The Return of Christ

The Thousand-Year Reign of Christ
(Rev. 20:1-6)


THE SCRIPTURES (Rev. 20:1-6)

The Binding of Satan

1 And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having 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 threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

The Thousand-Year Reign of Christ

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the 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 upon their forehead or upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.


Although 2 members of the unholy trinity have been dispensed with (the Beast and the False Prophet), there still remains the primary person of this trinity, the dragon. What does the angel who comes down from heaven do with the dragon (the serpent of old, again a reference to the Garden of Eden)?

Because this happens to the dragon, we can now have perfect peace when Christ comes to reign upon the earth.

How long does the dragon stay in that prison?

What happens to the dragaon after this period of time is over?

At this point John does not explain why the dragon is released from prison after the thousand-year reign of Christ. We shall examine this more next week.


It is at this time that we need to address the timing of the rapture. Does it occur before the tribulation or after the tribulation. Before deciding that, remember that whatever else the rapture involves, it involves the resurrection of the body. (The souls of dead Christians are already in heaven before the rapture occurs. The rapture involves the resurrection of the body and the reunion of the body to the soul/spirit.)

Because the rapture involves the resurrection of the body, if the rapture occurs before the tribulation, then the resurrection here in Rev. 20 would be the SECOND resurrection. Because the rapture involves the resurrection of the body, if the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation, then the resurrection of Rev. 20 which occurs after the tribulation would be the first resurrection. John not only claims that the resurrection at the END of the tribulation is the FIRST resurrection (thereby placing the rapture at the end of the tribulation), he EMPHATICALLY claims this is the first resurrection. The Greek of v. 5 says: "This is the resurrection, the first one" (literally, haute he anastasis he prote, pron. HOW-tay hey ah-nah-TAH-sis hey PRO-tay). For the actual Greek text, go to the following link: Rev. 20:5
. John emphasizes that this is the first resurrection in order to make it abundantly clear that there is no resurrection before this resurrection.


Purpose of the 1,000-Year Reign of Christ

The thousand-year reign of Christ has puzzled many Christians for nearly 2,000 years. Why in the world would God have Jesus reign upon the earth for 1,000 years? He's already reigning in heaven. The New Jerusalem is going to unite with a radically new heaven and earth. What is to be gained by having Christ reign for 1,000 years upon the world?

The reign of Christ upon the earth actually consummates God's plan for His Son, Christ. Because Christ humbled Himself to the greatest extent, God is going to exalt Him to the greatest extent. The entire created universe, spiritual as well as physicall, will bow the knee and confess Jesus Christ to be Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

But why upon the earth? Can't all this just happen in heaven? Not if God's plan is to be consummated. Christ is both God AND Man, actually THE Man (John 19:5). Of the three Persons in the God-head, Christ as God/Man has a unique relationship with the created physical universe.

Focus to be on Christ during the 1,000 years, whereas afterwards, the focus will be on God the Father. Jesus has not usurped the Father's glory. Rather the Father Himself is the One who has determined that Jesus should receive this kind of attention and adoration (see 1 Cor. 15:22-28).

Our focus in the here and now is to be on Jesus.

Focus on All Believers

What is interesting about John's description of the 1000-year reign of Christ is that in this description he doesn't really focus on Christ at all. Rather he focuses on believers, especially those believers who persevered victoriously over the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation. It appears that in the first half of verse 4 John is focusing on all believers who have now been raptured/resurrected from the dead. If this is true, according to the first part of v. 4 what will happen to all believers when Christ returns?

This may seem strange to you and to me; however, what do the following verses say to us about Christians reigning or judging?

Rev. 3:21 .
1 Cor. 6:3 .
Matt. 19:28 .

At the end of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis has Aslan the lion crown the 4 children not for literary purposes or entertainment purposes. He has the children crowned for biblical reasons. According to the Rom. 8:17, because we are linked with Christ, because God the Son comes to live in us at the time of salvation, we actually become what with Christ?

In other words, whatever Christ inherits, we will inherit, including reigning with Christ.

Bob Reccord, former president of the North American Mission Board, tells the story of the prize fighter who goes the distance against his opponent, knocking him out in the 15th round. He wins the belt and the hugemongeous check for winning the championship. He returns home, pretty well beaten up, bruised, but holding the belt and the check in his hand. As soon as he reaches the door, his wife opens the door. He cheerful hands over the belt and the check to his wife. He was the great conqueror. He made her "more than conqueror" (Rom. 8:37).

It is at this point that we need to read passages such as:

Revelation 19:7-9:
7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean ; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' " And he said to me, "These are true words of God."

And also Revelation 7:9-17:
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, " Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, " Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 "They shall hunger no longer, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes."

Focus on the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation

In the second half of verse 4, John focuses on the martyrs of the Great Tribulation. Although these martyrs had experienced various kinds of torments and deaths, John highlights one form of death in particular. Which kind of death does he highlight?

What blessing does John pronounce upon all Christians who come to life during the 1000-year reign of Christ and experience the first resurrection?

According to v. 5 not everybody comes to life during the 1000-year reign of Christ. John, like Paul (1 Cor. 15:23-24), appears to divide the resurrection up into 3 different sections:

  1. The resurrection of Christ
  2. The resurrection of believers
  3. The resurrection of unbelievers

See also John 5:28-29 where John seems to imply that there are 2 resurrections of humans: the resurrection of those who did good deeds (to eternal life) and the resurrection of those who did evil deeds (to condemnation).