Revelation Chapter 20 – And Why There Is No Thousand Year Reign

Chapter 20 is another retelling of the end time narrative beginning with Satan’s temporary binding by Jesus. Satan was bound, or rather, rendered powerless to overcome Jesus and the spread of the gospel through the apostle’s ministry and the early church period. A rough outline follows:

Satan was bound (vss 1-3) and non-Jewish ‘nations’ with pagan religions are able to receive the gospel.

Believers of all ages are enthroned with Christ, including those beheaded in the end time (vss 4-6).

Satan is released (vs 7).

Satan deceives the nations (vs 8)

Jesus returns with fire (vs 9), and destroys both Judaism.

The judgment and doom of Satan takes place (vs 10).

The general judgment (vss 11-15).

This repeats a theme we have seen before, of the Revelation containing multiple ‘micronarratives’ within the text, consisting of

  1. Persecution of the people of God.
  2.  Deliverance/salvation/rescue
  3.  Judgment of the oppressors

Chapter 6 is the first version of the end times narrative, ending in Jesus’ return and judgment.

Chapter 11 has several micronarratives embedded into the text of persecution of the church, redemption and endings with a retelling of Jesus’ return in judgment.

Chapters 12-19 are various re-tellings of the same events. Each re-telling includes a micronarrative of persecution of the church, the doom of those who war against Christ and of destruction of Judaism and finally, judgment.

Chapter 12 itself is an independent retelling of Satan’s hatred and persecution of the church, having the same micronarratives of persecution violence, salvation followed by judgment.

Here in chapter 20, we see this same micronarrative repeated in the text.

  1. Violence (vs 4) and spiritual deception (vss 8-9)
  2. Salvation in Jesus’ return (vs 9)
  3. Judgment of Satan and the general judgment of all (vs 10-15)

Notably, Jesus does not return at the beginning of the chapter (before the thousand-year reign (Rev 20:1-3) but toward the end of the chapter, after the thousand years (Rev 20:9-11) at which time the ‘books were opened’ (Rev 20:12) and the judgment takes place. This suggests that the so-called “thousand years” is not a literal length of time but another way of describing a general time period, an overview of the apostolic age with more specific details pertaining to its conclusion the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism and unrepentant Jewish nation and the transfer of the kingdom to those who would bear fruit from it, the church.

(Rev 20:1)  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

This is very consistent with other scriptures that show Jesus’ return to earth, holding keys (or authority over the spiritual realm).

(Rev 1:18)  and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

“…the key of the abyss…”

Authority over the lower parts of the world, or of hell, the place in Hades for the wicked dead.

“…a great chain…

Not a literal chain (what would a spiritual creature need metal chains for?), but symbolic chain, illustrating Satan’s limited ability to deceive the nations.

Compare to….

(Rev 9:1)  Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.

This writer takes the view that the ‘star’ of Rev 9:1 is the fallen angel, Satan, who is granted temporary authority to open the bottomless pit and later relinquishes that authority back to Jesus. Jesus returns with the same ‘key’ or authority in Rev 20:1 to bind Satan and later, consistent with the principle of reaping what one sows, Satan will be thrown into the same pit.

(Rev 20:2)  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

“…bound him…”

Jesus foretells the final, utter doom of Satan in…

(Joh 12:31)  “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

Satan was already bound at the time Jesus affirmed His authority to cast out demons being of the Spirit of God when He said…

(Mat 12:29)  “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Jesus said this approximately 60 years before the time Rev 20:2 was penned. This suggests that Revelation 20 is not part of a sequential narrative that follows chapter 19. It is a stand-alone, retelling of the end time narrative that begins with Jesus binding Satan and ends with the church being victorious over Satan and the finality of the judgment.

Luke’s parallel passage describes it as….

(Luk 11:21 NASB)  “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.

(Luk 11:22 NASB)  “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.

Paul describes this as….

(Col 2:15 NASB)  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

Long after Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter affirms that….

(1Pe 3:18)  For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

(1Pe 3:19)  in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,

The binding of Satan was not to put him away forever (that happens when he’s thrown into the lake of fire), but was a way to limit his power and influence over the ‘nations’ (Gentile peoples) that he had previously had influence over in the form of pagan religions. Satan still had influence over individuals, made evident in examples like…

Before the crucifixion…

(Luk 22:3)  And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.

And after the crucifixion…

(1Pe 5:8)  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Hardly a picture of Satan being in a literal cage or prison. Even if it was a literal ‘prison’ and they were literal ‘chains’, it still does nothing to stop Satan’s mouth, which is how he communicates false teachings, ‘doctrines of demons’ and ‘damnable heresies’.  Since 1 Peter 5:8 clearly shows that Satan was not in a literal ‘prison’, then it follows that the ‘thousand years’ should be interpreted symbolically.

