The Thousand-Year Reign of Christ and the Last Judgment

Revelation 20:1-15


As we start looking at the thousand-year reign of Christ and the coming of the Father Himself, we want to connect these 2 events with the Great Tribulation which has preceded them. Why does this Great Tribulation have to occur before the thousand-year reign of Christ and the coming of God? Sometimes God just dumps something wonderful in our laps. We didn't strive for it; we didn't have to put out any effort. Yet the principle that God mainly goes by is that suffering and toil produce the wonderful things in our lives. Just reflect on the best things in your life and you are going to see how this principle was at work. Some of our wives suffered many hours of labor in order to produce some wonderful children. Your minimum effort in high school produced a high school diploma, while greater effort was needed to get a college degree, and even greater effort to get a graduate degree, etc. While our salvation is a gift, remember that it took nothing less than the great struggle Christ went through in His passion to bring about our salvation.

The same principle is at work here. According to Rom. 8:22 what kind of pangs is creation suffering in order to enter into the redemption of God's children?

When it is all said and done though, whatever pangs we suffer during the tribulation (if we go through it) will be worth it because of the incredible glory, honor, and blessings which will fall upon those Christians who persevere during the tribulation. We feel sick whenever we hear about the young Christian girl in Columbine, CO who was shot in the head after she confessed to the gunmen that she believed in God. I promise you that today she will tell you that it was worth it because of what she experienced immediately upon her death. Christians don't seek martyrdom. They avoid it if they can; however, they never deny Jesus to escape it. The martyrdom results in tremendous blessings for the Christian. Ask Jesus; He is living proof that it is worth it.


According to Revelation after the tribulation Christ returns from heaven, resurrects dead Christians and reigns upon the earth for 1000 years. It is true that Revelation uses many symbols to communicate its truth. Simply because it uses symbols though does not mean that there is no meaning behind the symbol. For a symbol to be valid it must have a meaning behind it. For example, the 1000 years may be a symbol of an indefinite period of time. Maybe it is literally 1000 years; maybe it's only 50 years. I can't prove it one way or the other (although I definitely lean towards it being literally 1000 years). Yet to say that there is no reign of Christ upon the earth for a certain period of time absolutely then claims that these symbols have no meaning at all.

Our Catholic brothers claim this refers to Christ's reign from heaven right now. First, they may be right; it's just that there is a symbol for heaven and a symbol for earth, and John does not speak of heaven but of earth. Second, if you had not been told this interpretation, you would have never come up with it yourself. It took a little bit of indoctrination for you to believe this. I think that we need to be very careful about special interpretations which you would not have come up with a simple study the text. Some studies need this kind of input; I'm not sure this one does.

John W. MacGorman, former professor of NT at SWBTS, was one of the most avid proponents of a-millennialism in Southern Baptist circles, believing that the millennium was a symbol for Christ's reign over the church. He changed his mind though whenever he worked on a second Ph.D. from Duke University in biblical studies. According to Daniel 2:31-44 (esp. verse 35) God's kingdom one day will cover what? According to v. 44 how long will this kingdom endure?

This verse convinced MacGorman of a literal reign of God/Christ upon the earth.

Why though is it necessary for Christ to reign upon the earth for this specified amount of time? First, go back to Matt. 28:18. According to that verse what is God's agenda or purpose for Jesus?

According to Matt. 28:19-20 how do we make this a reality upon the earth?

It seems then that Christ's literal reign upon the earth consummates God's agenda and purpose for Jesus. Maybe Christ reigning from heaven through the pope is the way this passage is fulfilled (and according to Roman Catholicism the pope does reign). It's just that in Revelation 19:11ff. Christ literally came to the earth. Furthermore, it seems that it is only natural that Christ reign upon the earth because of the unique link between Him and the earth (all of creation actually). Of the three members of the Godhead Jesus alone is both God and creation, that is, both God and Man. According to John 1:14 "the Word [Jesus] became ______________________," not that He took it upon Himself and later discarded it; rather He literally became _____________. How does the resurrection of Jesus "prove" that Jesus became flesh and not that He just appeared to be human but wasn't?

This 1000-year reign then helps bring to an end Jesus' work with creation.

Paul seems to be saying the same thing in 1 Cor. 15: 25-26. According to Paul Jesus will reign until what happens?

According to Rev. 20:7-14 is death destroyed BEFORE or AFTER the 1000-year reign of Christ?

Let's look at the nature of the 1000-year reign of Christ. According to Rev. 20:4-5 what precedes the 1000-year reign of Christ?

