20:11–15 God appears in a scene of final judgment. God’s authority to judge has already been anticipated in chs. 4; 5. Now He executes the judgment that befits His character and power over the created universe. The vision shares features with Ps. 7:6–8; 47:8, 9; Dan. 7:9, 10 and other Old Testament judgment scenes (cf. Matt. 25:31–46).
Injustices and sufferings in history never escape God’s eye. Those who persecute and practice injustice cannot ultimately win. God will judge every deed, all wrongs will be righted, and all attempts to dethrone God and enthrone anything or anyone else will be turned around to frustrate God’s enemies completely. The prospect of final judgment ought to be a terror to God’s enemies but a foundation of assurance to the saints.
This judgment follows the thousand years of vv. 2, 7. Premillennialists believe that the Second Coming precedes the thousand years, and hence must include a distinct judgment of its own. At the Second Coming Christians receive their reward, and this later judgment is for the wicked and those living in untransformed bodies during the thousand years. Amillennialists and postmillennialists, on the other hand, have generally understood this passage as one among many references to a universal final judgment at the Second Coming (vv. 1–10 note).