In response to Satan being ‘bound’, the disciples were sent to the ‘nations’ with the gospel. This explains the meteoric rate of growth of the early church in spite of persecution violence and limited spiritual deception it faced.

Jesus’ victory over Satan is also seen at the crucifixion….

(Heb 2:14)  Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

“…for a thousand years.”

In the Old Testament, there are many times that “thousand”, “thousand years” or “thousand-fold” are referring to a symbolic quantity. For example…

(Exo 20:6)  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

What about to those who love God and keep His commandments if or when they number more than thousands? Doesn’t God show lovingkindness to them too? The ‘thousands’ here are just referring to all who love God and keep His commandments.

(Deu 1:11)  ‘May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand-fold more than you are and bless you, just as He has promised you!

Does this mean that after the thousand-fold increase, that any additional increase would not be a blessing? Of course not. The ‘thousand-fold’ increase is symbolic, not literal. Similarly, …

(Deu 7:9)  “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Does God keep His covenant with one thousand generations but not those after it? Of course not. The ‘thousandth generation’ is just a Hebrew way of describing a large number. The emphasis is not about how many, but about the faithfulness of God. Again….

(Psa 50:10)  “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.

What about the cattle on the other hills? Are they someone else’s? Here, as before, the term ‘thousand’ is just used to describe an incalculably high number.

Another example…

(Psa 84:10)  For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

What about a thousand and one? Isn’t one day in His courts better than ten thousand outside? How about twenty thousand? Of course, we should understand the ‘thousand’ here symbolically as referring to just an incalculable number.

Time designations are used symbolically in other portions of the Revelation. For example (caps mine for emphasis)….

(Rev 2:10)  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for TEN DAYS. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

(Rev 17:12)  “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for ONE HOUR.

Here, we see verse describing the same event as occurring in both ‘one hour’ and ‘one day’.

(Rev 18:8)  “For this reason in ONE DAY her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

(Rev 18:10)  standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in ONE HOUR your judgment has come.’

We also see other instances where time designations are used symbolically. The time period of 3.5 years is repeatedly used to symbolically describe a time of violence.

(Rev 11:3)  “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for TWELVE HUNDRED AND SIXYT DAYS, clothed in sackcloth.”

(Rev 11:9)  Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for THREE AND A HALF DAYS, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.

(Rev 12:14)  But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a TIME AND TIMES AND HALF A TIME, from the presence of the serpent.

(Rev 12:6)  Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY DAYS.

Why should we assume the ‘thousand years’ of Rev 20:2 are literal when other time designations are not?

And lastly, the scriptures clearly show that a ‘thousand years’ are not literally a thousand years, but are a matter of perspective, describing a very long time to us but relatively brief for God.

(Psa 90:4)  For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.

This psalm is in part describing how relatively brief our life is compared to the infiniteness of God.  To God, a thousand years is like “yesterday” (a past event) or a ‘watch in the night’ (four hours). From our perspective, they cannot be both at the same time. From God’s perspective of being independent of time, they can both happen at the same time while for us, it may be a very long time.

(2Pe 3:8)  But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

Here, Peter probably got the idea from Psalm 90:4 but words it differently. Here, the ‘day’ is symbolic for a thousand years, and a ‘thousand years’ are symbolic for a day.

In summary then, there are several good lines of evidence to support the “thousand years” being symbolic, not literal

  1. There numerous examples of the ‘thousand’ being used symbolically in the Old Testament.
  2. There are over five hundred Old Testament references in the Revelation, all of which use symbolic language and imagery.
  3. The Revelation itself is clearly infused from beginning to end with symbolic language.
  4. The surrounding context is symbolic. To arbitrarily interpret the ‘thousand years’ as literal while interpreting the rest of the verse as symbolic is not just poor exegesis, it’s irresponsible handing of the text.
  5. Other scriptures in the Revelation use time designations symbolically.
  6. Other scriptures specifically define a ‘thousand years’ as a symbolic time period.

But there’s an additional reason not to depart from a symbolic interpretive paradigm when it comes to Revelation chapter 20 and the ‘thousand years’. None of the gospels or epistles teach a literal thousand-year reign of Christ.

According to Jesus’ eschaton, He returns to judge the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:32).” All nations” are judged. There is eternal life in the kingdom for the righteous or eternal fire for the wicked. There is no mention of a thousand-year reign. Since the judgment happened at 70AD, it follows that the ‘thousand years’ is referring to the apostolic age.

Jesus says…

(Joh 5:28)  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

(Joh 5:29)  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Here again, there is no expectation of a literal thousand-year reign in Jesus’ eschaton. It’s just not there. Similarly, apostle Peter’s eschaton has no expectation of a millennial reign.

