This passage of scripture is not that long, and the events described herein are easy to understand; however, it is the hardest to explain out of the whole book, causing a great deal of controversy. From the way people interpret this passage we can see which view they support: premillennialism, postmillennialism or amillennialism. In other words, the most difficult thing for Bible Commentators is to show which position they take regarding these Bible verses. Finally, when will this “Millennium” occur?
Christians believe in the resurrection of the Lord and they believe in His second coming. When Christ returns again it will be the greatest event in human history because Christ’s Kingdom will officially appear. But among these believers there are many groups that support different views.
We need not talk about what these groups say because each group has their own views. Regardless of whether it is the Postmillennialism view which came out the earliest or the Premillennialsm view which came out a few centuries ago, all these scholars feel that there are things that cannot be totally explained. That being the case, we should not let their views confuse us.
CHRIST ‘ S KINGDOM IS EVERLASTING
6 They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
“Will reign with the Lord for a thousand years”, only shows up once here. This “Millennium” does not appear anywhere else in the Bible or in any Jewish writings. Therefore, any doctrine that is developed only on the basis of this passage can not be used for preaching the truth. Just like the passage of scripture from 1 Peter 3:19 that cannot be used to put together a complete set of doctrines.
The Bible consistently says that Christ will reign eternally, His kingdom has no end. In chapter 11, verse 15, when the angel sounded the seventh trumpet, there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” At the last trumpet call it was already proclaimed that His kingdom would be forever and ever. How come now it is changed into a Millennium? He is not like the kings of this world which people call to them, “Long live the king!” and the die before reaching 100 years old.
Therefore, the Millennium mentioned here definitely refers to a period of time in history, we can only say that it is a set of events that occurred while the church was on the earth. Here it doesn’t describe how life was during this Millennium so it is hard to determine a certain period of time.
Since the visions that John sees are taken from different perspectives and many scenes in history are repeated, this paragraph is no exception.
Considering that there are no other Bible verses that can be used as a basis for this, if we insist on saying that Christ wants to establish the kingdom of heaven twice, the first time for a short period of time as a trial period and the second time permanently and see what works from the experiment in order to establish the kingdom eternally, this is not only illogical but belittles the power and wisdom of Christ. Therefore, here, we will see it as a fragment of history.
SATAN ‘ S WORK WAS LIMITED FOR A THOUSAND YEARS
1 我又看見一位天使從天降下、手裡拿著無底坑的鑰匙、和一條大鍊子。2 他捉住那龍、就是古蛇、又叫魔鬼、也叫撒但、把他捆綁一千年。3 扔在無底坑里、將無底坑關閉、用印封上、使他不得再迷惑列國、等到那一千年完了．以後必須暫時釋放他。
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
The “abyss/bottomless pit” is a prison for evil angels. The angel holding the key of the abyss, the prison warden, not only used a great chain to bound the gang leader of Satan’s kingdom so he would not be free to do evil , but also threw him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him thus he could not incite anymore trouble in the world. This is how he was completely shut off.
The length of time was a thousand years. These thousand years could be either a symbolic representation or just an approximate number like many others used in Revelation. However, a thousand years is for sure not a short amount of time, is not a few years or several years. Of course, this doesn’t mean that because he is bound the world is free of the works of the devil. He still has many evil accomplices under his leadership that continue to wreck havoc .
Further more , we should not ignore the following phrase: “After these things he must be released for a short time.” The abyss is not the lake of fire; it is only a place “for a short time”. When the nation of Christ has matured and the full number has come in, and it is time to build the kingdom of heaven, Satan will be released for a short time so that he could be destroyed completely. That is why he “must be” released.
What’s more, the time for his release is right at the end, within a few hundred years of Christ’s return. That is also the time prior to the establishing of the kingdom of heaven which is the reason why he “must be” released. Because before the kingdom of heaven is established there must be a difficult struggle, like the pains before giving birth. A group of brave warriors must go through the difficult way of the cross to show their spiritual character and wisdom. Satan has become like a refining fire for the victor to prove that their eternal life of the kingdom of heaven is real and that they are not afraid of the fierce fire. That is how the established kingdom of heaven will endure forever.
THOSE WHO WILL REIGN WITH THE LORD
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
There has been a great change in the church during the thousand years, regardless of whether in heaven, on earth, or in Hades. While Satan was bound for a thousand years, the martyrs came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
The Bible scholars during the fourth and fifth century, those who favored St. Augustine’s view of “postmillennialism”, believed that those people were spiritually revived, which represented the experience of a believer of being born from above. Is the awakening of the spirit, not the resurrection of the body, because here the word “souls” is mentioned. Therefore, these thousand years is defined as the period of time when the entire New Testament church was developing. Those who believe in the Lord are reigning spiritually with Him, which is the church here on earth executing its royal power.