There are 2 ways we know that this first resurrection involves Christians only. According to Rev. 20:6 what 2 things are true about the person who experiences the resurrection?

A second resurrection occurs at the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ. This seems to involve the resurrection only of unbelievers. Paul appears to be saying the same thing in 1 Cor. 15:23-24. According to this passage what are the 3 stages of the resurrection?

Jesus also seems to endorse the concept of 2 different resurrections regarding people. What are these 2 resurrections according to John 5:28-29

Most of us can understand that Christ's resurrection means that Christians will be resurrected; it's just a little harder though for us to understand that Christ's resurrection means that not only will unbelievers rise from the dead but that the whole creation will be transformed (Rom. 8:18-25). Paul says that Jesus affects the whole universe because He is the Second Adam (1 Cor. 15:22, especially v. 45). When the first Adam sinned, he did not affect just himself. Not only did Adam's sin affect him, it affected the entire universe. The ground itself experienced the curse along with the woman, the serpent, and the man. By being a new Adam, Jesus also affects the universe in addition to mankind. The first Adam affected the universe by bringing in the curse and death; this second Adam affects the universe by bringing in the blessing to Christians and life to all creation.

When you come to the 1000-year reign of Christ, you can step onto a slippery slope. There are many issues which John does not address regarding the 1000-year reign of Christ; however, that has not kept Christians from addressing these issues. For example, although the millennium highlights the reign of Christ, it does not necessarily exclude the possibility of unbelievers entering into the millennium without their bodies being transformed. Some people dismiss the idea of the millennium because of this possible ABSURD scenario. This scenario though is not as absurd as first appears. We've already seen a preview of this scenario actually happening. Right after His resurrection Jesus in a transformed state walked among His disciples who were not transformed. Be careful about dismissing something because it appears weird or absurd to us. It may not be as absurd as you think.

THE FINAL BATTLE (Rev. 20:7-10)

At the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ comes a final battle between Satan and Christ. Satan marshals the forces of Gog and Magog, and attacks the holy city (Jerusalem?). They come up on the broad plain of the earth to conquer the holy city. This would be the area to the west of Jerusalem. At this battle Satan is defeated one last time and thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone along where the false prophet and beast already dwell.

Many Christians wonder about this final battle. Why does it even take place at all? George Eldon Ladd, professor of NT at Fuller Theological Seminary, claims that this rebellion at the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ proves that environment has never been the cause of people falling into sin. This clashes with the claims of many pseudo-psychologists. During the 1000-year reign of Christ everybody had it perfect, and yet after it is over, apparently there is a remnant (from who knows where?) who oppose Christ and His people.

This principle should not surprise us since it was demonstrated in the first book of the Bible itself. If good parenting and good environment make for good children, then Adam and Eve should have been the best children of all because both their Parent and their environment was perfect.

THE GREAT JUDGMENT (Rev. 20:11-15)

At the end of this 1000-year reign of Christ and the final battle, we have the Great White Throne Judgment. Many claim that this judgment applies only to non-believers and that Christians undergo another judgment. This may be true; however, John in Revelation only mentions this one judgment. Unless there is a compelling reason, we should probably limit the number of judgments to just this one.

According to John which people stand before God in judgment (Rev. 20:12-13)?

According to Rev. 20:12 on what 2 bases does God judge people? In other words, which 2 books does God uses to judge people?

Does one book judge one set of people, and does the other book judge another set of people? Or are the 2 books judging the same set of people?

The following should help you understand whether or not these 2 books apply to the same set of people. According to the Bible what you do reveals who you are. The person who steals is a thief, while the person who lies is a liar. Our acts reveal who we are. According to 1 Pet. 1:17 and 2 Cor. 5:10 does God judge only non-Christians on the basis of their works or does He judge all people on the basis of their works?

It is at this point that we all get stressed out. "Oh, no, I'm not doing enough! I'm not a good person, etc." Rather ask yourself, has Christ made a difference in your life? Are you a better person because of Christ being in your life? That is the issue, not how many good works I have or have not done.

According to Rev. 20:15-21:1 what are the 2 possible futures awaiting people?

Before we panic at the thought of judgment, we need to remember John's teachings on this matter. According to 1 John 4:17-18 what should NOT be our attitude towards judgment?

When it is all said and done, the non-believer stands before the righteous God of the universe in judgment. We, on the other hand, stand before our heavenly Father. Yes, dads can be pretty scary in times of judgment; however, they are still our dads who love us deeply and who ultimately bring us safely through judgment.