IS REV 20 A REPETITION OF REV 12 (2)?

RepeatPMW-2020-074 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I introduced my rebuttal to the notion that Rev 20:1–3 (the binding of Satan) recapitulates Rev 12:7ff (Satan’s casting out of heaven). Recapitulation is a common feature within Revelation. But it does not appear everywhere that some think it does.

In this article I am continuing my response to G. K. Beale who argues for recapitulation on Rev 20:1–3. One’s approach to this question will influence his interpretation regarding a major figure in Revelation (Satan) and his judgment. I continue now with my fifth response to Beale.

(5) In 12:2 Satan rages with “great wrath because he knows he has little time.” Beale compares this with 20:3, where he is to be “released for a short time” after his confinement. But the point of 20:1–6 (the verses specifically mentioned by Beale) is that he is being confined (not exercising great wrath) and for “one thousand years” (not a “short time”). On the preterist view the “short time” Satan experiences in 12:2ff is the period of 1260 days of the Jewish War leading up to AD 70 (12:6, 13–14), which fits within Rev’s time constraints (1:1, 3; 20:6, 10).


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(6) Beale notes that Satan’s fall results in the coming of Christ’s kingdom with his saints (12:10–11), just as 20:4 shows Christ reigning with his saints. But this coming of the kingdom appears elsewhere in Rev, in that John is showing from different historical angles Christ’s victory — from his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, session, and all the way through to AD 70. Rev 1:6 (cp. 1:9; 5:10) declares that he has already “made” (epoiēsen, aor. act.) us a kingdom of priests before John writes, whereas in other places (as in 12:10–11 and 20:4) the kingdom appears to come later in the drama. For instance, 11:15 declares the kingdom comes — but without any reference to Satan’s fall and as a result of events occurring after Christ’s resurrection-ascension (11:15, cf. 11:7–12). Beale (587) points out that tthe Rev 11 episode occurs “when they [the two witnesses] should complete their witness,” which for him “is to occur at the end of history.” Whereas he sees the binding of Satan in 20:1–3 as occurring in the first-century victory of Christ: “the restraint of Satan is a direct result of Christ’s resurrection,” which “was probably inaugurated during Christ’s ministry” and “climactically put in motion immediately after Christ’s resurrection” (Beale 985).

This mixing of dramatic episodes is much like Christ’s own claims while on earth. For instance, he teaches that before his death and during his earthly ministry he was binding Satan (Mt 12:28–29),. Yet elsewhere he associates Satan’s demise with his resurrection-ascension (Jn 12:31–32; cp. Col 2:14–15; Heb 2:14; 1Jn 3:8). He does this regarding his kingdom’s coming also, noting that his casting out demons (a fall of Satan: Lk 10:17–18) demonstrates that the kingdom has come (Mt 12:28). But later he refers to AD 70 as “the kingdom of God” coming “with power” (Mk 9:1; cp. Mt 16:28). The complex of first redemptive-historical events (Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, session, and AD 70) are all aspects of his grand victory. We may equally speak of Satan’s demise beginning in Christ’s ministry or at his resurrection. And as I will show, for dramatic purposes John presents AD 70 as its starting point. In that AD 70 stands as the concluding act of that first-century cluster of truths, and is the dramatic, historical evidence of them (Mk 9:1; cp. Mt 21:43; Ac 2:19–20), and is shortly to come to pass (1:1, 3), John effectively uses AD 70 as his collect-all since it is the final, climactic one.Nourishment


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(7) Beale (992) observes that the saints’ kingship is “based not only on the fall of Satan and Christ’s victory but also on the saints’ faithfulness even to death in holding to ‘the word of their testimony’” (12:11; 20:4). John can speak of faithful adherence to the word and testimony in the first century as well as in the last century. In fact, John himself was in Patmos in the first century “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (1:9; cp. v 2).

I am convinced that Rev 20:1–3 does not recapitulate Rev 12:7ff. They are two distinct phases in God’s judgment of Satan.

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12 thoughts on “IS REV 20 A REPETITION OF REV 12 (2)?

  1. Michaelrains61@gmail .com August 5, 2016 at 10:35 am

    God binds Satan 1000 years, a day is as a thousand years, Satan is Bound for a day, It is the last day of the new creation God makes satan take a sabbath. The heavens satan has been kicked out of is the new heavens that has just been glorified in the Earth. As Kings and Priests in the Earth the disciples Rule and reign and God is with them. They bring the destruction of Jerusalem about in 70 AD, they pray cast this Mountain into the sea they raise their hands like Moses tought them and they kick the dirt off their feet against the city that rejected them and they call down fire on the prophets of baal just like Elijah did.

  2. Kenneth Gentry August 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    You have Rev 21-22 occurring before Rev 20. I recommend re-reading my argument here.

