Join us as we study through Revelation verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, teaching points, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 20:1-10 Bible Study Guide With Commentary – The Millennium
I. Satan bound for one thousand years (1-3)
II. The first resurrection and the millennium (4-6)
III. The final rebellion (7-10)
IV. The final judgment (11-15)
I. Satan bound for one thousand years (1-3)
- Who do you think this angel is in verse 1?
- What is the bottomless pit?
- Why is Satan being bound?
- What do you think the world will be like when Satan is not able to deceive the nations
- What does this passage show you about the power of God compared with the power of Satan?
Revelation 9:1-2 – And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.
1. Satan bound for a thousand years – In chapter 19, we see Jesus’ second coming. He defeats the armies of the world that are arrayed against Him. He defeats the Antichrist and the false prophet. Then what?
The next step is to bind Satan himself. An angel comes down from heaven and binds Satan for a thousand years. Very possibly, this angel is Michael, captain of the Lord’s armies. He imprisons Satan in the bottomless pit. It is most likely that the bottomless pit is the same one mentioned in Revelation 9:1-12. At times, God locks certain demons away there so that they cannot influence the earth or interfere with His plans.
Note that this is not the final judgment for Satan yet. After one thousand years, he will be released for a short time (discussed below).
The stated purpose for binding Satan is so that he will not be able to deceive the nations during this one thousand-year period.
II. The first resurrection and the millennium (4-6)
- Who are on the thrones?
- What might their authority entail?
- Who came to life?
- What is the first resurrection?
- What other resurrection is there?
- What is the difference between the two?
- Who will take part in the first resurrection?
- What is happening on earth during these thousand years?
- Are the thousand years literal or symbolic? Why?
- How does the truth of the future millennium and the resurrection affect you now?
- What do you look forward to about the millennium?
Isaiah 2:4 – He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
Daniel 2:44 – And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.
Isaiah 65:25 – The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
Zechariah 14:16 – Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.
2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us.
Luke 14:14 – And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
1. Three views of the millennium –
Image Source: https://www.ihcc.org/Resources/Message/4329
Revelation 20:4-5,6b – Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection….and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
The most hotly debated event on the eschatological calendar is the millennium. It is such a significant event, that a person’s view of this event is used to define his beliefs about the end times.
There are generally three views of the millennium: pre-millennial, post-millennial, and amillennial. There are some variations of these as well.
The pre-millennial view holds that the millennium is a literal one thousand year time period when Christ reigns as king over the world sitting on David’s throne in Jerusalem. After the millennium, there will be a final judgment and then the eternal state. The distinctive of this view is that it is very literal. Jesus’ has a literal kingdom for a literal thousand-year period and His saints literally reign with Him.
The post-millennial view holds that the millennium will be a spiritual reign of Christ, where the world is mostly won to Him through the preaching of His disciples. It is the most optimistic view. Under this view, the gospel is victorious and the majority of the world will turn to Christ. Things will get better and better and then Jesus will physically return in glory, end history for this world, conduct the final judgment, and usher believers into the eternal kingdom. Those who hold this view do not believe that the thousand years or Jesus’ reign as king are literal. Neither do they believe in a seven-year tribulation.
The amillennial view holds that the millennium is a spiritual reign of Christ. He is reigning through the church now. Jesus said that His kingdom “is not of this world.” (John 18:36) Satan is currently bound, albeit on a long leash. Because Satan is bound, the gospel can go throughout the world to Gentile nations, which had been blinded for ages. The tribulation is not an exact seven-year period. Some of the things that will happen during the tribulation are happening now (such as the first four horsemen: war, famine, death, pestilence). Things will generally get worse before the end. After the church age, Jesus will physically return and usher believers into the new heaven and the new earth.
Focus on what unites us
It is important to remember that all three of these positions are orthodox. Godly and mature believers may hold different views. Revelation and eschatology are difficult to interpret. At various times in church history, different views have been the most popular.
