corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.16
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Revelation 20

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. XX.

Satan bound for a thousand years. The first resurrection: they are blessed that have part therein. Satan let loose again. Gog and Magog. The devil cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. The last and general resurrection.

Anno Domini 96.


Verse 1

Revelation 20:1.— This chapter represents a new state of the church, upon its deliverance from the persecution and corruption of the third period, or during the reign of the two beasts, or 1260 prophetic days or years. That long state of oppression is to be followed by a long continuance of peace, and prosperity. A fourth period is described, which, among other characters, is to last for a thousand years. The two first periods ended in a deliverance of the church; but those deliverances were of short continuance, and attended with considerable defects; but now, after the church shall have passed through this third trial of faith and patience, it is to attain a state of very great prosperity, and to remain in it for a considerable length of time. This is that happy state of the church, which, from the continuation of it for a thousand years, is usually called the Millennium. The description we have of it in this chapter, is very short,containedinthefirstsixverses:interpreters,however,have abundantly supplied what they thought wanting in the propheticaccount,—out of their own invention, it is to be feared, rather than from sure and well-grounded principles of judgment. No wonder then that they have differed so much about the true meaning of a prophesy, in which they have mixed so many of their own imaginations; so that the disputes seem not so much what is the intention of the Spirit of prophesy, as which of the interpreters has the finest or the warmest imagination. Let us then carefully endeavour to distinguish what the Spirit of prophesy plainly intends, from what uncertain conjectures or doubtful reasonings may suggest to our minds, for a more distinct and particular account.


Verses 1-6

Revelation 20:1-6. And I saw an angel come down from heavens &c.— After the destruction of the beast, and the false prophet,there still remains the dragon, who had delegated his power unto them; that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, Revelation 20:2. but he is bound by an angel,—an especial minister of Providence; and the famous millennium, or the reign of the saints upon earth for a thousand years, commences. Binding him with a great chain, casting him into the bottomless pit, shutting him up, and setting a seal upon him, (Revelation 20:3.) are strong figures, to shew the strict and severe restraint which he should be laid under, that he should deceive the nations no more during this whole period. Wickedness being restrained, the reign of righteousness succeeds; and the martyrs and confessors of Jesus, not only those who were beheaded, or suffered any kind of death under the Roman emperors, but also those who refused to comply with the idolatrous worship of the beast and his image, are raised from the dead, and have the principal share in the felicities of Christ's kingdom upon earth, Revelation 20:4. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, Revelation 20:5. so that this was a peculiar prerogative of the martyrs and confessors, above the rest of mankind. This is the first resurrection, a particular resurrection, preceding the general one at least a thousand years. Blessed and holy too is he who hath part in the first resurrection; Revelation 20:6. He is holy in all senses of the word; holy, as separated from the common lot of mankind; holy, as endowed with all holy and virtuous qualifications; and none but such are admitted to partake of this blessed state:—On such the second death hath no power. The second death is a Jewish phrase for the punishment of the wicked after death. The Chaldee paraphrase of Onkelos, and the other paraphrases of Jonathan Ben Uziel, and of Jerusalem, on Deuteronomy 33:6 . Let Reuben live, and not die, say, "Let him not die the second death, by which the wicked die in the world to come." The sons of the resurrection therefore shall not die again, but shall live in eternal bliss, as well as enjoy all the glories of the millennium;—be priests of God and Christ, and reign with him a thousand years. Nothing is more evident than that this prophesy of the millennium, and of the first resurrection, has not yet been fulfilled, even though the resurrection be taken in a figurative sense. For, reckon the thousand years from the time of Christ, or reckon them from the time of Constantine, yet neither of these periods, nor indeed any other, will answer the description and character of the millennium, the purity and peace, the holiness and happiness of that blessed state.

