How do you explain the whole of chapter 20 of the Revelation?
Of course, chapter 20 must be taken in its context. Chapter 19 describes the victorious Christ after his resurrection. It ends with the end of the power of the Roman Empire (the beast). Chapters 21 and 22 describe the victorious church of God, separated unto holiness. Chapter 20 must then be a transition between the resurrection of Christ and the victory of the church.
The first verses of chapter 20 properly belong with chapter 19. The binding of Satan occurred at the resurrection, and in the context of the Revelation can be closely tied to the fortunes of the Roman Empire. So the binding of Satan and the destruction of Rome should not have had a chapter break.
The next section talks about the first resurrection, and death will have no power over those that experience that resurrection. The first resurrection, taking into account Romans 6 and other passages, is the resurrection we experience when we rise from immersion in water to begin a new life. Death has no power over Christians, because the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). Since God forgives the sins of his people, death has no power over them.
I admit that I donít know exactly what is meant by Satan being loosed after a long period of time (a symbolic thousand years). I do know that he has continued to have some power on earth even until today, so that may be what is being taught.
Likewise, I am not totally sure of the meaning of the great white throne judgement. Since the Revelation tells of things in our past, it cannot be the final judgement. I think what it is saying is that Christís death and resurrection cause the separation between those who obey God and those who donít. Those who followed him according to the law in effect for their time are saved based upon their attitude toward that law. Moses spoke of having his name written in a book. (Please see Zoe's Bible for my previous article about that.) Perhaps this is that book. In any case, this scene leads directly into the glorious picture of the bride of Christ, the victorious church. So the judgement scene is the dividing of people between the faithful who will go into the church and those who retain their sins and are excluded.