The term “Millennium” means 1000 and is referred to as the thousand years after Christ return. There’s all kinds of teaching and speculation out there. Much of it has been built upon the plucking of Scripture from context and adding it to other passages to make it say something its not. Sometimes it better to just look at the subject within the context of Scripture it’s listed in and come to a determination from that. So, that’s what we are going to do.

Millennium, or “a thousand years”, as used for the end, is only used in one portion of text. There are other portions that talk about “a thousand years” (Ps 90:4; Ecc 6:6; and 2 Peter 3:8) but none of these are referring to what is called the millennium. The only portion of Scripture that talks about the thousand year end, or millennium, is Revelation chapter 20. It’s interesting that there is only one chapter in the Bible that talks about this but it is talked about so much among the Christians circles.

In order to understand what is happening in Revelation 20, one must have a basis of how to even study Revelation. First, Revelation is a prophecy. Prophecies are not unique messages. A prophet gives a prophecy to the people of God because they are not following the instructions of God. This is why prophets were not popular among the people. The only uniqueness about a prophets message was the results of either heeding to or not heeding to the warning.

Second, Revelation was not written to the church that would be around near Christ’s second coming. The book of Revelation was written to seven churches of Asia Minor during the first century. Revelation 1:4 has the salutation from John to those churches and verse 11 tells those churches that the book is written to them by command from Christ.

Third, while the book of Revelation was written for the churches of Asia Minor, it’s relative to anyone who reads, understands, and does, what is in the book (Rev 1:3, 22:14).

What is the construct of Revelation? It’s no secret that Revelation is filled with symbolism. This means we need to make sure we look at events based upon the symbol in which it resides. For example, people are looking for an actual mark to represent the mark of the beast; whether it be a bar-code or micro-chip. They are looking for something that will actually control buying and selling. Yet, what creates the mark? A beast that comes out of the ground? The beast is a symbol and therefore the mark is a symbol along with the buying and selling. That’s why when we understand what the image that all will worship is, we understand the symbolism of the mark; and its then that we understand that not being able to buy or sell is related to the fact that a person will not be able to have a job therefore they will not have anything to sell due to the fact that they will not worship the image.

Another fact we need to understand about Revelation’s construct is the fact that the book is a series of “parables”. Don’t let the word “parables” confuse you. What was a parable that Christ told? It was a story that explained how things were or how things were going to be. This is what this is in Revelation. They are a series of stories that are telling how things are going to play out. Revelation is not a novel that is read and understood by reading from front to back. Like Daniel chapter 2 and 7 and 8 are different “parables” of the same events, Revelation consists of different parables of the same events. The seven churches, seven seals, and seven trumpets are all parables of the same events told in different ways.

Revelation also has stories within stories. Remember watching movies and a character comes on the scene about half way through; and your not sure where that character came from or how they made it into the story? After you see some events with that character in the current story, the movie pauses and backs up to the story revolving around that character and how he ended up in that scene. Yeah… Revelation, and other parts of the Bible, do the same thing. This is kinda what we were looking at in Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 1 tells us the story of creation into day seven, located at the beginning of Genesis 2. Man pops in on day six but we have no detail of how that “character” got there. So, the author pauses the story and backs up to focus on the story of the creation of man. This is important to understand when reading Revelation, and especially in our looking at the millennium. The reason is, in Rev 20 we have events and the “beloved city”, which is New Jerusalem, that pops into the scene; but we don’t know how it got there. John pauses that story and backs up and gives detail about the beloved city in chapter 21. Most people read this as if it’s chronologically correct when in fact it’s a story within a story.

So, conclusion to this is, Revelation was written to seven churches in Asia Minor in the first century. This means the book was relative to that church. The book is filled with symbolism which means, since the book was written to and relative to the first century church, the symbols would be relative to that first century church; they would be something they would have understood in the context of their time and culture. We need to stop looking at our time, or future time, for the understanding of the symbols but rather look back to their time - and even their language.

All that being said, let’s dive into the millennium. We will be focusing on the context of a thousand years which is in Revelation 20.

The first mention of the thousand years revolves around the binding of satan (vs 1-3). This gives a good timeline of when the millennium will be in regards to what is called the “end days”. Satan is bound for a thousand years at the second coming of Christ. In relation to those who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, this would be after the “seven year tribulation period”.

The passage says that satan will not “deceive the nations until the thousand years were finished” This has some believing that life will continue even while satan is bound. The subject of this statement is not about whether or not life will continue but the location of satan during the thousand years. It’s also a contrast to what we find after the thousand years is complete (which we will see in a bit).

What happens when Christ comes?

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10

The term, “come like a thief” is often used to describe a pre-tribulation rapture. Yet, notice what happens when Christ comes like a thief. Earth definitely does not continue for seven more years. Believe it or not, when it comes to regards to the events of the end, we are told when Christ “comes like a thief”.

