CONSUMMATION 19, 11 -- 22, 5 (continued)
1-3: Satan Chained. In 12, 9 John has already envisioned the destruction of the dragon; now
his chaining takes place. The ancient serpent: cf. Gen. 3. A thousand years: a long but indefinite
period. The imprisonment of Satan prevents him from seducing the nations and extending his kingdom; it does not deprive
him of his army which he holds in readiness for another assault.
4-6: Reign of the Saints. This vision is obviously in contrast to the last. Men sat: probably
the martyrs and all who have not received the mark of the beast. The rest of the dead: those who have not died
in Christ will not live or reign, spiritually or corporally. The first resurrection: the life after death which
assures man escape from the "second death." The second death: eternal damnation. The first resurrection
prepares for the second resurrection, i.e., the resurrection of the body at the general judgment. Those who die in sin
can participate in neither.
20, 7-10: Satan Loosed.
The nations . . . God and Magog: these names are derived from Ezech. 38 and 39; they are also found
in many Apocrypha and rabbinical writings. In Jewish literature they are used to designate the nations who would rise
against the Messias. They are to be taken figuratively for the great army and its leaders who are to rise in battle
against the people of God. The members of this army are innumerable: they are as the sand of the sea.
They are ready for battle when their time comes: hence during the thousand years the rule of Christ is not universally
and sincerely accepted. The camp of the saints: the Church. But Satan is defeated (cf. 2 Thess.
2, 8). Forever and ever: this concludes the struggle between the powers of evil and those of good.
All the enemies of Christ are overthrown, their judgment pronounced for eternity.
thousand years. The question of the Millennium of 20 is one of the most discussed subjects in the Apocalypse.
The outline is clear: an angels descends from heaven, binds the dragon and imprisons him in the bottomless pit for a thousand
years, after this he is loosed for a short time. During this period the faithful live and reign with Christ. At
the end of the period the dragon is loosed, the nations are led astray, and the camp of the saints is once more besieged.
But then the dragon and his army are destroyed forever. The question is: what are we to understand as the duration of
the thousand years? and what manner of kingdom is the reign of Christ and His elect?
The most common opinion is that the thousand years refer to a period of considerable length, much longer than
the periods mentioned in 11, 2-4; 12, 2-6. But the term is not to be taken literally as some take
it. The "chiliasts" maintain that Christ will reign on earth visibly and personally for the space of a thousand years,
and they place this reign between the first and the second resurrections. This interpretation falls before 7-10.
The number is rather symbolical, as are the other numbers in the book. The thousand years cannot begin with the Second
Coming of Christ for that ushers in the end of time. They must, therefore, precede His coming. But does this Millennium
follow chronologically the other prophecies in the Apocalypse, or does it coexist with them? It seems that it coexists
with them, and is but another side of the future history of the Church. It is, therefore, the symbol of the spiritual
domination of the Church Militant joined to the Church Triumphant for the glorification of Christ to the end of the world.
The character of this reign is purely spiritual. The martyrs, who are dead,
and the confessors, some of whom are dead and some living, form part of the kingdom. Christ reigns over all these souls.
Christian teaching is propagated in the world, Christian influence is exercised on human society, and thus is restrained the
world power. In this sense Christians reign with Christ.
11-15: The Last Judgment. A great white throne: the symbol of mercy that surpasses justice.
The one who sat upon the throne is God the Father, though the Son shares the throne. Earth and heaven fled away:
not that they were annihilated; the language is poetry: they fled before the majesty of God. Hell: probably
to be taken as sheol, merely the residence of the dead, and not the place of the damned. Scrolls were opened:
in these were recorded the works of men. Book of Life: that holding the names of the predestined. The
second death: eternal death, condemnation to hell forever.
1 And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2* And he laid
hold on the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 And he cast
him into the abyss, and closed and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years
should be finished. And after that he must be let loose for a little while.
Reign of the Saints 4
And I saw thrones, and men sat upon them and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
because of the witness to Jesus and because of the word of God, and who did not worship the beast or his image, and did not
accept his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands. And they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand
years. 5* The rest of the dead did not come to life till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection! Over these the second death has no power; but they
will be priests of God and Christ, and will reign with him a thousand years.
Satan Loosed 7* And when
the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go forth and deceive the nations which are
in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, and will gather them together for the battle; the number of whom is as the
sand of the sea. 8 and they went up over the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved
city. 9 And fire from God came down out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was cast
into the pool of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast 10 and the false prophet; and they will be tormented day and
night forever and ever.
The Last Judgment 11 And I saw a great white throne and the one who sat upon
it; from his face the earth and heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. 12* And I saw the dead, the
great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. And another scroll was opened, which is the
book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the scrolls, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up the dead that were in them; and they were judged
each one, according to their works.
14 And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death, the pool of fire.
15 And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the pool of fire.
2: A thousand years: not to be taken literally. It refers to a considerable length of time and signifies
that, after the destruction of hostile kings and the chaining of the dragon, the Church will enjoy a long era of peace.
During this era Christ will reign over the souls of men, and Christians, through their influence over the world, will reign
The rest of the dead: sinners who will not enjoy any kind of resurrection until the end of time. The first
resurrection: the spiritual reign of the faithful with Christ during the long period of a thousand years. The general
resurrection, on the last day, is referred to in vv. 12 and 13.
7: Gog and Magog: after a thousand years the nations will attack the Church.
These nations are designated as Gog and Magog. The names are taken from Ezechiel. In rabbinical books the names
were used to signify the nations that would rise against the Messias. The names are to be understood figuratively and
signify the earthly powers that will make the last onslaught against the Church.
12: Out of those things that were written in the
scrolls: i.e., according to their works, a frequent idea in the New Testament.