Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 20: Great White Throne Judgment

This chapter includes the one thousand year period, called the Millennium, when Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (v.1-3), the Second Advent of Christ (v.4-6),  followed by a short period of Satan being loosed out of his prison and the battle of Gog and Magog (v.7-10), and finally the Great White Throne Judgment (v.11-15). Satan is cast into the lake of fire where the AntiChrist “beast” and his “false prophet” are. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

Verses 1-3

1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Firstly we read that an angel brings down from heaven the key to the bottomless pit (prison of some kind) (v.1) and the old serpent (the Devil, Satan) is bound there for a thousand years (v.1-3). The ‘angel’ must be stronger than Satan (Matthew 12:29). We’ll see that he is Jesus, who is more powerful than Satan (an angel is not necessarily stronger). After the thousand years bound in prison Satan is loosed for a short period (v.3).

So the question must be asked what does Satan being ‘bound’ mean? That is, Satan is bound “that he should deceive the nations no more”. Before Jesus came to Earth, the first time, all nations were ignorant of the one true God, except for God’s chosen people, Israel. And we read that after Jesus knocked the Apostle Saul (or Paul) off his horse, while he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9 and 26), Saul asked Him who He was (Acts 9:5; 26:15). And Christ told him that He is Jesus, and that He had chosen him (Saul) to be a minister to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, that is, to the rest of the nations of the world.

Luke 1018

Christ tells Saul the mission:

Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified [set apart] by faith that is in Me.

So it could be argued that at Christ’s first coming He bound Satan in some fashion allowing the Gentile world now to see, because they are no longer blinded, and understand the gospel when presented to them. Jesus gave His disciples power over demons and unclean spirits, and in fact made that part of their mission (Matthew 10:1,8; Mark 3:15; 6:13; 16:17; Acts 8:7; 16:18; 19:12). In some cases they could not do it, but in many they could, yet always in the name of Jesus. Jesus says of Himself:

Matthew 12:28,29 But if I cast out devils [demons] by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil [plunder] his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil [loot] his house.

Satan is called “Beelzebub the prince of the devils” (Matthew 12:24). The name is derived from Baal-zebub, the ‘lord of the flies’. You’ll realise this is significant when you understand that Greek name, used in this scripture, is Βεελζεβούλ Beelzeboul (pronounced beh-el-zeb-oul’), which may have been by an accident of popular pronunciation, or a conscious perversion (Beelzebul in Syriac = ‘lord of dung’), or Old Testament zebhubh may have been a perversion, accidental or intentional of zebhul (meaning ‘house’), so that Baalzebul takes the meaning of ‘lord of the house’. And Jesus called him the “prince of this world” (John 14:30).

So apply that to Matthew 12:29 and you’ll realise Jesus is saying here that He has bound Satan, the strong man, the ‘lord of the house’, where the house is this world. And that is why He and His disciples are able to cast out demons, and take captives for Jesus, through the power of Jesus Christ. Satan’s kingdom is in the process of being destroyed, and Jesus is beginning to set up his everlasting kingdom. Jesus thus has declared when the ‘casting out’ of Satan would take place and from that time on His kingdom is open and available to all the world.

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

God is sovereign and is totally in control of all events in history. Thus it would seem that Satan was bound in a special way at the time of Christ’s First Advent. That binding has meant that Satan cannot deceive the nations any more. With the proclamation of the gospel, from the time of Christ, all nations have had the opportunity to come to a saving knowledge of the Son of God. Satan is still alive on Earth, but his power has been limited, in fact broken by Christ on the cross. So that he no longer has the ability to deceive the world and in so doing prevent them coming to know God.

Jesus once said something concerning Satan’s fall from heaven that will help us understand how much power Satan has in comparison to our omnipotent God. Jesus had sent out his seventy disciples telling them to go out by faith and preach the gospel (Luke 10). When the seventy returned with joy they said:

Luke 10:17,18 Lord, even the devils [demons] are subject to us in Your name [power and authority]. And He said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

This marks the time when Satan was ‘bound’ to prevent him from stopping anyone hearing and coming to understand the gospel. It would seem also then that this signifies the beginning of the period of time that the one thousand years here symbolically represents.

