{21}   The Final Victory (Rev 20:1-15)


Part 9. The final victory (19:1—20:15)

9.5.      Satan bound (20:1-3)

9.6.      Millennial reign (20:4-6)

9.7.      Satan destroyed (20:7-10)

9.8.      Final judgment (20:11-15)

        PICTURE: John sees the capture of Satan who is imprisoned in the Abyss for 1000 years. After the millennium, Satan was released and he immediately gathered the nations to rebel against God. They are quickly destroyed. The fearful great white throne judgment then begins.


20:1     The Abyss is a vast subterranean cavern used as a place of confinement for disobedient spirits awaiting judgment (Jude 6; Lk 8:31). The imprisonment of Satan follows the imprisonment of the other two persons of the evil trinity in ch.19.

20:2     The 4 titles of Satan used in Revelation appear together in this verse: [1] the dragon, [2] the serpent, [3] the devil, [4] Satan. Satan is not merely restricted but completely inactive. The purpose of the confinement is to prevent him from deceiving the nations.

Some commentators understand the millennium as a literal 1000 years while others take it to indicate a lengthy period of undetermined duration.

20:3     The nations are either: [1] the remnant from nations who opposed the Messiah OR [2] the nations who never entered the battle of Armageddon (perhaps those nations very far from the centre of action and were not called to fight).

It is difficult to find a reason to explain why there needs to be yet another conflict. It perhaps proves that Satan will not alter his plans even after 1000 years of confinement, or it proves that 1000 years of freedom from the influence of wickedness do not change people’s basic tendency to rebel against their creator.

20:4     In the Bible, to judge often means to rule so these are probably the rulers of the nations of the world in the millennium (“reigning” in v.6). The judges probably include: [1] the apostles (Mt 19:28), [2] saints (1Co 6:2-3), and [3] those who remain faithful in the final trial (Rev 3:21).

After that, John saw the souls of the martyrs. Some commentators believe that only the martyrs receive their bodies at this time while the other saints will need to wait 1000 years.

20:5     The resurrection in the v.4 is called the “first resurrection”. Most believe that this includes all believers. If only the martyrs are resurrected, then Paul’s teaching on the rapture (1Th 4:15-17, also 1Co 15:51-53) would not make sense because Paul describes how those who are alive (certainly not martyrs) will be changed and swept up to meet with Christ. Also, the promise to all saints of judging the world (1Co 6:2-3) will not be realized.

20:6     Those who participate in the first resurrection are “blessed and holy” because: [1] they are not subject to the second death, [2] they will be priests of God, and [3] they will reign with Christ for 1000 years. The second death is defined in 20:14 and 21:8 as being cast into the lake of fire, sharing the fate of the Satanic trinity and be tormented day and night forever and ever (20:10). It should be noted that the first death is virtually universal (except some will still live at the second coming) but the second death is selective; the first resurrection is selective but the second resurrection is universal.

20:7     The rebellion of evil forces after the millennium is prophesied in Eze 38—39. It occurs after Israel is restored to land in Eze 36—37.

20:8     The nations are identified as Gog and Magog. In Eze 38:1, Gog is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, who leads the invasion against Israel. In Eze 39:2, Magog is a territory located in the far north. The names here may have no relationship with those names in the book of Ezekiel. They simply represent the nations of the world.

20:9     The nations marched “across the breadth of the earth” because they probably come from different areas of the whole world. They try to attack the city that God loves, probably referring to Jerusalem. The fire from heaven destroying the evil army is prophesied in the judgment of fire upon Gog (Eze 38:22) and Magog (Eze 39:6).

20:10   Most theologians believe that the fiery lake or hell is the place where the Satanic trinity and all non-believers will be tormented for eternity. However, a few prominent theologians believe that hell means annihilation (total destruction, termination of existence).

20:11   The throne is great in size and white or shining in appearance. Its size conveys the grandeur of its authority, and its appearance reflects the presence of the glory of God.

Jn 5:22 specifically says, “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” The NT speaks both of the judgment seat of Christ (2Co 5:10) and of the judgment seat of God (Ro 14:10). All these imply a unity of the first two persons of the Godhead sitting in judgment.

Even earth and heaven flee away before the awesome God. This may only be a poetic imagery expressing the fear of the created order before a judging God. However, it can also mean the dissolution of the former earth or the whole universe in preparation for the new heaven and the new earth in ch.21. 2Pe 3:10-12 describes how the heaven and earth are to be destroyed by fire.

20:12   Although all are described as the dead but they have all been raised in the second resurrection (see v.5) to face the final judgment (Jn 5:28-29).

The punishment (or reward) is based on the evidence written in the books. There are records of what each person has done in the earthly life. They will decide what each person will receive (Ps 62:12; Jer 17:10; Ro 2:6). There is another book, the book of life. Everyone is judged on the evidence supplied by both books.

20:13   Hades has different 2 meanings in the Bible. It can refer to the place of all souls (both righteous and unrighteous) during the intermediate state (Ac 2:27,31), but it can also refer to the abode of the unrighteous dead (Lk 16:23).

20:14   Both death and Hades are not real beings, nor concrete things. Death is the state of termination of life while Hades is a location for souls of the dead. The destruction of death and Hades is a symbolic way to express the permanent disappearance of death (Isa 25:8).

20:15   In Mt 25:41, Jesus indicated that the eternal fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. In the final judgment, all whose names do not appear in the book of life will share their fate.


        The Last Judgment is a major event in everyone’s life because it decides how we will live in eternity. First, whether we accept or not accept God’s salvation will decide whether we will live in heaven or in hell. Second, if we already have God’s salvation, then how we live this short life will determine how we live in eternity because our conduct and deeds will be assessed by God. To live this early life following God’s will is like an investment that will yield limitless profit. One would be wise to always remind oneself that we in fact live everyday under the shadow of Judgment Day.