An Exposition of the Millennial Kingdom in Revelation 20

Today’s post is my final post in a series of studies in the book of Revelation. Thus far I have shared:

Today’s post is perhaps the most controversial, yet is also my most thorough writing. I will examine the 1,000 year reign of Christ known as the “Millennial Kingdom” as described in Revelation 20.


An Exposition of the Millennial Kingdom in Revelation 20

Photo Credit: Mortier’s Bible


A. An Approach to the Book of Revelation

Hermeneutics and the book of Revelation are closely tied together. This author approaches the book of Revelation from the “futurist” and premillennial view. The premillennial position believes that Christ will come again and establish a literal 1,000 year reign on earth before the new heaven and new earth are created. Currently, the conditions of the world are a result of Christ ascending to heaven (Acts 1), Christ sitting at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit indwelling believers. The futurist and premillennial views believe the book of Revelation unfolds in a chronological time table (for the most part ).

Most importantly, is the section of Rev 19-22 which consists of separate events that happen one after the other.[1] They are not the same event, nor are they different events told out of chronological order (often called the “recapitulation theory”). The “futurist view” will be explained later in the section, “An Outline of Revelation.”

B. Other Views on the Millennium

1. Postmillennialism[2]

The postmillennial view states that Christ’s glorious return to the earth will happen after the nonliteral 1,000 year reign of believers on earth. While the premillennialist says Christ comes to bind Satan, the postmillennialist says that Christ already bound Satan when Christ came in the first century.

Therefore, the Christian, according to the postmillennial position, is already in the non-literal 1,000 year reign. This means that Satan still has some level of dominion over the world now, but it is not in the same way that he did before Jesus came to earth in the first century AD.

The postmillennial position is partially based on Isa 2:2-4 and Jer 31. They often see Judah and Jerusalem in Isa 2 as representative of the whole people of God because they believe the “mountain,” “house of the God of Jacob,” and “Zion” referenced in these texts refer to the church, not to the nation of Israel. A belief that the church is now in the nonliteral 1,000 year reign means there is an expectation that a large percentage of the world’s population will turn to Christ by the spirit-blessed proclamation of the gospel.

2. Amillennialism[3]

The amilliennial view believes that the day lies ahead when Christ will come again, believers will be resurrected, there will be judgment for all, the New Heaven and New Earth will be created, the final kingdom will be inaugurated, and those who have been redeemed will be in a blessed state. This “day” according to the amillennial view is a short period of time in which all of these events happen at once. There is not a literal 1,000 year of reign of Christ (premillennial), nor is there a non-literal 1,000 year reign of believers (postmillennial).

In addition, the amillennialist does not believe that the Old Testament teaches a future millennial kingdom of Christ but rather that the Old Testament prophets speak of the Messiah’s everlasting kingdom and blessing (Gen 17:7-8; 48:4; 2 Sam 23:5; 1 Chr 16:17-18; Ps 105:10-11; Isa 45:17; 55:3; 61:7-8; Jer 32:40; 50:4-5; Ez 16:60; 37:26; Dan 4:3, 34; 7:14, 27; 12:2). Additionally, the promise of the Old Testament for Israel to take the promised land is no longer binding, but instead it is now promised to the “elect in Christ.”

As a result of this there will be a restoration and renewal of the earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1) which should be seen as the New Heaven and New Earth, not for a 1,000 years but for eternity (p. 91). Therefore, the amillennial view does not see Rom 11 or Rev 20 as describing a 1,000 year reign with Christ at the beginning (premillennial) or end (postmillennial).

C. An Outline of Revelation

Rev 1:19 outlines the entire book when Jesus told John, “Write what you saw, what is, and what will be after these things” (NET). The words “what you saw” refer to Rev 1:1-18. The words “what is” refer to the seven churches described in Rev 2-3 that existed at the time of John’s vision. The words “and what will be after these things” refer to Rev 4-22 as future events that have not yet occurred.[4] In summary, here is a broad outline of the book of Revelation,

  • Introduction: “The things which you have seen” (1:1-20) – The Christ
  • Letters to the 7 Churches: “The things which are” (2-3) – The Churches
  • The Last Times: “The things which will take place after this” (4-22) – The Consummation[5]


Rev 20:1-10 is part of the second coming of Christ which started in Rev 19:11.[6] In chapter 19, John saw Christ (19:11-13) come down to earth with his armies (19:14). The beast and the kings of the world gathered for battle (19:19). However, Christ and his angels captured the beast and the false prophet, and they were thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (19:20). With Christ having dealt with the beast and the false prophet (Rev 19:11-20), it is a natural progress for Christ to turn next to Satan in Rev 20:1-10.