Peter says…

(2Pe 3:10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Notably, 2 Peter 3:10 uses the same terminology and is in the same end time context of judgment as….

(Rev 16:15)  (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)

How can there be a literal thousand-year reign from a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem in a universe without literal elements on a burned up planet without an atmosphere?

And Paul’s eschaton…

(2Th 1:8)  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Again, there is no mention of a millennial reign for believers. Similarly, there is no mention of a millennial reign in any of the previous retellings of Jesus’ return in other portions of the Revelation. Rather, Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians that Jesus was already reigning.

(1Co 15:25)  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

(1Co 15:26)  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

And that doesn’t happen until the judgment, at the end.

(Rev 20:14)  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Even from Daniel’s prophecy of Jesus’ return, the end time kingdom is eternal, not limited to one thousand years. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Dan 7:14)  “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an EVERLASTING dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

(Dan 7:18)  ‘But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom FOREVER, for all ages to come.’

There is no literal one thousand years in view here either but rather, an everlasting kingdom that lasts forever. Jesus inaugurated this kingdom, and it exists to this day, everlasting, just as the bible says.

It is this writer’s view that the ‘thousand years’ began with Jesus’ defeat of Satan in the wilderness, includes the work of the cross and ended with the significant increase in violence and spiritual deception occurring at the end of the age of Judaism, just prior to His return

(Rev 20:3)  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

“…the abyss…” (“bottomless pit” KJV)

The same place the demons begged Jesus to not send them too in…

(Luk 8:31)  They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.

(2Pe 2:4)  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

‘hell’ in 2 Peter 2:4 is GK ‘tartaros’, not ‘Gehenna’. Like ‘Gehenna’, ‘tartaros’ is a temporary holding place for the unrighteous dead. The permanent place for Satan, demons and later, unrepentant souls is the eternal lake of fire.

(Mat 25:41)  “… into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

In Luke 8:31 and 2 Peter 2:4 the ‘abyss’ or ‘bottomless pit’ is a literal place of temporary imprisonment. Here in Rev 20:3, it is used figuratively.

“…so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed….”

This is the ‘thousand years’ (see commentary entry for Rev 20:2), beginning in the first century and continuing through a time of increasing spiritual deception and persecution violence just prior to Jesus’ return.

During this time, Satan was unable to deceive the ‘nations’ on the scale of success that he enjoyed before, but this does not mean he was unable to deceive individuals, evidenced by scriptures such as Acts 5:3, 1 Cor 5:5, 1 Cor 7:5, 2 Cor 2:11,  2 Cor 11:14, 2 Cor 12:7 and 1Tim 1:20 and….

(1 Pet 5:8) “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Obviously, the ‘binding’ of Satan was not a literal imprisonment but rather, a state of limited ability to deceive the nations.

“…after these things he must be released for a short time.”

See also….(caps mine for emphasis)

(Rev 12:12)  “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a SHORT TIME.”

If a ‘thousand years’ is not a literal thousand years but still a long time from our perspective, then it follows that a ‘short time’ also has no exact length but is relatively brief. This release of Satan happened after a long time, but just prior to Jesus’ return. So if Satan has already been released, which is this writer’s view, then this (along with other evidences from the scriptures and current events) points to Jesus’ return being relatively near. The best hyothesis is that the release of Satan happened after Jesus’ ascension and before His return.

(Rev 20:4)  Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“…I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them…”

This is mentioned also in Daniel’s end time prophecy pertaining to Jesus’ return. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Dan 7:9)  “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His SEAT; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Those who sit on the thrones are Jesus, the apostles and all genuine believers.

(Mat 19:28)  And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will SIT on His glorious throne, you also shall SIT upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

(Luk 22:30)  that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and YOU WILL SIT ON THRONES judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

But also, all genuine believers who have died in Christ…

(Rev 3:21)  ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to SIT DOWN WITH ME on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

(Eph 2:6)  and raised us up with Him, and SEATED US WITH HIM in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded…”

John sees the souls of two groups of people. Those who had been beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had been beheaded for not worshiping the beast or his image and who had not received the mark of the ‘beast’.

Notable first century Roman beheadings include John the Baptist, and also the Apostle Paul. Though beheadings (with an axe) occurred in the first century, it was not as common as crucifixion, being run through with a sword, being thrown to animals or burned alive. These beheadings began at the beginning of the ‘thousand years’, the apostolic age.

“…and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand…”

The beheadings of the second group in Rev 20:4 are contextually linked to those who die refusing to worship the beast or his image and who had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. In this writer’s view, the “mark of the beast” was apostasy to Roman emperor worship.

