Keys to Revelation – Chapter 20
AUTHOR: Capoccia, Tony
PUBLISHED ON: May 12, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

                        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
                                          the redeemed. 

                                          [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
                                          judged instantly.

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
                                          evil one.

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.
the seashore. 
                                          [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”
                                          (JOH 5:22).                   

                                          [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

Tony Capoccia
Box 130
Shreveport, LA 71110
Modem (318) 949-1456
300/1200/2400/9600 Baud

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