到十二世紀的Joachim of Floris 認為，這一千年在他那時候還沒有開始，不過他認為很快就會出現在地上教會之中。到十六世紀文藝復興的時代，耶穌會的學者Ribeira 認為這｢千年國｣是在末世纔會出現，而且不是在人間，是那些忠心於主的人，將會在天上得到主的獎賞，與主一同作王一千年。
Joachim of Floris, from the twelve century, believed that these thousand years had not yet started during her time, but she felt that the time was coming soon for the church. During the 16th century, the time of the Renaissance, a Jesuit scholar, Ribeira , believed that the “Millennium” would be during the end times, but not in this world, it would be in heaven when those who are faithful to the Lord would be rewarded and would reign with the Lord for a thousand years.
All of their explanation do not provide a reasonable answer to the phrases , ” those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus”, and “those who had not worshiped the beast or his image.” Moreover, “they came to life” , the word used for “came to life”, “ ezesan ”, is often used referring to the “resurrection of the body”. In chapter 1, verse 18 and chapter 2, verse 8, this is the word used to describe Christ who came to life again. In this passage, this word was used twice; the second time was “The rest of the dead did not come to life.” In this case, we are certain that it refers to the resurrection of the body. It definitely does not refer to resurrection of the soul or of the spirit.
THE MARTYRS DURING THE EARLY CHURCH
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
｢其馀的死人｣，是那些｢被斬者｣之外的人。我們先要攪清楚，誰是那些｢因為給耶穌作見證，為神之道被斬的人｣？這裡說，他們是沒有拜過獸與獸像，也沒有在額上和手上受過獸印記( 記號) 的。
“The rest of the dead”, are those who are not part of “those who had been beheaded”. First, we should make clear who are those “who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God ”. Here it says that they had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand.
If the beast refers to the Persian Empire that will come during the end times, then we have no other choice than to say that the Millennium will happen after the 7 years of great tribulation that is the view maintained by the Premillennialists.
不過我們要知道，這獸是｢七頭｣的獸，羅馬帝國的時候，就是在牠第六個頭的時候，牠也在迫害神的教會，羅馬帝國的皇帝們也在第一到第叁世紀要求基督徒拜他們的像，要得到拜像的證書( 記號) ，纔能茍且偷生。不遵從的人，都成為被斬、被殺的殉道者。所以這些殉道者，也可以說是頭叁個世紀的受害人。
However, we should know that this beast is the beast with the “seven heads”. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was the time of the beast’s sixth head; it also persecuted the church of God. From the first to the third century, the emperors of the Roman Empire demanded the Christians to worship their image to obtain a certificate (a mark) in order to survive. Those who did not comply with their demand were beheaded; these are the martyrs that were killed. These martyrs were the victims in the first three centuries.
那一千年，可以看為是從第四世紀開始，當羅馬皇帝君士坦丁成為基督徒之後，這獸起了大的轉變，從迫害教會變為支持教會，所以第十七章所說的｢大淫婦｣( 羅馬大公教) ，就是騎在獸上面的。那時候開始，到羅馬帝國沒落，也約有一千年之久，就是撒但被關鎖起來的一千年。
Those thousand years could be considered as starting from the fourth century. After the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian, the beast went through a great transformation, instead of persecuting the church, it supported the church. Therefore, the great prostitute mentioned in chapter 17 (the Roman Catholic Church), is no other than the one sitting on the beast. Starting at that time until the downfall of the Roman Empire is about one thousand years which are the thousand years that Satan was bound.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
According to verse 4, those who came to life during the first resurrection were only the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God. The believers who were not martyrs were not qualified to be part of the first resurrection. That is why verse 5 says, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.”
按照保羅在帖前四章所說，死去的眾聖徒要等基督回來，身體纔復活；還活著的眾聖徒，身體改變、被提，與復活的眾聖徒一同進到主的面前。不過聖經也沒有說，那時候的複活，是第一次的複活。我們說那是第二次的複活，或第叁次的複活( 主耶穌是第一次) ，也未嘗不可。只是因為在我們系統神學中，沒有提前復活的說法，所以覺得難以接受。
According to what Paul said in 1 Timothy chapter 4, all the saints that have died will have a bodily resurrection when Christ returns for the second time. The body of the believers who are still alive will be transformed, and will be raptured to be with the Lord together with the resurrected saints. But the Bible does not say if that resurrection is the first resurrection. We could say it is the second resurrection, or the third resurrection (Jesus was the first resurrection). This is because in our systematic theology there is no pre-resurrection, which is why it is difficult to accept it.
