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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 20

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

And I saw an angd — Constantine the Great, the Church’s male child, Revelation 12:5 .

Having the key — Not that key, Revelation 9:1 , but another.

A great chain — The succession of Christian emperors.

Verse 2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

And he laid hold on the dragonRevelation 12:7 ; Revelation 12:9 . He took him in a field fight, and since then till now we have heard little of him, more than that he substituted the beast, Re. xiii., whose destruction being declared, the prophecy returns to show the judgment of the dragon.

And bound him — From the open slaughtering of the saints, as he had done by the heathen emperors; or, from molesting and mischiefing of God’s people, otherwise he is not bound one hour, Job 1:6-12 1 Peter 5:8 . And how his vicegerent the beast hath bestirred him during the thousand years, who knows not?

A thousand yearsHos explicate fateor trepide me aggredi, saith Pareus. He begins the thousand at the destruction of the temple, A.D. 73, and so it ends in Pope Hildebrand, who stepped into that chair of pestilence, A. D. 1073. Others begin it at the birth of Christ, and end in Sylvester II. Others at Christ’s passion, and end in Benedict IX. But they do best, in my opinion, that begin at Constantine and end in Boniface VIII, who is of his own said to have entered like a fox, reigned as a lion, and died as a dog. He excommunicated the French king, and published this decree, that the Bishop of Rome ought to be judged of none, although he should carry innumerable souls with him to hell.

Verse 3

And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and 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 a little season.

And cast him into the bottomless pit — That is, into the earth, Revelation 12:9 ; Revelation 12:12 ; Revelation 13:11 ; the earth is the bottomless pit, out of which the beast was raised by the dragon.

Deceive the nations — The Gentiles, by defending Gentilism, and hindering the course of the gospel among them.

And after that he must be loosed — He must, because God hath so decreed it, for the glory of his own name in the defence of his people, but destruction of his enemies. As also that the devil may show his malice, which God can restrain at his pleasure. Roger Holland, martyr, said to Bonner, This I dare be bold in God to speak, which by his Spirit I am moved to say: that God will shorten your hand of cruelty, that for a time you shall not molest his Church. And after this day in this place shall there not any be by him put to the fire and fagot. And it proved so; for none after that suffered in Smithfield for the testimony of the gospel. (Acts and Mon. fol. 1852.)

Verse 4

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and 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.

And they sat upon them — Resting from former persecutions, and reigning in righteousness even here upon earth.

And judgment was given unto them — That is, say some, the spirit of discerning between Christianity and Antichristianism, or the clearing of their innocence, and doing them right, say others. Or, they had their chairs, seats, and consistories, wherein they did both preach the word and execute the Church censures, as some sense it.

And I saw the souls — This makes against the millenaries. Souls reign not but in heaven, there are "the spirits of just men made perfect,"Hebrews 12:23; Hebrews 12:23 . True it is, as Mr Cotton well observeth, that there are many devices in the minds of some, to think that Jesus Christ shall come from heaven again, and reign here with his saints upon earth a thousand years. But they are, saith he, but the mistakes of some high expressions in Scripture, which describe the judgments poured out upon God’s enemies in making way to the Jews’ conversion, by the pattern of the last judgment. Thus he. The souls here mentioned are the same, I conceive, that were seen under the altar, Revelation 6:9 , and do cry, "How long, Lord?" These are not capable of a bodily resurrection, nor of an earthly reign.

And they lived and reigned with Christ — They, that is, those that sat on the thrones (not they that were beheaded), "lived and reigned," as spiritual kings (after the same manner as they are priests, Revelation 20:6 ), for else there should be more kings than subjects.

