The Three Angels' Messages

What are the "1,000 years" of Revelation 20:1-9?

Here are the first 9 verses of Revelation 20, the chapter that contains the term “1,000 years” 6 times in verses 2-7. If you’re going to understand the “1,000 years,” you have to understand Revelation 20! The word “millennium” isn’t found in the Bible, but simply means “1,000 years.” Within the Scripture quoted below are letters which refer to commentary containing other Bible passages which shed light on the meaning of these verses. A wonderful view of God’s love is portrayed in the Bible revelation of what takes place during and after these 1,000 years!  God has a “Plan for this Planet” and the correct understanding of the Bible teaching of the 1,000 years brings this plan and its grand climax into the spotlight. 

  1. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit (a) and a great chain (b) in his hand. 
  2. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
  3. and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
  4. “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment (c) was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the best or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived (d) and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
  5. But the rest of the dead (e) did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection (f).
  6. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
  7. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison (g)
  8. And will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, God and Magog (h), to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
  9. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints, the beloved city (I). And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them (j).”

- Revelation 20:1-9

(a) The term “bottomless pit” comes from the Greek word abyssos, from which we get our word “abyss.” This word is used in the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament, abbreviated as LXX) of Genesis 1:2 and translated “the deep.” It describes the chaotic and desolate condition of the earth following the mighty earthquake that accompanies the Second Coming of Jesus. Revelation 6:14; 16:18, 20.

(b) During the time following Christ’s advent, Satan is “chained,” in three ways. He is physically confined to this planet; he is “chained” by the circumstance of not being able to tempt or harass people (the wicked are all dead and the saved are with Jesus in heaven); and he is “chained” by darkness. II Peter 2:4. Notice that Satan’s being chained is directly linked to his inability to “deceive” (verses 2 and 3) and his release is directly linked to his ability again to “deceive,” as stated in verses 7 and 8.

(c) Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us, and then come back to take us there. John 14:1-3. That place is heaven, and the place He has prepared is the New Jerusalem, the Holy City. During the 1,000 years the saints are given the opportunity to review the records of judgment and become entirely satisfied with God’s justice in every decision made and every happening in their lives. The omniscient God looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7) and can read motives and intents, something that humans and angels can’t do. During this “transition period” of the 1,000 years, saints will be able to examine the records of Heaven and see things from God’s perspective. God wants all minds to be satisfied with His justice. The saints will judge fallen angels, and affirm that those who rebelled are worthy of death. I Corinthians 6:2.

(d) “They lived,” or as some translations read, “They came to life.” Thus the “first resurrection, or the resurrection of the saved begins the 1,000 years. We know that this glorious event takes place with Jesus comes back to earth the second time. I Thessalonians 4:16, 17; I Corinthians 15:51-55. The “first resurrection” takes place at the beginning of the 1,000 years.

(e) Because we know that the dead who came to life in the “first resurrection” are the “blessed and holy,” we know that the “rest of the dead” must refer to the wicked. These were either alive at Jesus’ coming and slain by His brightness (II Thessalonians 1:7, 8; 2:8), or they were already dead and remained in their graves.

(f) The “first resurrection,” as noted, is what brings the righteous out of their graves and takes place at Christ’s Second Coming. This is the “resurrection of life” of which Jesus spoke in John 5:28, 29.

(g) Satan being “released from his prison” implies that he will have opportunity to deceive people, which is given him when the wicked are brought back to life at the close of the 1,000 years. This is the “resurrection of condemnation” of which Jesus spoke. John 5:28, 29. The “second resurrection or the resurrection of the lost brings the 1,000 years to its conclusion.

(h) “God and Magog” were ancient enemies of Israel, who in the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39 conspire to attack Jerusalem. Here these terms are used as a code term to represent all who, under the inspiration of Satan, will attempt to attack the New Jerusalem.

(I) The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descends from Heaven at the conclusion of the 1,000 years. The wicked being brought back to life, rise with the same evil thoughts in their minds and under the generalship of Satan, in one last desperate demonstration that they are beyond hope of salvation, plot to capture the Holy City.

(j) As the wicked mount their attack, God arrests their assault and brings them to a consciousness of their wickedness and the justice of their punishment. God’s sacred Law is revealed and the wicked are confronted with their inexcusable rejection of His law, the unforgiven works of evil recorded against them (Revelation 20:12) and of all attempts by His Spirit to bring forgiveness and restoration. Their names are not found in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12) and thus they are judged unworthy of life. The sentence “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) is found to be equitable and just. Fire from God descends and “devours” them. Revelation 20:9. This fire “consumes” and “burns up” the wicked. Malachi 4:1-3. The wicked do not burn throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity; they are burned up and are “no more.” Psalm 104:35; Ezekiel 28:19. Instead of the gift of eternal life bestowed on the saved, they “perish.” John 3:16; Romans 6:23. This fire that consumes the wicked, including Satan and his angels, cleanses the entire globe and its atmosphere, preparing the way for God to make a “new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. II Peter 3:12, 13.