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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Revelation 20

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Revelation 20:1. αγγελον, an angel) Cluver interprets it of a created angel, T. iii. Dil. p. 321. Primasius, in the summary of his fifth book, and Ticonius, in his 17th homily, Andreas of Cæsareia, in his 20th discourse, connect the 19th and 20th chapters most intimately. John Frid. Schmid acknowledges that the destruction of antichrist (in what sense he understands antichrist does not belong to the present subject) is prior to the millennium, and that he who denies this incurs the punishment predicted, ch. Revelation 22:18-19. See Chronol. Anleitung, Part II. p. 316.


Verse 2

Revelation 20:2. τὸν δράκοντα ὄφις ἀρχαῖος(214)) Apposition between an oblique case and the nominative. See Appar. p. 778 [Ed. II. p. 488, § 5].— χίλια ἔτη, a thousand years) A. 1716, Zeltner published a dissertation on the Chiliasm (he would more properly have said, on the Millennium) now present, in the beginning of which he expresses his surprise, that any one can shrink from the title of Chiliast; because it is plain that he who embraces the Divine authority of the Apocalypse, must also of necessity admit the thousand years in some sense. Very well said. But there are some who, compelled by this Text, acknowledge that there is to be a remarkable and long-continued tranquillity of the Church, and maintain this with impunity. How with impunity? On account of this one thing, that THEY REMOVE FROM THEIR MOUTH THE THOUSAND YEARS WHICH HAVE PROCEEDED FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD. It is of no advantage thus to alarm good men. But these thousand years do not run on even a step simultaneously with the times of the beast, nor do they altogether precede those times, but totally follow them. This is proved by—I. The arrangement of the whole book, representing one continuous and connected series of events. II. The relation of the trumpet of the seventh angel, inasmuch as these [thousand] years also fall under it: ch. Revelation 10:1, note. III. This is particularly proved by the events which precede. The delivery of the woman, before spoken of, was followed by the casting out of the dragon from heaven to the earth; and with this casting out is connected the third woe, in which the dragon, through the instrumentality of the beast and with the aid of the beast (ch. Revelation 16:13), has most unbridled power: at the close of the third woe the beast will make war, and being overcome, will be cast into the lake of fire; and at the same time, namely, after his destruction, the chief enemy who remains will be shut up in the bottomless pit. IV. Before the close of the number of the beast, the times in the Apocalypse are enigmatical; afterwards, they are expressed in their literal signification. They violate this excellent system of prophecy who blend together the times of the beast and the thousand years. V. The millennium itself is distinguished by a new, great, pure, and long-continued exemption from internal and external evils, since the authors of these evils are removed, and by an abundance of varied happiness, such as the Church hitherto has not beheld: Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15; Romans 11:25 : for the nations have never ceased to be deceived, for instance, by Mahometanism. VI. This is proved by the events which follow. Now there follow the last times of the world, and in them the loosing of the devil, who deceives Gog and Magog, and who is doomed to be cast into the lake of fire in addition to the beast and the false prophet (Revelation 20:10). In short, the accusation of Satan in heaven, his rage on earth, through a space shorter than the millennium; his captivity in the bottomless pit, during a thousand years; and after the deceiving of Gog and Magog, his torment in the lake of fire for ever; they succeed one another in such a manner that none of them can be joined with another, the order of none can be transposed. He must deny the perspicuity of Scripture altogether who persists in denying this, and endeavours to refute it. To these arguments there is added, VII. The tenor of the language in Revelation 20:1, which continues the events immediately preceding, and does not return to a thread which has been for a considerable length of time interrupted. VIII. Those events, which are contained in ch. 19, are plainly followed by these which take place from ch. Revelation 20:11 to ch. Revelation 22:5; the millennium comes between, of which neither the beginning nor the end, if it is past, falls in to this place; therefore they cannot transfer it elsewhere, unless their inclination stands in the place of reason. It is evident from this, that the view of the Chiliasts was not correctly derived by Gebhardi from this, that the connection of the prophetical word was neglected by them.—Comm. on Twelve Prophets, p. 655. Lastly, IX. Between the angel of the αἰωνίου, everlasting Gospel, ch. Revelation 14:6, and the end of the world, a certain αἰὼν, age, intervenes; but no one will be able to point it out, if the millennium is taken away. In a short time, they who believe that the millennium is at hand, will be found to have the privilege of the true meaning, rather than those who contend that it is past; nor do they delay the course of the sun, who speak against it. In the meantime, let every one see in what things he himself seeks a happy life. There is no error, much less danger, in maintaining that the thousand years are future, hut rather in interpreting these years, whether future or past, in a carnal sense. The doctrine respecting the Son of God is a mystery, His cross is a mystery, and lastly, His glory also. He himself is a sign, which is spoken against in one point after another. There is abundant ground for believing and confessing Him.


