The Signs of Revelation – Part VI: The Judgment Day, Chapter 20

The first five parts of this series have discussed in some detail the signs and symbols found within the prophesy of John, the Revelation of Christ.  All of the signs and symbols of Revelation are based upon Old Testament (OT) prophesies, and can be determined from the scriptures within the OT.  The OT is the code for Revelation, indeed for all of the New Testament (NT).  If you have not yet read Parts I – V, you should take the time to do so before reading this Part VI.

A major consideration when reading Revelation Chap. 20 is that it is bound between the time markers, the front and ending bookmarks of Chapters 1 and 22.

Rev. 1:1-3, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”  (KJV)

The beginning verses of the prophesy state the time, and told the people of the first century A.D. that all of the things shown to John were about to happen to them.

Rev. 22:6, “And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.”  (KJV)

Rev. 22:10,  And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.”  (KJV)

Just as in the first chapter, the last chapter of the book reaffirmed that all of the things shown to John in the book were shortly to be done. Then, three more times in v. 7, 12, and 20 John was told that Christ was coming quickly.  Remember that Christ had told his disciples that John would live to see His coming! (John 21:22)

That means that the signs and events prophesied in Chap. 20 were included in “the things which must shortly be done,” which were all to happen in that generation of the first century A.D.  (See Part I for the time of the prophesy.) 

We cannot lift chapter 20 away from the first century A.D. any more than we can lift the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and all Judea away from the first century A.D.

Therefore ALL of the things in Chapter 20, including v.10- 15 where the devil, the beast, the false prophet, and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire happened during the first century A.D.  We must keep that in mind so that we do not become tempted to misapply these symbols and events to our generation, or another future generation.

It is hard for people to remove the blinders that the futurists have placed upon these scriptures, but if we look analytically and carefully we can determine the meanings of this prophesy.

First, let’s paint a picture, as all prophesy of God is a picture for His children.  (See previous post “The Valley of Dry Bones, A Picture for the Children of God.”)

Hades (the grave, Strong’s G86), was the place of the departed souls, all those which had died under the old covenants of the Patriarchs and Moses before Christ’s gospel message was preached by John the baptizer.  It had two parts as pictured in Luke 16:20-31:  Abraham’s bosom, or Paradise for the saved; and hell, or that part of Hades called Tartarus, the deepest abyss of Hades (2 Pet. 2:4, Strong’s G5020); also called the bottomless pit.

The picture painted in Luke 16 is that of the beggar being comforted in Abraham’s bosom which was separated by a huge gulf from the realm of the tormented souls of the damned in the bottomless pit, or abyss.  No one from either side could cross that gulf (Luke 16:26).

The sting of Hadean death was that all of the departed souls had to wait for Christ’s atoning sacrifice before they could be released from that realm.  None of the saved could enter into heaven before Christ ascended to the Father.

From Abel to Zacharias (Matt. 23:35), and all the rest of the departed, they had to wait for Christ’s victory to release them.  His manifestation in the first century A.D. marked the fullness of the time, and the generation for which they had been waiting (Matt. 11:13, 16; 12:41, 42, 45; 23:36; 24:34).

Dan. 9:24,  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”  (KJV)

Gabriel had told Daniel that all of the things listed above were to occur within that 70 “weeks” (sevens).  That meant that none of those things would go past the 70th week, including sealing up of vision and prophesy and anointing the most Holy.  Gabriel told Daniel (c.12, v.7) that when the power of the holy people (the Jews) had been scattered then all of those things would be finished.

When was Christ anointed?  When was the power of the Jews and their temple destroyed?

Jesus told the people of the first century A.D. that the kingdom was at hand (Matt. 4:17).  Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees that the judgment would occur at the wedding feast of the bridegroom in Matt. c. 22.  He told His disciples that the judgment would occur at His coming in His kingdom in glory in Matt. c. 25.

His coming in glory, the coming in His kingdom, the coming in judgment against those who crucified Him and persecuted His saints were all linked.  They were all going to happen in that generation in which He was manifested on earth.  (Dan. 7:10; Dan. 12:1-2; Heb. 1:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:20; Matt. 10:23, 24:34, etc.)  All of the New Testament declared the time… their generation in the first century A.D!