Before Constantine, the church was indeed in greater purity, but was groaning under the persecutions of the heathen emperors: after Constantine, the churchwas in greater prosperity, but was soon shaken and disturbed by heresies, schisms, incursions, devastations, corruptions, idolatry, wickedness, and cruelty. If Satan was then bound, when can he be said to be loosed? Or how could the saints and the beast, Christ and antichrist, reign at the same time? This prophesy therefore remains yet to be fulfilled, eventhough the resurrection be taken only for an allegory; which yet the text cannot admit, without the greatest torture and violence. For with what propriety can it be said, that some of the dead who were beheaded, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, unless the dying and living again be the same in both places;—a proper death and resurrection. Indeed, the death and resurrection of the witnesses, ch. 11 appear, from the concurrent circumstances of the vision, to be figurative; but the death and resurrection here mentioned, must, for the very same reasons, be concluded to be real. If the martyrs rise only in a spiritual sense, then the rest of the dead rise only in a spiritual sense; but if the rest of the dead really rise, the martyrs rise in the same manner. There is no difference between them; and we should be cautious and tender of making the first resurrection an allegory, lest others should reduce the second into an allegory too, like those whom St. Paul mentions, 2 Timothy 2:17-18 . In the general, that there shall be such a happy period as the millennium, is the plain and express doctrine of Daniel 7:27 . Psalms 2:8 . Isaiah 11:9 . Romans 11:25; Rom_11:36 . and of all the prophets, as well as of St. John; and we daily pray for the accomplishment of it, in saying, thy kingdom come. But of all the prophets, St. John is the only one who has declared particularly, and in express terms, that the martyrs shall rise to partake of the felicities of this kingdom; and that it shall continue upon earth a thousand years: and the Jewish church before him, and the Christian church after him, have farther believed and taught, that these thousand years will be the seventh millenary of the world. A pompous heap of quotations might be produced to this purpose, both from Jewish and Christian writers; but to enumerate only a few of both sorts: among the Jewish writers, are rabbi Ketina, and the house of Elias: among the Christian writers, are St. Barnabas in the first century, Justin Martyr in the second century, Tertullian in the beginning of the third, and Lactantius in the beginning of the fourth century. In short, the doctrine of the millennium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages; and this belief was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive Christians: they even coveted martyrdom, in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs in the first resurrection. Afterwards this doctrine grew into disrepute for various reasons: some, both Jewish and Christian writers, have debased it with a mixture of fables. It has suffered by the misrepresentations of its enemies, as well as by the indiscretions of its friends: it has been abused even to the worst purposes; it has been made an engine of faction. Besides, wherever the influence and authority of the church of Rome have extended, she has endeavoured by all means to discredit this doctrine; and indeed not without sufficient reason, this kingdom of Christ being founded on the ruins of antichrist. No wonder, therefore, that this doctrine lay depressed for many ages; but it sprang up again at the Reformation, and will flourish together with the study of the Revelation. All the danger is, on the one side of pruning and lopping it too short; and, on the other, of suffering it to grow too wild and luxuriant. Great caution and judgment are required, to keep in the middle way. We should neither, with some, interpret it into allegory; nor, with others, indulge an extravagant fancy, nor explain too curiously the manner and circumstances of this future state: it is safest and best faithfully to adhere to the words of scripture, and to rest contented with the general account, till time shall accomplish and clear up all the particulars.


Verse 7

Revelation 20:7.— The following verses of this chapter to Revelation 20:11. inform us, that the happy days of the church, prophesied of in the foregoing vision, will at length have their period: though they are to continue for a long time, and are not to expire till after a thousand years: yetthen there shall be one attempt more against the purity of religion, and against the peace and prosperity of the church. Satan is to be released for a little time, or season; but in that little season he shall deceive many; and so far seduce them, as to prevail upon them to join with him in his apostacy. This new attempt against truth and righteousness, shall end in the utter ruinof the enemies of Christ and his religion: they shall be totally defeated, and their obstinate wickedness punished with everlasting destruction. This state of the church and world, so different from the preceding, deserves to be considered as a new period, which will therefore be the fifth in order.


Verses 7-10

Revelation 20:7-10. When the thousand years are expired, &c.— At the expiration of the thousand years, the restraint will be taken off from wickedness,—Satan shall be loosed, and make one effort more to re-establish his kingdom. As he deceived our first parents in Paradise, so he will have the artifice to deceive the nations after the millennium, to shew, that no state or condition on earth is secured from sinning. The nations whom he shall deceive, are described as living in the remotest parts of the world,—in the four quarters, or more literally, in the four angles or corners of the earth; and they are distinguished by the names of Gog and Magog, and are said to be as numerous as the sand of the sea, Revelation 20:8. Gog and Magog seem to have been formerly the general names of the northern nations of Europe and Asia, as the Scythians have been since, and the Tartars are at present. In Ezekiel there is a famous prophesy concerning Gog and Magog; and this prophesy alludes to that in many particulars. Both that of Ezekiel, and this of St. John, remain yet to be fulfilled; and therefore we cannot be absolutely certain that they may not both relate to the same event; but it appears more probable, that they relate to different events. The one is expected to take effect before, but the other will not take effect till after the millennium. Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel 38:6-15; Eze_39:2 . are said expressly to come from the north quarters, and the north parts; but in St. John they come from the four quarters; or corners of the earth. Gog and Magog in Ezekiel send their forces against the Jews re-settled in their own land; but in St. John they march up against the saints and church of God in general. Gog and Magog in Ezekiel are, with very good reason, supposed to be the Turks; but the Turks are the authors of the second woe, which is past before the third woe; and the third woe long precedes the time here treated of. It may therefore be concluded, that Gog and Magog, as well as Sodom, and Egypt, and Babylon, are mystic names in this book; and the last enemies of the Christian church are so denominated, because Gog and Magog appear to be the last enemies of the Jewish nation. Who they will be we cannot pretend to say with any degree of certainty: but whoever they will be, they shall come up from the four corners of the earth, on the breadth of the earth, and shall compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, the new Jerusalem, with the saints encamping round it, as the Israelites encamped around the tabernaclein the wilderness. But they shall not succeed in their attempts; theyshall not be able to hurt the church and city of God, but shall be destroyed in an extraordinary manner, by fire from heaven, Revelation 20:9. And the devil himself, the promoter and leader of this new apostacy and rebellion against God and his Christ, shall not only be confined as before, but shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he shall be punished, together with the beast and false prophet, for ever and ever, Revelation 20:10.


