As out of character with the Millennium as it surely will be, once the thousand years has ended there will be a tremendous rebellion launched against the camp of the saints and the beloved city. This rebellion and its aftermath is outlined briefly in Revelation 20:7-10:
7. When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8. and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
When the thousand years are completed. The Greek word for when is hotan. In numerous places where it is used it points to the beginning of something new. For example, John 16:13: But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. Thus, when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, something new will begin: He will guide you into all the truth. Similarly, When the thousand years are completed, something new will take place: Satan will be released from his prison. This something new will be characterized by furious rebellion, totally out of character with the general tenor of the Kingdom. Because of its newness and radically different character from that of the Kingdom, it is best to think of Satan's release not so much as marking the end of the Kingdom, but as marking the beginning of a new period, perhaps best called the Millennium-Eternity Interval. Just as there will be a seventy-five day interval between the Great Tribulation and the Kingdom during which significant events take place, so there will be an interval between the Kingdom and the Eternal Ages during which significant events will take place.
There will be angelic and human participants in the rebellion.
1. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of
the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3. and he threw him
into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be
released for a short time.
~ Revelation 20:1-3 ~
The passage concludes with a most interesting declaration: after these things he must be released for a short time .
Why must he be released? The answer can be inferred from three things:
1. the reason he was bound in the first place: to restrain him from deceiving the nations during the thousand years;
2. the fact that God had permitted Satan to test people and nations since the Garden. (3)
The central tests include the testing of Adam and Eve in the Garden, the testing of humankind from the expulsion to Noah to see if they would live by the
dictates of their consciences, the post-Flood test to see if mankind would disperse across the planet to populate it; the test to see whether societies would execute capital punishment upon
murderers; the test to see if the Gentile nations would bless Israel and not curse her; the test placed on Israel to see if she would heed the Prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19); the
test to see if Israel and the nations would believe the Gospel preached by Jesus and His apostles; and the test to see if the people of the world would heed the evangelistic preaching of
believers during the Church Age and of the 144,000 Jews, two witnesses and an angel during the Great Tribulation. In all of these tests, Satan has always
been present to dissuade people and nations from following the will of the Lord.
3. Revelation 20:7: Satan will be released from his prison, 8. and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.
To be sure, throughout the Millennium those in mortal bodies will be tested, as well, to see if they would exercise faith in the Lord and submit to His will, though without the "benefit" of Satan whispering "sweet nothings" in their ears. But now, after the close of the Millennium, consistent with the Lord's testing of the nations from Adam through the Tribulation, Satan will be released from his prison, 8. and will come out to deceive the nations once again.
One group of demons will certainly not accompany him: those confined in the Tartarus section of Sheol or Hades since before the Flood. They will be escorted directly from Tartarus to the Lake of Fire (Genesis 6:1-4; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). But what about all the other demons, the ones confined to Babylon and Edom for the duration of the Kingdom (Babylon: Isaiah 13:21-22; Revelation 18:2. Edom: Isaiah 34:13-15)? Though Scripture says that Satan will be released after the Millennium, it does not say that his demons will be released or that they will accompany him in his rebellion. The next place that fallen angels appear in Scripture is at the Great White Throne (1 Corinthians 6:30) subsequent to the rebellion. In light of these things, we cannot say that demons will accompany Satan in his rebellion. The Bible simply does not say one way or the other.
Revelation 20: 7. When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8. and will come out to deceive the nations [or Gentiles] (4) which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war.
The phrase Gog and Magog, associated with Moscow and Tubalsk in Russia (Ezekiel 38:2), adds emphasis to the fact that Satan's forces will be gathered from the four corners of the earth. But from which of earth's people groups will these forces be drawn?
