Facts About Revelation 20

Revelation chapter 20 is the only passage that mentions what millennialists think is a thousand year reign of Christ here on earth after His second coming.  The words “thousand years” appear only 9 times in the entire Bible, and five of them are in the first 7 verses of Revelation 20.

  1. Rev. 20:2 -- The devil is said to be bound a thousand years.

  2. Rev. 20:3 -- Satan is sealed to prevent him deceiving nations till the thousand years are completed.

  3. Rev. 20:4 -- The souls of those beheaded for the witness of Jesus live and reign with Jesus a thousand years.

  4. Rev. 20:5 -- The remainder of the dead live not till the thousand years were completed.

  5. Rev. 20:6 -- Those who have part in the first resurrections are free from the power of death, become priests and kings, and reign with Christ a thousand years.

We bid you look the passage over carefully.  Where is this thousand year reign to take place?  If it says something about earth, with Jesus taking residence in Jerusalem, I missed it.

Since the souls of those beheaded are said to reign in this thousand year reign, how is it possible to include those not beheaded for the witness of Christ?  It seems that all who were not beheaded for the witness of Jesus have to wait for the thousand years to be completed.

Is the number one thousand to be understood literally?  I mean do we understand this as a thousand 365 day segments of time?  The Psalmist said, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psa. 50:10).  Is God limited to cattle only on one thousand hills?

Consider these facts about the passage

  1. There is nothing in the passage that is not taught elsewhere in the Bible. If so, what do you think it is?

  2. The context shows that the main idea is the conquest of Satan -- not the thousand years reigning with Jesus on earth.

  3. If the number thousand is to be understood as a literal time period, it is the only place in the Apocalypse where a number indicating a period of time is so used.  Consider the numbers ten days (Rev. 2:10), threescore days, (Rev. 11:3), 3 1/2 days (Rev. 11:9) five months (Rev. 9:5), and 42 months (Rev. 11:2).  It is impossible to interpret these references as literal specific portions of time.

  4. Revelation 20 does not teach that Jesus will return to earth, defeat a coalition army put together by an “anti-Christ” set up shop in Jerusalem and rule the world for thousand years.

What do you think of the following propositions for debate?

Resolved: The Bible teaches that when Jesus comes back he will establish his kingdom and rule from Jerusalem, sitting on David’s throne for a literal thousand years..

Who would be willing to affirm it in public debate? Who would be willing to deny it? If that is not a fair proposition, consider this one:

Resolved: The Bible teaches that when Jesus comes back all the saints will live and reign with him here on earth for a thousand years. Again, w ho would be willing to affirm it in public debate?  Who would be willing to deny it? -- DRS

Back to Religious Issues