Lesson 159: Revelation 20

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

John saw in vision the events that will happen immediately before and during Jesus Christ’s millennial reign. He also witnessed the final battle between Satan and the forces of God at the end of the Millennium and saw the Final Judgment, during which God will judge everyone out of the books that have been written.

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 20:1–6

John sees in vision what will happen immediately before and during Jesus Christ’s millennial reign

Ask students to think of a contest or competition (such as an artistic or athletic event) that they participated in even though they believed they would lose. Then ask them to think of a time they participated in a contest or competition they believed they would win.

  • How might your expectations about the outcome of a contest or competition change the way that you perform in it?

  • Why might people give up when they think they are going to lose? When is a time that you thought you were going to lose and actually won?

Explain to students that as they study Revelation 20 they will learn more about the battle between good and evil and the final outcome of the battle. Invite them to look for truths as they study Revelation 20 that can motivate them to stay faithful to the Savior during this battle.

Invite a student to read Revelation 20:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen to Satan during the Millennium.

  • What will happen to Satan during the Millennium? (Explain that the bottomless pit represents hell.)

  • According to verse 3, what will Satan be unable to do because he is bound?

Invite a student to read Revelation 20:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for whom John saw being judged.

  • According to verse 4, whom did John see being judged?

  • What reward did these people receive because of their faithfulness?

  • What will they have part in during the Millennium? (The First Resurrection.)

  • What principle can we learn from Revelation 20:4–6 about the blessings we can receive if we are faithful to Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: If we are faithful to Jesus Christ, we will have part in the First Resurrection and reign with Christ during the Millennium.)

Explain that the First Resurrection began with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and included the righteous who died before Christ’s Resurrection (see Mosiah 15:21–25; Alma 40:16–20). The majority of the righteous who died after the Resurrection of Christ will be resurrected in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. [1924], 385). The wicked and unrepentant will not be resurrected until the Second Resurrection, which will occur at the end of the Millennium (see D&C 76:85).

  • How can knowing that you can have part in the First Resurrection and reign with Jesus Christ during the Millennium help you to be faithful now in the battle against evil?

Testify that those who remain faithful will be a part of the First Resurrection and reign with the Savior during the Millennium.

Revelation 20:7–11

John sees the final battle between Satan and the forces of God at the end of the Millennium

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: At the end of the Millennium …

Invite a student to read Revelation 20:7–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for events John described that will occur at the end of the Millennium.

  • What events did John describe? (Explain that the names Gog and Magog in verse 8 refer to the forces Satan will use at the end of the Millennium to battle one last time against the Lord’s people [see D&C 88:110–14].)

  • After this battle, what will happen to the devil and his followers? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so that it reads as follows: At the end of the Millennium, the forces of God will defeat Satan and his followers.)

  • Why is it important that we understand the final outcome of the battle between God and Satan?

Revelation 20:12–15

John sees the Final Judgment

Explain that as part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, every person who has lived on this earth will stand before God to be judged. Ask students to imagine what they think the Final Judgment will be like.

  • What do you hope to think and feel when you stand before God to be judged?

Invite a student to read Revelation 20:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how we will be judged by God.

  • What truth can we learn from verse 12 about how we will be judged? (Students may use different words but should identify the following truth: God will judge us out of the books that have been written according to our works.)

  • What books did John see? (The scriptures, Church records that record the saving ordinances and perhaps other actions, and the book of life [see 2 Nephi 29:10–11; D&C 128:6–7].)

Invite a student to read aloud the following explanation of the book of life:

“In one sense the book of life is the sum total of one’s thoughts and actions—the record of his life. However, the scriptures indicate that a heavenly record is kept of the faithful, whose names are recorded, as well as an account of their righteous deeds (D&C 88:2; 128:7)” (Bible Dictionary, “Book of life”).

Point out that the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that in addition to our works, we will be judged according to the desires of our hearts (see D&C 137:9; see also Alma 41:3–5).

  • According to Revelation 20:13, what will happen before we are judged? (If necessary, explain that “the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them” refers to the Resurrection of all people.)

  • What might be the significance of us being resurrected before we stand before God to be judged?

Testify that each of us will stand before God to be judged and that our actions now will determine what that experience will be like for us. Read the following question aloud, and invite students to respond to it in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  • What can you do better in your life to prepare to be judged by the Lord?

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Revelation 20:12

Consider inviting students to use scripture-study tools such as scripture footnotes, the Guide to the Scriptures (available on scriptures.lds.org), and the Topical Guide to locate additional scriptures that teach about the Final Judgment. Students could write these additional scripture references in their scriptures near Revelation 20:12. Invite students to report to the class additional truths about the Final Judgment that they learn through this activity.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 20:2–3. Satan will be bound

Concerning Satan’s binding, President Joseph F. Smith stated:

“[Satan] will be bound both by the faith of the righteous and the decrees of the Almighty during the Millennial reign and will be cast down into hell” (From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, comp. Hyrum M. Smith III and Scott G. Kenney [1981], 71).

The prophet Nephi taught that because of the righteousness of the Saints, Satan will have no power (see 1 Nephi 22:26).

President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency explained:

“We talk about Satan being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. [1957–74], 1:86).

President Spencer W. Kimball taught that we need not wait until the Millennium for Satan to be bound:

“When Satan is bound in a single home—when Satan is bound in a single life—the Millennium has already begun in that home, in that life” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 172).

Revelation 20:5–6. The First Resurrection

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following of the First Resurrection:

“The [First Resurrection] was inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; immediately following which many of the saints came forth from their graves. A continuation of this, the resurrection of the just, has been in operation since, and will be greatly extended, or brought to pass in a general way, in connection with the coming of Christ in His glory” (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. [1924], 385).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained two different ways to understand the term First Resurrection:

“To those who lived before the resurrection of Christ, the day of his coming forth from the dead was known as the first resurrection. Abinadi and Alma, for instance, so considered it. (Mosiah 15:21–25; Alma 40.) To those who have lived since that day, the first resurrection is yet future and will take place at the time of the Second Coming. (D&C 88:96–102.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 639).

Those who will come forth in the First Resurrection include “all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words” (Mosiah 15:22), those who have died in ignorance without having had “salvation declared unto them” (Mosiah 15:24; see also D&C 45:54), and little children who have died before becoming accountable (see Mosiah 15:25; Moroni 8:4–24).