A. Satan Bound in the Bottomless Pit (Rev 20:1-3)

1. An Angel Came Down from Heaven (v. 1)

This is an “angel;” it is not Jesus. While Mulholland states that this “can be none other than Jesus, the Messiah,” that is unlikely since Jesus already descended to earth in 19:11. Additionally, the word ἀγγελος (messenger, angel) used here is never used to describe Jesus.[7] If this “angel” was Jesus, then it is the first and only time the word ἀγγελος is used to describe Jesus.[8] The being John saw was an angel coming down from heaven with a key to the bottomless pit.

2. The Angel Seized Satan and Bound Him for a Thousand Years (v. 2)

This verse makes it very clear who the dragon of the passage was. He was the “old serpent” who was “the devil” who was “Satan.” Earlier in Revelation, “this great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels” (Rev 12:9).[9] The important conclusion here is that the dragon was Satan (the devil), and thereby a literal and a real person.

Additionally, Rev 20:2 tells of how Satan was bound in chains for a thousand years. If Rev 20 is telling of future events (as described earlier in this paper), then Satan is not bound now, but will be bound in the future. The fact that Satan is active in the current world is attested to by Acts 5:3; 1 Cor 5:5; 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Tim 1:20; 1 Peter 5:8.

Some might ask how a spiritual being can be “bound.” In some respects this is a mystery, but not a new biblical idea. “Angels” were bound in Rev 9:14 and the “gods in the heavens” (NLT) or “heavenly forces in the heavens” (NET) were bound in Isa 24:21. This is a mystery yet also had already occurred within biblical revelation.

3. The Angel Locked Satan for a Thousand Years (v. 3)

The angel whom John saw come down from heaven (20:1) is the one who seized the dragon (20:2), and then shut and locked him in the bottomless pit. The “bottomless pit” where Satan was thrown was not a new place, but instead was a place that already existed. “For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). This “bottomless pit” mentioned in Rev 20:3 has been also mentioned in Rev 9:1-12 as part of the fifth trumpet. It was the place that the beast came up out of in Rev 11:7-8.

This verse makes it clear that Satan is not yet bound by Jesus; therefore this millennium (whether literal or figurative 1,000 years) is still a future event because Satan is not yet bound.[10] Evidence that Satan is not currently bound is based on Scripture which has already been cited (2 Cor 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Tim 3:7; 2 Tim 2:26; Eph 2:2; John 12:31; Eph 6:12). Contrary to the amillennial view, this not the same “bind” to Satan as described in Mark 3:27; John 12:31; Col 2:15; 1 Peter 3:18-19. How are they different?

Grant Osborne believes that Jesus somewhat bound Satan in Jesus’ first advent, “Satan is not inactive but rather restricted. He cannot stop the missionary enterprise of God’s people; he can deceive the unsaved but cannot keep them from turning to Jesus if drawn by the Spirit. . . The devil is curtailed but not powerless. . . Satan is restricted in this aeon, but only with respect to believers (who are ‘kept by the power of God,’ 1 Pet. 1:5).”[11] The event that bound Satan here makes it clear that Satan was not allowed to deceive the nations anymore. He was bound in chains (v. 2), shut in the bottomless pit (v. 3), and the bottomless pit was locked (v. 3).