Believers should not allow a difference in interpretation of these events to divide us. Instead, we should focus on what unites us. All of these roads ultimately lead to the same destination. Jesus will come again. There will be a final judgment. Believers will receive new glorified bodies and be with Jesus face to face for eternity on the new earth. All of us are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
2. A thousand-year reign with Christ –
I believe that the millennium is a literal event. The thousand years are literally one thousand years. After Jesus’ second coming, He will rule over the world with a rod of iron. He will be literal king, on a literal throne, in literal Jerusalem. He will sit on the throne of David.
This is important because many of God’s promises to Israel in the Old Testament have not been fulfilled yet. For example, their land area is not currently as large as God promised. And He also said that people will stream to Israel from the nations to worship there. In fact, they will be required to do so and if they don’t, their land will be struck with draught (Zechariah 14:17-18). Without an actual millennium, many of these promises would seem to be left unfulfilled.
Romans 11:1 – “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.”
Has God cast away His people? The answer is “no.”
One of the key elements of the pre-millennial view is that the promises God made to Israel are still valid. He will keep every single one that He has ever made. God cannot and does not lie. The very existence of Israel as a nation now is evidence of God’s promises to them. All of their neighbors (Moab, Edom, Canaan, etc.) are all gone now. But He preserved Israel over thousands of years, much of that when they were scattered around the world. He preserved them because He made a covenant to them and that covenant will stand. If they go extinct then His covenant cannot be fulfilled.
And there are many promises which He made to Israel in the Old Testament which have not been fulfilled yet. Some relate to the land they would possess. Some relate to a descendant of David who will be king. Some relate to promises of blessing and prosperity. Others relate to the fact that the nation of Israel will turn to God. Others are about how people from around the world will go to Jerusalem to worship God and how they will desperately want to make friends with Jews who are recipients of God’s blessings.
Other references to the millennium show that it will be a time of peace. The wolf will lay down with the lamb and the leopard with the goat (Isaiah 11:6-9) and a little child shall lead them. Ever since the fall of Adam, the world has been cursed. It has not been able to just rest and glorify God as it was intended to do. People have destroyed what God made. Israel failed. The church failed. The world failed. Governments have failed.
But in the millennium, God will show us how the world could and should be with His Son reigning as the perfect king. Every believer will be able to see the world functioning as it was designed to do, government functioning as it was designed to do. It is almost as if after a long time of oppression, the world and all those in it can just breathe and enjoy their Creator. The millennium time period allows Jesus to show the world how it should function with a righteous ruler.
Application: Hope. We have something amazing to look forward to. Let that hope encourage you during trials and difficulties.
3. The first resurrection – The souls of those beheaded during the tribulation (for not worshiping the beast) will be resurrected and reign with Christ for a thousand years. They are part of the first resurrection.
Revelation 20:6 – Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!
There will be two resurrections. The first is a resurrection to life and the second is a resurrection to eternal punishment.
Daniel 12:2 – And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
The second resurrection is described in Revelation 20:12-14. It consists of unbelievers from all ages who are gathered forth to the Great White Throne and then sentenced according to their deeds.
There are several other references in the Bible to the resurrection. So it can appear there are more than two. But in general, they are divided into two categories, the resurrection of the righteous (the saved) and the resurrection of the wicked.
The first resurrection occurs in stages.
Jesus is the very first one to take part in the resurrection of the righteous. Note that other people were raised from the dead. But they were not given a new glorified body. They were simply restored to their previous one, which was healed.
Jesus’ resurrection is described as the “first fruits.”
1 Corinthians 15:20 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The terminology “first fruits” reinforces the idea that all stages of the resurrection of the righteous are part of the same harvest. A harvest of a crop may come in various stages. The first part is called the first fruits and is the best part. It shows the quality of the crops and is a sign of what is to come.
The second stage is the resurrection of the “dead in Christ.” These will be raised at the rapture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
And the third and final stage is seen here in Revelation 20:4; the resurrection of those who were saved during the tribulation.
Old Testament believers may be raised during the second or third stage, though Scripture is not clear. Some scholars also see the second and third stages as being the same event.
Though we cannot be dogmatic on the details, what is clear is that believers will be resurrected, receive a perfect, new body (1 Corinthians 15), and be with Christ forever.
