In today’s passage we have the last judgement, put positively, v.1-8 and negatively, v.11-15, and the thorny issue of the 1,000 year reign! Everything is wrapped up – God vindicates the saints who have been suffering and executes final judgement on Satan, the source of evil, having already judged the beast, the prostitute and the false prophet. Then there will be a new world unveiled in chapter 21, free from evil, suffering and the rebellions of this old world.
What about the 1,000 years?
Premillenialists believe that the 1,000 years follow the second coming described in 19:11-21. After the second coming, Satan is bound and Christ ushers in a long period of earthly peace and prosperity. Many premillenialists believe that Christians are raptured before the 1,000 years. This view uses a chronological timeline of Revelation – the biggest issue is that if Christ’s enemies are destroyed in 19:11-21, who is left for Satan to deceive in 20:3?
Postmillenialists believe that the church and the kingdom will experience a period of great expansion before the second coming – some see a literal 1,000 years and others, like the amillenialists, see the 1,000 years as symbolic of the whole church age.
Amillenialists argue that the 1,000 years is a picture of the present reign of Christ and the saints in heaven and that Satan is bound through the triumph of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection (John 12:31 Colossians 2:1).
The fact that Satan will be finally defeated and that there will be enjoyment of God’s triumph, should comfort and encourage us!
This chapter should be seen as the seventh cycle leading to the second coming, paralleling all the previous cycles we have read, rather than part of a chronological structure.
- The final battle in 20:7-10 looks like the final battles of 16:14,16; 17:14 and 19:11-21
- The judgement of Satan parallels that of Babylon in chapters 17-18 and of the beast and false prophet in 19:11-21. All the enemies of God get judged and the visions of that are thematically arranged.
- Certain features of the second coming mirror earlier descriptions in 6:14 and 11:18.
How much is Satan bound? Pre and postmillenialists see this as an advent of an extraordinary era of peace and prosperity in the future, unlike now when Satan is powerful (1 Thessalonians 2:18 and 1 Peter 5:19). The amillenialist interpretation sees Satan as bound through Christ’s death and resurrection, Colossians 2:15, and the present spread of the gospel as the result of a major restriction of Satan’s power – it is his minions, like the beast, who carry on. The loosing of Satan in 20:7-10 would represent his final attempt to deceive before ultimate defeat.