Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 20

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-15


Continuing the last lesson we begin this with what we have come to recognize as the Parenthesis (Revelation 19:1-10 ), and which in this case is composed simply of four “alleluiahs.” Two are retrospective and refer to the fall of Babylon, and two are prospective, touching on the marriage supper of the lamb and the inauguration of the kingdom. The Lamb’s wife (Revelation 19:7 ) is the bride (Revelation 21:9 ) or the church, identified with the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22-23 ), and is to be distinguished from Israel, the adulterous and repudiated wife of Jehovah yet to be restored (Isaiah 54:1-10 ; Hosea 2:1-7 ), who is identified with life on the earth (Hosea 2:23 ). A forgiven and restored wife could not be called either a virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2-3 ) or a bride.

The consummation of this “seven” covers the remainder of the lesson (Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 20:15 ), the first event being the coming of the Lord in glory (Revelation 19:11-16 ). We have seen Him as already come for His church which has been caught up to meet Him in the air, but this vision is that of His departure out of heaven with His church and His holy angels preparatory to the judgment on the Gentile world-power headed up in the “beast” (Daniel 2:34-35 ). “The day of the Lord,” of which the Old Testament prophets speak, now begins. The second event in this period is the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:17-19 , compare Revelation 16:14 ). Armageddon refers to the hill and valley of Megiddo, west of the Jordan in the plain of Jezreel. At this place the Lord will deliver the Jewish remnant besieged by the Gentile world-power under the beast (compare Revelation 16:13-16 ; Zechariah 12:1-9 ).

The third event is the doom of the beast and the false prophet (chap. 20). For the prophetic history of the beast compare Daniel 7:24-26 ; Daniel 9:27 ; Matthew 24:15 , and 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8 . The false prophet has been previously referred to as the ecclesiastical head of the federated empire as the beast is the political head, and some would identify in him the Antichrist of 1 John 4:0 , and other Scriptures. The fourth event is the doom of the kings (Rev. 20:21). The fifth is the binding of Satan during the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3 ). The sixth, the first resurrection and the millennial age (Revelation 20:4-6 ). “The thrones and they that sat upon them” represent the raised and glorified saints in their capacity as judging and reigning (compare

Matthew 19:28 , 1 Corinthians 6:2 ; Revelation 3:21 ). “The souls of them that were beheaded” are the martyrs of the Tribulation period united to the church in Millennial glory. The “thousand years” is the Millennial period intervening between the first and second resurrection (Luke 14:13-14 ; John 5:29 ; 1 Corinthians 15:52 ).

The seventh event is the loosing of Satan at the close of the Millenium and the doom of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:7-9 ). Here Satan is again seen (this time in his own person) at the head of a final effort to overthrow the kingdom of God on earth. In the Millennial age sin still will be in the hearts of men except as they are regenerated, and Satan will find good soil to work in when his liberty is restored. The identity of Gog and Magog is not revealed, but their purpose is clearly indicated in Revelation 20:9 . The eighth event is the doom of Satan (Revelation 20:10 ) who, being cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, is not to be conceived of as then reigning in hell. This idea, borrowed from Milton, is not in the Bible. The ninth event is the doom of the unbelieving dead and the last judgment (Revelation 20:11-15 ). The “dead” in this case exclude all the redeemed at least up until the translation of the church, who have been in glory with God during the thousand years. But they include all the wicked dead from the beginning of the race until the end of the world, for this is the last judgment.

Note the distinction between “books” and “another book.” The wicked and unbelieving have always chosen to be justified by their deeds rather than by faith in Christ, and the “books” represent the record of those deeds. The outcome (Revelation 20:15 ) shows the fallacy of their trust for the deeds of none were sufficient to justify. Only those “found written in the book of life” are saved.

There are three great judgments of mankind to be noted: (1) That of believers when Christ comes for His church (1 Corinthians 5:10 ) when not their salvation, but their rewards in glory are to be determined; (2) that of the living Gentile nations on the earth at the beginning of the Day of the Lord (Matthew 25:32 ), with which is closely connected the judgment of Israel (Ezekiel 20:37 ); and (3) this last judgment with which the history of the present earth ends. “The second death” and the “lake of fire” are identical terms (Revelation 20:14 ) and are used of the eternal state of the wicked. It is “second” relatively to the preceding death of the wicked in unbelief and rejection of God; their eternal state is one of eternal “death” (i.e., separation from God) in sin (John 8:21 ; John 8:24 ). That the second death is not annihilation is shown by a comparison of Revelation 19:20 with 20:10, for after one thousand years in the lake of fire the beast and false prophet are still there, undestroyed.


1. Describe the “Alleluias,”

2. Distinguish between the wife of the Lamb and the wife of Jehovah.

3. Name the nine events in their order listed under the head, “The Seven Dooms Continued.”

4. Give the history of Armageddon.

5. Describe and distinguish the last judgment.

6. Define the “second death.”

7. What proves that it is not annihilation?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Revelation 20". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/revelation-20.html. 1897-1910.
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