I'm confused by the 20th chapter of the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 20:1-15

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

I know that "of that day and hour knoweth no man" speaking to the time and day of the Rapture, but when in relation to the Rapture will the Millennial reign, or the 1,000 year rule of Jesus on earth, take place?

  • Apart from "after", the interval between the rapture and the millenial reign is a matter of debate/opinion, even among premillenialists - some believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, others mid-trib and some post/end-trib. Sep 9, 2016 at 16:57
  • "I'm confused by Revelation 20" – join the club! This is widely debated. It would be best to do a bit of research into Christian eschatology on Wikipedia and in the related questions here, and then ask more specific questions that you might have. Sep 9, 2016 at 17:30
  • I assume you are asking in relative terms. I've updated to make that more clear and changed the tags.
    – user3961
    Sep 9, 2016 at 21:36
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    @fredsbend The idea that the "rapture" is even mentioned in the book of Revelation is debated. The idea that the events recorded in Revelation are meant to be understood in chronological order is a huge assumption. And the idea that there are actually two separate resurrections is itself debated. Even if the question asked what the order of events was within the book of Revelation, it would be off-topic, but this doesn't even ask that – it asks a bare truth question. Sep 10, 2016 at 1:04
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    @fredsbend Yes. Unfortunately I'm at a loss to explain myself further. Even if your "assuming that everything about Revelation is literal" was a single, definable viewpoint (it isn't; even what "literal" means in the case of Revelation is debated), the question doesn't ask for that "viewpoint." It just asks a truth question. Sep 10, 2016 at 1:29

2 Answers 2


There are certain key events in Revelation that we can at least put in order. As you note in your question, however, no one knows the day or the hour.

The millennial reign of the righteous will take place after the first resurrection and after the "dragon" (presumably Satan) is bound, and continues through the second resurrection, at which point a new heaven and a new earth will be made and the righteous will live forever with Christ.

The First Resurrection takes place at Christ's coming and consists of the Righteous Christians only. It is this coming of Christ that "of that day and hour knoweth no man", and is generally what people mean when they say "rapture".

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonian 4:16-17

The First and Second Resurrection and the Final Judgement of all souls is detailed further in Rev. 20.

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [This is who takes part in the First Resurrection. They are those that are in Christ; they are Christians; they are the righteous]
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [This is the millennial reign. The righteous have been raised and rule the Earth with Christ.]

It will be 1000 years after the resurrection of the righteous that the remaining souls, the wicked, will be resurrected for Judgement.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God [This is the only place that makes sense for the second resurrection, and we already know from verse 5 that it is 1000 years after the First Resurrection]; 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. [After being raised they are judged]

Then Revelation 21 continues with the creation of the new heaven and new earth, then finally wraps up the whole vision.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Rev. 21:1

These verses (the whole book, even) are very poetical, but these verses together show that the millennial kingdom will exist between the two resurrections. This is, of course, assuming that everything about Revelation is literal and not metaphorical in some sense. For metaphorical interpretations, you will have to ask different questions with specific frameworks requested (pre-, post-millennial, etc.). At which point, I suggest you acquaint yourself with various views before asking: What are the differences between the different millenialisms?

Order of events:

  1. Second Coming of Christ.
  2. First resurrection, wicked destroyed.
  3. Thousand year reign with Christ on Earth.
  4. Second resurrection, wicked cast into the Lake of Fire.
  5. A new heaven and a new earth, and God will dwell with man.

According to my understanding of Scripture, the millennial reign of the saints will take place after the Second Coming of Christ while the wicked are asleep and Satan chained having no one to tempt. After the Millennium Christ will return with the saints and mete out the wicked's (both men and demons) punishment - the Second Death.

  • the wicked will be wide awake. Psalm 49:14 says the righteous will reign over the wicked in the 'morning'. The morning is a peculiar denotation in the bible of the millenial period, a utopia that also David refers to as God being even there. To reign implies an opposing will that must be put under subjection and it's of none other than of the wicked, spirit and man.
    – Witness
    Sep 9, 2016 at 20:36
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