Revelation 20

Revelation 20
Papyrus 47 Rev 13,16-14.4.jpg
Revelation 13:16-14:4 on Papyrus 47 from the third century.
BookBook of Revelation
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part27

Revelation 20 is the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle,[1][2] but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate.[3] This chapter contains the notable account of the "Millennium" and the judgment of the dead.[4]


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 15 verses.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are among others:[5][a]

The Millennium (20:1–10)[edit]

This passage is the basis for various tradition of Christian 'millenarianism'.[7]

Verse 1[edit]

I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.[8]

Jesus Christ says in the writer's vision at Revelation 1:18, "I hold the keys of Hades and of Death", leading some interpreters to suggest that the angel observed here is actually Christ. The 17th-century theologian John Gill refers to a suggestion that the prophesied angel was fulfilled in Constantine the Great (272 - 337 AD).[9] The Ethiopic version reads "the key of the sun".[9]

Verse 2[edit]

He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;[10]
  • "The dragon" is the 'ultimate principle of evil', which appeared before the narrative of the two beasts (chapter 1213), and continues after both of them have perished.[7]

Verse 3[edit]

and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.[11]
  • "Cast him into the bottomless pit": In chapter 12 the dragon was 'thrown from heaven to earth, where he deceived the nations' and now is thrown into the imprisonment in the abyss (cf. Revelation 9:1), prevented to deceive the nations for a long time (cf. Psalm 90:4 for the significance of 'a thousand year').[12]

Verse 4[edit]

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.[13]

It is not explicit or clear who was seated on the thrones. "The natural construction is that 'judges' sat on them.[14] The New International Version presents the text as:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge ...[15]

American theologian Albert Barnes notes the "considerable resemblance, in many respects, between this [wording] and the statement in Daniel 7:9":

As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

Daniel's vision continues:

The Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom [16]

and so the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges argues that those seated on the thrones are these saints of the Most High.[17]

Verse 5[edit]

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.[18]
  • "Lived … again": from Greek: ἀνἔζησαν, anezēsan (TR)[19] or ἔζησαν, ezēsan (Greek Orthodox Church NT),[20] in the sense of "not only when restored to life, but when in the act of reviving" (cf. Revelation 2:8).[21]

Verse 6[edit]

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.[22]
  • "Of God and of Christ": This provides a strong proof for "the doctrine of Christ's coequal Deity" with God (= "The Father").[17]

The Judgement of the Dead (20:11-15)[edit]

Verse 12[edit]

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.[23]

The reference to judgment based on works (Greek: κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν, kata ta erga auton) is repeated in verse 13. The phrase is κατά ὁ ἔργον αὐτός (kata ho ergon autos, according to his work) in Tischendorf's critical edition. Biblical commentator Andrew Robert Fausset stresses that "we are justified by faith, judged according to (not by) our works".[24]

Verse 15[edit]

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.[25]

The "lake of fire" is referred to in Revelation 19:20, in verses 10 and 14-15 in this chapter and in Revelation 21:8.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Book of Revelation is missing from Codex Vaticanus[6] and this chapter is missing from Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus.


  1. ^ Davids, Peter H (1982). I Howard Marshall and W Ward Gasque (ed.). New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle of James (Repr. ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. ISBN 0802823882.
  2. ^ Evans, Craig A (2005). Craig A Evans (ed.). Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John, Hebrews-Revelation. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor. ISBN 0781442281.
  3. ^ F. L. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 45
  4. ^ Bauckham 2007, p. 1289.
  5. ^ Elliott, J. K. "Revelations from the apparatus criticus of the Book of Revelation: How Textual Criticism Can Help Historians." Union Seminary Quarterly Review 63, no. 3-4 (2012): 1-23.
  6. ^ Claremont Coptic Encyclopaedia, Codex Vaticanus, accessed 29 September 2018
  7. ^ a b Bauckham 2007, p. 1302.
  8. ^ Revelation 20:1 NKJV
  9. ^ a b Gill, J., Gill's Exposition of the NT on Revelation 20, accessed 13 December 2018
  10. ^ Revelation 20:2 NKJV
  11. ^ Revelation 20:3 NKJV
  12. ^ Bauckham 2007, pp. 1302–3.
  13. ^ Revelation 20:4 NKJV
  14. ^ Barnes, A., Barnes' Notes on Revelation 20, accessed 14 December 2018
  15. ^ Revelation 20:4 NIV
  16. ^ Daniel 7:22 ESV
  17. ^ a b Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Revelation 20, accessed 14 December 2018
  18. ^ Revelation 20:5 KJV
  19. ^ Revelation 20:5. Blue Letter Bible. Accessed November 22, 2019
  20. ^ Greek Text Analysis: Revelation 20:5. Biblehub
  21. ^ Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert; Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary On the Whole Bible. "Revelation 20". 1871.
  22. ^ Revelation 20:6 NKJV
  23. ^ Revelation 20:12 NKJV
  24. ^ Fausset, A. R., in Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Biblical Commentary on Revelation 20, accessed 15 December 2018
  25. ^ Revelation 20:15 NKJV


External links[edit]