Notably, John sees the ‘souls’ of those who had been beheaded, not their resurrected bodies. This is another line of evidence showing that Rev 20:4 takes place before the end time resurrection and thus, before Jesus’ return, a strong argument against the premillennial position. If the amillenial view for Revelation chapter 20 is correct, then verse 4 would seem to suggest that the entire chapter is a retelling of end times events, not events that follow the previous chapter in a sequential order.

“…and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

There is no consensus on how this verse should be understood, since the phrase “came to life” can be interpreted two ways. If in the constantive aorist sense (continuing action), then all who die as martyrs continue in life or have ‘increased life’. If in the ingressive aorist sense (new life) then all who die as martyrs come back to life.

Since the ‘thousand years’ has already been shown to be symbolic of the apostolic period, not a literal thousand years (see commentary entry for Rev 20:2), this writer takes the constantive aorist interpretation, and understands this verse to mean that ‘all those who are born again (the first resurrection) from the time of Christ until His return continue in life and are ‘not hurt by the second death’ (Rev 2:11). This is also consistent with Jesus’ own teaching.

(Joh 11:25)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

(Joh 11:26)  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

(Rev 20:5)  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

There is a first and a second resurrection and there is a first and second death. The first death is physical death. The second death is an eternity in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). The first resurrection is to be spiritually born again. The second resurrection is the resurrection of the body.

Those who hear His voice and resurrect from a spiritually dead state are those who are born again.

(Joh 5:25)  “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

(Joh 6:39)  “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

“The rest of the dead….”  Those who have died without being spiritually born again.

“….did not come to life…”

Same dilemma as in Rev 20:4, with either the ingressive aorist or constantive aorist sense of the phrase. This writer takes the ingressive aorist view in this case, which suggests that Rev 20:4 and Rev 20:5 are playing off of each other. One is referring to continued life for the righteous who are martyred while the other refers to the unrighteous not being resurrected until the ‘last day’, the ‘day’ or time period of Jesus’ return, which will also be the day of resurrection of judgment for all.

(Joh 5:28)  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

(Joh 5:29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Likewise,….

(Mat 25:31)  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

(Mat 25:32)  “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

(Rev 20:6)  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Anyone who is born again (those who are blessed and holy) are those who ‘take part in the first resurrection’, the resurrection from being spiritually dead to being raised up with Christ. The ‘second death’ is the lake of fire (Rev 20:14), the eternal judgment for the unrepentant.

First century believers began to reign with Christ from the time they got born again, and this reign extends even beyond the time of Satan’s binding, which is the ‘thousand years’ (See commentary entry for Rev 20:2, the ‘thousand years actually ending in our modern era). After they physically die, they still live spiritually, as Jesus taught in…

(Joh 11:25)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

(Joh 11:26)  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

After the judgment, if they are found worthy, they will reign ‘forever’.

(Rev 22:5)  And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Again, there is no literal one-thousand-year long reign in view, but rather, reigning in an eternal kingdom.

Christ was already reigning when Paul wrote…

(1Co 15:25)  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

Genuine believers will reign with Christ because they are themselves, a kingdom of priests.

(Rev 5:10)  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Those whose faith endures persecution and spiritual deception will reign with Christ.

(2Ti 2:12)  If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

(Rev 20:7)  When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,

This is not to say that Satan will be released from a literal prison, but that his power to deceive the nations will be restored. By this time, the gospel would have already gone forth to all the earth, in obedience to Christ’s commission to the apostles and the early church.

In this writer’s view, Satan has already been released, sometime in the modern era. He’s been attacking the church through persecution violence and spiritual deception.

(Rev 12:17)  Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

This violence appears in human history at the same time as the spiritual deception in and from the ‘church’….which is the beast and whore appearing together (Rev 17:3).

(Rev 17:3)  And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

Satan is going after the church, because he knows born again believers are the only ones who can overcome him.

(Rev 12:11)  “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Satan knows he only has a limited time to do as much damage as he can.

(Rev 12:12)  “….the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

From 2 Thessalonians…

(2Th 2:7)  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

The ‘man of lawlessness’ is apostasy to Roman emperor worship. ‘He who restrains’ is the truth of an uncompromised gospel which is being ‘taken away’ as the church becomes more corrupt, more hostile to holiness. Satan’s renewed deception of all nations is made possible through the removal of truth from the church. Since the apostate church was in all known nations, Satan used the church to deceive all known nations.

(Rev 20:8)  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

If we go with the standard premillennial view, this deception would take place during the supposed ‘thousand-year reign’. Jesus would have already thrown the beast and false prophet into the lake of fire. This scenario invites more questions than it answers. For example, what would be the point of allowing yet another deception in a kingdom where righteousness is supposed to be reigning? What purpose would it be for Jesus to return in Revelation chapter 19, only to begin a thousand-year reign where Satan deceives the nations yet again?