Verse 3

Revelation 20:3. ἔκλεισε) Erasmus adds αὐτὸν,(215) against the MSS. and the text of Andreas himself. In general, κλείειν, to shut, may be used, not only, for instance, of a prison, but also of a captive: but here Apringius rightly construes, shut upon him, so that both ἔκλεισεν and ἐσφράγισεν cohere with ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ, as, Genesis 7:16, it is said, ἔκλεισεν ἔξωθεν αὐτοῦ· and altogether יסגר על איש, Job 12:14.— ἵνα μὴ, that not) One benefit only is here expressed, but that of itself is by far the greatest, and has many great blessings joined with it. For when the chief enemy is removed, the kingdom of God gains vigour without impediment among the nations, and the great mystery of God, announced by the prophets, is finished. Revelation 10:7.

Winckler, in his Disquisitions, p. 193, etc., refutes modern Chiliasm, as an error, and that a fundamental one, by arguments drawn from the article on creation, on redemption, and on sanctificiation; and he also censures me as a defender of that error. And yet not even one of your arguments, most courteous Winckler, affects my comment: but you have gratified me. For nothing can more plainly and efficaciously demonstrate the soundness of my opinion respecting the millennium, than a comparison of my treatise with yours. Look, I pray you, to Erkl. Offenb. p. 950, etc. I altogether differ from the things which you attribute to the Chiliasts; nay, that exegesis of mine, equally with your Disquisition, lays down the natural state of the world,—wayfaring men needing remission of sins and believing, the use of the law and the Gospel, death not yet swallowed up, etc. And do you, reader, admonished by this circumstance also, remember that the other side ought always to be heard. So far about Winckler: we return to the subject.

Whilst Satan is loosed from his imprisonment of a thousand years, and the earth is harassed by the last and lowest dregs [of its inhabitants], the martyrs live and reign, not on the earth, but with Christ: then the coming of Christ in glory at length takes place at the last day: then, next, there is the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem. Those events, which pseudo-chiliasm confounds, a true interpretation in conformity with the text distinguishes. In such a manner, I had far rather be regarded as a maintainer of the thousand years, which prophecy publishes so decidedly, than take part with the indiscriminate antichiliasts, who, under this very name of theirs, assail even the plain letter of prophecy, and trample upon truth and error alike. The mystery of God is in progress: Revelation 10:7. That is then finished, when the beast is destroyed, and Satan is bound. That consummation approaches nearer and nearer. It also comprises events by far the most important, and most closely connected with the glory of God. The knowledge of these events from day to day emerges into greater clearness, distinctness, and readiness of discernment. And meanwhile it is highly necessary to meet and oppose the extreme rage of the devil. But to speak against God, whose mystery it is, as many do; to weaken the oath of the angel, who confirms the mystery; ignorantly (Jude 1:10) to assail interpreters, who handle the subject in a befitting manner; and by thus assailing them, to hunt after favour among those of like character with themselves,—will not this at length be σκληρὸν, hard to the person himself [Acts 9:5]? On the other hand, care must be taken, not to attribute to the millennium things which are reserved for eternity itself. Nor is it sufficient to assert, that it is still future; but its true character ought also to be soberly weighed. But these things are not to be imparted to the many by a lengthy treatise; spiritual maturity must be waited for.— μετὰ, after) An elegant Asyndeton,(216) in the case of an antithesis, as in the beginning of Revelation 20:5.— μικρὸν χρόνον, a little chronus [period]) This, as is collected from certain marks, is equal to the half καιροῦ, of a time. [Nor does it begin later than the millennarian rule of those, who shall be partakers of the first resurrection. We must adhere closely to the order of the prophecy. The greatest affairs of the last times are briefly described: but it is not on that account befitting that they should be passed over with a light bound.—V. g.]