15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
Revelation 16:15

We also see confirmation of the destruction of the earth at the time of His “coming like a thief”

And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. 19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. 20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Revelation 16:18-21

What is happening is the very last moment of Earth. In the end, just before Christ comes, there will be seven “plagues”, or bowls (as called in Revelation) poured out on the earth. It’s in-between the sixth and seventh plague that Christ says He comes like a thief. The seventh plague is what we call Armageddon, and the end of the earth. This means, Christ says He comes just before earth is destroyed - not seven years earlier.

The seven bowls are a symbol the seven plagues of Egypt. You might be saying, but there were ten plagues in Egypt. Yes, there were. The Jews also suffered by the first three plagues but the last seven did not cause suffering of the Jews. These bowls represent those last seven plagues. Notice the first bowl:

So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
Revelation 16:2

We gain two understandings of truths from this statement. 1. the fact that it had to be distinguished that the sore “came upon the men who had the mark of the beast” would tell us that those who did not have the mark were still on the Earth. In the end, you will either be a follower of God or a follower of this world. All those who follow this world will have the mark of the beast. Therefore, followers of God are still on the earth during the bowls. 2. The followers of God are not affected by the bowls.

Like the last seven plagues of Egypt did not affect the followers of God so the bowls, “plagues”, will not affect the followers of God in the end.

I know, the Bible seems to be destroying the pre-tribulation theology. Yeah, the Bible tends to straighten out false teachings.

Ok, so Christ returns, and angel comes and binds satan for a thousand years and all the earth is destroyed. Pretty good reason why he can’t deceive the nations - huh? Wait a minute, I figured he could not deceive because he's in a “bottomless pit”.

In the original text “the bottomless” is not there. It merely reads (in English) “cast him into pit”. Doesn’t seem to make sense huh? The original word for “pit” is “abyssos”; it’s the Greek word by which we obtain the word “abyss”. Abyss is a nothingness. Now read it with the proper use. “he cast him into abyss”. Now that makes more sense. So, the earth is destroyed and satan is bound to nothingness, an abyss - that’s earth. Remember that while satan was cast to earth, he still has ability to travel outside this earth (Job 1:6). So now satan is bound to this earth, which has been destroyed and all people killed, without anyone to torment or tempt, and nothing to do except to think about his destruction at the end of the thousand years. Now we understand the context of verses 1-3.

Keep this in your memory, the thousand years (millennium) begins at the coming of Christ and the binding of satan. At the end of the thousand years satan will be “released” from the abyss.

The second time the “millennium” is mentioned is the resurrection of the righteous verses the resurrection of the un-righteous (vs 4-6). We need to take this slow and see what is happening.

First we are hearing about those who were “beheaded” for their witness to Messiah Yeshua. The church is abuzz at the thought of guillotines returning in the end. This does not mean that death by beheading is returning. The subject of this statement is the people and not how they died. Remember that this was written before bombs and guns. This was also written to churches in Asia Minor who were not crucified as criminals but rather beheaded. The subject of this statement is the people, what they stood for, and the fact that they died for what they stood for.

Now we are going to pause and back up a moment. We’ve looked at chapter 16 and 20. I want to gain some construct of 16-20.

As we already learned, chapter 16 is a “parable” of the wrath of God being poured out upon “Egypt”, the world. At the end of the parable is the introduction of a new “character” to this specific parable - Babylon. Chapter 17 is a story within a story. Who is Babylon and how did it arrive in the story of the plagues? Chapter 17 answers that. Chapter 17 is a parallel parable to the first beast of chapter 13.

Understand context of language, and God’s view of hypocrites, and you get a better picture of WHO “Babylon” is. She is called a “great whore”. God calls those who claim to be His people yet love the world more whores and harlots. That’s what’s happening here. This “great whore” is a major religion who claims to follow God. It lies in the city of seven hills (Rev 17:9) which is Old Rome. This all ties into the seven headed dragon in chapter 12 that tried to kill the baby Messiah (Rev 12:3-4) who then gives its power and authority (13:2) to an empire that looks just like Old Rome.

Chapter 18 starts to elaborate how “Babylon” will fall. When we look at the second half of the chapter, it appears that the “great whore” will fall moments before the coming of Christ.

The beginning of chapter 19 shows the rejoicing over the fall of the “whore” and then we see Christ saddling up to come to earth. The portion of text in Reve 19:11-16 is a detail account of chapter 16:15; much like we see with Gen 2 being detail of the account of the creation of man in Gen 1. Rev 19:17-21 is the detailed account of Rev 16:16-21.

Before we continue with the dead in Rev 20:5 take notice of the last verses in Rev 19.

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh
Revelation 19:20-21

The beast is the parallel to the whore of Rev 17 and the first beast of Rev 13. The “false prophet” is the parallel to the second beast of Rev 13. Those two empires will be destroyed. Then notice the last verse: “the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.” Ok… the two religion-political empires are destroyed and everyone else killed. We know that’s not talking about the righteous because we meet Him in the air during all this (1 Thes 4:17). So what this is saying is, as we seen earlier, everyone on earth dies at Christ’s coming.

Now we are seeing how this is playing out. Christ comes, we meet Him in the air, the whore and “prophet” are destroyed, mountains fall, islands sink, hail falls, fire falls, everyone dies, satan is bound to this abyss with no one to temp for a thousand years. What happens to the un-righteous dead? That is the invisible question that Revelation 20;5 is answering. They remain dead until after the millennium. While satan is sitting on a vacant earth, those who followed him will remain dead.