“…deceive the nations…”

Satan is released to ‘deceive the nations’, all of the nations. Gog was a leader in Magog, located in what is today, Turkey.  ‘Gog and Magog’ are used here to understate ‘four corners of the earth’, which is to say its entirety. Prior to Jesus’ first advent, the ‘nations’ (Gentile nations) were deceived. All they had were pagan religions. Only Israel had the light of hope in that they had the truth of the scriptures, even if the Jews did not see Christ in them.

Notably, Chapter 19 has only the beast and false prophet being thrown into the lake of fire. Chapter 20 is a separate retelling of the same time period, this time to include Satan being thrown into the lake of fire too.

“…gather them together for the war…”  Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare.

(Rev 20:9)  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

“….they…”  The ‘nations’ per Rev 20:8. The entire world will be hostile to the ‘camp of the saints’.

“…the camp of the saints…”   Genuine believers in Jesus. An alternative view is according to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ‘camp of the saints’ is a remnant community of Jews.

See also….

(Deu 23:14)  “Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore YOUR CAMP MUST BE HOLY; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

Also…

“…beloved city…”  This writer’s view is that the ‘beloved city’ is Jerusalem. This would seem to follow both history and the model in Rev 12:17 of Satan attacking the Jews first.

“…fire came down from heaven…”

The fire of judgment and war that happened at Jesus’ return, the time of the end of Judaism, not the beginning of a literal thousand years. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Psa 11:6)  Upon the wicked He will rain snares; FIRE AND BRIMSTONE and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.

(Eze 38:22)  “With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE.

(Rev 19:12)  His eyes are A FLAME OF FIRE, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.

(2Th 1:6)  For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you

(2Th 1:7)  and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels IN FLAMING FIRE,

(2Th 1:8)  dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

(Rev 1:14)  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a FLAME OF FIRE.

(Rev 10:1)  I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of FIRE;

Revelation 20:9 is another micro-narrative describing the destruction of the world of Judaism, the salvation of the innocent and the final judgment, which happened at the return of Jesus. There is no ‘thousand years’ mentioned from this point on, so Satan being bound for a ‘thousand-years’ (Rev 20:2-3) must happen before Jesus’ return, not after.

(Rev 20:10)  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Satan is thrown into a lake of fire, where the previous chapter showed the beast (Rome, or possibly Zealot-led Israel) and false prophet are too. This writer’s view is that these events happen at the same time, but are merely described separately to add emphasis. Notably, once he is thrown into the lake of fire, there is no coming out. His release from being ‘bound’ for a ‘thousand years’ happens before this event, not after.

“…the devil who deceived them….”

Deceived who?   Recall that in Revelation chapter 16, the beast and false prophet convince others to war against Jesus. This would be significant of both Rome and Jews conspiring to persecute Christians, which had departed Jerusalem long before hostilities got out of control.

(Rev 16:13)  And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;

(Rev 16:14)  for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.

“…where the beast and false prophet are…” (Rev 19:20).

Jesus destroyed Judaism and its false prophet, Zealot-led Israel when He returned in 70AD.

(Rev 14:11)  “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

This is the same place other wicked, God-hating souls will go…

(Mat 25:41)  “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

(Mat 25:46)  “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

“…tormented day and night forever and ever…”

There is no ‘day and night’ in an eternal realm, so this is just common language describing an unending time. Human souls will be joining the beast and false prophet, and all whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life will be tormented day and night (forever and ever) See also Rev 20:15. No mention of being ‘released’ here. Again, this is good evidence that Satan being bound for a ‘thousand years’ happens before Jesus’ return, not after.

(Rev 20:11)  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

The judgment of the nations, per Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:31-46…

(Mat 25:31)  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

(Mat 25:32)  “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

And…

(Mat 16:27)  “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

This is also the judgment referred to in…

(2Co 5:10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Rom 14:10)  ….For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

To accommodate a non-existent ‘millennial reign’ of Christ, there are some who divide the scriptures to create multiple judgments….a judgment of the wicked for damnation, and the judgment of the righteous for rewards. One judgment before Jesus’ so-called ‘millennial reign’, and one after the ‘millennial reign’. However, there is only one judgment of all. 2 Cor 5:10 and Rom 14:10 are referring to the same judgment seat. One calls it the judgment seat of Christ, the other, the judgment seat of God. There is only one damnation and one reward.

Also, it is a myth that God will give out ‘rewards’ (plural) for our good works. There are no plural ‘rewards’ anywhere in the Revelation, nor is it implied elsewhere. Every instance in the KJV bible of the plural form ‘rewards’ is associated with what a sinner seeks or is tempting the righteous with.

Eternal life is both knowing Jesus (John 17:3, 1 John 5:20) and in its farthest reaching application, unending life in the presence of the one, true holy God for the righteous, a reward that will last forever (John 3:15). Genuine believers have already passed from death into life (John 5:24), not based on their profession of faith, but evidenced by what they do.

