Notes on Revelations 20
(especially the 1,000 years)
I am grateful for the opportunity to look into the Scriptures with you, and to re-evaluate my understanding by looking again and again at what God says. I do not believe that "eschatology"(future evernts) should be a test for fellowship. The real test for fellowship, the Scripture seems to indicate, is a willingness to hear the Word of God and also to submit to it.
John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.*
The reason I put that page, The Events of the End on the web site is to show how plain and simple the language regarding Jesus' coming is.
We know that the Word of God is infallible and it does not contradict itself, so in the light of this very plain language found in God's Word, I would hope true believers might be moved to reconsider their understanding of those passages that lead to conclusions which are different. Those very simple truths expressed in the Scriptures on that page provide for us a foundation of understanding upon which the Holy Spirit will build as we look to Him ~ by allowing the Bible to interpret itself, comparing Scripture with Scripture and recognizing that God's Word defines it's own terms. I have found that most of the very elaborate and "debatable" doctrines of eschatology have come about because people have not applied this most basic of principles regarding interpreting Scripture; and also because they have not considered the fact that God has written His Word in such a way as to hide truth from those who are not led of the Spirit (Matt 13:11, Isaiah 28:11).
It appears to me that the most central Truth of the Christian faith is the authority of the Word of God. It is from God's Word that we know what we are to believe about Him, our condition and need before Him and about how He satisfies that need in His Son Jesus Christ. It is when we broaden that authority to include other sources other than His Word that the Christian faith is corrupted and becomes "another gospel". Ultimately the Word of God is the Person of our Savior (John 1:1,14; Psalm 138:2; Rev 19:13).
So lets look at Revelations 20 and see how God's Word may interpret itself there.
There are several main ideas in that chapter among which are Satan being bound, The first resurrection, Reigning with Christ and priests of God, and of course the mentioning of 1,000 years.
Satan being bound
We know that God would not give us anything in His Word without explaining it to us, if not in the immediate passage, somewhere else in His Word. So as we look to see if His Word addresses Satan being bound elsewhere in the Bible, this is what we find:
Mark 3:27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me
Jesus is speaking of Satan in both of these passages. Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). Jesus came to plunder Satan's house and save a people for Himself. In order to do that, He had to first bind the strong man, Satan. This was accomplished at the cross and the extent to which he was bound is mentioned in Rev 20:3 "that he should deceive the nations no more". That this actually occurred is evident in the fact that when Jesus was on earth as the Perfect teacher of the gospel the largest record we have of people actually becoming saved was 120 people(Acts 1:15), yet Peter stands up to preach at Pentecost, after the cross, and instantly about 3,000 people are saved and many were added daily afterwards. Satan's ability to bind the hearts of men in unbelief was greatly diminished. God's Word spoke beforehand of this time when His Word would go out with power during the New Testament in places like Isaiah 2:2-4 where the Lord mentions how His house would be exalted above the nations and all nations would flow into it. There is much more to share on this, but let us move on for now.
Now Rev 20 mentions that Satan will be bound for 1,000 years.
As we look to see how God uses this term in His Word we find some curious language, not only about the term 1,000, but also, 100, 10 & 10,000. These numbers actually are all just different forms of "10". 100 = 10 tens (10x10), 1000 = 10 hundreds (10x100 or 10x10x10, etc.) God assigns a special meaning to these terms; see Isaiah 65:20. There, the Lord is speaking about the New Heaven and the New Earth (vs 17) which we know is the context of eternity, yet He says:
Isaiah 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
We know that in the New Heaven and the New Earth there will be no more death or dieing, no more sorrow, no more sin. The Lord alludes to this in the first part of the verse; yet the Lord also says the child shall die being a hundred years old and the sinner shall be cursed being a hundred years old. It is plain from other Scriptures that those not clothed with Christ's righteousness who still appear "sinners" in the eyes of the Father will be eternally cursed to damnation and those we who are saved will eternally live with the Lord in the New Heaven and Earth. So why the 100 years? It is because God uses the number 10, 100, 1,000, etc. to represent the completeness of whatever is in view. Here it is speaking about time, saying a child shall die 100 years old in the New Heaven and Earth. The complete amount of time one would live there is eternity, or forever. This is also the complete amount of time those who are still sinners will be cursed, 100 years, or rather...forever.
