Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
This chapter of Revelation contains events puzzled over and debated by many theologians and students of the bible over many years. It has resulted in varying views of the Millennium, the thousand-year reign. We must first considerif the thousand years is symbolic rather than literal, as are so many of the other numbers in John’s revelation. Many Christians in the second century believed there were going to be seven 1000-year ‘days’ (see Ps.90:4) of life on earth; the seventh one would be the millennial time of peace and rest, following the pattern of the seven days of creation. The final, eternal kingdom would be the eighth ‘day’. Christians today hold to several views:
Premillennialism = the antichrist and tribulation take place before Christ’s return, which happens before the thousand year reign.
Postmillennialism = evangelism and reforms on earth continue until all come to know Christ, which then brings the thousand years of peace, after which Christ returns for the final judgment and resurrection of the dead.
Amillennialism = the events of Revelation are not in a particular chronological order but are all metaphors for the present age between Christ’s ascension and His return. The first resurrection is a personal spiritual rebirth, the second to life after death.
Alternatively, the thousand year reign may refer to deceased believers in heaven with Christ now, awaiting the final judgment with Christ’s return and then the coming of the new heaven and earth.
The Thousand Years (20:1-6):
o What are the four main characteristics of the thousand year period?
o Like the pauses between the 6th / 7th seals and the 6th / 7th trumpets, there seems to be a pause in the battle with evil between the destruction of the beast and false prophet (19:20) and Satan’s final destruction. What happened during the pause before the 7th seal (chapter 7)? What happened during the pause before the 7th trumpet (chapter 10-11)? Could these be clues to why God allows this final pause?
o Despite the varied interpretations, what are the things that all believers can agree on?
The Final Judgment (20:7-15):
Gog and Magog: Ezekiel 38-39 describe an attack by Gog of the land of Magog, a land to the north, against the rescued Israel which had been living in peace. In Revelation, John uses Gog and Magog to symbolize the nations at the four corners of the earth.
Death = both the fact and power of death.
Hades = the abode of the dead, from which only God can provide rescue.
o Read Ezekiel 38:14-16, 21-23 and 39:6-8. What are the similarities and differences between the final showdown in Ezekiel and the final showdown in Revelation?
o Who is the One seated on the throne (v.11) – the Father, the Son, the Trinity? Read Daniel 7:9, Matthew 7:21, John 5:22, 8:16, 12:47, Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10.
o On what basis are the dead judged (v.12-13)? Read Romans 2:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. What implications does this have for our lives right now?
o What determines if someone is thrown in the lake of fire (v.15)? What is the relationship between the Book of Life and how we are judged?
What one truth from this passage stands out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Navpress, A life-changing encounter with God’s Word from the book of Revelation, 2011
N.T. Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 2011