(Rom 2:7)  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

(Revelation 22:14-15) Blessed are those who DO His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life.

This is also the time of the resurrection.

(Joh 5:28)  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

(Joh 5:29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Everyone was judged by their works (John 5:29, Rev 2:23, 20:12, Rev 18:6), their words (Matt 12:36), their secrets (Eccl 12:14, Rom 2:16, Heb 4:13) and whether their names are written in the book of life (Rev 20:15). Angels were also judged (Jude 1:6).

“…great white throne…”

White, for purity, holiness and justice. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Rev 1:14)  His head and His hair were WHITE LIKE WHITE WOOL, LIKE SNOW; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.

Also in Daniel’s vision…

(Dan 7:9)  “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like WHITE SNOW And the hair of His head like PURE WOOL. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Recall that Jesus returns on a ‘white horse’ (Rev 19:11) followed by armies dressed in clean linen ‘white and clean’ (Rev 19:14). The throne of God is surrounded by elders dressed in ‘white robes’ (Rev 4:4). Martyred saints are dressed in ‘white garments’ (Rev 6:11). And those who come out of the ‘great tribulation’ are dressed in ‘white robes’ (Rev 7:14). The ‘seven angels’ coming out of the temple (Rev 15:6) are dressed in ‘white linen’ and Jesus sits in authority over a ‘white cloud’ (Rev 14:14), figuratively describing the saints. Here in Rev 20:11, even the throne itself is white.

“…Him who sat upon it….”

God is sitting on the throne, Jesus Christ. This was established long ago in the prophecy of Daniel….

(Dan 7:9)  “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

And Jesus Himself said…

(Joh 5:22)  “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,

And Paul uses the term ‘judgment seat of Christ’ interchangeably with ‘judgment seat of God’.

(2Co 5:10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Rom 14:10)  ….For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

“…., from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, , and no place was found for them.…”

Also…

(Rev 16:20)  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

Compare to Jesus’ prediction of…

(Mat 24:35)  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

And in Peter’s eschaton…

(2Pe 3:10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

When God inserted Himself into our dimension the second time through Christ’s return, all gave way, mountains, the sky…even the elements (3 Peter 3:12). Nothing can remain in its present state, because all must conform to His presence. But this is not literal mountains and sky, but Judaism and it’s Old Covenant religious rituals.

 

This concept is seen in the Old Testament as well in passages like…

(Psa 97:5)  The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

(Zec 14:4)  In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

Taking a literalist view for purposes of illustration, if by this point the heavens and earth have fled away (been destroyed), what earth is there for Satan to be released on? There is no mention of Satan having any part of the “new heavens and new earth” of Revelation chapter 21, because he’s still in the lake of fire, never to come out. Again, this shows that the so-called ‘thousand years’ time period is not literal, but symbolic and occurs just prior to Jesus’ return.

This imagery of ‘heaven and earth’ likely came from Isaiah 66:22.

(Isa 66:22)  “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.

In its New Testament usage, some think it is referring to the New Covenant. Others think it is just a colloquial way of describing a ‘new beginning’.

The term ‘heaven and earth’ were also used by Hebrews to describe the inner and outer portion of the temple. And first century Jewish historian Josephus reports that Jews referred to the temple at Jerusalem as “heaven and earth.”

Source: Josephus, Antiquities (William Whiston trans., Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987) BK. 3, chap. 6:4-7; chapt. 7:7, pp 86+

Jesus Himself, right after describing the destruction of the temple in Matt 24:3-28, said…

(Matthew 24:35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

meaning, the physical temple, or possibly Judaism itself will pass away, but His words will not. This has been proven true even until today.

If ‘heaven and earth’ was the Old Covenant temple according to Jesus, then a ‘new heaven and earth’ from scripture penned by Hebrew believers like John in Revelation 21:2 and Peter in 2 Peter 3:13 would be the ‘new temple’, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the church.

Jesus also said…

(Mat 5:18)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here, Old Covenant Judaism or possibly the temple itself is pictured as ‘heaven and earth’. This verse also implies that all prophecy would be complete when ‘heaven and earth’ pass away. Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism and the temple would bring all prophecy to fulfillment.

 

This would also be consistent with how Hebrew believers like the apostle Paul and John used objects (like a ‘city’) to describe Old Covenant Israel (Hagar) contrasted to the “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:26), the New Covenant kingdom.

Also, the  ‘great city” and “Babylon the great” contrasted with the “new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:2) and “holy city” (Rev 21:10), contrast the Old Covenant Judaism that would soon be destroyed to the New Covenant kingdom that was at that time making Old Covenant Judaism obsolete.

 

The writer of the Revelation, John, says…

Rev 20:11 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.