In Deuteronomy 7:9 and 1 Chronicles 16:15 God speaks of His faithfulness to keep His promises with those who love Him and His Word, by using the expression “to a thousand generations”. God declares His omnipotence and authority in Psalm 50:10 by referring to His owning all cattle on “a thousand hills”. In Psalm 90:4 we read that “a thousand years” in God’s presence seems like just one day. People often quote 2 Peter 3:8 in an effort to claim that “one day” with God is really “a thousand years”, when they are trying to compromise the straightforward meaning of the days of Genesis 1. But actually 2 Peter 3:8 is saying that God is not subject to time, He is outside of our realm. But there the phrase “a thousand years” is used to mean a very long time. See also Psalm 84:10, Isaiah 30:17, and Ecclesiastes 6:6. These verses all use “a thousand” in a non-literal sense, often indicating a very long period of time.

So can this one thousand year period in Revelation 20, which is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, nor in any other chapter of the Revelation, also be non-literal, ie., symbolic? Much of the historical interpretation of Bible prophecy has meant that symbolic language is used. But that is ok, as prophecy is not intended to be literal, unlike narrative history of the Genesis account of the creation.

A Bible commentator, from whom I have drawn a lot of this, Jim Gibson, wrote:1

“So it is with the term of a “thousand” presently under consideration. Just as the number ten represented “completeness” or “fullness”, the number “thousand” denotes the same but drawn to its ultimate or maximum limit.”

He suggests that the thousand years here is symbolic of the period of time since Christ, which we call the Church age, that is, it

“represent[s] the perfect and complete time that God had ordained for the Church to spread the Gospel to all the nations of the world. This was to be accomplished while Satan was being temporarily ‘bound’.”

At the end of the Church age, which we’ll examine later Satan is released from his bondage for a short time.

Verses 4-6

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. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on 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.

The Apostle John describes a new vision where he describes all those involved in the Revelation up to this point.  He begins with those who were seated upon thrones who were given judgment or authority. In Revelation 4:4 we saw the 24 elders clothed in white raiment wearing golden crowns and sitting upon thrones. These elders are the ‘they’ of verse 4. The 24 elders represent all of the Old and New Testament saints, both Jews and Gentiles, who ever lived.

Then John says that he saw “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus”, and that “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years”. The latter is repeated in verse 6. This one thousand years is symbolic of the Church Age. It began with Christ’s ministry on Earth and will end at His second coming.

Another controversial text is the phrase “first resurrection”. To the Pre-Trib (or even Post-Trib) rapture dispensationalists, the term applies to the martyred saints during the tribulation period. And the term “first resurrection” naturally implies a “second resurrection”. This is something that is hard to get away from.

In verse 6 we read the expression the “second death”, which naturally implies that there first be a “first death”. Let’s see if we can identify each of these terms in the Bible. Looking at Genesis chapters 2 and 3, we read that Satan tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, saying to her, “You shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).  But God had said that they would die is they ate of it (Genesis 2:17). But also we know that Adam did not die immediately, but lived 930 years, so what do we make of that?

The phrase used in Genesis 2:17  “You shall surely die” can be literally translated from the Hebrew text as “dying you shall die”.2 This indicates that they both died spiritually at the moment they ate the fruit, in disobedience to God. As a natural physical consequence they began to die, which eventually resulted in their physical death many hundreds of years later. But really the spiritual death was their “first death.”  Then Revelation 20:14 defines the “second death” as being cast into the lake of fire.

This concept of the “first death” being spiritual death of those who are not regenerated in Christ is supported by Jesus (in Luke 9 and Matthew 8) when He was challenging some potential disciples to count the cost and follow Him. To one man He said:

Luke 9:59,60 … Follow Me. But he said, Lord, permit first me to go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the [spiritually] dead bury their [physically] dead: but go you and preach the kingdom of God.

Jesus said to the man to leave his relatives, the spiritually dead, to bury their physically dead. Those are the unregenerate relatives, who spiritually are already dead, even though they are still living in the flesh. But what counts to God is the spiritual life and those who are not spiritually alive are dead.

In the same vein let’s consider the phrase the “first resurrection”. Now, according to the online Dictionary, the word ‘resurrection’ means ‘the act of rising from the dead’ or ‘the state of those risen from the dead’ which means to ‘pass from death to life’.

John 5:24,25, 28,29 Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. 25 Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. …  28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all [i.e. the dead] that are in the graves shall hear His voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.

Here we see that Jesus is teaching that there are two resurrections: (1) a spiritual resurrection, and (2) a bodily resurrection. Jesus emphatically declares that all are “dead” until they “hear and believe” His words of life. Therefore, this is the “first resurrection”. He also says that this act of believing in Him would keep them from “condemnation”. This is the same that the Apostle John declares in this chapter. Like the concept of the “first death”, the spiritual death that Adam experienced, we have the reverse in the “first resurrection”, which is the moment of salvation, which keeps the believers from “condemnation”.