With Christ — It is not said "with Christ upon earth;" this is an addition to the text; or if the words did import a reigning upon earth, yet this would not infer an earthly reign for a thousand years, in great worldly delights, begetting, many children, eating and drinking, and enjoying all lawful pleasures, as some dream today. The conceit, I confess, is as ancient as Cerinthus, the heretic, and Papias (scholar to St John), a man much reverenced for opinion of his holiness, but yet homo ingenii pertenuis, saith Eusebius, not oppressed with wit. Jerome and Augustine explode it as a Jewish fable, and declare it to be a great error, if not a heresy; so do all the ορθογνωμονες at this day. The patrons of Christ’s personal reign upon the earth are Mr Archer, and Mr Burroughes (Moses’ Choice), who tells us that if the opinion of some concerning Christ’s coming to reign here in the world before the day of judgment be not a truth, he cannot make anything of many places of Scripture, as this place for one. But if he cannot, yet others can. See an answer to his and Mr Archer’s chief arguments in Mr Bayly’s Dissuasive from the Errors of the Times, chap. xxi. p. 238.

Verse 5

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

But the rest of the dead — Dead in Baal worship, as Ephraim, Hosea 13:1 ; dead in sins, as Sardis,Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:1 .

Lived not again — By repentance from dead works, or they recovered not the life and immortality that is brought to light by the gospel.

Until the thousand years — Until, being taught better by God’s faithful witnesses, they abjured Popery.

This is the first resurrection — From Romish superstitions. Mr Fox tells us that by the reading of Chaucer’s books, some were brought to the knowledge of the truth. (Acts and Mon.) But here it must be remembered that a Papist must have two resurrections or conversions ere he can come to heaven. First, of a Papist he must become in judgment a true Protestant. 2. Of a Protestant at large, he must become a zealous practitioner of the truth he professeth. Like as corn must be first thrashed out of the straw, and then winnowed out of the chaff.

Verse 6

Blessed and holy is he that hath 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.

Blessed and happy is he — The holy only have part in this resurrection, and are therefore happy, or out of harm’s way, as the word μακαριοι signifies.

The second death hath no power — For they are brought from the jaws of death to the joys of eternal life, where is mirth without mourning, riches without rust, …

But they shall be priestsSee Trapp on " Revelation 1:6 "

They shall reign — The righteous are kings, Matthew 13:17 ; cf. Luke 10:24 ; "Many righteous" is the same with "many kings." See Trapp on " Revelation 20:4 "

A thousand years — These thousand years begin (saith Mr Brightman) where the former ended, that is, in the year 1300, whereby continuance thereof is promised for a thousand years forward, among some of the Gentiles; and how long it shall reign afterwards among the Jews, He only knows that knows all. The most interpreters by a thousand years here understand not any definite time, as Revelation 20:2 ; of this chapter, but an indefinite time, that is, for ever, as Psalms 84:10 . This thousand years they take for eternity, and a further degree of glory for such as are called forth to suffer. See Ezekiel 37:1-14 Isaiah 26:19 .

Verse 7

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

Satan shall be loosedi.e. Suffered to rise up in open rage against the open professors of the truth, and to make havoc of them, as he did of the Waldenses, Hussites, Huguenots, professors in Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, England, … He hath laid about him lately to purpose; besides those seas of Christian blood shed by the Turk, since the thousand years expired.

Verse 8

And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

Gog and Magog — That is, pope and Turk, saith Aretius; the pope a covert enemy to Christ; the Turk an overt or open enemy; as Gog and Magog signify,Ezekiel 38:1-23; Ezekiel 38:1-23 ; Ezekiel 39:1-29 . These are set forth by Ezekiel as the last enemies of God’s people before Shiloh come; and presently after their utter overthrow, the state of the city and temple is notably described. So, after the pope and Turk in that last great battle at Armageddon routed and foiled, the New Jerusalem is in the following chapters excellently portrayed and depainted; that being a special type of this.

Verse 9

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

And they went up — As a flood, Ezekiel 8:9 ; Ezekiel 8:16 .

And compassed — As resolved that none should escape them, Psalms 118:11-12 ; 2 Kings 6:14-15 ; 2 Kings 25:1 .

