DRAGON: Elsewhere, Egypt is described as a dragon (Psa
74:13, Isa 51:9).
"In Rev 12 the prototype of this dragon is fairly evidently
the opposition of pagan Rome to the gospel (the Apocalypse was itself revealed
at a time when Rome was persecuting the Truth of Christ). In the Last Days the
counterpart to this great antagonist is probably scientific rationalism, which
dominates human thought and activity today as much as the power of Rome ever
did. It is the pagan religion of the Twentieth Century, making unlimited claims,
working all kinds of signs and lying wonders, accepted in blind faith by
"This wretched philosophy will receive a set-back at the
coming of the Lord, which may at first seem like its final annihilation. The
return from heaven of one whose name is called 'The Word of God' will be the
conclusive answer to the derisive question which the Serpent has put so
confidently ever since Eden: 'Yea, hath God said?' The fact of the existence of
an Almighty God who has been ceaselessly active through all human history will
be vindicated by the dramatic events in which His Son is manifest to the world.
Satan's bigoted anti-God activities will be chained, and those who now set their
seal to the fact that God is true (John 3:33) will rejoice in the restraint put
upon God-dishonouring thought and activity" (WRev).
BOUND: Sin will still continue in the Kingdom Age in a
restricted form (Isa 65:20), but political opposition will be rigorously
repressed (Zec 14:17). This restraint will permit true knowledge to permeate
society, a pure worship to be everywhere set up, and virtuous, moral conditions
to be developed in peace and prosperity, and on the basis of a true love towards
God and man (2Jo 1:6).
Cp parable of strong man bound: Mat 12:22-30; Mar 3:22-30; Luk
A THOUSAND YEARS: "I believe that the Lord will reign a
thousand years, but I have no idea how long that thousand years will be" (NRev
The doctrine of the millennium: "When the edifice of the
church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine
of Christ's reign on the earth was first treated as a profound allegory, was
considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length
rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism" (DFRE).
HE THREW HIM INTO THE ABYSS: "The only passage in the
Bible with any sort of resemblance to the words of Rev 20 about Satan being shut
up in the abyss is to be found in Isa 24:22,23. 'And it shall come to pass in
that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high,
and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together,
as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and
after many days, they shall be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and
the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in
Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.'
"This comes at the end of a vivid prophecy of divine judgement
in the Last Days.
"If the two passages do actually describe the same thing, then
here is further evidence that the Satanic rebellion of Rev 20 comes immediately
after the beginning of the Millennium and not at its close" (WRev).
AND LOCKED AND SEALED IT OVER HIM: This implies that
the ruling authority (Christ's government) will prohibit the manifestation of
any political opposition. The seal of the government on the grave of the Lord
(Mat 27:66) was designed to prohibit any opening of the sepulchre; the seven
seals on the book referred to in Rev 5:1-3 made it impossible for any man to
read the contents. The manifestation of power by Christ will demonstrate that he
commands the forces of omnipotence, and will silence all those who would
otherwise oppose him (Mic 7:16, Eze 39:11 mg).
ENDED: The word ("teleo") translated "expired,"
"finished," "fulfilled" (vv 3,5,7) may also carry the sense of "accomplished,"
"achieved," thus giving this key phrase the meaning: "when Christ's millennial
kingdom has become fully established".
Examples of sw: (a) Luke 22:37: "This that is written must yet
be accomplished in me." (b) Gal 5:16: "Walk ye in the Spirit, and ye shall not
fulfil the lust of the flesh." To read "finish" here is to make nonsense of the
passage. (c) James 2:8: "If ye fulfil the royal law... Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself, ye shall do well." Again, the substitution of "finish"
makes the meaning ludicrous. (d) Rom 2:27: "And shall not uncircumcision which
is by nature, if it fulfil (finish?) the law, judge thee who... dost transgress
the law?" (e) Rth 3:18: "The man (Boaz) will not be in rest until he have
finished (ie accomplished, achieved) the thing this day." (f) Isa 55:11: "My
word... shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish (but not
'finish') that which I please." (g) Dan 4:30: "Is not this great Babylon, that I
have built" -- here "achieved, fully established" are both appropriate;
"finished" also is suitable in the sense of "finished building", but certainly
not in the sense of "ended" (WRev).