Verse 11

Revelation 20:11.— The course of these prophesies, after many important visions describing the state of the church and world in this present life, brings us at last to the great and final judgment, when the whole scene and mystery of Providence and Grace shall be finished. Then the great doctrine, which runs through the whole of these prophesies; will be fullyverified, that truth and righteousness shall surely prevail in the end against error and all iniquity; eternal happiness shall be the reward of the faithful, and everlasting destruction the punishment of the wicked.—This is represented as a sixth period of Providence, after which there will be, in the seventh, an everlasting sabbath; a state of eternal rest and happiness for all the righteous, and of the most perfect worship of God in the praises and devotions of the heavenly church.


Verses 11-15

Revelation 20:11-15. I saw a great white throne, &c.— Great, to shew the largeness and extent; white, to shew the justice and equity of the judgment; and one siting on it, that is, the Son of God; for the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son,

John 5:22 . 'The expression, that it was he from whose face the earth and heaven fled away, is inconceivably great; it is so plain, that it does not need, and so majestic and grand, that it exceeds commentary and paraphrase: it shews us, that this is properly the end of the world. The dead, both small and great, of all ranks and degrees, as well those who perished at sea, and were buried in the waters, as those who died at land, and were buried in graves, are all raised, and stand before the judgment seat of God, where they are judged every man according to their works, as exactly as if all their actions had been recorded in books; Revelation 20:13. They who are found not worthy to be enrolled in the registers of heaven, are cast into the lake of fire; whither also were cast death and hell, or the grave, which are here personified, as they are likewise in other places of holy scripture. It may seem strange that death should be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death; Revelation 20:14. But the meaning is, thattemporal death, which hitherto had exercised dominion over the race of men, shall be totally abolished, and, with respect to the wicked, be converted into eternal death. Then, as St. Paul says, shall be brought to pass that which is written, &c. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 .

Inferences and REFLECTIONS.—What a glorious time of light, liberty, love and peace, purity, joy and triumph, shall the church of true believers enjoy upon earth, after many years of darkness, trouble, and oppression! The Lord Jesus will bind and shut up Satan, that old serpent, the devil, as in prison: the cause of truth and holiness shall revive with great power, spirituality, and splendor: and they, who, with the constancy, patience, and spirit of martyrs, had courageously renounced all idolatry, wickedness, and error, and maintained a good profession of Christ and of his gospel in the worst of times, shall, together with their successors of the same spirit, live and reign with him, under his protection and smiles, for a thousand years upon the earth. And O with what honour and acceptance will they then appear, like royal priests to him, and to God the Father through him! But how vain would it be to expect an everlasting continuance of such a happy state on this earth! At the expiration of the thousand years, Satan will, in some measure, be let loose again for a little while, and be permitted to go forth, once more, to deceive the nations throughout the world, and gather all his numberless forces together from among them, who may be compared to Gog and Magog, those last enemies of Israel, to attack and disturb the saints, the beloved city of the Lord. But, blessed be God, this regained power and last effort will be very short, and certainly end in the utter destruction of the devil, and of all his adherents, who shall be consumed by fire from heaven, and cast into everlasting flames with him: for Christ will set his throne for judgment, and the present frame of the earth and aerial heaven shall be dissolved at his appearing. Then there shall be a general resurrection of the dead, wheresoever they were buried, in the earth or in the sea; and the final judgment of all mankind will, upon trial out of the books which shall be opened, publicly and unalterably determine the eternal state of every one of them for inexpressible happiness, or misery, according to their respective works, whether they be good or bad. Then all the ungodly, whose bodies were dead, and whose souls had been in a separate state, shall, according to the just sentence passed upon them for their evil deeds, be cast into everlasting burnings. But O the happiness of the righteous; as described in the following chapter!

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 20:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-20.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology