Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Revelation 19:20

the beast was captured
Captured is ἐπιάσθη [epiasthē] : seize, arrest, take into custody.”1

and with him the False Prophet who worked signs in his presence
False prophet is ψευδοπροφήτης [pseudoprophētēs] , a compound word made up of ψευδής [pseudēs] (false) and προφήτης [prophētēs] (prophet). This is the second beast which John saw rise up out of the earth (Rev. Rev. 13:1+). The False Prophet is found with the Beast because his power can only be exercised in the presence of the Beast (Rev. Rev. 13:12+). See commentary on Revelation 13:12. See #18 - False Prophet.

by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image
The False Prophet “had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon” (Rev. Rev. 13:11+). He was a dragon in lamb’s clothing! See commentary on Revelation 13:11. The main purpose of the False Prophet was to deceive the earth dwellers into worshiping the first Beast who was miraculously restored and to cause them to receive his mark and worship his image (Rev. Rev. 13:12-17+). He was empowered by Satan to perform lying signs and wonders for the purpose of “unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth” (2Th. 2Th. 2:9). Their rejection of the love of the truth and salvation resulted in the compounding of their deception at the hands of God: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2Th. 2Th. 2:11-12).

These two were cast alive into the lake of fire
These two were cast alive is ζῶντες ἐβλήθησαν οἱ δύο [zōntes eblēthēsan hoi dyo] : while living they were thrown, these two. Their being cast alive is emphasized by appearing first in the Greek. The repetition of they ... these also emphasizes the uniqueness of their treatment when compared with all others who reject God. This is also seen in the opening phrase of the next verse. They are given unique treatment. Rather than being killed, they become the only two individuals in history to be cast alive directly into hell (the Lake of Fire)!2 Their responsibility as leaders of the great opposition to God in the Tribulation results in their being denied access to stand at the Great White Throne Judgment. This may indicate their torment differs from that of the rest of the unsaved, which is by degrees based on their works. The Beast and False Prophet appear to receive unmitigated torment. See commentary on Revelation 20:11.3

They may also receive this unique treatment in order to serve as a witness to the horrors of eternal damnation. In a passage in Isaiah, which appears to describe the Millennial Kingdom, all flesh goes forth to look upon corpses which appear to be in a location matching the description of the Lake of Fire:

“And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD. “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isa. Isa. 66:23-24)

This is probably not the eternal state, after the Great White Throne Judgment, when all the unsaved dead have been cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 20:15+) because there is mention of New Moons and keeping Sabbath. If so, then the Beast and False Prophet are among the occupants of the Lake of Fire during the Millennial Kingdom.

Today, no one is in the Lake of Fire (hell).4 The Lake of Fire becomes populated as follows:

  1. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire at the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. Rev. 19:20+).
  2. After the Second Coming, immediately prior to the Millennial Kingdom, the non-believing goats among the nations are sent “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mtt. Mat. 25:41).5
  3. The devil is cast into the Lake of Fire at the end of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. Rev. 20:10+). His angels, having been imprisoned in the scorched regions of Babylon and Edom during the Millennial Kingdom (see commentary on Revelation 18:2 ), are probably also cast into the Lake of Fire at this time (Mtt. Mat. 25:41).
  4. After the Millennial Kingdom and the Great White Throne Judgment, the unsaved dead, who are not written in the Book of Life , are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 20:15+). These awake from the dust of the earth to everlasting contempt (Dan. Dan. 12:2).

Although the Beast and False Prophet are cast while alive into the Lake of Fire, the process results in their death: “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Dan. Dan. 7:11). Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume (ἀνελεῖ [anelei] ) with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2Th. 2Th. 2:8). Consume is ἀνελεῖ [anelei] : take away, do away with, destroy . . . of persons kill, murder, usually in a violent way.”6 Since the Lake of Fire only contains individuals and not systems or institutions, their destination provides additional evidence of their identity as individuals.

The contrast between the false overcomer (Rev. Rev. 6:2+; Rev. 13:7+) and the true overcomers (see Who is the Overcomer?) can now be seen. The Beast overcame physically for a time. Yet, in the end he lost both soul and body in hell. The saints whom he killed lost their physical lives, but their souls were immune to his persecution. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mtt. Mat. 10:28).

burning with brimstone
The Lake of Fire continually burns with brimstone, yet its occupants are never consumed. After one thousand years, the Beast and the False Prophet are still there when Satan joins them after his final rebellion (Rev. Rev. 20:10+). Everyone has eternal existence, although for the unsaved it is better described as eternal death for they are tormented continually and eternally (Rev. Rev. 20:10+). The same breath which destroyed the Beast (2Th. 2Th. 2:8) also provides a stream of brimstone which kindles their torment (Isa. Isa. 30:33). The Lake of Fire provides everlasting torment. It is unquenchable (Mtt. Mat. 3:12; Mat. 25:41, Mat. 25:46; Mark Mark 9:43-46; 2Th. 2Th. 1:9; 2Pe. 2Pe. 2:17; Jude Jude 1:13; Rev. Rev. 14:11+; Rev. 20:10+).


Notes

1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 657.

2 The Lake of Fire is what is often called hell. Unfortunately, there is some confusion on this matter because the KJV also translates Hades as hell . Hades is a holding place of torment for the unsaved between their death and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. Rev. 20:13+). It is not the final destination of the unsaved dead. After judgment, the unsaved dead are cast into the Lake of Fire, their final abode called “the second death” (Rev. Rev. 20:14+).

3 [E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 19:20] suggests that both the Beast and the False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire because they ascended from the abyss and can no longer be slain as mortals. But Scripture says nothing about the False Prophet ascending from the abyss. Nor does the miraculous restoration of the Beast necessitate the conclusion that he cannot subsequently die.

4 The unsaved dead are currently in Hades , a temporary holding place of torment (Luke Luke 16:22-23) until they stand in judgment following the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. Rev. 20:12-13+).

5 These are among the irredeemable Beast Worshipers.

6 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 49.

Read Revelation 19:20