Another example of how God uses the number 10 to refer to the completeness of something is how He uses the "ten" commandments as a reference to the whole law when there were many many other commandments in the ceremonial law of the Old Testament.
Zec 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
Here the Lord is describing how people will be saved out of all nations by Jesus Christ, yet He identifies all the nations as "ten men"; again the Lord is illustrating for us this meaning which He has assigned to the number 10.
Psa 105:8 He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
So when we apply this meaning God has shown and defined for us in His Word to Rev 20 we notice that again God is speaking about a measure of time. We must conclude that He is referring to the completeness of time Satan is to be bound, not a literal 1,000 years.
Now in Rev 20 it also mentions these souls that live and reign with Christ 1,000 years and says they shall also be priests of God.
When we look again to the Bible to explain itself and search for similar language and terms as these, we find passages like Rev 1:5 & 6:
Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Rev 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Notice God is speaking in the past tense here in Rev 1. This is something God has already accomplished for those He has saved. At the present, those who know the Lord are kings and priests. This is also evident in verses like:
1Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
2Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Though still plagued by sin in this life we who are saved are promised grace to reign over it instead of being a slave to it as we once were. We also are called of God, as His priests to offer unto Him, in gratitude and thanksgiving, our whole life, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Of course there is much more that can be said about these profound truths but for the purpose of our little study lets move on to recognize that God says we shall be priests and kings with Christ for 1,000 years, again referring to the complete amount of time we shall reign with Him, which literally is forever (Rev 22:5). It's important to note that we begin to reign and have this calling of being a priest of God the moment we become saved; just as Ephesians 2:1-6 declares to us:
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
This is why in Rev 20 it calls this event the first resurrection. Before we are saved we are spiritually dead. But once born again we have been made spiritually alive and our spirit has been resurrected and raised with Christ to be seated with Him at the right hand of the Father. We who are saved and partake in this first resurrection are no longer subject to eternal damnation, that is, the second death. The reason God calls our becoming saved the "first" resurrection is because after being made spiritually alive we are still awaiting the resurrection and redemption of our physical bodies (this is evident in such passages as 1 John 3:2; Phil 3:20,21; 1 Cor 15:49-51; 2 Cor 5:1-4; and Ephes 2:14). This of course will occur, as God has said, on the last day.
It says that the "rest of the dead", that is, those who physically die without ever becoming saved "live not again" until the 1,000 years is finished. Meaning that they do not have conscious existence after death until the completeness of time has come and Judgment Day is upon us.
The last thing that I should address is how that Satan is bound, but then "loosed" again. When it says 1,000 years there, we still understand it to be the completeness of God's time period, but in this case it has an end, where as the time period in which we live and reign with Christ after becoming saved has no end. This period in which Satan is loosed takes place at the end of the New Testament as he is able to once again deceive the nations and overrun the congregations and churches with gospels so close to the truth that "they shall deceive the very elect" if that were possible (Matt 24:24). But then, as Rev 20:9 says, Jesus shall suddenly come, just as 2 Thess 2:9 also describes Jesus' coming in this way:
2Thess 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 whose coming(Jesus' coming) is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth...
So, in summery, I hope that I have been able to share how God's Word defines It's own terms and definitely does not contradict itself when it mentions the events of the rapture, resurrection and final judgment all occurring on the "last day". I hope you can see how God explains Himself and we need not lean on our own understanding or any other sources outside of His Word for an explanation.
yours in Christ,
*(more on the test for fellowship)
1John 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
John 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
John 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
The Events of The End