HE (Satan) MUST BE SET FREE: The NT counterpart of the
"loosing of a satan" in 1Ki 11:14: Hadad the Edomite, a human "adversary" to the
Kingdom of God.
BEHEADED: The special "privilege" of Roman citizens,
implying a first-century application to Beast, image, "mark", etc. (LD: Certain
Muslim nations, ie Saudi Arabia, are only nations that execute by beheading
AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST: "Reigning with Christ, as
exhibited in the gospel, is a reality. Popular hymns talk of reigning with
Christ, but what do they mean? They know not. A mere subsistence of delight -- a
passive ecstasy, in which they drowsily float in the ethereal clouds of 'the
happy land' -- a bathing in the blue and brightness of heaven -- an imaginary
bliss. This is not the Bible 'reigning with Christ' -- though the Bible reigning
with Christ will have all the happiness about it that was ever imagined in
connection with the orthodox heaven. The Bible reigning with Christ is a
regulating of human affairs as they ought to be regulated: a guiding of mankind
with power into ways of enlightenment and righteousness, joy and peace, in the
then present time, with an unbounded prospect of eternal day beyond. Such a
reigning with Christ is exactly adapted to meet the wants of the afflicted human
race who will be blessed by it, and to give scope to the noble aspirations and
benevolent ambitions of those who will be called upon to take part in it" (13L
THOUSAND YEARS: The "thousand years" (Rev 20:4-8) is
mentioned nowhere else in the whole of Scripture. It was apparently unheard of
through long ages of inspired writings, until John received the Apocalypse. The
supposed pattern of a divine "week" of precisely 7,000 years, with a 1,000-year
"Sabbath day" at the end, is based on 2Pe 3:8 and very little else. But careful
reading of 2Pe 3 suggests just the opposite: that God operates on His own quite
flexible timetable, and that time is almost infinitely expandable ("a day is
with the Lord as a thousand years") or contractible ("a thousand years as one
day") as He may choose. It is (or should be) axiomatic that fundamental doctrine
cannot be based solely on one Bible passage. It should be doubly axiomatic that
fundamental doctrine cannot be based solely on one passage from the Book of Rev
(which is prophetic, and figurative to a very high degree). And, when it is
considered that all the other time periods in Rev (1,260 days; 42 months; 3 1/2
years; 10 days; 3 1/2 days; an hour; half an hour; etc.) are often interpreted
figuratively, then it would appear unwise to base an essential, saving Truth on
one reference to a time period in Rev! Might it just be possible that "a
thousand years" is symbolic of a very, very long time (like the "144 thousand"
may be symbolic of a very, very large number of people)?
THE REST OF THE DEAD: "This cannot relate to those who
died before Christ's coming, for vast multitudes of those shall never rise from
the grave (Psa 49:19,20; 88:5; Isa 26:14, Eph 2:12). And these live again after
the 1,000 years' reign is completed. They cannot relate to the responsible
wicked, for they rise with the righteous to be judged at Christ's coming (2Th
1:8; Luke 19:15;13:24-30). They can only relate to those who die after the 1,000
years' reign has commenced. The approved are described as the 'firstfruits'
(James 1:18), and thus comprise but a portion of the complete harvest.
"The 'rest of the dead' are comprehended in the mind and
purpose of God though as yet unborn. Paul declares that salvation was given him
in Christ 'before the world began' (2Ti 1:9). The omniscience of God foresaw the
place of Paul in His purpose long before the birth of the Apostle (Gal 1:15). In
like manner, the Spirit now speaks of the 'rest of the dead' though many are not
living at the epoch referred to" (ApEp).