The second half of verse 5 returns to the people that was originally being talked about… those who follow Christ; no I mean REALLY follow Christ - even unto death. That’s what we are seeing in verse 4 and those are the ones who are part of the first resurrection.

“First Resurrection”…. notice that the Bible only talks of TWO resurrections (besides Messiah Yeshua’s of course). There is the one of the saints and those of the un-righteous. The one before the thousand years and one after. The one before is called the FIRST. This means there was not a resurrection seven years prior; as pre-tribulation rapture teachers try to teach. The FIRST resurrection happens at the binding of satan; at the beginning of the thousand years. That is why it’s important to remember when the thousand years starts in this story.

Let touch on a comment in verse 6 before we move on. “but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall REIGN with Him a thousand years”. If everyone is dead then who are we reigning over?

The Greek word has a literal translation of reign. The problem is, there’s two meanings of reign and we are going to look at both.

Most people see this as a rulership over. Yet, we are not told who, or what, we will be ruling over. Another definition of “reign” is “a period of rule”. For example: the original chapel was built in the reign of Charles I. It can also mean “the period during which someone or something is predominant or preeminent”. For example: these historic seconds inaugurated the reign of negative political advertising.

The context of the statement and facts of the Gospel tells us what this means. Will we be equal to Christ? No. In fact, it is Christ who will rule with an “iron rod” (Rev 2:27). We will be under Christ’s reign; just as we should be now. Look at what is going on. Everyone else is dead except for those who were a witness of Christ, even unto death; therefore, we will be the only ones living with Christ - the “predominant” people. For how long? a thousand years.

The very last time we see the millennium, thousand years, mentioned is in verse 7; and then it starts to tell us the events that will take place after the thousand years are complete.

Let’s catch back up here. The beginning of the thousand years is triggered by the coming of Christ (19:11-16) and the binding of satan (20:1-3). Everything and everyone is destroyed (19:17-21) except for the saints who will meet Christ in the sky (1 Thes 4:17; Rev 20:4); who will be the only ones living with Christ (20:6). The earth will remain desolate until after the thousand years when the un-righteous dead come back to life (20:5). When they come back to life, satan is released (20:7) and gathers up all the unrighteous (20:8 - nations numbering the sands of the sea (that’s a lot more than 6.5 billion - that’s all the un-righteous through all of time)) to set war against the “beloved city” (20:9). Wait a minute!!!! I thought everything was destroyed, where did this city come from? Enter a new “character” in the story. So, at the end of the story of Rev 20, John backs up and gives us some context of the “beloved city”.

Ok… what’s with chapter 20 verse 11-15. I thought the un-righteous dead were brought back to life in verse 7 and 8; at the end of the thousand years. They were. Verses 11-15 is a new “parable”, a new story. When John says, “then I saw” it does not mean it’s the next chronological event to happen; it means it was the next vision shown him.

So, chapter 20 verse 11 starts a new parable and it describes the un-righteous coming back to life; as we did not see any kind of detail in verse 7 and 8. This is because verses seven through ten are about satan’s steadfast rebellion against God and not about the un-righteous. Verse eleven starts the story of the unrighteous; therefore, it returns to the end of the thousand years when the “rest of the dead” (vs 5) will live again and then will be judged. When you put all of verses seven through fifteen together you see that after the thousand years the un-righteous dead will come back, out of the graves, out of the sea, and satan will be loosed again to deceive the “nations” which will now be so many people it will be as the sands of the sea. They will set war against the “beloved city” (which we get detail of in chapter 21) and then they will stand before God, and Christ, in judgment.

When we understand the structure of Revelation, then we look at the stories in chapter 20, we move to chapter 21 and notice a parallel between 20:14 and 21:8. When you the statement of Revelation 21:8, you then have to realize that the un-righteous are alive at that point after the New Jerusalem falls; and this statement gives a snippet of what we get detail of in chapter 20. This means, within the story of the coming of the New Jerusalem, the un-righteous had not yet been cast into the Lake of Fire as we seen in 20:14-15. When we see the text constantly backing up we can then understand how we are looking at a series of parables paralleling or stories within stories to give us detail of other aspects of the whole picture.

So where do the saints live during the thousand years? Well, we meet Him in the air and earth is destroyed and left desolate. This means we “reign” with Him in Heaven. Really, it only takes a little logic to understand this. If all the bad events of the wrath of God (chapter 16) are happening while the saints are on earth yet the plagues do not touch them, why lift the saints up to destroy the earth and put them back down. God can protect then through anything. There’s no reason to meet Him in the air just for us to come right back almost immediately. There’s a reason that Christ talked so much about Heaven; because we will be there for a time - a thousand years to be exact. Once the thousand years are done, we then come back down in the New Jerusalem. This is why “she” is “prepared as a bride”. - we are the bride and we will be in the New Jerusalem when it comes.

So, I hope this helps you understand the millennium and provides greater knowledge to how to read prophecy and Revelation.