Verse 4

Revelation 20:4. (217) τῶν πεπελεκισμένων) πέλεκυς, an axe, especially used by the Romans in punishments. Raphelius compares the passage of Polybius, μαστίγωσαντες ἅπαντας, κατὰ τὸ παρʼ αὐτοῖς ( τοῖς ῥωμαίοις) ἦθος ἐπελέκισαν.— ἔζησαν, lived) returned to life, [in that manner, in which the rest of the dead lived not again before the general resurrection.—V. g.].—The same word is thus used with the same force in Revelation 20:5 and ch. Revelation 2:8. John saw them not only when restored to life, but when in the act of reviving (comp. Ezekiel 37:7): as before he saw the dragon in the act of being bound, and not only in that condition.— μετὰ, with) They shall be with Christ (Revelation 20:6), and with God (Revelation 20:6), not Christ and God with them. Therefore that kingdom will be in heaven. Comp. ch. Revelation 21:3, μετὰ, with.— χίλια ἔτη, a thousand years) They who are held back by the article τὰ, here improperly inserted before χίλια,(218) greatly entangle themselves. Two millennial periods are mentioned in this whole passage, each three times: the former is the millennium in which Satan is bound, Revelation 20:2-3; Revelation 20:7; the other, that of the reign of the saints, Revelation 20:4-6. Lange wrote, Epicris. p. 421, that he finds no foundation for two periods of a thousand years, either in the text, or in the event itself, or in the connection of the parts of the Apocalypse. But the second millennium extends even to the resurrection of all the dead, Revelation 20:5; the former comes to a close before the end of the world, Revelation 20:7, etc. Therefore the beginning and end of the former is before the beginning and end of the second. On this account, as at Revelation 20:2 in the first mention of the former millennium, so at Revelation 20:4, in the first mention of the second, it is said without the article, χίλια ἔτη: in the other places, τὰ χίλια ἔτη, the article having the force of a relative, and meaning those thousand years, Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:5; Revelation 20:7. Finally, χίλια ἔτη, without the article, is used in Revelation 20:6,(219) as though in a separate enunciation. The omission of the article conveys a less restricted meaning than its insertion. Many admit, that the millennium in which Satan is bound, is different from the millennium in which the saints reign, as Pareus testifies on the Ap. col. 1093, where he seems to hint at Brightman and Cotter. Jungman altogether agrees with them in his Observ. Germ. against Beverley, p. 71. To this are added all those who take the second millennium only for eternity itself, as Viegas on the Ap. p. 793, Nic. Collado, Corn. a Lapide, and Nic. Muler.

This distinction between the two periods of a thousand years affords a great advantage, and that too of such necessity, as to prove this very distinctness of the millennial periods. In the judgment of an illustrious man, a serious difficulty is raised by the hope of better times, or even by the reconciling of the millennial kingdom itself with the final perverseness and damnable security of men of the last times. The keeping the times distinct alone remedies this difficulty. During the course of the former millennium, the promises which describe most flourishing times of the Church will be fulfilled: ch. Revelation 10:7; afterwards, while the saints who belong to the first resurrection shall reign with Christ, men on earth will be remiss and careless, Matthew 24:37, etc.; according to which explanation that remarkable passage, Luke 18:8, retains the natural meaning of the words. Respecting this [false] security, which will seize men, when the enemies are now removed, there is a valuable suggestion subjoined to the commentary of Patrick Forbes on the Apocalypse. The confounding of the two millennial periods has long ago produced many errors, and has made the name of Chiliasm hateful and suspected; the distinction between the two resolves the difficulties to which Chiliasm is justly liable, and aids in the sound interpretation of prophecy. Let the treatise, Erklärte Offenb., I beg, be consulted, p. 942, etc. As to what remains, what can orthodoxy itself blame? Let them pronounce sentence, on whose authority others depend. Add, that they who neither extend the remaining times of the world beyond the truth of Scripture, nor curtail them, they alone are well able to meet and contend with scoffers.

This is the last period in the age of the world; wherefore in this place we will comprehensively repeat an analysis of the times, which we have already abundantly spoken of, with sobriety and modesty.

The age of the world, contains

3½ Æons.

An Æon,

2 Chroni.

A Chronus,

5 καιροor times.

A Time,

2 ancient sæcula.

A Sæculum,

7 prophetical months.

A Month,

2 weeks of Daniel.

A Week,

7 59/63 ordinary years.

A Year,

365 97/400 days.

The same age of the world comprises 7777 7/9 natural years, which are 490 prophetical months.

Therefore a perfect septenary is displayed, I will not here say in the natural days, and that indeed a square, but in the prophetical months, and that indeed a square; in the natural years, it is seen through all the expressed articles of the whole sum, from the thousandth to the unit, and below. This TESSELATED CONFORMATION of times, natural and prophetical, of those of Daniel and those of the Apocalypse, ought to convince of their truth every one who has any capacity for receiving this kind of truth.


