Revelation - Lesson 6

By Stafford North

The Thousand Years and After

Revelation 20

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can identify the main symbols in Revelation and explain its basic story.
  2. The student can explain the meaning of often misunderstood passages-such as Revelation 20.
  3. The student can demonstrate from the Book of Revelation Christ's victory over His enemies.


  1. Post for your students to see any pictures you want to use of the events in this lesson.
  2. If you choose to use them, have ready your visuals-overhead projector and transparencies, PowerPoint, or chalkboard.
  3. Have enough of the Story of Revelation Worksheets ready for those who do not have this lesson.
  4. Have copies of Test 5 ready for students as they enter class. It is provided at the end of this lesson.
  5. Have pens/pencils ready for use.
  6. All students should have access to a Bible.


Now that the story of the persecution under Rome and its fall has been told, the remaining portion of the Book of Revelation provides a few details of what happens after that. While three figures for evil-the first beast, the second beast, and the prostitute-have all gone to defeat, there is one force for evil left-the dragon. So chapter 20 deals with the question of what happens to the dragon from the fall of the beasts to the final resurrection and eternal judgment.

Lesson Plan for Conducting Class

Introduction: (about 10 minutes)

  1. Make the test available to students as they enter if you wish.
  2. Call the roll, welcome visitors, and make any necessary announcements.
  3. Songs (as desired)
    1. I'm Not Ashamed to Own My Lord
    2. Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord
    3. O for a Faith That Will not Shrink
  4. Prayer thanking God for His care for His people and for the great victory He gives us.
  5. Give answers to Quiz No. 5. No. 1-b) The Cult of Emperor Worship. No. 2-c) Natural disasters which shall befall the Empire. No. 3-a) Throne of the Beast. No. 4-a) a river (Euphrates). No. 5-b) Total destruction of the Roman Empire. No. 6-b) Efforts of Satan and the beasts to resist God's destruction on them. No. 7-d) City of Rome. No. 8-c) Jesus Christ
  6. Ask students to have their Story of Revelation Worksheets ready.

Learning Experiences:

  1. Q: What was the last event of chapter 19: (Rider on the white horse throws the beast and false prophet in the lake of fire) Q: What does this represent? (end of the persecuting Roman Empire and the Cult of Emperor Worship.) Q: About when did this take place? (about 475 AD)
  2. Immediately after these events, we come to chapter 20. There are three major events in this chapter and the first is the thousand years. The first six verses speak of a period of 1000 years and of two things that will happen in it. So to the first event of the 1000 years. Visual: Angel with Chain. Angel with Chain Q: What two things does the angel have who comes down? (Key to the abyss and a chain.) Visual: Angel Closing Abyss. Angel Closing Abyss Q: How does he use these? (He ties the dragon up with the chain and throws him into the abyss and locks it shut over him.) E 1. So Satan is bound or limited for a thousand years. Q: What does verse 3 say is the purpose of this binding? (to keep him from deceiving the nations until the thousand years is over)
  3. For Satan to be bound means that he is limited in some fashion. Q: Has Satan always been limited in some way? Q: Was he limited in the Book of Job? Q: Was he bound in Matthew 12:44? Q: Did Christ's death on the cross bind Satan according to Colossians 2:15? So in some sense, Satan has always been bound, there have always been limits on what he could do. The binding of Revelation 20, then, is a new and different binding and we should not try to make all references to Satan's limitings to be parallel. Q: For what purpose is Satan said to be bound for the thousand years? (so that he can deceive the nations no more) Q: What has he been doing earlier in the book? (deceiving the nations, particularly those nations associated with the Roman Empire) So God says here, I will not let Satan continue to do what I let him do earlier in the story-use a worldwide group of nations to try to stamp out the church. We'll see more about the meaning of the duration of this limiting a little later.
  4. E 2. Also during this thousand years, souls reign with Christ-verses 4 through 6. To learn the meaning of this symbol of "reigning with Christ for a thousand years," we must ask four questions of these verses. Q: (1) Who reigns with Christ for a thousand years? (the souls of those who were beheaded for their testimony and had not worshipped the beast or received his mark) Q: Have we heard of these before? (6:9; 7:13-14; 14:1-4; 15:2-3; 19:2, 14. These reigning with Christ are the martyrs of the Roman persecution who have become the heroes of the story because of their faithfulness unto death. These and only these are seen reigning with Christ.) It is important to note that these reigning with Christ are "souls." This term designates those who are dead (been beheaded) but who have not yet been raised from the dead. While this reign is called in a special sense "the first resurrection" as a way of setting it in contrast with "the second death," it is not a resurrection of the body. John 6:40 says that the followers of Jesus will be raised "on the last day." So, since this reign is before the end of time, as we shall see later, it cannot be of resurrected saints. Q: So, who reigns with Christ for a thousand years? (The martyrs of the Roman persecution.)
  5. (2) Why do they reign? Q: What happened just prior to the start of the thousand-year period? (Christ threw the Roman Empire and the Cult of Emperor Worship into the lake of fire. Thus, Christ and His followers have won a great victory.) Q: What does one normally do right after a great victory - (celebrate) So the figure of a thousand year reign with Christ is a way to say that after the church survives and the Roman Empire goes down to defeat, the martyrs, now with Jesus, will celebrate their great victory. This is not a picture of all of people or even of all Christians after death. This is a story in which the martyrs are the heroes and Revelation 20 is to suggest that after their great victory, they will enjoy a long period of celebration with Jesus. What could be a greater encouragement to those about to undergo the terrible time of persecution than to give this picture of hope!
  6. (3) Where do they reign? Q: What do verses 4-6 say about where? (They do not specify the place.) Q: Where have the martyrs been since chapter 6? (in heaven) Q: Where has Christ been since chapter 5? (in heaven) Q: Where is every throne in Revelation except the throne of the beast? (in heaven) Q: Since those who reign are "souls," where would we expect them to be? (in heaven) This is not, then, a pictureof a reign of Christ on earth, but a time of celebration with the souls of the dead martyrs as they rejoice in their victory over the forces that tried to eliminate the church by persecution.
  7. (4) When do they reign? Q: As we have the book divided, their reign begins at what point in the book? (start of chapter 20) Q: What happens at the end of chapter 19 which marks the starting point of the thousand-year reign? (Fall of the Roman Empire) So the beginning point of the thousand years is the fall of Rome. To say that it lasts for a thousand years is to say that it lasts for a long period whose exact length is not stated. We use "thousand" to mean any large number such as in "I've told you a thousand times not to do that." Since the end of chapter 20 pictures the final judgment, the thousand years lasts generally until the end of time. So the thousand years is a period lasting from the end of the climax of the story of Revelation (fall of the persecutor) until the end of time.
  8. E 3. The second major event of chapter 20 now comes: it is called the "short time" that comes between the end of the thousand years and the final judgment. Q: How is this period of time described? (verse 3-a short time or a little time) So, Satan is released from being bound in the abyss, and as soon as he is, he begins to try to mount another campaign against God's people, the church. Before he does them any harm, however, God sends fire from heaven and sends Satan into the lake of burning sulfur, his final defeat. Q: Does this mean that there will be a terrible persecution of Christians just before the end of the world? Q: What is the most common expression God uses to tell us about the coming of the end of the world? It comes like a——- (thief in the night). That would suggest that there is nothing, not even a great persecution, that would indicate to us that the end is near. Q: How is Satan's condition in this lake described? (tormented day and night forever and ever) That is the nature of this place of eternal punishment.
  9. E 4. The third major event of chapter 20 is the time of final judgment. Q: Who does John see on a great white throne? (God-although Christ is sometimes also said to judge and so there is some sharing of this function, God was on the throne in chapter 4 and would seem to be the figure represented here.) Q: Who appears before His judgment throne? (the dead-all the dead from everywhere you might imagine them to come-the great and small, from death and Hades, from the sea. Both the bad and the good are there. So all the dead stand before God's throne for judgment.) Q: All are judged from the books which have recorded what? (everyone's deeds). We are responsible for what we do. Q: Some, however, have a great advantage. What is that? (They are written in the book of life.) (As you have time, look up the following passages andhave someone read them: Ex. 32:33; Psalm 69:28; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5. From these passages ask the following question.) Q: Who does God write in His book? (those who are disciples of Christ, those who are in His church, those who are saved.)


Q: So what conclusion would you draw about the final judgment? (That I want to do everything I can to be written in the book of life.) Everyone who has ever lived is in one of three conditions in regard to the book of life: (1) never written in because they have not obeyed Jesus to have their sins forgiven; (2) written in and blotted out because they have deserted Christ; or (3) written in and still in because they are "walking in the light (1 John 1:6-8). Q: Which of these categories describes you now? (Push this point as much as seems appropriate for your class.) Q: What is the destiny of those not written in the book of life? (the lake of fire to be with Satan)


  1. Be sure your Story of Revelation Worksheet is complete.
  2. Study for the quiz at the first of the next class period.
  3. Read chapters 21-22 of Revelation.


  1. Test 5 at the beginning of the next class period.


(To be given at the beginning of Lesson 6)

Download test over lesson 5 below.

Download Worksheets

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