A Study of Revelation

Chapter 20:1-5

Throughout the book of Revelation we are reminded of the parallel between physical Israel and spiritual Israel. The church of Christ is the spiritual Israel of the New Testament (Gal. 6:16), and specifically the book of Revelation.

Just as Israel was taken out of physical bondage by crossing the Red Sea, mankind today is being taken out of the spiritual bondage of sin by crossing the red sea of the blood of Christ. When we cross the blood of Christ by our obedience to the gospel, we come Mt. Zion. We then wander in the wilderness of sin as we strive to live a Christian life.

To understand chapter 20 we must understand what verse 6 tells us about the “first resurrection.” Verse 6 says:

Rev. 20:6
6* Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

If we have a part in the “first resurrection,” we will never die again. Christ was the first person resurrected from the grave never to die again. We have a part in that resurrection by our obedience to the gospel through baptism.

Just as Christ was resurrected from the grave never to die again, we are resurrected from the spiritual grave of sin never to die spiritually.

If we remain faithful, the second death (hell) has no power over us. When the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they were delivered from the bondage of slavery. When we cross the red sea of the blood of Christ through baptism, we are delivered from the bondage of sin. We then reign with Christ in the church during the symbolic 1000 years.

There is no question that this is likely the most misunderstood chapter in the entire Bible. The reason for this is there are so many false concepts that have been twisted out of the words of this chapter that it has become increasingly difficult for the average Bible student to know, with confidence, what teaching he or she should follow. It has been our purpose throughout our study to let the Bible give us the proper interpretation of the Book of Revelation by looking at the symbols as they are presented in other sections of God’s Word, and as they are used consistently in the book of Revelation. We have rejected, conscientiously, the theories proposed by men, and we have attempted to study the entire book solely in light of the teachings of the New Testament.

There is one symbol used in chapter 20 that causes a great deal of difficulty for people in coming to the proper conclusion about what this chapter teaches. That symbol is the period of time described as a thousand years. This period of time is consistently used in a symbolic way in Revelation.

The problem is that many in the denominational “christian” world today teach that Christ is going to return to earth and establish a literal throne in literal Jerusalem for a literal thousand years and from this literal physical throne reign as king over his people. The problem is the Bible teaches no such thing. In order to teach a literal kingdom a great deal of twisting of Scripture is necessary. Passages from a number of sections of the Bible are taken out of context and made to apply to a preconceived concept that originated with the teachings of men, not God.

Jesus taught that his Kingdom was a spiritual, not a literal kingdom. He said:

John 18:36
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Jesus came and established a spiritual kingdom, the church. The New Testament tells us that Christ is reigning on His throne now. The apostle Peter, on the day the church was established said:

Acts 2:29-33
29* “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30* “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE,
31* he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.
32* “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
33* “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

The apostle John said: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father,” (Rev. 1:6). We are priests today. The apostle Peter tells us that we are priests today (1 Pet. 2:9). Rev. 20:4 says that we live and reign with Christ for a thousand years, and Rev. 5:10 says: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Since we know that Christ is on his throne today reigning in heaven, we also know that we are reigning with him here upon this earth in the time that is called the “thousand years.” The “thousand years” is symbolic, it describes the entire period of time upon this earth that Christians live and reign with Christ as he reigns in heaven. This is the time commonly referred to as the Christian dispensation or the gospel age. The “thousand years” represents the complete amount of time upon this earth that the church of Christ has to preach the gospel, teaching people the Truth of God’s Word and bring them salvation from their sins. It appears in chapter 20:7 that there will come a time on earth when people will no longer be obedient to the gospel. This is figuratively described as a time when the devil will gather his followers together. At this time Christ will return to take his follower home and destroy those who oppose him.

The number “1000” was used by the Hebrew people to mean ultimate completeness. It was derived by multiplying the complete number “10” by itself three times (10X10X10). Three being the number of deity in the book of Revelation, the number “1000” is used to describe a period of time which is complete in the sight of God. It is not a literal thousand years.

The “thousand years” is the present gospel age. It began with the first coming of Christ and will last as long as men are obedient to the gospel. Verse 9 indicates that the church of Christ will be alive and surrounded by a world of sin. Therefore the gospel age will last until Christ returns, but at the end of this age there will be a time when sin will prevail upon this earth and people will refuse to become obedient to the gospel.

Consistently in the book of Revelation we find the same event being described by several different symbols. Each of these symbols, although describing the same event, gives us different information about that particular event. This is true in the case of the “thousand years.” This “thousand years” covers the same period of time as:

1) The first six seals (6:1-8:5)
2) The first six trumpets (8:6-11:19)
3) The first six plagues (16:1-21)
4) Forty-two months (13:5)
5) Time, times and half a time (12:14)

Although all of these symbols are describing events taking place during our present gospel age, each gives a different perspective of this time period. The symbolic “thousand years” simply shows that it is a complete period of time. After the thousand years are finished, there will be no further opportunities for mankind to become obedient to God’s will. God’s gospel plan will be completed. Those who have chosen to be obedient to that gospel will dwell with God in heaven forever, and those who have rejected the gospel will have their place in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (21:8).

As we begin to study chapter 20 it is important to know that the main theme of this chapter is the destruction of the devil.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Chapter 19 described the destruction of the beast and the false prophet. The devil is responsible for the evil that is in the world today with the beast and the false prophet being manifestations of that evil. When God destroys evil in this world upon the second coming of Christ the devil himself will finally be destroyed. Chapter 19 and 20 teach that if we reject God in order to follow the devil we will ultimately spend an eternity in hell with him.

20:1* ¶ Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
2* And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
3* and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

As stated above, the thousand years is the present gospel age. Therefore, these verses teach us that Satan is bound at the present time. Now, the question is, “in what sense is he bound?” He is not bound in the sense that he cannot function on earth today, but he is bound to the extent that he has no control over God’s people.

Heb. 2:14
14* ¶ Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

Christ through his death and resurrection destroyed (bound) Satan in the sense that Satan no longer rules in the world. Those people who lived under the law of Moses had no immediate forgiveness of their sins. They could only make yearly atonement for their sins while looking forward to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for complete forgiveness (Heb. 10:3,4). The sins of those under the old law were not forgiven until Christ died on the cross (Heb. 9:15).

Therefore, Satan ruled in the world until Christ died on the cross and destroyed or bound him.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

The “key” is symbolic of the power Satan had, before Jesus died, to possess all mankind in bondage to sin. Satan had the power to open the doors of the abyss and cause people to lose their souls. The term “key” was used by Jesus when he talked about the establishment of the church:

Matt. 16:18
18* “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
19* “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Peter was given the “keys” to the church in the sense that he delivered the terms of entrance to the church (Kingdom) of Christ on the day of Penticost in Acts 2:37-39.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

When one becomes a Christian today by obedience to the gospel of Christ his sins are immediately forgiven. Satan can no longer control the Christian’s life. As long as a Christian remains faithful to the Lord by being obedient to his will, his sins are continually forgiven (1 Jn. 1:7), and Satan has no control. He is bound.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

The angel who bound Satan used a great chain. A chain would symbolize a powerful restraint. Rom. 1:16 says that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. We bind Satan in our own lives when we are obedient to the gospel and obtain the salvation offered to us. If the gospel is God’s power for salvation, then it follows that the symbolic chain refers to the gospel. Satan is bound by the gospel.

Comments are closed.