The camp of the saints — The Church militant.

And the beloved city — The New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:2 ; "The dearly beloved of God’s soul," Jeremiah 12:7 ; or, "God’s dearly beloved soul," την ψυχην την ηγαπημενην , as the Septuagint render it. (Spec. Europ.) For present the Turk is the bridle that holds in the pope with all his followers from any universal proceeding against the Protestants; who herein are greatly advantaged above them, in that their opposites lie between them and the Turk; or in that their countries, coasting so much as they do toward the north (as Denmark, Switzerland, …), are out of his way, and no part of his present aim. Italy is the mark he shoots at. And when once he shall rise against the true Church, fire from heaven shall devour him.

Verse 10

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are , and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And the devil — This Mr Brightman interprets of the Turk, called here the devil, because instigated and set awork by the devil. Albeit another learned expositor is of opinion, that by the fall of the beast and conversion of the Jews, the Turks and other states of the East shall be brought to embrace the gospel, being first taught thereto by some notable foil. What to think of this I know not; but cannot but like well of Diodate’s note upon Revelation 20:4 ; that in all this prophecy it is better and more sure to expect and stay for the explication by the event than to give it without any certain ground.

And shall be tormented — Gr. βασανισθησονται , racked. The devil and the damned have punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succour, crying without comfort, mischief without measure, torments without end and past imagination.

For ever and ever — This is as another hell in the midst of hell, and forceth them to cry, ουαι, ουαι, " woe, woe," as if they should say, ουκ αει, ουκ αει , "not ever, not ever, Lord." Whereto conscience answereth as an echo, αει, αει , "ever, ever." Hence that doleful ουαι , "woe and alas" for evermore.

Verse 11

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.

And I saw a great white throne — A lively description of the last judgment, to show that henceforth, since the last great battle, the New Jerusalem should have no disturbance till Christ comes to judgment. His throne is said to be white, for like reason as he is said to sit upon a white cloud and a white horse, Revelation 14:14 ; Revelation 19:11 . He shall give most just and uncorrupt judgment.

From whose face the earth, … — To show either his terribleness or their renovation,2 Peter 3:12; 2 Peter 3:12 ; Romans 8:21 .

Verse 12

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand 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 which were written in the books, according to their works.

Small and great — It is the common opinion that men shall rise again in that tall and goodly stature of body wherein Adam was created; or at least in that vigour of age that a perfect man is at about 33 years old, each in their proper sex. And hereunto some think, the apostle alludeth, Ephesians 4:13 . But Mr Brightman holds, that in the resurrection every one shall appear in that stature in which he departed out of this life, and that the contrary opinion doth manifestly contradict this Scripture.

And the books were opened — The books of conscience, saith Origen; of the Scriptures, saith Augustine; of both, say I; for according to law written shall the Judge pass sentence, the conscience either accusing or excusing.

Another book — That is, that of God’s decree of free grace; the book that hath our names in it, and our pardon.

The book of life — That God’s elect may be seen and known. God neither needeth nor useth books to judge by; but this is spoken after the manner of men. Mordecai’s name was registered in the Chronicles of Persia. Tamerlane had always by him a catalogue of his best servants, and their good works, which he daily perused.

Verse 13

And 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 the sea — Those that perish in the waters, and those whose ashes were scattered upon the waters, as John Huss’s; whom after they had burnt, they beat his heart with their staves, and cast his ashes into the river. But there is a substance of the saints’ bodies preserved, by a secret influence from Christ their Head; and their dust is precious.

Verse 14

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And death and hell — There shall be an utter end of all evils and enemies, nothing left to disquiet the Church. She shall see them afar off, as Lazarus did the rich man, and be able to say of them, as she did of her accusers,John 8:10-11; John 8:10-11 "they are all gone."

Verse 15

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

And whosoever — As those priests were cashiered that could not prove their pedigree, Ezra 2:62-63 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 20". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/revelation-20.html. 1865-1868.
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