Verse 5

Revelation 20:5. πρώτη, the first) Many, even of the ancients, have admitted this first resurrection. Within an age of a thousand years is concluded the resurrection of the saints, who rise again at an earlier or a later period, according to their merits.—Tertull. l. iii. c. Marcion, c. 24. Ambrose, on Luke 17:4, speaks to the same purport, but not so in lib. i. de Interpellatione, c. 7, wherefore I do not quote his words. The remarks of Augustine de Civ. Dei, l. xx. c. 7, do not at all touch upon the first resurrection of bodies itself, but on the errors with which some had contaminated it. In later times great numbers have again defended this resurrection, and especially P. Crugotius, in his Notes on the Apoc., ch. 20, also in his Apology for the Confession of the Remonstrants, p. 209.


Verse 6

Revelation 20:6. ΄ακάριος, blessed) The word μακάριος is with great propriety applied to him over whom the second death has no power: for it is derived from μὴ, κὴρ, so that it denotes one who is immortal.— ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τῇ πρώτῃ, in the first resurrection) The Æthiopian Version, according to John de la Haye, has, on that day which precedes His coming.


Verse 7

Revelation 20:7. τα, those) Those thousand years only, during which Satan was bound; for now again Satan is treated of. The article so refers to the noun (thousand years) applied to two preceding subjects [the two distinct periods of a thousand years each], that it has reference to the former subject. Thus altogether τὸ θηρίον, that beast, ch. Revelation 13:15, does not refer to Revelation 20:11, but to Revelation 20:1. Thus 2 Samuel 23:19; 2 Samuel 23:23, τρεῖς refers not to the nearest, but to the more distant, ternary, Revelation 20:8, etc.— χίλια ἔτη, thousand years) The threefold expression of the former millennium (to which the threefold mention of the second millennium harmoniously answers) plainly makes a threefold opposition to the Non-chronus (which occupies the time between 1111 1/9 and 999 9/9 or 1000 years), to the short space [Revelation 17:10] (888 8/9 years), and to the time 1, 2, ½ (777 7/9 years); for these three periods, which the dragon rendered particularly disastrous, are immediately followed by a thousand joyful years, while the dragon is bound, and these years are three times expressed [in Revelation 20:2-3; Revelation 20:7].— λυθήσεται ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς) An abbreviated expression: that is, shall be loosed from his chain, and sent forth from his prison.


Verse 8

Revelation 20:8. τὸν γὼγ καὶ ΄αγὼγ) Magog, the son of Japhet, was the father of the northern nations towards the east. The prince of those nations is called Gog in Ezekiel ch. Ezekiel 38:2, and in this passage. A prince and a people most hostile, perhaps less good than others, though themselves less wicked then than after the new πλάνη. The article τὸν(220) of itself shows the intimate connection between the prince and the people, as does the Paronomasia, Gog and Magog. Both words signify Lofty, Elevated, as Hiller teaches in his Onomasticon. Therefore Magog is used as a proper name: but Gog, the chief syllable, being left to it by Aphæresis, seems by Antonomasia to hold the place of a proper name, until that fierce leader of so many nations under Satan appears at length in his own name. Jerome on Ezekiel 38 would not have refused to take Ros as a proper name, if the name of such a nation (the Russians) had been known to him. Comp. Hist. Univ. vol. i. p. 257.— συναγαγεῖν, to gather together) It is not said to deceive and gather together, but, to deceive for the purpose of gathering together. The gathering together is the end of the deceiving.— αὐτοὺς, them) In other places the Apocalypse regards the leader in preference to the forces, ch. Revelation 12:7; but respecting the Gog prince it recounts nothing apart from Magog, which constitutes his forces, partly because enough had been said respecting him by Ezekiel, and partly because Gog makes an unsuccessful attempt, and in his overthrow is mingled with the crowd itself, as the kings are, ch. Revelation 19:21, note


Verse 9

Revelation 20:9. τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἠγαπημένην) Jerusalem is called πόλις ἠγαπημένη, Sirach 24:11. But here it comes under the name both of camp and city, ἓν διὰ δυοῖν. ΄εμισημένος, ch. Revelation 18:2, and ἠγαπημένος, are opposed to one another: and yet in this place there seems to be pointed out a security on the part of the city, which is not altogether harmless, as Deuteronomy 32:15. In the Greek it is ἀπελάκτισεν ἠγαπημένος.


Verse 10

Revelation 20:10. καὶ βασανισθήσονται) The more recent Latin copies badly omit καὶ:(221) and thence construe it thus, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented; as though the devil himself were not to be tormented. The purity of the text is the more to be defended in this place, lest the casting of the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire previously to that of the devil should be obliterated, whereas the particle καὶ necessarily infers it. [Not until now does the punishment of Satan commence. Until this limit he continues to sin without restraint, if you except his imprisonment during the thousand years, during which there is an interruption of his worst doings.—V. g.]


