Before we look at the reference in Revelation that you are alluding to, we will state upfront that at the beginning of the 1,000 reign of Christ (which we call the Millennium) there will only be BELIEVERS who enter into the kingdom. There will be a HEAVENLY COMPANY that will reign with Christ over the earth, and there will be an EARTHLY COMPANY who enters into the kingdom on earth.

We see the HEAVENLY COMPANY in Revelation 20:4 which reads, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and the came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (NASB). In this verse we actually have THREE CLASSES of believers who make up the heavenly company.

  1. John says, “I saw thrones, and they sat on them.” We believe these are the saints who were raptured to heaven BEFORE the Tribulation Period (of 7 years) began. These were mentioned earlier in the symbolical figure of the 24 Elders in Revelation 4:4. They include all the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints that make up the Church of God.
  2. John “saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God.” These are all those who were martyred for their faith in Christ during the FIRST HALF of the Tribulation Period, as seen in Revelation 6:9-11.
  3. John also saw “those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand.” This third group includes all who were martyred during the SECOND HALF of the Tribulation Period, as we see in Revelation 13:15.

The EARTHLY COMPANY is found in Matthew 25:31-46 and Ezekiel 20:33-38. They are made up of TWO CLASSES of believers; namely, saved Gentiles and saved Jews.

  1. In Matthew 25:31-32 we read, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory…all the nations (Gentiles) will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Just before the 1,000 year kingdom begins, Christ will judge all living Gentiles to determine who enters into His kingdom and who will enter into Hell. To the “sheep” (true believers) He will say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (verse 34). To the “goats” (unbelievers) He will say, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (verse 41). The Gentiles who are saved will be those who heard the gospel of the kingdom in the Tribulation Period and believed it. They are referred to in Revelation 7:9, “Behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the Lamb, clothed in white robes.”
  2. In Ezekiel 20:34 we see the Lord gathering Israelites “from the lands where you are scattered.” This will also be before the 1,000 reign of Christ begins. In verse 35 God says, “I will bring you into the wilderness…and there I will enter into judgment with you.” Finally, in verse 38 He says, “I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against me…they will NOT enter the land of Israel.” Just as the Lord separated unbelieving Gentiles from those who had believed, so He will also separate unbelieving Jews from those who had believed, and only true believers will enter into the land of Israel to enjoy the 1,000 kingdom.

As we stated earlier, all who enter the kingdom will be true believers, but children will be born unto those living on earth throughout the 1,000 years. They too will need to be born again, and yet at the end of the Millennial Kingdom there will be those who follow Satan in his last rebellion against God and His saints. Revelation 20:7-8 states, “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them together for the war; THE NUMBER OF THEM IS LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEASHORE.” How solemn! A vast number of the children born will never receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and thus they will be easy prey for Satan to deceive. It is almost beyond belief that those living and enjoying the peace and prosperity of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will reject God’s offer of salvation through His Son. There will be no Devil to tempt them, for Revelation 20:2 tells us that Satan will be “bound…for a thousand years.” Yet because they will be born in sin and choose to reject Christ they will simply pretend to be in subjection to Christ during His 1,000 year kingdom. We see this in Psalm 81:15: “Those who hate the LORD would pretend obedience to Him, and their time of punishment would be forever” (NASB). When Satan appears with his deceptions they will gladly follow him. (247.9) (DO)