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To understand the parable of Revelation 20 regarding the millennium a person needs to understand that Satan is bound (prevented from deceiving them) by God when an individual Christian is obedient and loosed to decieve them when they are disobedient.

To understand this parable the reader must view the Thousand years as the “obedient Christian life”.

The Greek word Teleo (End – Strongs 5055) is used three times in this chapter. Indicating the end of something has been reached. The word is used in this chapter to indicate either the “end” of obedience or the “end” of disobedience.

It is helpful to understand that the Bible tells us that the End/Goal (Teleo 5055) of our faith is Salvation, 1 Pet 1:9. This fact has bearing on this parable and its interpretation.

1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end (Teleo 5055) of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Rev 20 verses 2 and 3 begin with Satan being bound. This is indicative of an obedient Christian person.

We are told that He will not be loosed until the thousand years are fulfilled/end (Teleo).

Satan is loosed when a Christian’s obedience comes to an end.

Verse 4 shows tha obeying the Gospel is the equivalent to "reigning in this life", Ro 5:17.

Verse 5 begins with Satan being loose to deceive the person. That person does not live again (participate in the resurrected Christian life, Col 3:1) until the Christian’s disobedience ends, and Satan is again bound and unable to deceive the person due to the individual's obedience to the gospel of Christ.

In verse 5 "Teleo" is again used to indicate that the dead (In sin) do not live again and experience the resurrected life in Christ until the thousand years are finished/accomplished (Teleo).

Christians do not live the resurrected life until they are again obedient, Col 3:1

Verse 7 again indicates that when the Christian’s obedience or the millennium expires/ends (Teleo) Satan is again loosed to deceive them.

John illustrates in Rev 20:5 that the millennium is the first resurrection.

Re 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

Paul says in Col 3:1 that those who follow Christ have been resurrected.

Both John and Paul are speaking of the same resurrection.

Col 3:1 ¶ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Paul said that His students had been raised from the dead in Col 3:1.

The Christian life appears to be the first resurrection that is mentioned in scripture according to Romans 6.

John calls the first resurrection the millennium in Rev 20:5.

It seems that the Christian life is the millennium, and Revelation 20 simply shows among other things, that Christians are obedient at times and disobedient at other times. The resultant situations are the result of God ensuring that we reap what we sow.

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  • So you've correctly identified that Paul has the concept of a spiritual resurrection, the bringing to life of a sinner. But he also clearly has the concept of a physical resurrection (such as 1 Corinthians 15). Most people have read Rev 20 as referring to a physical resurrection, but I guess it could also be read as referring to a spiritual resurrection. This question however seems to be asking for a theological synthesis of John and Paul's teachings, which is off-topic on this site.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 17, 2023 at 5:51
  • As Paul has written of a body in 1 Cor 15, however improbable, He is referring to occurances that happen during our earthly lifetime. It is clear that He understood that a Christian would be absent from a physical body after physical death, 2 Cor 5:6. Corruptible must put on incorruption and we cannot do that if we are out of this present body. Mortal can only put on immortality during the time that it is mortal.
    – brmicke
    Jan 18, 2023 at 13:06

2 Answers 2

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“This is the first resurrection” refers to “the souls of those who were beheaded” who “lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Think about it. If those people were beheaded, then they had died. If, thereafter, they lived and reigned with Christ, that means they had to have been resurrected.

The passage should be read as follows (note the parentheses):

4 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. 5 (But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection.

The phrase “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” is a parenthetical statement. “This is the first resurrection” refers to what precedes the parentheses — not what is in parentheses. The phrase in parentheses is a reference to the second resurrection — those people who are resurrected after the thousand years. Those who were beheaded and lived again are resurrected before the thousand years.

Joseph L. Trafton writes,1

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Footnotes

        1 Trafton, p. 189

References

Trafton, Joseph L. Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary. Rev. ed. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2005.

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  • The roots of behead - imply forming through repeated blows - as a blacksmith does iron or a potter does clay, i.e. circumcise a heart/remove the flesh. By the way, I considered that perhaps this was the wrong forum or community for this post, but I can't migrate a post. Literalists say this is spiritualization. Without considering the stated purpose for speaking in tongues or parables, which is to conceal the true meaning, Reference - Mk 4:11-12.
    – brmicke
    Jan 13, 2023 at 18:06
  • +1. Good simple answer that is (refreshingly for this controversial subject) based on the Bible record.
    – Dottard
    Jan 13, 2023 at 20:42
  • The most enlightening key in understanding this parable for me was in recognizing that the word "telos" was translated three different ways in this section of scripture. Telos simply means that the thing referred to "ends".
    – brmicke
    Jan 14, 2023 at 21:58
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Would a comparison of John's understanding of these verses suggest to a reader that He understood the "Obedient Christian life" after conversion to be representative of "the millennium"?

This would be better asked in Christianity.SE, as it assumes doctrine believed by some but not all denominations, specifically that the Millennium is a spiritual event that has already started.

The Bible text presents a literal 1000 year period that follows the Tribulation, Christ's return, and the Resurrection of the elect as immortal spirit beings, none of which have happened yet.
(See 1 Corinthians 15:52 and surrounding verses.)

Satan will be banished, and for a 1000 years, Christ and those that were born again as his immortal siblings will teach and rule here on Earth, in the Kingdom of God.

After the thousand years, the rest of the dead (the vast majority of mankind that wasn't called and saved during our present age) will be resurrected as physical beings (the "second resurrection") will live in the Kingdom, will learn God's way of life, will pass judgement, and will be born again as immortal spirits, the children of God.

But Satan will have been released during this time, and a small number of people will choose to follow him and to reject God's salvation. They will fail the judgement and will be permanently destroyed.

John 5:28,29 refers to these two resurrections:

Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life [the first resurrection], and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment [the second resurrection].

The first resurrection will be at Christ's return, will be as immortal spirits, and will be for only a relatively small number of people.

The second resurrection will be at the end of the Millennium, will be as physical beings, and will be for everyone that was never called to salvation.

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