Two groups of people will be present on earth in the Kingdom: those with glorified bodies and those with mortal bodies. (5) Not a single saint with a glorified body will take part in the rebellion as all in this group, by virtue of their glorification, will have attained what theologians refer to as confirmed creaturely holiness: They will live in a perpetual state of perfect, pure and consistent holiness and be absolutely incapable of sinning in the least degree (Romans 8:29). That leaves those in their mortal bodies. This group will be comprised of Jews and Gentiles. The Jews at Kingdom's end will be the descendants of that third of Israel who received the Lord at the end of the Tribulation, and the Gentiles at Kingdom's end will be the descendants of the sheep Gentiles who displayed their saved state by offering succor to the Tribulation Jews, whom Satan, through Antichrist, tried to destroy (Matthew 25:31-40). Not a single Jew will participate in the post-millennial rebellion as every Kingdom Jew from the least of them to the greatest of them will know the Lord and live lives dedicated to Him (Isaiah 59:20-21; Jeremiah 31:34; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Zechariah 13:1). That leaves the Gentiles in their mortal bodies. Throughout the course of the Kingdom, some from this group will exercise faith in the Lord and become His disciples; and those saved Gentiles who are alive at the end of the Millennium will not join Satan in his rebellion. So who is left? Gentiles in their mortal bodies who are alive at the end of the Kingdom and have rejected the Lord. It will be from this group that Satan will gather his army together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
Revelation 20:9a continues, And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and
surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.
Broad plain. The favored definition of platos in Strong's, Thayer's and other Greek dictionaries, as well as translations, is, by far, "breadth." The verse should likely read, And they went up over the breadth of the earth. (6)
The beloved city is, of course, Jerusalem. The armies gathered from over the breadth of the earth and surrounded Jerusalem. The saints in the passage must refer only to Israelites, all of whom will know the Lord and will have been brought back to their Promised Land (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-27). It is unlikely that the saints here will include the saved Gentiles as a group as they will have their dwellings in their own nations throughout the earth (Revelation 5:9; 14:6). What we see here is another Satanic attempt to destroy the Jews; and not only the common Jewish people, but the King of the Jews, Himself, for He will be ruling and reigning from Jerusalem, the city of the Great King (Psalm 2:6; 78:68; 87:2; 48:2; Micah 4:2).
As has been shown in previous studies (7), Satan has made a career of attempting to usurp the Lord's rulership and prevent his own being cast into the Lake of Fire. This post-Millennial rebellion will constitute his final desperate attempt at victory in his age-old endeavor, the victory that has eluded him since his original rebellion against God.
Revelation 20:9: And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded
the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Simple and quick: fire came down from heaven and devoured them. Of
course, this will be the fate of the human rebels, not of Satan, for Satan is a spirit. At the end of the Tribulation, the rebelling armies were
killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse (Revelation 19:21). Now, in parallel fashion, the post-Millennial rebels will be devoured by fire that
came down from heaven. Just as fire came down from Heaven to devour Elijah's sacrifice in his
confrontation with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:19-38), so fire will come down from Heaven and devour the rebelling armies.
God spoke the universe into existence. How simple for Him to dispose of those who oppose Him!
1. The Dispensing of the Devil
Revelation 20:10: And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Antichrist and the False Prophet were cast into the Lake of Fire in their failed rebellion against the Lord at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 19:19-20). Now, in parallel fashion, Satan will be cast into the Lake after his failed post-Millennial rebellion.
2. The Dispensing of the Rebelling Armies
The deposed rebelling armies, upon whom fire came down from heaven (Revelation 20:9), will stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment, the subject of our next study.
Psalm 2 makes it very clear that God gave the Kingdom to His Son.
6. But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain. 7. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware."
In 1 Corinthians 15 we are told that after the Son will accomplish the task of putting all His enemies under His feet, He will return the Kingdom to the One who gave it to Him.
24. then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father,
when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26. The last enemy that will be abolished is
Parenthetically, an examination of the Greek, various literal translations and other highly regarded translations seems to indicate that the should not appear before God in the phrase to the God and Father. As an example, the American Standard version renders it to God, even the Father.
What, exactly, does the end refer to: when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power or when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father?
