown into the time Satan will ever be seen or heard
lake of burning sulfur, where the of again. He has plagued mankind for
beast and the false prophet had thousands of years and has been the
been thrown. They will be tormented constant troubler in the Bible from
day and night for ever and ever. Genesis to Revelation. But praise to
the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
that He has defeated the evil one.
[tormented] – This final place of
torment is a literal place of fire,
agony, loneliness, hunger, thirst,
etc., and never ends. After Satan
and the rest of the wicked have been
there 10,000 years, they will have
the same amount of eternal judgment
as they had when they first started!
REV 20:11 Then I saw a great white [great white throne] – This throne
throne and him who was seated on is the same one referred to in DAN
it. Earth and sky fled from his 7:10. It is massive, brilliant white,
presence, and there was no place flaming with fire, and is mounted on
for them. wheels of fire. There is a river of
fire coming out from the throne and
most likely pours into the Lake of
The river of fire before this throne
of judgment is filled with the wicked
awaiting judgment (verse 12). There
is no rest from the torment the
wicked experience. An unsaved person
who died in 1930 would be placed in
in the fires of Hell until this time
of final judgment. They then would
be instantly placed in the River of
Fire before the Great White Throne,
only to be thrown into the Lake of
[Him who was seated on it] – This is
Jesus Christ the Judge, “… the
Father judges no one, but has en
trusted all judgment to the Son”
[Earth and sky fled] – This is a
reference to the complete destruction
of the earth and heavens. 2PE 3:10
“…The heavens will disappear with a
roar; the elements will be destroyed
by fire, and the earth and everything
in it will be laid bare.”
All mankind has been removed from the
earth. The righteous are in the
bliss of the Third Heaven and all the
unbelievers are standing in the River
of Fire awaiting judgment. There is
no need of the old corrupt earth and
REV 20:12 And I saw the dead, [the dead] – These are the wicked
great and small, standing before from all ages past. They are called
the throne, and books were opened. dead because they have never received
Another book was opened, which is Life in Christ. They willfully have
the book of life. The dead were refused to repent of their sins and
judged according to what they had commit their lives to Christ. They
done as recorded in the books. are destined for the Second Death.
[great and small] – The rich and the
poor of the earth, the famous and the
undistinguished, the prominent and
the obscure, and the attractive and
the homely. It made no difference
what status they had in their life on
earth, they all are standing awaiting
[books were opened] – There are three
books that are opened: The Book of
the Law (Bible), the Book of Sins,
and the Book of Life.
The Book of the Law – All mankind is
judged on the basis of whether they
obeyed the revealed Word of God. If
they did then they enter into Heaven.
For each sin they commit they receive
eternal torment, with increasing
intensity of suffering for each added
The Book of Sins – Throughout the
Bible we find verses that reveal that
man will be judged by his deeds (PSA
62:12; JER 17:10; ROM 2:6; 1PE 1:17).
Book of Life – The Book that has the
names of those who were chosen for
salvation before the world began.
REV 20:13 The sea gave up the dead [sea gave up the dead] – Here is the
that were in it, and death and the Second Resurrection. The bodies
Hades gave up the dead that were in of those drowned or buried at sea.
them, and each person was judged
according to what he had done. [death…gave up the dead] – This is
the grave (both under the earth and
out in space), giving up the bodies
of the unbeliever.
[Hades gave up the dead] – This the
spirits of the unsaved.
The bodies are resurrected from the
sea and death to be united with the
souls (spirits) from Hades.
[each person was judged] – Each of
the unbelievers has their “Day in
Court” where they are shown the Laws
they were responsible for (Bible),
and their records of violations.
Each sinner is found “guilty as
REV 20:14 Then death and Hades [death and Hades] – The reunited body
were thrown into the lake of fire. and spirit were thrown (not sent,
The lake of fire is the second placed or led) into the final place
death. of torment — The Lake of Fire.
[second death] – This is a living
death. A place where the agony of
of a painful death continues forever.
REV 20:15 If anyone’s name was not [name not found] – Another statement
found written in the book of life, of the fact that no man or woman was
he was thrown into the lake of ever capable of saving themselves.
fire. Only those who were elected by God
before the foundation of the earth
and given the Faith to Believe along
with a heart of Repentance and
Submission could be saved. Every
person listed in the Book of Life
will be in Heaven and every name that
is not in the Book will be rightly
judged to the Lake of Fire.
Final Note: It has often been said that this Judge on the Great White Throne
is much too harsh. He doesn’t give them a second chance. And the fact that
He commands that the condemned be “thrown” into the Lake of Fire seems a bit
rough. Let it be clearly understood that this judge Jesus Christ is a God of
Look closely at the Judge’s hands and feet to observe the scars from the nails
of the Roman soldiers. Examine also His side and see the place where the Roman
spear pierced Him. This judge offered forgiveness for every sinner before Him.
But they refused His Mercy and now justly receive His Wrath.
We also deserve this same wrath but were saved by the Grace of Election. There
was no good found in us to cause Jesus to choose us for such a marvelous gift
of salvation. We should be eternally thankful and humble for such a gift of
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