ENDED: Sw Rev 20:3,7. See notes, esp v 3.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION: Resurrection in the absolute
sense, as in Phi 3:11; Luke 20:36 -- meaning resurrection TO eternal life. This
is the "better resurrection" to life (Heb 11:35), in contrast to a resurrection
that ends in death -- which is not a true resurrection. The wicked are raised
together with the righteous at Christ's coming: Luke 13:28-30; Mat 26:64; Dan
12:2; Luke 12:8,9. The "rest" of the dead thus relate to those who die in the
millennium (cp Isa 65:20).
Alternative interpretations (WRev): The interpretations given
to these words are many and varied. For instance:
"I saw thrones, and they sat on them" (v 4) describes the blessedness of
those accepted after the resurrection and judgement at the Lord's return,
whereas this v 5 relates to another resurrection and judgement at the end of the
The word "again" has no place in this passage and "the rest of
the dead" are those rejected by the Lord at his coming. According to this, these
live on into the Millennium in mortality; they die and pass into oblivion
sometime during the reign of Christ.
On extremely slender grounds it has
been argued also that, according to this passage, only those worthy of
immortality will rise at the Lord's coming, whilst the rest who are judged and
condemned in absentia, so to speak, will remain in the grave until their
resurrection to condemnation at the end of the Millennium.
Yet again, others
would make this passage refer to enlightened rejecters of the gospel for whom a
later resurrection is deemed more fitting, separate from the resurrection of
The interpretation which seems to harmonize best with
the details written here in Rev 20 and elsewhere is on these lines: Those who
are seen enthroned (v 4) represent a small select group of the outstanding
servants of Christ who are raised and glorified before the main body of
believers. The main resurrection and judgement comes in later (Rev 20:12-15),
after the final establishment of the authority of Christ, possibly even after
the Gog-Magog rebellion of Rev 20:7-10.
"Quoted sometimes to support the idea of immortal
resurrection: 'Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection:
on such the second death hath no power.' Such a use of the passage is mistaken,
for the words 'have part' are not equivalent to 'be involved in', but more
specifically refer to inheritance. This is one of many places where the NT uses
'resurrection' not with reference to the actual process of emerging from the
tomb but concerning the ultimate end of that process -- approval by Christ and
the receiving of immortality; eg Phi 3:11; 1Co 15:21,42; Acts 23:6; 4:2; Luke
WHO HAVE PART: Lit, who have an "inheritance" in. Thus,
not all who are raised, but all who are raised to an inheritance!
"It is argued upon this that none of the wicked can be raised
at that time. The question turns upon the words have part in the first
resurrection. What is it to have part in the first resurrection? The word
translated part is 'meros', and this is defined by Parkhurst to mean a piece,
part, portion, fellowship, lot, etc; hence, to have part in the first
resurrection, is to have a piece, part, portion, fellowship, or lot, at the
coming of Christ. Merely to come forth is not to have a portion in the
resurrection that takes place. There will be many at the judgment seat who will
be dismissed without a piece, part, portion, lot, or fellowship. The King will
refuse to own them. On such the second death hath power, but on those who attain
to the condition of things that John witnessed and described as the first
resurrection, viz, a living and reigning with Christ a thousand years, the
second death hath no power" (Xdm Ast).
"In six other places Revelation uses the word 'Blessed' to
describe the ultimate happiness of the worthy disciple, but only here is the
phrase used: 'Blessed and holy.' Those who are raised in this group are assured
of immortality even before their Lord pronounces their acceptance. This was true
of the Twelve even before Christ died, for he assured them: 'Ye, which have
followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of
his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of
Israel" (Mat 19:28) -- the words are marvellously similar to Rev 20:4. Paul also
was assured by the Lord himself before his final appearing before Caesar that
there was already laid up for him a crown of righteousness which his Lord would
give to him (2Ti 4: 8,17)" (WRev 235).
