Millennium: Destruction of the dragon and the enemies (Revelation 20:1-15)
The section of 20:1-15 could be labeled in various ways. If we choose the title Millennium, our perspective will focus on the part of the events described in relation to this frame. The text speaks of a period of one thousand ears in regard to heavenly kingdom and its earthly realization during the second coming of Jesus Christ.
A concept of the millennium (gr. χίλια ἔτη [chilia eté]) can be found only here out of the entire Bible (once in each verse of Rev 20:2-7). When we would remember to 2 Peter 3:8, we need to add that Revelation speaks about something else. However, the crucial importance of the Millennium is that based on its understanding most of the interpreters create their interpretative perspective of the book of Revelation. This fact, however, hurts the text because it burdens it with dogmatics, which is to be dealt with afterward when the text is exegetically processed.
To enter the story recorded in Rev 20:1-15 we need to realize that something important has already happened before and this text is following these events. In the closest proximity, we could have seen outpouring of the “seven golden bowls full of the anger of God (gr. ἑπτὰ φιάλας χρυσᾶς γεμούσας τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ [hepta fialas chrysas gemúsas tú thymú tú theú])” (Rev 15:7) climaxing in the destruction of the city of Babylon (Rev 16:19). After the last bowl is outpoured, the story takes a slower pace to show us the essence of the city of Babylon and its allies (Rev 17-18) in order to justify their destruction (Rev 17:1; 18:3). Punishment of the city and realization of justice consequently affects the rise of happiness in the heavenly hosts (Rev 19:1-8). The last preceding event is the battle of Armageddon (Rev 19:11-21), where God’s enemies are finally conquered. In this image, the characters of the beast and the false prophet from Revelation 13 appear and are burned in the lake of fire (Rev 19:20).
Now we are entering our story. The judgment of God over his enemies has been executed ending in the lake of fire for them. However, the lake of fire still burns and other enemies need to be burned there (e.g. dragon according to Revelation 12-13). The story has four phases: capturing of the dragon (Rev 20:1-3), thousand years judgment (Rev 20:4-6), destruction of the dragon (Rev 20:7-10), judgment and the destruction of the wicked, death and hades (Rev 20:11-15). Therefore, the millennium is a time of the settlement of justice.
The emphasis on justice comes from the fact that there is a twofold judgment: “judgment was given (gr. κρίμα ἐδόθη [krima edothé])” (Rev 20:4), “the dead were judged (ř. ἐκρίθησαν οἱ νεκροὶ [ekrithésan hoi nekroi])” (Rev 20:12). The first probably takes one thousand years and is an allusion to Daniel 7. The text is not much specific and primarily focuses on the description of those who will participate in it. Nevertheless, because of the link with the millennium we can say in a certain degree that the subject are things regarding dragon because after the period he is set loose: “and when the thousand years will be finished, stan will be released from his jail (ř. καὶ ὅταν τελεσθῇ τὰ χίλια ἔτη, λυθήσεται ὁ σατανᾶς ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς αὐτοῦ [kai hotan telesthé ta chilia eté, lythésetai ho satanas ek tés fylakés autú])” (Rev 20:7; also see 20:3). His destiny ends in the lake of fire.
The second judgment takes part after the destruction of the dragon dealing with unrighteous who are designated as dead in the text. Criterium of this judgment is the book of life, where entries are recorded “according to works (ř. κατὰ τὰ ἔργα [kata ta erga])” (Rev 20:12). The paradox here is that there is only dealing with unrighteous (dead) whose lives are brought to the light of the judgment. There is no need to judge the righteous. All of the unrighteous end up in the lake of fire (including the dead and the hades).
In this story, we have a strong emphasis on the fair assessment of the events and the proper punishment of all the culprits. The text's utterance is therefore directed at the just conduct of the Lord, which must be taken seriously and trusted. First and foremost for our hope, but also as a warning that our evil works will not go unnoticed.
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