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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 20

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-15

Chapter 20

I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand ( Revelation 20:1 ).

Now, earlier under the fifth trumpet there was a fallen angel that had the key to the bottomless pit, the abusso, and he opened it and released upon the earth a horde of demonic beings. Now, the angel comes with the key and the purpose is not in releasing those in the abusso, but in incarcerating now in the abusso. So, he had a key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and he bound him for a thousand years ( Revelation 20:2 ),

And so Satan is not put into Gehenna, but he is put into the abusso for a thousand years. Later he will be put into Gehenna, but at this point chained and put into the abusso.

The various names for Satan; dragon, serpent, that is the one who came to Eve in the garden in the form of a serpent, and Devil. The word Devil means slanderer or accuser, and "Satan" which word means the adversary.

And cast him into the abusso, and he is shut up, and they set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed for a little season ( Revelation 20:3 ).

Satan at the present time is in control of the world system. Paul the apostle said, "At one time you all walked according to the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air that even now is working in the children of disobedience among whom you all once had your manner of living" ( Ephesians 2:2 ). But he called Satan the prince of this world. Jesus refers to him as such. Satan is in control. It belongs to him.

When Jesus came, He came to redeem the world back to God. Satan offered Him a deal. "Bow down and worship me and I will give you the kingdoms of the world and the glory." And Jesus said, "It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shall you serve." But Satan was offering a compromise. He was offering an escape from the cross. But Jesus paid the price and redeemed the world that it might be God's once again. And when He comes, he is coming to claim that which He redeemed, to claim His purchased possession. And so the world is still in Satan's hands. Technically, it now belongs to Jesus. He paid the price to redeem it, but He has not yet taken possession of that which He has purchased; will do that in the near future.

To me it is interesting that it has been under Satan's power and control for about six thousand years. If you go back to the time that Adam disobeyed God and turned the world over to Satan and was ejected from the garden, that was just about six thousand years ago; short just a few years. And I believe the Lord is going to allow Satan to have it for six thousand years. When a man was sold into slavery he remained a slave for six years and our period of bondage and slavery to sin is about over. Satan has just about had his time, his realm. The day of redemption is at hand.

And all creation groans and travails as they wait together for the manifestations of the sons of God to wit the redemption of our bodies. So, now the time has come and Satan is cast into the abusso during the thousand years that Jesus reigns upon the earth with His church. Satan will be bound. He will not be deceiving the nations, but Jesus will be reigning. His kingdom will be here on earth and His will being done here on earth even as it is in heaven.

I saw the thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them ( Revelation 20:4 ):

So, these first thrones that he sees are the thrones upon which the church does sit. Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne even as I have sat down with my Father on his throne"( Revelation 3:21 ). And so the promise of sitting on their thrones and judgment given unto them. "Know ye not," Paul said, "that you are going to judge the angels"( 1 Corinthians 6:3 ).

I saw then secondly the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years ( Revelation 20:4 ).

So, those martyred saints during the Great Tribulation period who had faced the antichrist and had been killed by the antichrist for their refusal to receive the mark, they too will be numbered with the class who reign with Christ in his reign upon the earth for a thousand years.

But the rest of the dead [the unrighteous dead] do not live again until the thousand years are accomplished. For this is the first resurrection ( Revelation 20:5 ).

Now the first resurrection began with Jesus Christ. He is the first fruits of those who rise from the dead. When Jesus rose from the dead, he lead the captives from their captivity, those Old Testament saints that were waiting in faith with Abraham for the promises of God to be fulfilled. Jesus went into the prison, preached to those souls in prison and when He came out he lead them from their captivity. "He who has ascended," Paul said, "is the one who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth and when he ascended he lead the captives from their captivity"( Ephesians 4:8-9 ).

And he opened the prison to those that were bound. And He set the captive free according to the prophecy in Isaiah sixty-one. That is the beginning of the first resurrection. The first resurrection will be complete when the final person is martyred, who is to be martyred by the antichrist during the Great Tribulation period. That will make up the group in the first resurrection. Going back to the time of Adam and Abel, those righteous of the Old Testament who waited for the promise of God, on through to the church and beyond the church, to those martyred saints during the Great Tribulation all making up the first resurrection.

Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years ( Revelation 20:6 ).

So, this millennial reign of Christ in which we will reign with him upon the earth for a thousand years. Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon the earth was a prophecy by Enoch quoted in the book of Jude. Paul said, "When Christ who is our life shall appear then shall we also appear with Him in glory" ( Colossians 3:4 ). And so coming with His saints to establish His kingdom upon the earth.

Now, this is different from the rapture of the church. Then He is coming for His saints. When He comes again in power and glory, He will be coming with His saints. I expect to have a part in both.

Now when the thousand years are over, Satan will be loosed out of his prison, He shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth [or the north, east, south and west], Gog and Magog ( Revelation 20:7-8 ),

These names are synonymous with rebellion against God. We find those names used in Ezekiel to identify Russia as the leader of the rebellion against God's people in the last days. But this is not to be confused with Ezekiel thirty-eight and thirty-nine.

And he gathers them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea ( Revelation 20:8 ).

It is amazing that after one thousand years of Christ reigning upon the earth that people living in the reign of Christ will be deceived and turn with Satan to try to destroy Jesus Christ again. Multitudes of them will try, as many as the sand of the sea. That is a numberless multitude.

You say how could that be? I don't know. How could it be that man rebels today? I don't see how a logical thinking reasonable man could really set himself against God and rebel against God. I don't see how a person could do it, except that Satan has blinded their eyes that they cannot see the truth. They are really blind spiritually. "The natural man does not understand the things of the spirit neither can he know them" ( 1 Corinthians 2:14 ). And that is the only explanation I can give.