This may be describing the general judgment of all that took place when Jesus returned in between 66-70AD. That judgement resulted in the destruction of Old Covenant Judaism and its temple, which were obstacles to those coming to salvation in Christ. Thus, the old temple, being obsolete, needed to be destroyed on account of the new temple, the church. As destruction came to the temple and Judaism itself, those in the city of Jerusalem tried to escape but could not find a place to hide from the destruction of the spiritual city of the ‘great city’ of Judaism.

 

So we see multiple lines of evidence that support the idea that the ‘new heaven and earth’ is not a literal, new sky and ball of dirt, but rather, the new covenant temple, the church.

(Rev 20:12)  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

“…the dead…”

Jesus returned to judge both the living and the dead….

(2Ti 4:1)  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

…but only the dead are mentioned in Rev 20:12. The living are those who have already taken part in the first resurrection, those who are born again. The ‘dead’ in this context are those who were unrepentant Old Covenant Jews and other, unsaved, not born again, not spiritually regenerate souls, all the wicked dead from the time after the ‘thousand years’, the time of Satan’s binding. (See commentary entry for Rev 20:5).

“…the great and the small…”

The unsaved from all stations in life, rich and poor, popular or unknown, lost or found…all will be judged.

“…the books…”

Apparently, there is more than one ‘book’. The ‘dead’ are judged from the book that pertains to them, while those who have taken part in the first resurrection and born again are judged from the ‘book of life’. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Dan 7:10)  “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And THE BOOKS were opened.

“…another book was opened…the book of life…”

This is the ‘Lamb’s book of life’, also referred to as the ‘book of life’ in Rev 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:15 and 21:27. Apparently, the ‘book of life’ is a list of names (not deeds) of the eternally saved, while the other ‘books’ are deeds of those who are spiritually dead (who never got born again, never repented from sin and followed Jesus) and are awaiting judgement in Hades.

It may be mistakenly assumed that because the phrase “another book was opened, the book of life…” is neatly sandwiched between two references to the other ‘books’, that all will be judged from the ‘book of life’, but this is not so. Those who are judged from the ‘book of life’ are those who have taken part in the first resurrection of being born again. Those who are not born again will be judged from the other ‘books’ (pl).

That only one book is required to judge the righteous and more than one book is required to judge the dead may suggest that there are more evil deeds of the condemned to record than good deeds of the saved. It’s simply unclear exactly how many books there are. Only one particular book is mentioned by name (the book of life). It may be that there is the book of life, and several books for deeds of all, including the righteous. The text isn’t clear on this point.

Perhaps the one book for the righteous and other ‘books’ for the deeds of the unrighteous is simply indicating that there are more condemned souls than saved. This would be consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:13-14, showing that ‘few’ will find eternal life (caps emphasis mine).

(Mat 7:13)  “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are MANY who enter through it.

(Mat 7:14)  “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are FEW who find it.

Those judged from the ‘book of life’ are those whose names are in the ‘book’. Their deeds will still be judged too, but it is not stated from what book. What deeds? Right after Jesus preached the very popular John 3:16, He then says…

(Joh 3:21)  “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Those who profess faith are judged by whether or not they ‘practice the truth’ after they first believe, not on their profession of faith at the time they first believe. They will be judged on whether or not they kept Jesus’ commandments.

(Rev 14:12)  Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

To see if their deeds were appropriate to repentance.

(Act 26:20)  ….and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Jesus died on the cross to ‘redeem us from every lawless deed’ so that we will do good deeds, not evil. Sadly, much of the ‘church’ teaches that God’s grace permits a fruitless, deedless salvation.

(Tit 2:14)  who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Our deeds, choices, actions, speech and thoughts will all be examined thoroughly to see if they were ‘good’ and not ‘lawless’. This explains Jesus’ interest in the deeds of the churches…

To the church of Ephesus…(Rev 2:2)  ‘I know your deeds ….’

To the church of Thyatira…(Rev 2:19)  ‘I know your deeds…that your deeds of late are greater than at first.’

To the church of Sardis…(Rev 3:1)  “… I know your deeds…”

To the church of Philadelphia…(Rev 3:8)  ‘I know your deeds…”

To the church of Laodicea…(Rev 3:15)  ‘I know your deeds…”

These are the works God prepared beforehand for us to accomplish.

(Eph 2:10)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Anyone who subscribes to the false doctrine of “God did it all” needs to reassess their soteriology. Doing good instead of evil, meaning to walk in righteousness daily, not sin daily is essential for receiving the reward of eternal life. Being rich in good works, being generous and sharing are what stores up the ‘treasure’ of a good foundation of the future, so that a soul can ‘take hold’ of the reward of eternal life.