THEY... WILL REIGN WITH HIM FOR A THOUSAND YEARS:
"Reigning with Christ, as exhibited in the gospel, is a reality. Popular hymns
talk of reigning with Christ, but what do they mean? They know not. A mere
subsistence of delight -- a passive ecstasy, in which they drowsily float in the
ethereal clouds of 'the happy land' -- a bathing in the blue and brightness of
heaven -- an imaginary bliss. This is not the Bible 'reigning with Christ' --
though the Bible reigning with Christ will have all the happiness about it that
was ever imagined in connection with the orthodox heaven. The Bible reigning
with Christ is a regulating of human affairs as they ought to be regulated: a
guiding of mankind with power into ways of enlightenment and righteousness, joy
and peace, in the then present time, with an unbounded prospect of eternal day
beyond. Such a reigning with Christ is exactly adapted to meet the wants of the
afflicted human race who will be blessed by it, and to give scope to the noble
aspirations and benevolent ambitions of those who will be called upon to take
part in it" (13L 198).
ARE OVER: Sw Rev 20:3,5. Poss "accomplished, arrived
at, achieved". Is this a rebellion which happens at the very beginning of the
Millennium, instead of at the very end? (Cp only other instance of
Gog/Magog/etc: Eze 38.) " 'Are completed.' Again as in v 5 we have the aorist
passive of the verb teleo. The passive voice brings out God's activity and
involvement in the outworking and accomplishment of this age of a thousand
years. The aorist tense is a culminative aorist and looks at the results, ie
what this period will prove or demonstrate. The verb teleo means not simply
'completed,' but 'brought to its goal and purpose' " (Keathley, Rev). "... thus
giving this key phrase the meaning, 'when Christ's millennial kingdom has been
fully established' " (WRev 232). Some other uses of sw illustrate this poss
meaning, in NT or LXX: Luk 22:37; Gal 5:16; Jam 2:8; Rom 2:27; Rth 3:18; Isa
55:11; Dan 4:30 [cp notes, v 3].
SATAN WILL BE RELEASED FROM HIS PRISON: (CH) "After the
1,000 years reign of Christ, there will follow a relaxation of Divine authority,
enabling every person to manifest the hidden motives of his or her heart, in an
undivided loyalty to God, or otherwise. No longer will saints openly oppose sin,
no longer will the voice of instruction be heard commanding 'this is the way,
walk ye in it.' Every person will be permitted the exercise of his own desire
and will thus be self-judged" (ApEp).
AND WILL GO OUT TO DECEIVE: (CH) "With the relaxation
of authority, human nature will assert itself (see Isa 26:10). In their folly,
men will imagine that they can challenge the Almighty, for sin is a deceiver
(Rom 7:11). Leaders will doubtless arise among the people to challenge Christ's
authority, as did Korah and Dathan in Israel, to challenge the supremacy of
Here, "Gog AND Magog". In Eze, "Gog of the LAND of Magog". But
the // is, nevertheless, quite striking.
"Ezek 38... can... be read as the precise equivalent of Rev
20... The details of Rev 20:9 correspond exactly with those in Ezekiel: 'And
they went up on the breadth of the Land (Ezek 38:9) and compassed the camp of
the saints about ('my people of Israel dwelling safely'), and the beloved city;
and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them' (precisely as in
"This easy harmonization with other prophetic Scriptures
provides additional confirmation of the validity of the interpretation proposed.
Also, the picture now presented is entirely according to what might be expected.
When a war-shattered world has licked its wounds and begins to realize that the
Land of Israel is the headquarters of a new Power which now proclaims the hated
Jews as the head of the nations and not the tail, there will be no great lapse
of time before the authority of this King of the Jews is challenged. Ezek 38 and
Rev 20 tell of the fate of this last attempt, early in Christ's reign, to
proclaim 'Glory to Man in the highest' " (WRev).