The first thing to notice is that there is an obvious sequence here. First the Lord abolishes all rule and all authority and power, and then He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. Further, the Son's abolition of all rule and all authority and power will be an ongoing process as is evidenced by verses 25 and 26. His reign will last a thousand years; and then finally, after He vanquishes the rebelling armies, He abolishes death by casting the author of death, Satan, into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). Another thing to notice is the juxtaposition of when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father to the end. In consideration of these things, the end must solely refer to when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. This is consistent with the fact that the end is sometimes translated "the consummation," which is the resolution to which things prior to it have been leading.
The declaration, He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, may easily be glossed over in one's reading, but it is emphatically worthy of meditation, arguably more so than Satan's rebellion! It will be the "consummation" of the Lord's efforts through the ages.
What a monumental event! From the moment that Satan seduced our first parents and brought the curse into their lives and upon the earth - yes, even from the prior moment when he rebelled against God in the heavenlies and set a third of the angels against God - from that moment the Lord set in motion His plan of redemption for mankind and for creation, which can be determined by Isaiah 14:15: Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. And now, finally, after the incarnation, the cross, the Great Tribulation, the binding of Satan in the Abyss, the Kingdom, the vanquishing of the post-Millennial rebelling army and the eternal imprisonment of Satan in the Lake of Fire - finally, after all this pain and chaos and rebellion, the Lord, in a supreme climax of victory that can barely be imagined by mere mortals, hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. He can now take His rest.
The 1 Corinthians 15 passage continues:
27. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
That God placed all things under Jesus' feet is seen again in Ephesians 1: 22. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23. which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. The passage will be looked at more closely a few paragraphs down.
After Paul declares, HE [THE FATHER] HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS [SON'S] FEET, he feels compelled to point out that He [The Father] is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him [Jesus]: the Father did not place Himself IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS [SON'S] FEET along with all else! (What an overthrow of divine order that would be were it possible! What a heresy could have developed were Paul not so explicit!) To clarify the matter even further, Paul declares that When all things are subjected to [Christ], then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One [the Father] who subjected all things to Him. It was the Father who was the Prime Mover in bringing all thing in subjection to Christ, and now, in turn, Christ hands over the kingdom to the God and Father while remaining in subjection to Him.
The Son became incarnate, went to the cross, rose, established the church, brought on the Great Tribulation and the demise of His enemies and the salvation of all Israel at the end of it, established His Kingdom and vanquished His foes at the end of it, and cast Satan into the Lake of Fire - for one purpose, and one purpose only: so that God may be all in all.
What does it mean that God may be all in all? Here's another phrase that may easily be glossed over. If
that is the singular purpose to which Christ has been driving since Satan's original rebellion in the heavenlies, then surely it behooves us to attempt to determine its meaning.
What does all in all mean? All of what in all of what?
For starts, it's obvious that the first all refers to what God may be.
The apostle used the exact same expression in the Greek in 1 Corinthians 12:6 and Ephesians 1:23; and in Colossians 3:11 it just differs in having the Greek kai (and) thrown in. Let's see what we can derive from these passages. The expositions that I offer have been determined by the contexts of the passages.
There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. (1 Corinthians 12:6)
The Father utilizes all things, that is, the spiritual gifts, in all persons in the body in such a way as to determine the effects or results that the use of the gifts have in each case.
22. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23. which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
And He put all things in subjection under His feet is a quote from Psalm 8:6, which reads in full, You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.
God has exalted Jesus over everything. It is He who fills all in all. Christ fills all of creation, but Paul's focus is the body. He mentions His body, and then goes on to say that His body is the fullness. At the very least, what all in all means here is that Christ fills all of the body with all of Himself.
The first all things in verse 22 refers to all those in authority among earthly and heavenly beings, but with an emphasis on angelic beings, especially the rebellious ones. The second all things in the verse refers to the complete and absolute Headship that the Father entrusted to His Son regarding the church.
