Revelation 20 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Revelation 20)
20:1 And 1 I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key 2 of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

(1) Now follows the third part of the prophetic history, which is of the victory by which Christ overcame the dragon, as I noted in (Revelation 7:1). This part must necessarily be joined with the end of the twelfth chapter and be applied to the correct understanding of it. This chapter has two parts, one of the dragon overcome, to (Revelation 20:2-10): the other of the resurrection and last judgment to (Revelation 20:11-15). The story of the dragon is twofold: First of the first victory, after which he was bound by Christ, to the sixth verse (Revelation 20:1-6). The second is of the last victory, by which he has thrown down into everlasting punishment, there to the fifteenth verse (Revelation 20:7-15). This first history happened in the first time of the Christian Church, when the dragon thrown down from heaven by Christ, went about to molest the new birth of the Church in the earth, (Revelation 12:17,18:1). For which cause I gave warning, that this story of the dragon must be joined to that passage. (2) That is, of hell, where God threw the angels who had sinned, and bound them in chains of darkness to be kept till damnation, (2 Peter 2:4)

20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him 3 a thousand years,

(3) The first of which (continuing this history with the end of the second chapter) in the 36 years from the passion of Christ, when the Church of the Jews being overthrown, Satan attempted to invade the Christian church gathered from the Gentiles, and to destroy part of her seed, (Revelation 12:17). The thousandth year falls precisely on the times of that wicked Hildebrand, who was called Gregory the seventh, a most damnable necromancer and sorcerer, whom Satan used as an instrument when he was loosed out of bonds, from then on to annoy the saints of God with most cruel persecutions, and the whole world with dissentions, and most bloody wars: as Benno the Cardinal reports at large. This is the first victory gained over the dragon in the earth.

20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations 4 no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed 5 a little season.

(4) Namely, with that public and violent deceit which he attempted before in chapter 12 and which after a thousand years (alas for woe!) he most mightily achieved in the Christian world. (5) Which being once expired, the second battle and victory shall be; (Revelation 20:7,8).

20:4 6 And I saw a thrones, and they sat upon them, and 7 judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were 8 beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which 9 had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

(6) A description of the common state of the Church of Christ in earth in that space of a thousand years, during which the devil was in bonds; in which first the authority, life, and common honour of the godly, is declared, (Revelation 20:4). Secondly, newness of life is preached to others by the gospel after that time; (Revelation 20:5). Finally, he concludes with promises, (Revelation 20:6).
(a) For judgment was committed to them, as to members joined to the head: not that Christ's office was given over to them. (7) This was a type of the authority of the good and faithful servants of God in the Church, taken from the manner of men. (8) Of the martyrs, who suffered in those first times. (9) Of the martyrs who suffered after both the beasts were now risen up, chapter 15. For there, these things are expounded.

20:5 10 But the rest of the dead 11 lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection.

(10) Whoever shall lie dead in sin, and not know the truth of God.
(11) They shall not be renewed with newness of the life by the enlightening of the gospel of the glory of Christ. For this is the first resurrection, by which souls of the dead do rise from their death. In the second resurrection their bodies shall rise again.

20:6 Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the 12 second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, 13 and shall reign with him a thousand years.

(12) That by this both body and soul, that is, the whole man is condemned and delivered to eternal death; (Revelation 2:11).
(13) A return to the intended history, by resuming the words which are in the end of the fourth verse (Revelation 20:4).

20:7 14 And when the 15 thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

(14) The second history, of the latter victory of Christ, as was said in (Revelation 20:1). In which are summarily described the work, overthrow, and eternal punishment of Satan.
(15) Of which I spoke. See Revelation 20:2 Then there will be given to him liberty to rage against the Church, and to molest the saints for the sins of men: to whom the faithful shall have associated themselves more then was fitting, tasting with them of their impurity of doctrine and life.

20:8 16 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea.

(16) The work or act of Satan (which is the first part, as I distinguished in the verse before) to deceive the whole world, even to the uttermost nations of it: to arm them against the people of God, in this verse and to besiege and oppress the Church, with his whole strength, in the verse following.

20:9 And they went up on the b breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and 17 fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

(b) As if he said, in so much that the whole face of the earth, however great it is, was filled.
(17) The wrath of God, consuming the adversaries, and overthrowing all their enterprises; (Hebrews 10:27). This is the second part mentioned See Geneva, in the overthrow of Satan.

20:10 18 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

(18) The third part, eternal destruction against those that are overcome: as I noted in the same place.

20:11 19 And I saw a great 20 white throne, and him that sat on it, 21 from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

(19) The second part of this chapter, in which the judge is described in this verse, and the last judgment in the verse following.
(20) That is, a tribunal seat most princelike and glorious: for so does the Greek word signify.
(21) That is, Christ, before whom when he comes to judgment, heaven and earth shall perish for the greatness of his majesty; (2 Peter 3:7,10).

20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before 22 God; and the 23 books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] 24 of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

(22) That is, Christ the judge; (2 Corinthians 5:10).
(23) As it were, his books of reckoning or accounts, that is, the testimony of our conscience, and of our works, which by no means can be avoided.
(24) The book of the eternal decree of God, in which God the Father has elected in Christ according to the good pleasure of his will, those that shall be heirs of life. This also is spoken according to the manner of men.

20:13 25 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

(25) This is a reply or an answer to an objection: for some man will say, "But they are dead, whom the sea, death and the grave has consumed, how shall they appear before the judge?" John answers, by resurrection from death, where all things (however repugnant) shall minister and serve at the commandment of God, as in (Daniel 12:1,2).

20:14 26 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

(26) The last enemy which is death shall be abolished by Christ (that he may no more make any attempt against us) (1 Corinthians 15:16) and death shall feed on the reprobate in hell for evermore, according to the righteous judgment of God, in the next verse (Revelation 20:15).