In John 5:28,29 Jesus states that the “hour is coming”, but notice that He does not say “and now is”, when all that are “in the graves” shall hear his voice. This, of course, refers to the general resurrection in the last day, which then must be the “second resurrection”.

In Revelation 20:5,6 the message is that those that have experienced the “first resurrection” will not experience the “second death”. Of course, the “second death” is the “condemnation” that Jesus was referring to in John 5:24. So according to Jesus anyone who has passed “from death to life” will not come into “condemnation” or the “second death”. This “first resurrection” began during the ministry of Jesus (“now is”) and will continue to the time of Jesus’ second coming to those who “hear and believe” His words. And those who hear His words who have part in the “first resurrection” will be priests to God and of Christ (1 Peter 2:9), who were called out of the darkness.

Verses 7-10

7 And when the thousand years are expired [ended], Satan shall be loosed [released] out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed [surrounded] the camp of the saints [believers] about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil [i.e. Satan] that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

All other Scriptures declare that Jesus’ kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom. Even the most ardent dispensationalist would not dispute this point. Of course, they maintain that this thousand years is just the first part of Christ’s eternal reign. Still, nowhere else in the Bible does it ever allude to this one thousand year part.

If it is as Jim Gibson has suggested (and presented above), that the one thousand years represents the entire Church Age, then the loosing of Satan from his prison must be toward the end of God’s timeline for man. Let’s see if we find any evidence of this in history. Again, I want to remind the reader that Satan was “bound” only in the sense that he could not “deceive the nations” anymore.

In what way does Satan “deceive” the nations? One way he can do it is by sowing the seeds of untruth in the guise of “new revelation” within the Christian religion itself. From this methodology, new denominations (cults) were established in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These cults have denied many of the fundamental tenets of the Church. Even though these cults are destructive in their lies and deception by perverting the truth of the gospel, their impact was limited. Satan needed a plan that would be more pervasive and rebellious in its nature. Jim Gibson says that he believes it is found in what he calls the trinity of the isms: evolutionism, communism, and humanism. God is removed from each one of these isms. Therefore, they all share the basic tenet of atheism.

Although the concept of evolution was developed before Charles Darwin, it was his book, Origin of the Species, which was instrumental in the wide dissemination of the erroneous doctrine. It was enthusiastically received by man because it meant that he no longer needed concern himself with coming judgment because of his sins. There was no Creator therefore there is no God. Everything became just the product of blind chance. Hence man was free to pursue their own lusts with impunity.

Atheist evolutionist Prof. Richard Lewontin infamously said:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.3

Darwinian evolution requires long geological ages, which requires billions of years of cosmic history from the alleged big bang. Evolution on all these levels is foolish. One of my favourite passages in the Bible aptly describes this type of thinking.

Romans 1:18-22,28 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in [known to] them; for God has showed it to them. 20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [honoured] Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain [empty] in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, … 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate [unprincipled] mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

Charles Darwin published his book in 1859, which then provided a ‘scientific basis’ for the development of other godless isms. There were other godless philosophies already taking hold but by removing the Creator from His rightful place, man was relegated to being just another animal, and therefore whatever he does is only the result of his ape-like ancestry.

Communism and socialism, which is the softer sounding version of communism, but really the same, were developed from the writings of Karl Marx, particularly his and Friedrich Engels “The Communist Manifesto”. Marx had a high regard for Charles Darwin and adopted his view that man controls his own destiny. Karl Marx shared Charles Darwin’s goals to “dethrone God”. The first major direct consequence of the implementation of political Marxism was the Russian Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and following that communism began to spread like a cancer throughout the world.

In relation to humanism Gibson wrote:1

In the year 1933, another one of evolution’s “sons” was born. That year marked the birth of humanism. With the signing of the Humanist Manifesto, man became his own “god”, in that he would develop his own value system. Humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created. They, too, just as evolution and communism, have eliminated God as a real, personal being. To them, God was merely a manifestation of man’s own foibles and fears. Just as communism was founded on the premise of freeing man, humanism also used that very same guise, except it began the process at a much younger age. They would do this through the public school system. Horace Mann, who is the considered the “Father of Public Education”, made this startling quote, “deliver children from the Christian Religion.” Echoing the same sentiments was John Dewey, the Father of Progressive Education, when he said, “solve the Christian problem via the public school system.” It is no coincidence that both of these men were humanists.