Verse 11

Revelation 20:11. καὶ, and) Up to this time there has been a description of the events which are to be accomplished between the day of John’s vision and the last day. It is therefore proper to insert here a Synopsis of the times, which are comprised in the prophecy.

A CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE CONTENTS OF THE APOCALYPSE.

3940.

Commencement of

3943.

The first year of the era of Dionysius.

a.d.

30.

Jesus Christ suffers; dies; rises again: affords Apocalyptic strictures, John 21:22-23; Acts 1:7 : and ascends into heaven.

96.

The Apocalypse is given: the coming of the Lord is announced to the seven churches in Asia, and to their angels, Apoc. 1. 2. and 3.

97, 98.

The seven seals are opened, and under the fifth the Chronus [Revelation 6:11, period or season; not as Engl. “little season”] is proclaimed, ch. 4–6. Seven trumpets are given to the seven angels, ch. 7. 8.

Century 2, 3, 4, 5.

The trumpet of 1James , 2 d, 3d, 4th angel - Revelation 8

a. 510–589.

The first woe,

589–634.

The interval after the first woe.

634–840.

The second woe,

800–1836.

The Non-Chronus; many kings,

Revelation 10; Revelation 11

840–947.

The interval after the second woe,

Revelation 11:14.

864–1521.

The 1260 days of the woman, after she had brought forth the man-child,

Revelation 12:6.

947–1836.

The third woe,

Revelation 12:12.

1058–1836.

The time, times, and half a time: and within that period, the beast, and his 42 months, and his number 666,

Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5.

1209.

War with the saints, end of the Chronus,

Revelation 13:7.

1614.

The everlasting Gospel [published],

Revelation 14:6.

1810.

End of the 42 months of the beast; upon the completion of which, and the pouring out of the seven vials, he is not, and Babylon sits as a Queen,

Revelation 15. etc.

1832.

The beast out of the bottomless pit,

Revelation 17; Revelation 18

1836.

End of the Non-Chronus, and of the many kings: the fulfilling of the words of God, and of the mystery of God: repentance of those who are left in the great city. End of the short time (“space”), and of the 3½ times. The destruction of the beast, the imprisonment of Satan,

Revelation 19; Revelation 20

Afterwards:

The loosing of Satan for a little Chronus: commencement of the 1000 years’ reign of the saints: end of the little Chronus,

Revelation 20

End of the world: all things new,

Revelation 20-22

I declare throughout, by what condition I wish it to be thought that the years in this table are defined. Therefore I beg, that no one will suppose anything to be advanced by me which is opposed to true sobriety, but that all will favourably receive that which is suitably offered. In the meantime, according to the guidance of the Apocalypse, you may not inappropriately distinguish the centuries from the time of John in Patmos to our own age by the following characteristics:The birth of Jesus Christ.

Cent. 2.

The Destruction of Judaism,

3.

The Inroad of the Barbarians,

Revelation 8.

4.

The Arian age: the Arian bitterness,

Revelation 10.

5.

Overthrow of the Empire of Rome,

Revelation 12.

6.

The Jewish Synagogue tormented,

Revelation 9:1.

7.

The Saracen cavalry,

Revelation 13.

8.

The Iconoclastic age: many Kings,

Revelation 10:11.

9.

The age of Photius: the Ruler of the nations also born,

Revelation 12:5.

10.

The Disastrous age: the third woe,

Revelation 12.

11.

The age of Hildebrand: the rising of the beast out of the sea,

Revelation 13:1.

12.

The Waldensian age: Power given to the beast,

Revelation 5.

13.

The Scholastic age: War with the saints,

Revelation 7.

14.

The age of Wicliff: the middle of the third woe.

15.

The age of Synods: the beast in the midst of his strength.

16.

The age of the Reformation: the woman in the wilderness better fed.

17.

The everlasting Gospel [published],

18.

The Worship of the beast, and his image,

Revelation 9.

ἔφυγεν , fled) This is the day, that day, the great day, Hebrews 10:25, in which the earth and heaven flee away; and moreover the last day, the day of the resurrection and the judgment, Revelation 20:12, etc.; John 6:39; John 12:48. All judgment is given to the Son: John 5:27.


Verse 12

Revelation 20:12. ἑστῶτας, standing) The standing of infants, of whom by far the greatest part of mankind consists, is surprising.(222)

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 20:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-20.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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