Jer. 23:5,  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.  (KJV)

Jer. 33:15,  In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.”  (KJV)

Psa. 9:7, “But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. (KJV)

1 Pet. 4:17, For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”  (KJV)

Peter was telling those Christians living in the first century A.D. when this book was written that the time had come to them!

The judgment was going to begin with those in Jerusalem, at the house of God (Rev. 20:9).  After the destruction of Jerusalem and that earthly temple in A.D. 70, then all of those departed souls who had been waiting in Hades were separated left and right (Rev. 20:12), after which the sheep on His right hand were taken home to heaven, and the goats to the left were judged according to their works and condemned to the second death… cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).

All the righteous that had waited in Paradise were not subject to the judgment.  The fact that they were in Paradise meant that their final resting place had already been determined at the time of their death.

John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  (KJV)

And, this is where many people become confused, and many commentaries shift away from the proper time period.  If, after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 Christ has already judged the dead in Hades, then we missed it?

You bet we did!  That is the whole point.  We are now greatly blessed if we die in the Lord, just all who have died in the Lord since the first century A.D.  (Rev. 14:13)

Those that love the Lord, that are baptized into Christ, are covered by His blood (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27), and have His righteousness reckoned unto them.  Since those in Christ are covered by His righteousness, then our sins are forgiven, hidden and covered as we repent of them.  (Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 John 1:9)

Just as in the last plague of Egypt (Ex. 12:12, 22-23) when the angel of death passed over those houses with the blood of the lamb over the lintels of their doors, the judgment passes over those of us who are covered by the blood of the lamb, and we go home when we depart this earthly realm to be with all the saved forever.

Ez. 18:21-22, “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.  (KJV)

Rev. 14:13, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”  (KJV)

What is the one thing that we can do to be covered in righteousness?  The only thing that makes us righteous before God is to be in Christ! (Gal. 3:26-29)

See also Acts. 26:18; Rom. 4:7; 1 John 2:12, and Rev. 7:14; 12:11.

If you have repented and been baptized into Christ, immersed in His name for forgiveness of sins, do you believe you are forgiven?  If God has promised to forgive your sins, then why would you stand before His judgment seat and repeat to Him every sin you have committed that He has forgiven, forgotten and will not mention to you?

It was the Hadean realm, and the Hadean death that was ended in Rev. chap. 20, not all physical bodily death.  This is what throws off so many and makes them think c. 20 is some future event about the end of the world.  It is not speaking of the end of all death, just of the waiting period in Hades.  (1 Cor. 15:55).

Kurt Simmons defines this in his book Revelation Explained, pp.59-60:

“There are at least five “deaths” known to scripture.  These are 1) moral/spiritual; 2) legal/juridical; 3) bodily/physical; 4) Hadean; and 5) eternal.  The general resurrection consisted in raising from Hades all who had suffered physical death or, without experiencing death, had been translated there.  Thus, the last enemy was Hadean death. Hades was the last thing separating the saints from the immediate presence of God.  The blood of Christ purchased man’s acquittal and redemption and opened the way legally and juridically back into fellowship with God.  But Hades still remained to surrender up its inmates so that man could enter the presence of God actually and spatially.  The apostle Paul thus states: “O death, where is thy sting?  O Hades, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (I Cor. 15:55, 56).  Christ triumphed over the law of sin and death in his cross (Col. 2:13-15);[1] he vanquished death and Hades by the power of his resurrection.  Jesus told the churches “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen: and have the keys of Hades and of death” (Rev. 1:18).  The gates of Hades would not prevail against Christ’s church (Matt. 16:19).  At the general resurrection, Hadean death was cast into the lake of fire and forever destroyed (Rev. 20:14).”

Christ has been judging the departed souls, one by one, ever since Hades was thrown into the lake of fire in A.D. 70.  If you repent of your sins, and have been faithful unto death, then when you die in the Lord the judgment passes over you.  You are then resurrected, changed in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corr. 15:52), and are lifted into the air to meet all the saved in heaven (I Thess. 4:17).

