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An Exegesis of Revelation 20:1-7

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped 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.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.” Rev. 20:1-7.

We will consider three points regarding Rev. 20:1-7.v 1. What is the dragon that was bound?
2. What is the reign with Christ and where does it take place?
3. What is the first resurrection?

All the events in this portion of scripture happen prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the world. Furthermore, much of what the apostle John was shown here in symbols, he had already personally witnessed and partaken of in his own lifetime.
The book of Revelation is a highly symbolical book. To literalize it would be to wrest it to the destruction of souls.

“The Dragon.” This dragon is first introduced in Rev. 12. In fact, chapter 12 is expressing the same events as we find here in the chapter under consideration. The woman clothed with the sun in Rev. 12:1 is the church of God. She is said to have brought forth a man child in verse 5, which are the new converts to Christianity. The dragon is a satanic, opposing power (hence is “called the Devil and Satan, verse 9) seeking to destroy these Christians. In the time of the early morning church, paganism, symbolized as that ancient dragon, had been deceiving the nations with its false form of religion. Jesus and his angels (Greek for angel is simply “messengers” which here refers to His ministry), “fought” this dragon by preaching the truth and delivering the people from the darkness of false beliefs. Paganism lost its hold on the people. As expressed in Rev. 20:1, the ministry bound its influence by the chain of the Word of God.

The premillennial house of sand collapses when we understand the symbols. It is not Satan himself that is bound here, but the dragon, that satanic, persecuting power. (If it were Satan himself, then are we to believe the devil looks like a literal red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads, as described in Rev. 12:3?) VvThe church laid hold on the dragon “and bound it for 1000 years.” Truth overcame error in the hearts of the people. In the context of symbolical understanding, this is not a literal 1000 year period, but signifies a long period of time. More on that later.

“They…reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Rev. 20:4. Nowhere in this chapter does it mention a reign on earth. Note also, the ones said to be reigning with Christ are “souls of them that were beheaded! (Do millennialists expect to see beheaded saints on the earth in an age to come?!)

Let us hear the truth. The church is in heaven and in earth (Eph. 3:15). John is now seeing into paradise, that land of rest for departed saints, and is shown those who have been martyred for their faith. Not only had the persecuting dragon martyred the faithful, but in later centuries the devil devised other forms of false religion that opposed the true church–the beast (Papalism) and his image (Protestantism). False religion took the “limelight” during these dark ages of this “thousand years” period, hindering many from finding true salvation, and often martyring those who would not worship their beastly systems or receive its “mark.” History bears this out.

The First Resurrection. “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” With so much false religion on the scene for centuries, many souls were hindered from finding true salvation, hence remained “dead in trespasses and sins.” As time progressed, more light and understanding came, making it possible for more souls to experience this spiritual resurrection, which is to be born again; raised out of a dead state of sin, to newness of life in Christ Jesus. When one has experienced this resurrection, they are “blessed and holy” and become “priests of God.” Only those who take part in this first resurrection will be able to stand at the final Judgment Day of God, when both the good and evil of all ages will be called forth from the graves, to either the resurrection of life or the resurrection of damnation. Oh souls, “Ye must be born again!” For those who have been delivered from all sin, “the second death [the final Judgment, Rev. 20:14] hath no power.”

“A resurrection, I confess,
Has taken place within my breast.
I’ve been awakened from the dead,
And now I live with Christ instead.”

Rev. 20:7. Before closing, let us answer the question, “So what does it mean that when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison?” It is letting us know that the dragon would again make an appearance before the end of time. This has already taken place! That is why we are seeing a revival of paganism in a “newer” form–the New Age movement; a revival of eastern religions, including Islam, Hinduism, etc.; occultism; witchcraft, etc. Verse 3 tells us it is only for “a little season.” After this short season–the final Judgment Day.

Susan Mutch

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