REVELATION CHAPTER 20
Revelation chapter 20 is about a "thousand years." It is not about a future "Millennium," when Christ supposedly rules "on the throne of David" from Jerusalem for 1000 Years. The "thousand years" in Revelation is not 1000 years. As Charles Ryrie points out, "the Greek equivalent of the word itself merely designates a period of time as such" (Basis of the Premillennial Faith, page 12). So "chilios" can represent any length of time, including 1000 years. That "thousand years" began almost 2000 years ago, and will continue throughout the Church Age.

The "chilios" begins with an angel coming down from heaven, laying hold of the dragon, the devil, binding him with a chain, and throwing him into the bottomless pit for a "thousand years" (Rev. 20:1-3), so that he could not deceive the nations until the thousand years are up. Frequent debates about the nature of the chain, and the bottomless pit are pointless; no one knows what either looks like. We don't even know what the devil looks like. All we know is that the devil is helpless during the Church Age with respect to deceiving the nations. But he is not entirely powerless in the matter of creating deception on a smaller scale. During Jesus' ministry, the devil was around, constantly making trouble. And yet aftr all that Jesus said, "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me" (John 14:30). If he had already been there, how could he be coming? And consider this verse: "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is" (Revelation 17:8). This didn't make sense to modern translators, so they changed that to something like "is not, and yet will come." I believe that God normally prevents Satan from plying his trade full force, and turns him loose only when He needs him for special occasions, as when the time came to bring judgement on Jerusalem and the temple. So, it is most likely that Satan is among today, but in a very limited capacity. When God turns him loose near the end of the thousan years, we might prefer not to be around.

Revelation 20 is mostly about the kingdom of Christ during the Church age. John saw three groups of people, some alive, some dead, and some resurrected. Contrary to common belief, none of this happens in or around Old Jerusalem; it's a heavenly scene for the most part.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them..." (Rev 20:4)
That's one group.

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 worshipped 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."
This is another group. The difference between this group and that first group is that this one had died, and their souls were brought back to life. If they reign with Christ a thousand years, they obviously are in heaven. Many Christians during the past two centuries have been led to believe that all this will go on in the "Millennial Reign." Scriptures, however, do not lead us in that direction.

Rev 20:5
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished..."
This is the third group. It is commonly believed that the "rest of the dead" are the wicked dead, however, the way this passage is laid out, all three groups are part of the first resurrection, because John closes with "This is the first resurrection." The word "this" can only be understood to mean "all of these." All three groups were part of the first resurrection. Now it stands to reason that this is not the usual resurrection which we are familiar with, because the first group is alive, the second group is resurrected, and ruling with Christ in heaven, and the third group is dead.

WHAT IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION?
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25 KJV): (Beware of modern translations, which gives the verse a different meaning. The NASV: "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection, and the life; he who believes in me shall live even though he dies."

"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this" (John 11:26 KJV)?
The problem with the common view of "resurrection," is that this verse would be a mistranslation, because everyone dies. But Jesus wasn't speaking of physical death. He had in mind spiritual death.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24 KJV).
Here the first resurrection is clearly defined. It is definitely spiritual. And whoever is spiritually dead, and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time, passes from spiritual death to spiritual life. That makes this the first resurrection.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25 KJV).
We know that they are not physically dead, because the physically dead cannot hear anything. But if the spiritually dead, the unsaved, hear the voice of the Son of God, they become spiritually alive for the first time. Jesus said that "the house is coming." This was to be a new thing to the Israelites. But He adds, "and now is," meaning that it was already in effect. Israelites who heard Him (accepted the Gospel and believed) came to spiritual life. It was the first resurrection.

The verses above speak of spiritual death, and spiritual resurrection. The verses below have reference to physical death, and physical resurrection.

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice" (John 5:28),

"And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29).

AND I SAW THRONES, AND JUDGEMENT WAS GIVEN UNTO THEM
We find them mentioned in Daniel: "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them" (Dan. 7:21); You've been told that this is going to be that "scintillating personality" known as the future Antichrist. Forget it. This was the Herodian dynasty, beginning with Herod the Great, 2000 years ago. He gave the Israelites a hard time until Christ came.

"Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom" (Dan. 7:22). In Revelation John saw that they had thrones, and judgement was given to them.

"And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Dan. 7:27). This is a general statement, and encompasses more than we see in Revelation 20. Beginning with the Jews in Christ's day, it continues with us Gentiles.

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book" (Dan. 12:1). This talks about the time when tribulation was great, which took place in the time of the end - of Israel, A.D.70. All the faithful Jews, who did not fall away from faith in Christ, were delivered, the unbelievers of Israel perished in that war.

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2). I believe that these were the Old Testament saints, resurrected at the time of the end of the Jewish System on earth. Jesus promised His disciples that they would have thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. I also believe that all the disciples were killed at about that time. The souls of them are in heaven with Jesus, ruling the twelve tribes of Israel.

"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4). "And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Dan. 12:9). If, by the "time of the end," the end times of the world were meant, then the book would not have been perfectly sealed. Christ began to quote from it 2000 years ago. THAT was the time of the end. It was the end of the world for the Jewish comunity. Daniel's words were sealed up to that time.

The so-called "millennium," the "thousand years," began when God set up His kingdom in the days of the Roman kings, in the time of Christ. It is in effect now, and will continue until the days when time shall be no longer.

The first group John was writing about are the Christians; Jews to begin with, and now saved Gentiles. The Church rules here on earth for a "thousand years." Each Christian rules a lifetime, then dies, and other church members take over and rule. Thus the Church rules a thousand years.

The Bible clearly indicates that Christians are kings. "Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you" (1 Cor. 4:8).

"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:6).

"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10).

"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it" (Rev. 21:24). This verse seems to indicate that Christ and His people, the Old Testament Jews, and those who were saved before the demise of Israel, will be living in the New Jerusalem, while we Gentile Christians will make pilgrimages to the New City. (Don't quote me on it; that is just a guess).

Christians who have passed away are the "rest of the dead." They are not the "wicked dead," as is taught by Dispensational futurists, because John says they are part of the first resurrection.

The second group are the apostles of Christ, who have died, and spiritually are in heaven, ruling the twelve tribes of Israel.
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