At present, the saints who have died have not resurrected yet, they do not have a body, and their souls exist in the spiritual realm waiting for the coming resurrection. But this passage seems to say that the martyrs that died in the first three centuries enjoy a special treatment because they are not only the founders of the church but they have also experienced the most severe tests. With their death they proved their loyalty to God and so they were given a special position which we should not consider as unfair.
Christ told the persecuted church of Smyrna, “I am the One who died and came to life. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Could it be possible that while the others believers did not get a resurrected body yet that God gave this special group a resurrected body so that they could be priests and reign with Christ and serve Him in the heavenly sanctuary?
在林前15:23 ，保羅對哥林多人說：｢各人要按自己的次序( 原文是等次) 復活。基督的等次最高，祂第一個複活；那些被斬者、殉道者就跟著這等次復活；後來是基督再臨前的複活與活著的聖徒被提；再後面有七年災難期中殉難的末後初熟果子(14:1-5) ；最後面的是那些復活被定罪，有第二次死的人( 約翰5:25-29).
In 1 Corinthians 15:23, Paul says to the Corinthians: “ But each in his own order (in the original text is order of rank ) : Christ the firstfruits , then at His coming those who belong to Christ.” Christ belongs to the highest rank, He resurrected first; those who were beheaded, the martyrs followed in rank; then comes the resurrection of those during Christ’s second coming along with those believers who are still alive who will be raptured; and lastly those who came out of the 7 years of the great tribulation, those who have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God (14:1-5) ; and finally those who will be resurrected to be judged for doing evil, those who will go through the second death (John 5:25:29).
“Over such the second death has no power”, this phrase doesn’t mean that the second death has power over the other believers. The reason why this phrase was inserted here is to explain clearly that since they were given a second body; their second body would not experience a second death.
Therefore, the first group of martyrs that followed in the steps of Christ obtained the resurrection of their bodies and reigned together with Christ. They are not like the other believers who have fallen asleep and whose souls are in Paradise waiting for the great day to come . Although this view is not supported by systematic theology, it cannot be regarded as being impossible. At least it gives an explanation to this difficult passage.
THE LAST GREAT BATTLE
7 那一千年完了，撒但必從監牢裡被釋放，8 出來要迷惑地上四方的列國，就是歌革和瑪各，叫他們聚集爭戰，他們的人數多如海沙。9 他們上來遍滿了全地，圍住聖徒的營，與蒙愛的城。就有火從天降下、燒滅了他們。
7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them.
This is just another brief description of the battle of Armageddon. The alliance of 10 countries, the beast with Satan’s help, persuaded all people around them to participate in this battle. These are all the enemies that are from the east of the Euphrates River, their number is like the sand of the sea, they all gathered to attack God’s people.
Revelation often uses different angles to describe the same event. Revelation is like the compilation of the visions and revelations of many prophets. Many of the visions in this book could be the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. Some places were mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, some were foretold by the prophet Daniel, some bring the foreshadow of the prophet Ezekiel. From this passage we can see that it is the fulfillment of the prophecy mentioned in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, regarding Gog and Magog and other great armies that are enemies of God. In this event they wage war against Israel and God’s church.
We also see that when the heavenly army fights it does not rely on weapons or military power but on the Word of God, from the sharp sword that comes out of the mouth. Man might think that there is no way they could go against powerful nations . But, at the end, the army of the Kingdom of Heaven comes out victorious. Since the heavenly army does not rely on strong armaments, how could it annihilate the tenacious enemy?
How can you speak reasonably to people who are unreasonable? The enemy is completely destroyed usually by natural disasters, like earthquakes or other natural disasters or by weapons of self-destruction. The old heaven and earth will be completely destroyed at the end, to fulfill what Peter said: “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved.” They will be destroyed by the nuclear weapons which they invented. Here it says: “Fire came down from heaven and consumed them.” The world’s largest lethal weapon cannot resist the Word of God, because His powerful command can make all creatures submit to Him, He can make all the established laws of science to change. How could man-made weapons resist the greatest power in the Universe?
FINAL DESTINATION OF THE DEVIL AND HIS ACCOMPLICES
10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
The devil and his accomplices, the beast and the false prophet, the army troops of Gog and Magog, all those enemies from the east of the Euphrates River, they all had one ending, which is being tormented day and night forever and ever in the lake of fire and sulfur. Even until death, they thought that the power to kill, their tenacious weapons, and making people afraid was everything. Who would have thought that their end would be to remain in unending remorse and suffering forever.