(1Ti 6:18)  Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

(1Ti 6:19)  storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

“…and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

What deeds? Evil deeds. Kingdom prohibiting deeds mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Rom 2:5,8-9, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-5, Rev 21:8 and all those who die in a state of lawless, sinful rebellion against God

(Mat 7:23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Everyone at the time of Jesus’ return was judged by their works (Jn 5:28-29), their words (Matt 12:36), their thoughts (Luke 8:17) their secrets (Eccl 12:14, Rom 2:16, Heb 4:13) and whether their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 20:15). Angels were also judged (Jude 1:6). The righteous were judged (Rom 2:7, 10, Rev 2:23, 14:13, 22:14-15) and the wicked, (Roman 2:8 among others) and here in Rev 20:12.

(Rev 20:13)  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

“..And the sea,…”

(Isa 57:20)  But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud.

This may be describing a violent culture of chaos, lawlessness and turbulence.

In Jude, “wild waves of the sea” are used to describe antinomian false teachers, false converts who both live and teach others to live in sin.

(Jud 1:13)  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

Literally, “sea” refers to either the Mediterranean or Red Sea. Graphically, the “sea” is what the second beast comes up from in Rev 13:1.

(Rev 17:1)  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,

(Rev 17:15)  And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.

The sea may be used here to mean ‘the realm of all that is evil’, including ‘Leviathan’.

(Isa 27:1)  In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.

“…gave up the dead which were in it.”

The word ‘dead’ is GK ‘nekros’, meaning ‘dead body, corpse’. The sea gives up its dead bodies. The word for ‘death’ later in the verse is GK ‘thannatos’, meaning ‘risk of dying’. Thus, the sea (whether literal or symbolic) gives up its corpses and death is finished. There is no longer any risk of physical death.

“…and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them…”

Physical death is no longer relevant. Similarly, Hades (HEB ‘Sheol’), the ‘realm of the dead’, thought to be in a ‘pit’ of the underworld is no longer needed as a place of temporary holding for souls. All regions where souls reside give up their occupants to face judgment.

“…and they were judged…..according to their deeds.”

Earlier, Paul taught…

(2Co 5:10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Rom 2:6)  Who will render to every man according to his deeds

And Jesus, speaking to the church of Ephesus…

(Rev 2:5)  ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.

Jesus, speaking to the church of Thyatira, to those engaged in spiritual fornication and apostasy…

(Rev 2:23)  ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

(Rev 2:26)  ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;

(Joh 5:28)  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

(Joh 5:29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

 

(Rev 20:14)  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

The ‘second death’ is the death spoken of by Paul in…

(Rom 6:23)  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is the ‘second death’ spoken of earlier in Rev 20:6. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Rev 20:6)  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the SECOND DEATH has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Also….

(Rev 21:8)  “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the SECOND DEATH.”

(Isa 25:8)  He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.

(1Co 15:54)  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.

(1Co 15:26)  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

(Rev 21:4)  “… and there will no longer be any death……”

The ‘first death’, bodily, physical death was temporary. The ‘second death’ is eternal. The ‘first death’ happens in time. The ‘second death’ happens  over a timeless period, a continual, unending state of tormented destruction and fire (Matt 25:41) ‘where the worm never dies’ (Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:44). The judgement separates the wicked from the righteous from their temporary holding places in Hades (HEB ‘Sheol’),a Hebrew concept. The wicked, death and Hades itself are cast into the lake of fire. They will remain there forever, while the righteous remain with Jesus in heaven forever.

(Rev 20:15)  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

“…book of life…”

The book of life is that which records the names of all who have believed on the Son of God, Jesus Christ in an enduring, obedient faith characterized by holiness. Caps mine for emphasis.

Endurance:

(Joh 15:6)  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Obedience:

(Heb 5:9)  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who OBEY Him the source of eternal salvation

Holiness:

(Heb 12:14 ESV)  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD.

Martyrs are also found worthy of eternal life because they are “faithful unto death” and received the “crown of life” (Rev 2:10) and because “…they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). And  because they had been killed for their testimony…

“….beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God….” (Rev 20:4)

The reward of eternal life is given to those who DO things that prove their faith. It’s for those who did good (and not evil) as evidence of an obedient faith. Deeds worthy of repentance showing evidence of a changed, regenerate life must be present for a soul to be judged worthy of eternal life. Paul quotes from Psalm 62:12 and says….

(Rom 2:6)  He will render to each one according to his works:

(Rom 2:7)  to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, HE WILL GIVE ETERNAL LIFE;

This pretty much rules out the false doctrine of “God did it all. Nothing is required from believers” that is so widespread today.

“…lake of fire….”

No mention of ‘soul sleep’, purgatory or annihilation here. The lake of fire is a place of ‘eternal’, never-ending tormented punishment.

(Dan 12:2 NASB)  “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and EVERLASTING contempt.

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