  3. Joshua Parker August 18, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Dr. Gentry, I just finished reading your book, Navigating the Book of Revelation. Before reading the book, I was struggling with Rev. 20 and following because of John’s continued declaration that the events must shortly take place. I got to the Rev. 20 section of your book where you stated that you changed your Augustinian view. I was glad to read that I wasn’t the only one that has come to the same conclusion based on what John stated and other Old Testament passages.

    Therefore, my question for you is, would you still consider yourself a Postmillennialist even though you recognize that the millennium is happening in heaven? If so, why?

  4. Kenneth Gentry August 18, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Yes, very much so. As I mention in several of my writings (such as He Shall Have Dominion):

    I believe Warfield is correct in his complaint that Rev 20 is the tail that wags the dog. That is, Rev 20 in a highly symbolic book, using a distinctive “1000 year” time-frame, and appearing at the end of Scripture should not govern our eschatology. John’s focus is almost wholly on first-century realities.

    Postmillennialism does not arise from Rev 20, but from the whole eschatological program of Scripture: the prophetic hope of the worldwide conquest of the gospel in a world created by God for his glory. Which, by the way, does not preclude a glorious entry into heaven upon our leaving this world.

  5. Joshua Parker August 18, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Ok, thanks for the clarification.

  6. Joshua Stevens September 21, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Hi Dr. Gentry. Thank you for your responses. Maybe I’m getting ahead of you (where you’ll address this in future posts), but do you interpret the “Gog and Magog” of Ezekiel 38-39 as the same “Gog and Magog” of Revelation 20:8? Personally, I think John seems to suggest that “Gog and Magog” is a symbolic name for the nations that stand in opposition against God:

    “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 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.” (Rev. 20:7-8)

    At least as far as English grammar goes, “Gog and Magog” seems to be an appositive of “the nations.” I would assume that John is simply drawing a connection between ancient Old Testament enemies and the then-present or future ones, similar to how Jesus called false teachers in the church “Balaam” or “Jezebel” in Rev. 2-3. If I remember correctly, Gary DeMar interpreted the “Gog and Magog” of Ezekiel as corresponding with the threat against the Jews lead by Haman in the Book of Esther. I was wondering if you would see Ezekiel’s Gog and Magog as an ancient enemy (like Gary DeMar), and John was simply giving a future enemy an “Old Testament epithet;” or would you see Ezekiel’s Gog and Magog, and John’s Gog and Magog, as one and the same? This would probably affect my interpretation of Ezekiel more than of Revelation.

    Also, as a postmillennialist, how would you view the nature of this “Gog and Magog” battle after the period of the millennium is expired?

  7. Kenneth Gentry September 22, 2020 at 11:59 am

    I hold the same view as DeMar. Regarding the revolt at the end of the millennium, it is drawn into the context of the judgment as history begins coming to an end. It is a brief, temporary resurgance of evil that sets up Satan for his final judgment.
    https://postmillennialworldview.com/2014/09/05/final-battle-final-collapse/

  8. Joshua Stevens September 22, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    That makes sense. This brief rebellion at the end of the age serving the purpose of setting Satan up for the day of judgment is something I hadn’t considered. Amid the black backdrop of Satanic rebellion, the blessed hope of Christ’s return is even more anticipated by Christians, and the justice of God’s judgment becomes even more apparent. Just as God raised up Pharaoh to show his power over him in the Exodus, God will unchain Satan at the end, to show his power over him in one final decisive blow, that God’s name might be praised throughout eternity.

    It’s sad how verses 11-15 of Revelation 20 often get overshadowed by controversies regarding the nature of the millennium. The fire of God coming down and consuming the enemies of God followed by the holy judgment of One from whose face the earth and heaven flee away, is a solemn, sobering, and dreadful reality. The stark contrast between those who partake of “the first resurrection” and those who partake of “the second death,” ties the entire chapter together thematically. I think many people miss that, and miss the entire point of Revelation 20 altogether.

  9. cazjohnb October 1, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    In your view when does the war in heaven mentioned in Rev12 take place and why?

  10. Fred V. Squillante October 2, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Good morning, Dr. Gentry, Since many of the prophecies seemingly overlap, what do you think about Chilton’s definitive, progressive, final approach? In this case, the binding began with Christ’s birth (or the start of His ministry), progressed, during it (or through the Apostolic Age), and became final at the resurrection (or at A.D. 70), or even at the final judgment (so many choices). Also, the war in heaven (Revelation 12:7) in juxtaposition to the great tribulation: What do you think about what Jesus said regarding whatever we bind/loose on earth is bound/loosed in heaven? Any correlation?

  11. Kenneth Gentry October 2, 2020 at 10:59 am

    I believe Chilton is correct.

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