B. A Thousand-Year Reign with Christ (Rev 20:4-6)

1. Saints Will Reign with Christ for a Thousand Years (v. 4)

The identity of these people reigning with Christ has met with many interpretations. One interpretation is that the saints are representatives of the church (see Rev 4:4; 5:8-10; 7:13; 11:16). Another option is that these saints are martyrs seen at earlier points in the book (Rev 6:9-11; 16:6; 18:20, 24; 19:2).[12] Some people say that these saints are apostles and some of the saints (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Cor 6:2-3). Another option is that these are armies of Christ seen in Rev 19:14.[13]

Mulholland believes “these people are souls who had not yet experienced a physical resurrection”[14] based on the link to Rev 6:9-11. Osborne sees this as a possible “heavenly tribunal” compared to Rev 4:4 and 11:16 where twenty-four elders sat on thrones, wore white, and had crowns on their heads.[15] Or they could be all of the saints (Luke 22:30; 1 Cor 6:4) with martyrs as a special group within the larger group of saints.[16]

While it is unclear exactly who the ones reigning with Christ will be, it is clear that this is the fulfillment of prophesies (Isa 2:2-4; Dan 2:24-35, 44; 7:22; Micah 4:1-8) shared by both Daniel and Jesus. “Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Dan 7:27).  Jesus also shared that “when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt 19:28).

Later in Rev 20:4 Jesus revealed to John that the souls had not worshipped the beast or his statue nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or hands. The beast mentioned here is the same beast in Rev 13:11-18. This beast had required all the people to worship him (Rev 13:2, 12; cf. 13:1-8). The mark on the peoples foreheads and hands in Rev 20:4 is the mark that the beast required everyone to have (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) in Rev 13:16.

John also observed that the ones reigning with Christ “came back to life again.” This is the future bodily resurrection of martyrs who are mentioned earlier in this long verse. This is “the only hermenetutically sound theory.”[17] This is because ζαω (“I live”) always speaks of a bodily resurrection when in the context of bodily death in the New Testament (John 11:25; Acts 1:3; 9:41). Furthermore, in Revelation it is a frequent way of referring to resurrection (1:18; 2:8; 13:14; 20:5). Additionally, John used the word ἀναστασις (“resurrection”) which almost always refers to physical resurrection.[18]

As a result, this “came back to life again” does not mean that these people were simply “raised to new life from the deadness of their former life”[19] as Mulholland proposes. While the New Testament does speak of death of the old life and a resurrection to new life (Rom 6:1-14; Eph 2:4-5), the consummation of the ends times is a different context and different purpose in God’s program.

Mulholland attempts to support his view that Rev 20:4 is similar to the image of Eph 2:4-5 of “old life” and “new life” based on the “gnomic fashion” aorist tense of the verbs in both passages.[20] Yet a “gnomic fashion” of the aorist tense expressing a general truth or reality is not the only way to see the verbs being used here. With reference to συνεκάθισεν (“he sat down”), in Eph 2:6 Wallace tentatively labels those aorist verbs as “propleptic (futuristic) aorist” which describe an event that is not yet past as though it was already completed.[21]

Regarding the aorist verb, ἐζησαν (“they came to life”), in Rev 20:4 Wallace categorizes this as an “ingressive” aorist which stressed the beginning of an action or entrance into a state.[22] While Mulholland’s attempt to explain this resurrection as transfer from “old life” to “new life” is based on Paul’s writings, his grammatical understanding and basis are weak.[23]

2. The First Resurrection (v. 5)

Rev 20:5 mentions that Rev 20:4 has described the first resurrection. Then a parenthetical note states that the rest of the believers will not come back to life until the thousand years had ended. An understanding of resurrection existed during John’s time of writing Revelation as evidenced in Jesus’ time on earth (Matt 22:28; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 14:14 John 5:29; 11:24; Acts 17:32; 1 Cor 15:12), and even stretched back to Ezekiel’s prophesies (Ezek 37:10).

The first resurrection is important to note. Is this truly the “first” resurrection? No, because Christ was the first resurrection. Then there was the resurrection of many, which occurred when Christ died (Matt 27:52-53). This was the “first” resurrection in Rev 20 as compared to the “last” resurrection just a few verses later in this same chapter (Rev 20:12-13),[24] which was followed by the second death (Rev 20:6, 14). In other words, this is the “first” resurrection “in the sense of before. All the righteous, regardless of when they are raised, take part in the resurrection which is first or before the final resurrection (of the wicked dead) at the end of the Millennium.”[25]