There is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)
Christ's indwelling Presence in all believers in the body esteems and treats each one of them with the same love, respect and kindness, irrespective of nationality or social position. He is the sum of all goodness in all the members of the body.
The kai, and, lends clarification to the muddier expression all in all: Christ IS all, and He is IN all.
1 Corinthians 12:6: The Father utilizes all things, that is, the spiritual gifts, in all persons in the body in such a way as to determine the effects or results that the use of the gifts have in each case.
Ephesians 1:22-23: Christ fills all of the body and all of creation with all of Himself.
Colossians 3:11: Christ is the sum of all goodness in all the members of the body.
Now, to consolidate the concepts: God is the filler of the body with all that He is, and the members of the body are the ones who are filled. God is also in full control of how He utilizes the aspects of His Presence in the members of the body and of their effects or results on others. Christ is the sum of all goodness in the body, and also fills all of creation with all of Himself.
The three passages variously limit or focus themselves to the Presence and working of God in and through the members of His body, which, by definition, is limited to all believers from Pentecost to the Rapture; but what we've derived from the passages can be applied to the all in all in 1 Corinthians 15:28 where ALL THINGS includes - but is not limited to - all believers of all time, which the preceding two verses, 22 and 23, having to do with the resurrection, also refer to. After the Son hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, God will exercise the fullness of His power and blessing in and through all people who are His from the Creation to the end of the Kingdom to the fullest extent that creatures can be blessed (without becoming divine themselves)!
We'll now answer our original question, What does it mean that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28)? It means that when Jesus hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, God will fill all believers - from Adam through the last person saved in the Millennium - indeed, all of creation - with all of Himself - in a creation in which all angelic and human rebellion has been brought to an end.
To keep our thinking and speaking clear on the meaning of all in all, it may be helpful to emphasize the words be and all: that God may BE all IN all.
What a wonderful day that will be!
Scriptures chosen by the author are in the New American Standard version unless otherwise noted.
Scriptures in quotes by others may be in different translations.
1. Dr. Cooper calls this The Golden Rule of Interpretation. Cooper, Dr. David L. "Biblical Research Studies Group -The Golden Rule of Interpretation." Biblical Research Studies Group. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page47.html.
2. The entire We Believe statement of the Association of Messianic Congregations may be found at http://www.messianicassociation.org/believe.htm.
4. Ethnos may be translated "nations" or "Gentiles." The latter may be the best translation here as all Israelites in the Kingdom will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD (Jeremiah 31:34. Also Isaiah 59:20-21; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Zechariah 13:1), and the deception will be for the purpose of destroying Israel and her Israelite Lord.
5. 1 Corinthians 15:42-54. Also Part 2: The Inhabitants of the Kingdom.
6. Being nitpicky about such things can protect from error. Before I searched out the likely meaning, I wondered whether the broad plain might refer to the Valley of Jezreel in Israel, where Antichrist will have gathered his forces at the end of the Tribulation to attack Jerusalem; but that now seems unlikely.
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
1. The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events. Many consider Footsteps a landmark work in the piecing together of end-time prophecy.
2. Messianic Bible Study-001 The Six Abodes of Satan
3. Messianic Bible Study 002: The Jews and the Tribulation
4. Messianic Bible Study 019: The Darkness of Demonism
5. Messianic Bible Study 045: After the Kingdom
6. Messianic Bible Study 058: The Offices of the Messiah
7. Messianic Bible Study 077: Satanology: The Doctrine of Satan
8. Messianic Bible Study 082: Demonology: The Doctrine of Demons
9. Messianic Bible Study 091: The Biblical View of Death
10. Messianic Bible Study 099: The Results of the Death of the Messiah
11. Messianic Bible Study 100: The Nature and Results of the Atonement
12. Messianic Bible Study 107: The Place of the Dead
13. Messianic Bible Study 156: The Fall of Satan According to Ezekiel 28:11-19
All of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's publications are available at Arfiel Ministries in various formats, many for free listening.