The 1,000 years are often referred to as the Millennium, which is Latin for 1,000. There are different views about how and when this takes place. I will briefly describe the three major views:
Christ comes after the 1,000-year period.There is a literal 1,000-year period of peace ushered in by the church. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released, Christ will return to defeat Satan, and then Christ will reign forever.
Christ comes before the 1,000 year period. There is a literal 1,000-year period ushered in after the return of Christ where He will reign on earth while Satan is bound and before Satan's final defeat.
Amillennial literally means "no millennium." The 1,000-year period is symbolic of the time between Christ's ascension and His return. 1,000 years symbolically means "ultimate perfection." The Millennium is the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers on earth and in heaven and another way of referring to the "church age." It ends at the return of Christ. Augustine supported this view.
Many passages say that Christ's Second Coming is followed by a reign of righteousness on earth: Psalms 2; 24; 72; 96; Isaiah 2; 9:6-7; 63:1-6; 65-66; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 30:8-11; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14; Hosea 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:1-8; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Zechariah 8:1-8; 14:1-9; Matthew 19:28; 25:31-46; Acts 15:16-18; Romans 11:25-27; Jude 14-15; Revelation 2:25-28; 19:11-20:6. It depends on whether you think these are talking about Christ's 1,000 years reign or not.
Satan Bound (20:1-6)
If you are looking at the chapter from a literal perspective, Satan is bound for 1,000 years in the abyss (Revelation 9:1-2). During this time, he cannot deceive.
There were those seated on thrones judging. This could be the disciples because Jesus predicted that they would "eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30). The saints could also be included in this (Daniel 7:22; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:10).
Many commentators believe that "the souls of those beheaded" (literally, "smitten with an axe") are those from 6:9-11; the Tribulation martyrs will be raised from the dead and given thrones and rewards.
Also, "The church will share in this reign, as symbolized by the twenty-four elders (Revelation 5:10; 2:26-28; 3:12, 21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)" (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Re 20:5:1, p. 619). 2 Timothy 2:12 says, "If we endure, we will reign with Him." Some even believe that the Old Testament saints will also be part of the first resurrection (Isaiah 26:19-21; Ezekiel 37:12-14; Daniel 12:1-4). Also, Israel will enjoy all the blessings that the prophets foretold (Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:1-6; 11:1-9; 12:1-6; 30:18-26; 35:1-10). Others believe that it is just the Tribulation martyrs and the rest of the dead will be resurrected in the first resurrection after the Millennium.
Christians hold two basic views concerning this first resurrection, (1) Some believe that the first resurrection is spiritual (in our hearts at salvation), and the Millennium is our spiritual reign with Christ between his first and second comings. During this time, we are priests of God because Christ reigns in our hearts. In this view the second resurrection is the bodily resurrection of all people for judgment. (2) Others believe that the first resurrection occurs after Satan has been set aside. It is a physical resurrection of believers who then reign with Christ on the earth for a literal 1,000 years. The second resurrection occurs at the end of this Millennium in order to judge unbelievers who have died.
(Life Application Study Bible, Revelation 20:5, 6, p. 2330)Those unbelievers who have died then face a second spiritual death where they are eternally separated from God (John 5:28-29; Revelation 21:8; Daniel 12:2).
Satan Freed and Quickly Doomed
Jesus said that people of other nations will also come to submit to Him (Matthew 25:31-40; 8:11), but not all will truly submit because when Satan is released after 1,000 years, he will make a last ditch effort to revolt and he will gather an army from those people he has deceived (20:8)! Gog and Magog are merely symbolic for all nations of the world and are different from the battle in Ezekiel 38-39. It is similar to how "Waterloo" has come to mean any "great disaster" rather than the literal defeat of Napoleon there.
The armies surround Jerusalem, but fire from heaven devours them and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire where he and his cronies will be tormented day and night FOREVER in final judgment!!! YAY!
Judgment at the Great White Throne
This is throne is not located in heaven or on earth. It is probably Christ who sits on the throne because the Father has given all judgment to Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:28; John 5:22-30; Acts 17:31). Most evangelical millennialists believe this is only the unsaved who are raised in this second resurrection and must face God's judgment. Death gives up the bodies and hades (the realm of the spirits of the dead) give up the spirits. The great white throne and the judgment (bema) seat of Christ (where believers are judged and rewarded for their works, 2 Corinthians 5:9-11) in this view are two separate things since the righteous dead have already been raised, including saints from the Old Testament and the dead from the Great Tribulation. In this view, the great white throne is only for the wicked dead, and they are cast into the lake of fire because their names were not written in the book of life.
Other views hold there is only one judgment for everyone. Jesus will sort the saved (sheep) from the damned (goats) as described in Matthew 25:31-46.
Whew! That background was tough to write. It is hard to say, "This is exactly what it means." And I hope and pray I have not made a hot mess of Revelation 20 for you by giving you the different views!
One thing is for DOUBLE sure, Jesus will unite us all! Whatever your position, what is most important is that Christ will come again, Satan will be defeated forever, and Christ will reign! When Christ unites us, we will not even be thinking about whether our view was right or not. We will be too busy worshiping Him, right?
I do not want to gloat that my name is written in the book of life. I want to get out and tell people about Him so they will have the opportunity to know Him before it is too late. How about you? Who can you share with today?
Lord, thank You that You know the end from the beginning. Satan's doom is sure. YAY! But we are sad about the countless millions who have not heard. Please lead us to those who need to hear the Good News of eternal rest and salvation in Jesus Christ! Amen.