There seems to be a time gap between the first and second resurrection as they are separated before and after the millennium.
Application: All will rise again. Some will rise to eternal life and others to eternal shame. The key to eternal life is not being a good person. Everyone is a sinner. The only way of salvation is to trust in Jesus and wholly depend on Him. Will you be part of the first or second resurrection?
III. The final rebellion (7-10)
- Why would God allow Satan to be released from prison?
- What will happen when he is released?
- What does this final rebellion teach us about the nature of man?
- What will happen to this rebellion?
- How is this battle different from Armageddon? How is it similar?
- Where will Satan finally go?
- How does knowing the outcome of this final battle and Satan’s destination give you hope?
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1. Satan will be released from prison and will come out to deceive the nations – Naturally, we ask why would God allow Satan to be released from prison? Many also ask why God allows Satan to influence people in the world now.
In the end, God’s ways are mysterious. He doesn’t always tell us why He does things.
Isaiah 55:8-9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
It is enough for us to know that He has a plan and that His plan is perfectly good. While we do not know for sure why God does things in this way, we can see some of the results. Releasing Satan from his bonds one last time will guarantee that people from all points in the earth’s history stand on an even footing. Every person is confronted with a choice. That is a choice to follow God or to follow Satan, or to put it another way to obey God or rebel. Adam and Eve faced that choice. Every subsequent generation faced that same choice. Even the people who live during the millennium under the physical reign of Christ will also face that same decision.
Angels and people were all confronted with that choice. Jesus faced it as well when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness.
God chose to create the tree of knowledge of good and evil and to put it into the garden. He knows exactly why, but leaving a choice for people to obey Him or not seems to have always been part of His plan.
2. People will rebel against God in huge numbers – At this period Jesus will be reigning in Jerusalem. Everyone will know without a doubt that He is the Son of God. Moreover, they will be descendants of believers who witnessed the spectacular events of Revelation. Jesus’ government will be perfect and the world will thrive under His good and just rule. Yet even with all of this visible evidence, a vast number of people will join Satan’s final rebellion and try to overthrow Jesus. They will come from all over the earth as the sand on the sea.
The earth’s population will likely be very large at that time since there will be one thousand years of peace and prosperity. So this doesn’t necessarily mean that the rebellious will outnumber the faithful. Nonetheless, it is astounding that so many will taste the goodness of God and still choose to rebel.
Reflect: Why would people who personally witness Jesus’ reign as king (and all the goodness of His earthly kingdom) throw in their lot with Satan?
These events will reveal one more time the heart of man, which is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). And it should not surprise us. Adam and Eve walked with God and chose to sin. Their immediate descendants heard stories of creation and chose to rebel. The Israelites witnessed many miracles and still rebelled. Jesus’ contemporaries witnessed Him as being the only perfect man in history and chose to kill Him. In the end times, people will see all of God’s supernatural judgments and harden their hearts instead of repenting. The same thing will be true for some people during the millennium.
Application: The only way we can come to God is through His grace. If your eyes are open, it is because He opened them. It is not because we are better. So let us be humble and be thankful for God’s work in our lives that enables us to see and appreciate His goodness and in turn to obey Him.
3. Fire from heaven – These people will not have any excuses for their behavior. Living with Jesus present on earth, they will have all the knowledge they need. Therefore God does not send them many warnings or reminders or signs. Knowing the truth, they will willfully join Satan’s side.
God is not going to mess around. He will send fire from heaven to immediately burn away the opposition. It will disappear almost as if it never existed. And God will get on with His plan without any more rebellions ever again.
4. Satan’s eternal punishment – At this point, Satan himself will be thrown into the lake of fire, where he will join the beast and false prophet (they will have been there for one thousand years already). That will be it for him. He will never again be able to harm or influence anyone. And he will have all of eternity to think about the errors of his ways.
More to Come Soon!
We want to help you study the Bible, obey the Bible, and teach the Bible to others. We have therefore created a library of almost one thousand (and growing) inductive Bible studies, which are available for free. This takes a lot of time and hard work.
Help us continue to create Bible study resources by supporting Study and Obey for as little as $1.