Remember the flow of the story since the end of ch.11 in terms of enemies of God and God’s people: Dragon (ch.12)/Beasts (ch.13)/Seven Bowls of Wrath (chs.14-16)/Great Harlot (chs.17)/Destruction of Great Harlot (ch.18)/Destruction of Beasts (ch.19)/Destruction of Dragon (ch.20). Each divine opponent is introduced and the destruction of each is narrated in reverse order. We are now up to the Dragon’s demise.
This structuring in parallel reverse order alerts us to see each of these events as a different aspect of the exhausting of God’s wrath with the seven bowls and not chronologically sequential scenes. Thus, it is likely that Rev.20:1-7 re-narrates the (almost) battle scene Rev.19:11-21 with its focus on the fate of the Dragon. He is bound by a mighty angel and locked into the abyss for 1000 years (or, following Revelation’s symbolism a complete time under God’s control).
What is this 1000-year period tucked in between these two accounts of the defeat of God’s supra-human foes? Most likely, the time in which the defeat of the unholy trio takes place. And when is that?
-Revelation 12:1ff. tells us it is Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection that constitutes the defeat of these three.
-Matthew 4:1-11: the temptation of Jesus is a decisive defeat for the devil at the outset of Jesus’ ministry.
-in Mark 3:27 Jesus speaks of the binding of the strong man (the devil) and the plundering of his house. This is a commentary on the temptation narrative. It uses the same “binding” language as in Revelation 20.
-in John 12:31-31 it is the cross that constitutes the defeat of the “ruler of this world.”
So, the binding of Satan represents his defeat by Jesus through the course of his life. That defeat is styled “so that he would deceive the nations no more.” We have seen throughout this study that deceit is the chief form of attack that makes us vulnerable to Satanic influence. Jesus broke the hold of that deceit over humanity thus binding him as the Seer relates. This accounts to for why the two Beasts are taken and destroyed without a fight because they are powered by the Dragon.
“That is, as with everything else that is mentioned beginning with 6:1, the fate of the Dragon must be seen in light of the victory already won, described in Revelation 5, by the faithful Lamb. The sense here is the Dragon’s lack of power echoes the picture in the Gospel of Mark of the “strong man” who is bound, easily, by the power of Jesus. Jesus’s power over demons points ahead to his power over the Dragon. The “thousand years” clearly is a symbolic number, though its precise meaning is unclear. Reading it in light of the rest of Revelation, probably the best interpretation is to see it as another symbol for the time we live in, historical time. It is equivalent to the 3 1/2 years, 42 months, and 1260 days that are the time of human existence on earth. This existence is marked by sin, suffering, and brokenness—as well as by faithfulness, healing, and celebration.”
Even with the Dragon shackled and his illusions and lies unveiled and disarmed by Christ, kings and nations and people will apparently continue to believe them and remain in his service. Thus he will be “let out” (indicating God’s sovereignty) for a final act of judgment.
Next John sees thrones and on the faithful people of God. The language of martyrdom here is symbolic, I think. I don’t believe John intends us to see two classes of Christians – those who lost their life for Christ and the rest. I believe he intends us to see the martyrs as all Christians, those who have given their lives in faithfulness to Christ whatever the cost. These sit on those thrones experiencing already the victory Christ has won over the devil, the beasts, and the harlot. These seems similar to Paul’s affirmation in Eph.2 that we have already been raised and seated with Christ in the heavenlies (the place of victory). This is the first resurrection. Those raised exercise the authority Christ has won for them and are will be priests for God .