What exactly does the “first resurrection” refer to in this passage? Thomas states that it refers to the resurrection of the martyrs at the end of Rev 20:4.[26] Or, it can refer to the resurrection of all of the saints. More importantly, Rev 20:5 supports the idea of resurrection by stages. In this manner, Christ was the “firstfruits” (1 Cor 15:23), a few saints were resurrected (Matt 27:52-53), the church will be raptured (1 Thess 4:13-18), the two witnesses will be resurrected (Rev 11:3, 11), and then here is the resurrection of the martyred dead (Rev 20:4-5).[27]

The “rest of the dead” that are resurrected at the end of the Millennium (1 Cor 15:51-58; 2 Cor 15:23-24; 1 Thes 4:13-18) are probably the wicked who are resurrected in Rev 20:11-14.[28] Some believe the rest of the dead might be the non-saints of the old covenant. Others see it as a resurrection of the spiritually dead or everyone who is physically dead except martyrs.[29]

This is a complex matter as Osborne reveals, “But who are the ‘rest of the dead?’ If one takes 20:4 as referring only to the martyrs, 20:5 will be all the other saints who have died as well as the unbelievers (so Beckwich, Caird, Mounce, Aune). For whose who see 20:4 as referring to all the saints in some way (Ladd, Johnson, Tomas, Beale), however, the ‘rest of the dead’ would be unbelievers.”[30]

3. The Second Death Holds No Power over Those in the First Resurrection (v. 6)

From this verse it appears that there will be two resurrections and two deaths. The second death mentioned here is explained later in Rev 20:14, “Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.” This “second death” is a physical punishment to the body and soul.

The second death will not affect those who are holy, blessed, and priests of God and Christ. Furthermore, these people will reign with Christ for a thousand years because God has made his believers a kingdom of priests (Rev 1:6; cf. Exod 19:6; 1 Peter 2:5). Earlier in Revelation the four living beings and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb (5:8) and they sang to the Lamb, “You have caused them [people from every tribe, language, people, and nation] to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10). This reign with Christ will “consist of the privilege of unlimited access to and intimate fellowship with God.”[31]

C. The Defeat of Satan (Rev 20:7-10)

1. Satan Is Let Out of Prison after 1,000 Years (v. 7)

At the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth Satan will be let out of the prison where he was bound in Rev 20:2-3. This 1,000 years is the sixth and final reference to a 1,000 years of Christ’s reign on earth in Rev 20 (Rev 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and a brief comment on the “period of time” is needed.

Amillennials[32] and postmillennials[33] advocate that seeking to define this thousand years based on Rev 20:1-10 is a case of allowing the “tail to wag the dog”[34] because Rev 20 is the only place where 1,000 years is mentioned.  However, of the entire Bible, Revelation 20:1-10 is the most direct description available to Christians about the return of Christ and his time on earth. John mentioned six times in six verses that Christ’s time on earth will be 1,000 years. Thus this probably has some level of significance and seeks to make it clear how long that period will be.

Furthermore, the number “1,000” is not a highly symbolic number as some see the numbers of three, seven, twelve, etc., making it unlikely that 1,000 is a symbolic, non-literal number.

In their support that this is not a literal 1,000 year reign amillennials and postmillennials will advocate that based on Pss 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 the mention of 1,000 years does “not point to a literal one thousand calendar years; rather they evoke the notion of longevity.”[35] Moses’ prayer in the psalms said to God, “For you [God], a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours” (Pss 90:4). Peter wrote, “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

While it is true that time to humans does not equal time to God (as Moses and Peter clearly explained), it is imperative to remember that both of these verses nonetheless describe a literal 1,000 years to human beings on earth. In other words, “To say that the period with man is only one day with God, does not deny that it is actually a thousand years with God too. The point is that time does not limit an eternal God, not that He is ignorant of what time means with man.”[36] As far as can be understood, the literal understanding of the book of Revelation (as has been attempted to be consistently applied throughout this paper) means that Christ’s reign on earth will be for a thousand years before Satan is let out of prison (Rev 20:7).