So, the binding thread of these three isms is atheism. Consequently, in this “little season” in which Satan was “loosed”, he has virtually eroded the foundations of the Christian faith. From this perspective, I am persuaded that we are presently living in this “little season”.

Whether or not Gibson is correct that we are now in the “little season” when Satan is loosed from the pit to again deceive the world, there can be no doubt that the last 150 years has seen a massive rise in godlessness in the areas of the world that were once Christian. Even Christians are falling for big bang, evolution, socialism, and even some of the basic tenets of humanism, but they believe that Jesus came to make a utopian socialist society on Earth where only love reigns and no one is judged for their sins.

After the “thousand year” Church age has passed, Satan is loosed from his prison, he is unbound (v.7) and goes out and deceives the nations (v.8) with these antiChrist deceptions. He gathers Gog and Magog (meaning land of Gog) to battle Christ and the saints on Earth. Magog is symbolic of the lands to the north of Israel, occupied by the country of Turkey today. So these are Muslim lands and it would not be surprising that Satan leads forces from these lands against God’s saints on Earth and against the “beloved city” Jerusalem (v.9). But God wipes them out with fire from heaven. Finally Satan, the devil, is cast into the “lake of fire” to join the AntiChrist and the false prophet. These three are eternally condemned there (v.10).

Great White Throne Judgment

The Great White Throne Judgment, Chapter 20, verses 11-13

Verses 11-15

11 And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; 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. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Now comes the Great White Throne Judgment by God as Judge (v.11) where the “books” are opened and the dead are judged according to their works (v.12,13). The book of life (containing the names of the saved) is also opened (v.12), because the saved are also judged at this time, the only time, the only resurrection of all who ever lived.

This passage is in complete agreement with what Jesus said in John 5:28,29. According to both of these scriptures, there will be a general resurrection in which all will be judged. This includes believers and unbelievers, some to everlasting life and the rest to eternal damnation.

The Bible is full of references to the resurrection and the last day of judgment (Matthew 10:5, 13:37-43, 47-50; Mark 6:11; John 6:39,40,44; 11:24-26; 12:48). Jesus spoke about these in some of his parables, notably the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:37-43) where all the crop both wheat (the saved) and tares (weeds, the unsaved) are gathered and ‘judged’. Another is the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46). We see there (Matthew 25:31,32) God in His throne room and He gathers all nations separating from them the sheep (saved) and the goats (unsaved). The unsaved are sent into Hell, into “everlasting fire”.

Another parable that make much more sense is the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The bridegroom is Christ. He comes to collect His bride. You would think all ten are collectively His bride. But some are foolish, meaning they really are unbelievers, who only have had the outward show of being a believer. They are not permitted to the marriage, Christ saying that He does not know them (Matthew 25:12). This resonates with the time when Jesus said that He did not know some who even did miracles in His Name (Matthew 7:22,23). There are many fake Christians, who only go through the motions but are without the power (2 Timothy 3:5).

The dispensationalists/premillennialists, who hold to a Pre-Trib secret Rapture of the Church (like John Darby), ask the question why would Jesus tell the believers to watch and wait for His return, giving the impression that it is imminent when, in fact, according to the postmillennial interpretation for the Second Coming of Christ, there would be at least a thousand years (the Millennium) before that could even happen? Well, the answer here is simple. The Church has been going through the “thousand year” (symbolic) Church age, which is soon coming to a close, and Christ could come back at any time. Only the Father knows when (Mark 13:32; Matthew 24:36).

The dispensationalists/premillennialists would have to ask, why is the book of life opened here at the Great White Throne Judgment if the first resurrection of the saved occurs at the start of the Millennium? Wouldn’t all the saved have already been resurrected!? Maybe that is just to check that the saved are not judged here, having already been judged? And we are supposed to know this from:

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.

The dispensationalist premillennialist interpretation holds that the first resurrection is only of those saved before the Millennium and this judgement seat of Christ is a different judgement to the Great White Throne Judgment. But 2 Corinthians 5:10 can easily be interpreted to mean those saved believers being judged at the Great White Throne Judgment–all unsaved are judged at the same time as the saved. That is the judgment seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgement are the same thing.  For reasons outlined in my Revelation Chapter 19 study this must be the case. The resurrection of the saints is simultaneous with the Day of the Lord and is immediately followed by the Great White Throne Judgment.

