Term Paper: Book of Revelation

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[. . .] A Two-Horned beast also appears, which could represent Papal Rome. Sitting on top of the Seven-headed Beast is a False Woman, which is a symbol of a False Church. The figures described all change and Babylon is overthrown.

The fourth part of the Book of Revelation contains chapters nineteen and twenty. This part describes the Great Victory over the opposing powers, the millennial period and the ultimate uprising and defeat of Satan. This part will be the focus of the following exegesis. The fifth and final part of the book contains chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, and it describes the Glorious Home of the Redeemed Saints, and it contains Closing Exhortations.

Chapter twenty of the Book of Revelation falls in the latter part of the book that describes the power of Christ over Satan and his kingdom. In this part the Lamb defeats the dragon and the beast. This main theme is developed through five successive scenes, which are the struggle, the fall of Babylon, the harlot, the victory, and final beatitude.

Like all the other chapters in the book of Revelation, chapter twenty is written in figurative language rich in symbolism. Therefore, in order to understand the message behind the text, it is necessary to dissect it line by line and associate the images and symbols used with important figures, places and events relevant to the context in which the book was written. The following outline of chapter twenty refers to a summary by Johnson.

The first line of Chapter twenty reads "And I saw an angel come down from heaven with a chain, and the key of the abyss." The abyss is a symbol for the domain of Satan and evil spirits and the chain symbolizes the word of God. This line implies that the evil powers will be destroyed upon the Earth. The second line of the chapter reads "He laid hold on the dragon....and bound him a thousand years."

This implies that the gospel takes such a powerful hold of the hearts of those who read it that Satan has no power over them. When the time comes that all people obey the laws of God, Satan will be bound with the chain of truth and will have no influence over the people on Earth. The third line, which starts out "And cast him into the abyss..." describes how during this millennial period the evil spirits chained by truth are cast into a prison, or bottomless pit. However, Satan goes there only for one thousand years and then regains power for a short time.

The fourth line begins "And I saw thrones and they that sat upon them..." These thrones symbolize rule, and it implies that whoever sits upon the thrones have authority and power. "And judgment was given to them..." indicates that those who are upon the thrones will exercise moral judgement over humanity. "I saw the souls of them..." was written, which points to the fact that John saw the souls of the martyrs and not physical beings. "And they lived and reigned with Christ" indicates that those on the thrones reigned with Christ a thousand years. It is held by all the sacred writers of a certain perspective, that the last event before the great judgement day is the personal, visible coming of Christ. Part of line four refers to "Souls of them that have been beheaded." These are the martyrs that lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The martyrs' bodies had been put to death, but their souls lived on unseen upon the Earth. Christ reigns upon the Earth during the millennial period by his truth, so the spirit of the martyrs is revived and lives in the church. The souls of the martyrs live on because the church is composed of those who love Christ better than anything material or life itself. Therefore, the reign of Christ pervades the earth because the souls of the martyrs are resurrected and live in all who have faith in Christ. The timeframe "a thousand years" is not to be taken literally, but should be understood as a very long period of righteousness.

The fifth line begins "But the rest of the dead lived not," and this refers to how all people other than the martyrs have no influence on the Earth until the millennial period is ended. These others have no part of the first resurrection or the spirits of the martyrs. The sixth line begins "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on the second death hath no power."

The first resurrection might be interpreted as personal death. This indicates how this first resurrection is moral and spiritual and brings on the millennium, but the second death is doomed and eternal.

The seventh line states "When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed." This refers to how the Earth will have its golden age, but Satan will return for a short time. However, his reign will be short. Line eight begins "And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the Earth, Gog, and Magog," which means that Satan will once again renew old conflicts across the whole Earth, across all races. The ninth line reads "And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from god and consumed them." This describes how evil spread over the Earth, assailed the beloved city, the true church Jerusalem, and sought to destroy it. The power of God then came in the form of fire to destroy evil. The tenth line begins "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire." This indicates how Satan's last battle has come, and he is cast into the lake of fire to be in wickedness forever.

Line eleven states "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." This throne is the throne of judgement, and all nations are called to stand before God. The white throne represents purity, glory and triumph, and is the color of the light. There is to be a new heaven and earth, and the old ones are destroyed and will be reconstructed. The twelfth line reads "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." This indicates how the dead of every part of earth all come to judgement. The records that contain all the deeds of men are opened, as is the book of life in which the names of the saints are kept. All are judged according to their works in these books.

Line thirteen reads "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." The sea here may be understood as a symbol of the lost dead that no men know. Death and hell represent the unseen world that hides from view those who have departed from earth. The main idea being portrayed is that all the dead will be judged. The fourteenth line reads "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." This indicates that death and the unseen land of the dead disappear forever. Until the end of the millennium and the final judgement people will die, but after the second death, there will be no more death.

The fifteenth and final verse reads "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." This means that all that is evil will be banished forever. Also, those whose names do not appear in the book of life will also be banished. This is the second death. The lake of fire is an eternal fate. This second death is the final separation of sinners from God.

So what does this all mean? How does one go about interpreting the messages delivered through Chapter twenty? The theme of the millennium is pervasive throughout chapter twenty in the repeated use of the phrase "a thousand years." There are some important questions to address regarding chapter twenty. First of all, one must question whether the teaching on the millennium is intended to be literal or symbolic. Second of all, it is necessary to question whether the resurrections in 20:4-6 are spiritual or physical. Thirdly, it must be addressed whether the millennium is in the future or present. Fourthly, the question must be raised as to whether there… [END OF PREVIEW]

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