2. Satan Deceives the Nations One Last Time (v. 8)

While the events of Rev 20:8 are similar to Rev 16:13-14, these are different events.[37] Why? Satan had to gather a new army for battle in Rev 20:8 because the army he gathered in Rev 16:13-14 was destroyed in Rev 19:20. (Seeing Rev 16:4 and Rev 20:8 as the same event is called the “recapitulation theory” as mentioned earlier). During the 1,000 years of Christ reign new people were born and comprise the “pool” of people which Satan was able to deceive and gather for one more battle.[38] With this event is becomes clear (again) that Satan’s main mission on earth was deception (seen in Rev 12:9; 13:14; 19:20; Rev 20:3, 10). In this way Satan did not overpower people but rather he deceived them.[39]

3. Satan and His Army Surrounded Jerusalem Then Fired Consumed The Army (v. 9)

After Satan had deceived the nations and gathered his army (Rev 20:8), John witnessed him surround God’s people and the beloved city. Then, fire came down from heaven and consumed the armies. The identity of the “beloved city” here is Jerusalem. In other places in the Bible, Jerusalem is called the city God loves and the place which held a special place in his heart (Pss 78:68; 87:2; 122:6; 132:12-14; Isa 2:1-5; 52:9-10; 56:7; 60:9, 14-15; 62:3; 66:18; Jer 11:15; Zeph 3:17). In an attempt to see Revelation as a literal predication of future events, this “beloved city” is likely Jerusalem.

The picture of fire coming down from heaven and consuming Satan’s attacking army should not surprise readers because fire was regularly used by God as a source of divine punishment. In Ezekiel fired rained down on Magog and all its allies (Ezek 39:6). Fire was also seen as divine judgement in Gen 19:24; Exod 9:23-34; Lev 9:24; 10:2; Num 11:1; 16:35; 26:10; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 14; 1 Chron 21:26; 2 Chron 7:1-3; Pss 11:6.

4. The Devil Joined the Beast and False Prophet in the Lake of Burning Sulfur (v. 10)

After fire came down and consumed Satan’s last army (Rev 20:9), he was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The beast and false prophet where already in the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Rev 19:20) as a result of Christ’s return to the earth shortly before the beginning of the 1,000 years (Rev 19:11-21). Here Satan joins his protégés. Thomas correctly connects this event as the ultimate bruising of Satan’s head originally shared in Gen 3:15 and again in John 12:31, which means that Satan’s presence in the fiery lake was not a new revelation, for that has always been Satan’s ultimate destiny.[40]

Furthermore, Christ’s triumph over Satan has also been foretold and is not a new revelation. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne . . . Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons’” (Matt 25:31, 41).

The last line of v. 10 shows the pain that Satan, the beast, and the false prophet will face as they are tormented day and night forever and ever. John’s vision makes it clear that this is real, physical pain, “The reality of unbearable pain inflicted on Satan is unquestionable.”[41] This place of punishment is possibly referenced prior in the Bible (Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Mark 9:48; Luke 12:47-48; 13:28) as the place of unending torment[42] and eternal punishment[43]


This study has examined Jesus’ revelation to John about the future 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. While every position taken on the millennial kingdom has weaknesses, this expositional study has attempted to explain Rev 20:1-10 in a way that matches the predication of future events (Rev 1:19) alongside additional biblical revelation about the future worldwide kingdom (Isa 2:2-4; Dan 2:34-35, 44; Micah 4:1-8). Christ will return someday (Rev 19:11) and that return will mean that Christ will reign for 1,000 years (Rev 20:4-5) with those who will be resurrected from the dead (Rev 20:4-5). In a way that matches the glory and power believers know God has, that 1,000 year will culminate with a defeat of Satan (Rev 20:7-10).



Blass, F. and A. DeBrunner. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Blevins, James. “Revelation, Book of,” in Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press, 2001, 761.

Gentry, Kenneth. “Postmillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Halley, Henry. Halley’s Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1959.

Hitchcock, Hitchcock. “Book of Revelation.” Unpublished class notes for BE107. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall Semesters, 2015.

Kittel, Gerhard. “Αγγελος” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, vol. 1, 74-87. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1964.

Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation. Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1993.

Mulholland, M. Robert. “Revelation.” Vol. 18 of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2011.

Osborne, Grant. Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.

Robert Thomas, Robert. A Classical Dispensationalist View of Revelationin Four Views on the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

Strimple, Robert. “Amillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Thomas, Robert. Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1995.

Wallace, Daniel. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Walvoord, John F. “Revelation.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.


[1] Grant Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 715.

[2] Kenneth Gentry, “Postmillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 11-57.