Having eyes to see, they will not see. There is none so blind as those who will not see. And there are people who just say, "I don't want to see it or don't want to hear it. Don't confuse me with the facts. I have made up my mind. Just leave me alone." And they just set their mind against it. And why and for what purpose? I don't know. For God only has your good at His heart. God is only interested in what is best for you. Why should you fight that? You are fighting against your own good and your own welfare, your own destiny. And why a person would want to do that I cannot understand, but such is and shall be the case.

Now, these souls that Satan deceives are those who are born during the thousand-year reign of Christ. We will be in our glorified bodies. Now what all the capacities of these bodies will be, I do not know. "We are now the sons of God. It doth not yet appear what we are going to be, but we know when He appears we are going to be like Him. We will see Him as He is" ( 1 John 3:2 ). I am certain we are going to have a lot of interesting marvelous capacities in our new glorified bodies.

For one I am not going to have to get on a stupid 747 to get all the way over to Israel and take seventeen hours in the air and arrive there weary and tired from jetlag. I really believe that in my new body I will be able to get there, zip, in a moment of time. "Hey, let's cruise over to Jerusalem and see what is going on." Poof. We're there. I think there are going to be a lot of capacities in our new bodies that the Lord has for us. They are sort of a universal body. We can say, "Hey, let's head out to the moon and see what is happening there." They are adaptable for anywhere. This body is only adaptable for the planet earth. It is out of the earth and for the earth. I am going to have a new body, which is of the heavens and universal. We are born in the image of the earth, earthy, so shall we bear the image of the heavens.

So, I am sort of excited about the new body. I know it is not going to have gimpy knees and crumbling teeth and fading eyesight. In fact, we'll probably have telescopic type of sight right through the walls of the houses. I think that we will have precognition. I think that we will know in advance when someone is planning to do something wrong. So, zip, we are right there and we can say, "No, no, no." And if they persist then, "bong", ruling with a rod of iron. It is going to be interesting to say the least.

So, Satan deceived them that have been born during the thousand-year reign of Christ, who have never really had an opportunity to express their rebellion against God. They have been forced to serve Jesus Christ. They have been forced to live by the laws of God. And man will reveal once and forever the righteousness of God's judgment in ridding the world and the universe of such rebels. The fact that after living for a thousand years in the ideal environment of God's kingdom and at that they rebel.

Now, notice that Satan is really a tool of God and under God's control. When God wants, He can chain him and will, and then release him again for a short time and then incarcerate him forever. But he is just serving a purpose of God. But it sort of points up the fallacy that some people so foolishly declare, and that is, hey, God says that all are sinners. So by my sin, I am only proving that God tells the truth. So how can God judge me for sinning when I am only proving that He is a true God? Such type of reasoning deserves its own judgment. "Let us do evil that good might come, because where sin abounds grace overflows" ( Romans 3:8 ). Well, then lets go out and sin, so God can show His grace.

So the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire [Gehenna], where the beast and the false prophet are ( Revelation 20:10 ),

Not where they were, not where they were destroyed, not where they were consumed, not where they were annihilated; but where they are.

and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever ( Revelation 20:10 ).

"Aionios perusi aionos:" from the ages to the ages. It is the Greek word for eternity. Is Gehenna then eternal torment and punishment? Is that fair for God? I am not going to touch that issue. That is what it says here. Now, you may do what you want with it to explain it or explain it away or whatever, but I am not going to touch it.

For over in chapter twenty-two I read, "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away His part out of the book of life and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in the book. If any man adds to the words of this prophecy, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book" ( Revelation 22:19 ). So, I am not going to touch it. You do what you want with it, but I am going to accept it as it is. You say, "Well, I don't understand it?" I don't understand it either, but I'm just going to leave it alone.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them ( Revelation 20:11 ).

God's Great White Throne Judgment of which you have heard so much.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works ( Revelation 20:12 ).

Now, there are several books. There is the book of life. There are mentions of this book of life in the Old Testament and also in the New.

the sea gave up the dead which were in it ( Revelation 20:13 );

Now, who are the dead which are in the sea? I don't know. Maybe the sea covers a previous civilization that also rebelled against God. There are indications that Genesis one is not original creation, except in verse one. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", "barra", out of nothing and brought something into existence. "And the earth was without form and void." God doesn't create things without form and void as a general rule. On each of the days of creation, God saw that He created and said, "It's good."

We are told in Isaiah forty-eight that God did not create the earth wasted and desolate. He created it to be inhabited. The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters. The word "moved" in Hebrew is brooded as though in anger. It would seem that perhaps there was another civilization that existed on the planet earth prior to man in our present form that was destroyed in the wrath and the anger of God covered with water. The earth was then covered with water, the great ice age, and the pervious civilizations buried.

and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them ( Revelation 20:13 ):

It could be that there is something to the legends of the lost continents of Atlantis and all. Who knows? I don't. But here it is interesting, it could just mean those that were buried at sea or those whose ashes were spread out over the sea, because no matter where your body is placed when you die, if you are unrighteous your soul is in hell. So, hell will disgorge its inhabitants separate from those in the sea. The sea gives up those, which are within it.

"And death and hell deliver up the dead which are in them." So, hell is not eternal. It is not the place of eternal punishment. It will come to an end as it disgorges its inhabitants that they might stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of God. Then when the sentence is pronounced upon them at that point, they are sent into Gehenna which is the second death and that is permanent. So, "The sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them."

and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire ( Revelation 20:13-15 ).

Men judged according to their works, their evil works. They said to Jesus one day, "what must we do to do the works of God?" He said, "This is the work of God, believe on Him who he has sent. Men who do not do the work of God will be judged then according to their own works"( John 6:28-29 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Revelation 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/revelation-20.html. 2014.
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