Revelation 20:1-5
(Rev 20:1 KJV)
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

Now John is seeing an angel descend from heaven having a chain in his hand along with the key of the bottomless pit. In this verse we will focus on the word "key." It is the Greek word "kleis" and is used only six times in the New Testament. All six times it is figuratively used in binding.

Matthew 16:19 - Keys of the kingdom of Heaven
Luke 11:52 - Keys of knowledge
Revelation 1:18 - The Keys of Hell and Death
Revelation 3:7 - Key of David (open and shut)
Revelation 9:1 - Key of the bottomless pit
Revelation 20:1 - Key of bottomless pit

In these six uses, there is a reference to opening and shutting in a figurative sense. Since these are not a literal set of keys, we must be careful to interpret the passage in the light of its symbolic usage. Now if the key is symbolic, we may safely conclude the chain is also symbolic. The word for "chain" is used eleven times in the New Testament and always with a sense of binding action. For example, in Acts 12:6, Peter was literally bound with chains between two soldiers. The chain we read about in Revelation 20:1 is symbolic for the gospel itself as we will see why in the following verses.

(Rev 20:2 KJV)
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

We have already seen that the beast and false prophet are in the lake of fire and now the focus turns to Satan himself. Satan has not been bound in a literal sense but that he can no longer prevent someone from becoming saved. Satan was bound at the cross and is helpless to prevent Godís chosen elect from becoming saved. Before the cross very few were saved but since the cross Satan could no longer blind the minds of Godís elect, therefore, thousands were saved. This is why the Gospel is both a binding chain and freedom from prison. It is a binding chain in the sense that Satan is powerless to prevent Godís Elect from being saved, thus it is like he is bound with a chain. Those who have become saved have been freed from Satanís prison (Isaiah 14:12-17).

We see this principle in Matthew 12:29 where we see Satan represented as a strong man.
(Mat 12:29 KJV) Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. Whenever a person becomes saved, they are in essence plundering the house of Satan. That person goes from becoming a child of Satan to a child of God. It is also important to note that the word "bound" is in the Aorist Active Indicative which means it is a past one time action with a future completion date and not a sole future event. Many espouse the belief that Satan will be bound with a big chain at a future date, but the Bible has revealed that the binding is a past action which continues on until he is loosed at the end of the New Testament period for a little season. According to the Bible, if the binding was a past action, then one of the two following scenarios must apply: First, if it is a literal thousand years, then Satan must have been loosed already since it is about two thousand years since Christ; secondly, if the Aorist tense of the word "bound" is true, and it is if it is in the Bible, then the act of binding was a past event. This can only mean that the thousand years represents the whole New Testament period minus a small space of time right before the LordĎs return therefore it is not a literal time period.

(Rev 20:3 KJV)
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.

Here we have the word "cast" in the Aorist Active Indicative (aai) form. The next word is "shut" which is a cognate of the word "key" in verse one. (Cognates are words that stem from a common root word.) This word is also in the (aai) form, which means the shutting up or binding was a past action. Remember, we previously saw that Satan cannot hinder those who will become saved because he is restrained by God. The figure of casting, shutting, and sealing are symbolic of this action. The word "seal" is also in the Aorist tense and carries with it the meaning of "seal up, stop, keep secret." All of this confirms what we previously stated, that Satan was bound at the cross.

This verse continues to say that this binding will remain till the thousand years are fulfilled. The word "deceive" is in the Aorist subjunctive active form, which indicates a past action which is conditional upon a situation. God is restraining the activity of Satan during the entire New Testament period until he is freed to make a final war right before the return of Christ. We seem to be very close to the loosing of Satan, if he has not been loosed already, because at present we are witnessing a dramatic increase of satanic activity both inside and outside of the church.

(Rev 20:4 KJV)
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.

Now the vision of John switches from the devil to the Christians in Heaven. We know this because they did not worship the beast, neither his image, nor did they have his mark upon them. Only the true Christians would have nothing to do with the beast system since it was in opposition to the Kingdom of God.

The first part of this verse deals with the fact that Christians will be partaking in some type of judgment, especially at the last day. (1 Cor. 6:2-3) The verse states that the believer "sat" upon thrones. "Sat" is also in the (aai). Throughout the ages as people became saved, they began to reign with Christ at the very moment. Is that biblical? According to Ephesians 2:6 it is:

(Eph 2:6 KJV) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

They immediately began to reign in their soul essence, as verse 4 states, John saw the souls of these believers, not their bodies, and these souls were upon thrones. John saw the believers in their glorified state. In Revelation 6, we had seen the martyrs who were given white robes and told to rest until the rest of those who were to be killed, were killed.

The first part of verse 4 seems to pointing to the believers who were not martyred since John mentions the martyrs in a separate instance. The first part of this verse may also include those believers who are still on earth but hold the position of royalty in Heaven at the same time. We are children of God, Kings and Priests, so that would mean we would have thrones from which to rule. As for the extent of that rule, that remains a mystery.

Now a serious question must be posed. If everything we have studied so far in these four verses points to a past action which is still in effect, then at what point does the thousand year reign begin if it is literal, since believers have been dying everyday since the time of the cross?

The Bible will not allow a future literal millennium because all of its language points to a time past. Now if the believer is raised at the time of salvation, then this would mean that the thousand year reign for each believer begins at the time of their salvation and not a future golden reign. We may also safely conclude that the spiritual reign of the totality of believers will end on the last day, in reference to the thousand year reign not eternity, because the believer will continue to reign with Christ throughout eternity. If a Christian is saved the day before Christ returns, that believer is reigning with Christ in the thousand years just the same as the believer who became saved in 113 A.D.

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

In this verse we read when the resurrection of all people will occur. The Bible is very clear that the resurrection of both the believers and unbelievers will be on the last day.
(John 5:28-29 KJV) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, {29} And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 12:48 KJV) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

So we see that the thousand year reign and the New Testament period are the same, since the resurrection is stated as being at the end of both. This verse also points out the unbelievers, "the rest of the dead," will not be raised till the thousand years are completed. So till that time, where do they go? Psalm 115:17 tells us:

(Psa 115:17 KJV) The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.

This verse shows us that the unsaved dead go to a place of silence until the resurrection. I do not know where this place is but God declares it is a place of silence. The word "silence" in the Hebrew means "to be dumb." It is figuratively used as "death." So the unbeliever is in a place of silence which is comparable to the silence of death until the last day. The balance of this verse continues to speak of the first resurrection but I will include this study in verse 6.