[3] Robert Strimple, “Amillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium, 81-129.

[4] Robert Thomas, A Classical Dispensationalist View of Revelationin Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 186, 215.

[5] Mark Hitchcock, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” unpublished class notes for BE107 (Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall Semesters, 2015), 4-5.

[6] See Christ’s second coming as part of God’s plan: Isa 9:6-7; Jere 23:1-8; Ezek 37:15-28; Dan 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Hosea 3:4-5; Amost 9:11-15; Micah 4:7; Zech 2:10-12; 12; 14:1-9; Matt 19:28; 24:27-31; 25:6, 31-46; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 12:35-40; 17:24-37; 18:8; 21:25-28; Acts 1:10-11; 15:16-18; Rom 11:25-27; 2 Thess 2:8; 2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 14-15; Rev 1:7-8; 2:25-38; 16:15; 22:20.

[7] Gerhard Kittel, “Αγγελος” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1964), 83-87.

[8] While Jesus did say in Rev 1:18 that he held the keys of death and the grave it is not necessary to equate Jesus with the angel who held the key to the “bottomless pit” in Rev 20:1. In Rev 9:1 John saw “the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen to earth from the sky, and he was given the key to the shaft and the bottomless pit.” Here the key to the bottomless pit was given to an angel, not Jesus. Additionally, Mulholland’s argument that this “angel” was Jesus based on Rev 1:18 is faulty because in 1:18 Jesus held the keys τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου (“of death and hades”) while in Rev 20:1 the angel holds the keys to the τῆς ἀβύσσου (“the underworld/abyss” or “bottomless pit” as the NLT translates it). These are separate places, therefore a connection between Jesus and the angel based on the place they have a key to is incorrect.

[9] This “devil” was the same person that tempted Jesus in the desert, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted thereby the devil” (Matt 4:1). While in the desert being tempted Jesus said, “Get out of here, Satan” (Matt 4:10). The title used for the devil as “Satan” is also used in Matt 16:23; Luke 10:18; John 13:27; Acts 5:3; Rom 16:20; 1 Co4 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thess 2:18; Rev 2:24; 20:7. Also see the devil mentioned in Matt 25:41; John 8:44; Eph 4:27; 6:11; 1 Tim 3:7, 11; 2 Tim 3:3; Tit 2:3; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8; Rev 12:9; 20:2, 10.

[10] John Wavoord, “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 979.

[11] Osborne, Revelation, 702.

[12] Walvoord notes that “what John saw was not all the souls in heaven but a particular generation of martyred dead who had been contemporaneous with the world ruler, the beast out of the sea (13:1).” Walvoord, “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 979.

[13] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 413-414.

[14] M. Robert Mulholland, “Revelation,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2011), 18:577.

[15] Osborne, Revelation, 703.

[16] Ibid., 704.

[17] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 417.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Mulholland, “Revelation,” 577.

[20] Mulholland, “Revelation,” 577.

[21] Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 563-564.

[22] Ibidl., 558-559.

[23] While “Gnomic Aorist” is a valid category of Greek Grammar, there are also others. Blass and DeBrunner list four: ingressive (inceptive), complexive (constative), gnomic and futuristic aorist, and epistolary aorist (F. Blass and A. DeBrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament [Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1961], 171-172).  Wallace lists seven: constative, ingressive, consummative, gnomic, epistolary, proplectic, immediate poast aorist/dramatic (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 557-565)

[24] Haley, Haley’s Bible Handbook, 737.

[25] Walvoord, “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 980.

[26] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 419.

[27] Walvoord, “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 980.

[28] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 418.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Osborne, Revelation, 707.

[31] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 422.

[32] Robert Strimple, “Amillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, 118-129.

[33] Kenneth Gentry, Jr., “Postmillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium, 50-55.

[34] James L. Blevins, “Revelation, Book of,” in Mills, ed., Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, (Mercer University Press, 2001), 761.

[35] Mulholland, “Revelation,” 579.

[36] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 407.

[37] Walvoord, “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 981.

[38] Haley, Haley’s Bible Handbook, 736.

[39] Osborne, Revelation, 711.

[40] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 426.

[41] Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 426.

[42] Ibid., 427.

[43] Osborne, Revelation, 716.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at