Those who are not covered by the blood of Christ at their bodily death will stand in judgment before God for the sins they have committed and be cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 21:8).

Therefore, Rev. Chap. 20 belongs to the same judgment events, the same prophesy time period as all of Revelation does… the first century A.D.  It is part of the most thrilling and joyful victory in Christ!  That is why we can rejoice even as we suffer the persecutions and trials we endure here on earth.

The futurists and their twisted perspective of Revelation strip all of Christ’s victory and joy away from the saints.  Their view removes the comfort and peace of Christ’s gospel message, that only in Him are we at rest.

Phil. 4:7,  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  (KJV)

All bold emphasis is mine.  Please read the previous five parts of this series, as well as the posts “The Thousand Year Reign of Revelation Chap. 20…”, “The Burning of Jerusalem and The Hadean Death”, and others at the right margin.

Further reading:  Which Death Was Destroyed in A.D. 70?

5 thoughts on “The Signs of Revelation – Part VI: The Judgment Day, Chapter 20

  1. leannasteward

    Thank you so much. This answers so many questions. I have been a preterist for 10 years, having been dispensationalist for 30 years prior. I was in a Hebrews bible study with a bunch of pastors when Heb 10:29 hit me like a ton of bricks and realized I had been calling Jesus a liar, ignoring, or explaining away all the “this generation” passages. That sent me into detailed study trying to figure everything out. Things started fitting together before I even heard the word preterist. At that time I didn’t know if I was full or partial but was leaning toward full. You have explained this so well I know now I am full. Again, thank you.


  2. Paul

    Very interesting. I never viewed Matthew 25 as being 1st century. So when Jesus put the sheep on the right and goats on the left, are we talking only about the souls who died before Christ? The souls who have been waiting in Hades?

    One question, maybe you don’t like labels, but do you consider yourself a full preterist?


    1. All of the books / letters of the NT were written in the 1st cent. AD. They must be approached from the contemporary historical, or first audience perspective. When we are reading and studying them 2,000 years later we have to distinguish the specific from the generic instructions / commands. Which ones apply to all ppl of all succeeding generations, & which ones only applied to those Christ spoke to?

      Remember that before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed that ALL of His disciples / believers would be where He was so they could witness His glory (John 17:19-24). Where was Jesus after His ascension? He was in heaven. Then those believers and followers of The Way were also going to be with Him IN HEAVEN after they died. Therefore, all of those who had died before Christ’s ascension had yet to see the Father (John 1:18; 6:46). Jesus was the 1st fruits, the first of the resurrected to ascend to heaven into glory. All those who had died before, both the righteous and the unrighteous, were still in that prison of Hades (Luke 16:19-31). They had been placed either in Paradise / Abraham’s Bosom, or in torment in Tartarus. Which of course means that they had faced their judgment already at their death or they would not have been assigned to the proper section. That is the prison where Peter said Jesus had gone to preach after His death on the cross (1 Pet. 3:19)

      Then, what did He preach to them? Did He preach salvation to those who had already faced judgment? Or did He tell them the same things that He told the living souls during His ministry – that the kingdom was at hand? He went to those souls / sheep waiting in Paradise to tell them they would be released soon. He had the keys to Hades (the grave) (Rev. 1:18). And, that is what Matt. 25 foretold for the separation out of Hades, the place of the dead. He separated them out of Hades (Rev. 20:12-13) immediately after the destruction of the temple. And, then the place of the dead (Hades) and the state of being dead were cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). Thrown away. No longer needed. Every soul who has died in the Lord since AD 70 has been gathered into heaven (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16-17). It is now a continual, on-going judgment process as each individual dies.

      And, yes I am a full preterist, because I believe that Jesus kept His promises to His disciples. I believe Jesus did everything He said He going to do, and that He did not lie to them when He told them He was coming “soon”. “Soon” for them did not mean 2,000 + years and counting. I believe Jesus finished the work, and fully established the method for our reconciliation to our Father, and fully established His everlasting kingdom. I believe He is ruling now at the right hand of the Father, and judges the nations with a rod of iron, and that He has been doing so for almost 2,000 years.

      Liked by 1 person

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