FIRE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND DEVOURED THEM: Judgment
of the wicked described as a sacrifice: Rev 20:9; Gen 19:24; 2Ki 1:10-14; Psa
37:20; Eze 39:6,17-22.
THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF BURNING SULFUR: As a continual
burnt offering (Exo 29:38-42; cp ideas, Psa 37:20; Eze 39:6,17-22; Rev 20:9:
fire coming down from heaven). Other //s in Rev: Rev 14:8-11; 19:11-21. "Lake of
fire" = 2nd death in Rev 20:14.
TORMENTED: Gr "basanizo": developing idea, as (a) the
black rock an assayer would use to test whether gold/silver coins were real or
forgeries (rub the coin against it, and check the color); (b) checking any
calculation in a financial transaction; (c) any type of testing; and finally (d)
testing by means of torture. General concept of judgment, with painful
TORMENTED... FOR EVER: Should reasonably read:
"tormented... then destroyed... the effect of which was for ever". Other refs of
"eternal fire, etc" (Jud 1:7; Isa 34:9-15; Mal 4:1-3). "This is 2nd death" (Rev
20:14). As the continual burnt offering "throughout your generations" did not
last forever (Dan 12:11), so this "burning torment" will not last forever (cp
"eternal" fire on altar in Lev 6:12,13). The punishment of the wicked is death,
not endless torment: Psa 104:35; 145:20; Pro 10:30; 11:31; 13:13; Job 20:7,8;
21:30; Eze 18:4; Mat 21:41; Luk 19:27; Rom 1:32; 6:23; 2Th 1:9; 2Pe 2:12; Heb
AND THERE WAS NO PLACE FOR THEM: Nebuchadnezzar's dream
(Daniel 2:35). The work of Messiah in destroying the kingdoms of men.
THE BOOK OF LIFE: See also Dan 7:10; 12:1.
ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAD DONE: "This reads strangely
in view of the continual New Testament emphasis on justification by faith.
Gospels and epistles never cease their exposure of the folly of the man who
thinks he can work his own passage to eternal life: 'This is the victory that
overcometh the world, even our faith' (1Jo 5: 4). Yet just as explicit is the
doctrine that a man is answerable for what he does: 'We must all appear (be made
manifest) before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive in the
body according to that he hath done, whether good or bad' (2Co 5: 10). And there
is always the vigorous practical common-sense of the apostle James: 'Faith
without works is dead' (James 2:20).
"Several Scriptures build a bridge between these extremes,
outstandingly John 6:29: 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom
he hath sent.' Again: 'Whatsoever we ask we receive of him because we keep his
commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight. And this is
his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and
love one another, as he gave us commandment' (1Jo 3:22, 23). This, then, is the
saving work. But why did Jesus call it work? The answer is because faith in him
inevitably expresses itself in things done to the glory of Christ. This is why
James challenges so bluntly: 'Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will
shew thee my faith by my works' (James 2:18).
"Essentially the same synthesis is taught in Jeremiah: 'I the
Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his
ways, according to the fruit of his doings' (Jer 17:10). Here at first is
emphasis on what a man thinks and is inwardly -- in a word, on his faith. But
then, immediately, comes the test of his works. Not that any man's works can be
adequate to acquit him before the Lord of all!: 'If Abraham were justified
before God, he hath whereof to glory ... but not before God!' -- not even
Abraham. So Jeremiah hints at this in the words: 'according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his doings'. No man can get there in his own strength,
but God reckons his faith as righteousness if his 'ways' are right, that is, if
he is facing the right way. So also the Psalmist: 'Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth
mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work' (Psa 62:12). Here
is a paradox, truly. If God did render strictly according to what a man does,
then we are all damned before a great white throne so white as to blind with its
whiteness all who stand before it. But to this Judge belongeth mercy -- mercy to
those who have no faith in themselves but who do have a saving faith to know
that what their own achievement lacks is abundantly made up by what the Judge
himself has already done for them" (WRev).