In verse 13 we read that death and Hades (the grave) give up the dead, the unsaved dead, and they are judged according to their works. We saw in Revelation 1:18 that the keys to “death and hell” were given to Christ, meaning the keys to “death and hades”. The Greek word ᾅδης (hades) used here (v.14) is translated “hell”.  It is something like the grave, where the souls of the dead are asleep waiting their resurrection. Hades refers to the intermediate state of the dead who are awaiting the Judgment. Gehenna, on the other hand, refers to the location of the final state of the wicked after the Judgment.

Gehenna originally referred to a place located outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, the Valley of Hinnom, a place of horrible idolatry. When the Jews finally came back to Jerusalem after 70 years of their Babylonian captivity, they resolved never to use the Valley of Hinnom or Ge-Hinnom for idolatry again. Instead, they burned their trash there, and it became a burning valley of waste. So Gehenna, the place (or state) of everlasting punishment, is properly translated “hell”.

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [γέεννα (Gehenna)].

Also Luke 12:4-5. There is no point fearing someone who can only throw you into a waste dump, as some claim the meaning to be. There is only one reason to fear the person that can throw you into Gehenna: you must have personal awareness that you are cast there. So Gehenna is hell, the place where the unrighteous dead are finally cast, the “lake of fire” (v.15).

Mark 9:43,44, and repeated in verses 45,46. And if your hand offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed [crippled], than having two hands to go into hell [Gehenna], into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm [literal. maggot, implies torment] dies not, and the fire is not quenched.

It is claimed that after Christ’s death on the Cross, before His resurrection, He must have preached to the unsaved in Hades (prison) so that they knew God was justified in what was coming to them in Gehenna. The following is the text.

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

But Christ did not go to Hell to do so. This passage means that by His actions on the Cross He went and preached to the departed souls awaiting judgment. Hence God is justified in carrying out the Judgment. In similar way but different outcome:

 1 Peter 4:5,6 Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the [living] and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Here were individuals who had the gospel preached to them while they were alive (“in the flesh”), and who responded favorably by becoming Christians. But then they were “judged according to men in the flesh,” i.e., they were treated harshly and condemned to martyrdom by their contemporaries. At the time Peter was writing, they were “dead,” i.e., deceased and departed from the Earth. But Peter said they “live according to God in the spirit,” i.e., their souls were not extinguished, and they have the hope of the resurrection while, in a sense, ‘waiting’ in the Hadean realm.

Finally, those from “death and hades” (v.14) who are found guilty of their evil works and not found in the book of life (by definition not saved) are then permanently cast into the “lake of fire,” which is the “second death.”  The last enemy, death, shall be destroyed. The point of the saved/unsaved is emphasised again here, because those found not written in the book of life are cast into the “lake of fire” (v.15). It is Jesus Christ, who has the keys to “hell (hades) and death” (Revelation 1:18) so it is He who casts the wicked unsaved into the “lake of fire”.


A lot of the ideas presented here are not mine but from Jim Gibson.


  1. Gibson, J., Understanding The Book of Revelation, Chapter 20, August 9, 2016.
  2. Mortenson T., Genesis 2:17—“You Shall Surely Die”,, May 2, 2007.
  3. Lewontin, R., Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, January 9, 1997.

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By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

2 replies on “Revelation 20: Great White Throne Judgment”

I am so glad that you enjoyed my little commentary on Revelation. When a writer writes something, he feels that a purpose has been achieved if others read his work. This is especially true if he felt inspired to write something about God’s Word.
I also wrote a book called An Appeal to Reason. I present the creation/evolution debate in a common sense approach. I would be honored if you would take a look at it. Since I am unknown and without a “platform”, few have read my book. If you will provide to me your mailing address, I will send you a copy. I bought some copies from the publisher, and they should be arriving soon.
Let me share this one story with you. My best friend is a Christian lawyer in southeast Texas. His oldest son was influenced by an atheistic professor when he was a senior in college. On his facebook page he declared himself to be an atheist too. My friend stopped looking at his son’s facebook page because it was so upsetting. Anyway, after I had finished writing my book, I gave several copies to my friend. When his son came home from medical school, my friend gave his son a copy of my book. Later when his son came home again during Spring break, my friend noticed that his son had my book in his backpack. Out of curiosity, my friend looked at his son’s facebook page. He was greatly relieved when he discovered that his son had deleted all the vile atheist postings and had replaced them with Christian posts. He had come back to God. He is now on his last year of medical school.
Jim Gibson
2078 Hwy 43 S.
Harrison, AR

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