And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having
the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
Texts linked to often include more than one verse.
This "angel" will bind Satan and throw him into the pit v2, v3. Only one
is qualified to do this. See he0214.
We read there that Christ will destroy the devil. The idea that
Satan is kept forever in hell or worse, that he is in charge of it, is
not biblical r14p.
However, Satan will certainly pay for his wickedness. Can Christ be called
an angel? Yes. See on
This does not make Him a created being any more than being a human does
Come down from heaven With the authority of heaven lu0321. See jn0313. The Greek text says "coming down." At His second coming re0107, He does not come all the way to the earth but draws the resurrected and waiting saints up to meet Him in the air 1th0417.
|1b And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.||Key We saw this key earlier in Revelation were it was in a different hand re0901a (read to v11) and/or see the note below. The chain implies captivity. We discuss the pit in v3.|
|.2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,|| Old
serpent Or "serpent of old" referring to Satan's deception in the
Garden of Eden. See note below.
Devil and Satan As identified in re1209.
Bound him a thousand years It was a thousand-year prison sentence.
|.3a And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.||Bottomless pit The Greek word is abussos which we commonly understand as "abyss." The earth will again be "without form and void." The abyss in ge0102 is translated "the deep." So the term here means the chaotic earth after Satan has defaced the work of creation. See note.|
|.3b And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.|| Cast
... shut him up ... seal and from v2, "bound." See the second v3
Also see Isaiah.
Deceive the nations no more We have seen the pit as symbolic earth with no living people v2. Thus Satan (and his angels jude06) have no access to them because dead people can't be influenced ec0905, re2005.
|3c And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.|| Thousand
years ... fulfilled The completion of Satan's prison sentence as
noted in the sequence in verses 2 and 3.
Loosed a little season We know there will be a second resurrection because there is a "first" and the rest of the dead (not raised when Christ comes at the beginning of the thousand years 1th0416) live again at the end of the thousand years re2005. At that time they arise ("went up" - are resurrected). See re2009.
Little season The time will be short because the wicked people and angels surround the city and fire devours them.
|4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.|| Lived
and reigned We will look at this important
verse later but notice in the note
below, how the Bible explanation differs from popular ideas.
Thousand years For more on this period see the second verse 4 note.
Verse 1 note
Having the key
When Christ won the battle and yielded to death, Satan knew that his time was short for deceiving people into rejecting the character of Christ and accepting his re1212de. The symbol of a chain is from Jude jude06 and Peter. See on 2pe0204.
The key had been in the hand of Satan, the star that fell from heaven. Here the angel, Christ, holds the key. Earlier (Rev. 9:1), Satan, the fallen star "was given the key" to demonstrate what he would do. It's reasonable to see it now in the hand of Christ who, with His angels, was had cast Satan out of heaven. (Christ's name as leader of the angels is Michael re1207b). Reading Job 1 jb01, we see that God allows Satan to test us. He also gives us the power to overcome 2pe0104. We may choose to put that power to work.
At the beginning of the thousand years, Satan will have had his way with the earth leaving it in utter chaos and finally in the desolation of death. Can he arbitrarily choose to cause persecution? No. "And he [the arrogant horn] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end." (Dan. 7:25, 26). This describes the horn — the false religious power. As Satan was allowed to test Job, so he is permitted to try to turn the righteous from faithfulness. They are "given into his hand" for a certain time. After that, judgment comes and takes away the dominion which Satan has claimed in working through the fallen church. So when the time comes, Christ takes the key. re1116. The keys of David are under His authority re0118.
Preparation for Satan's destruction – sequence
Christ is shown to be qualified to "destroy . . . the devil" he0214 by His creatorship and His sacrifice (verse just quoted) and by His being established as king in the preadvent judgment. He has the key. As we have seen, the beginning of the thousand years of Satan's captivity follows the time when Christ rides the white horse to destroy the end-time wicked re1911. Before this, was the preadvent judgment re1907 which established Christ's power to give victory to those who choose Him as their king da0714. Remember that Satan's claim to dominion over the earth is based on Adam and Eve's choice to obey him instead of God ge0306, ro0616.
Advent (end-time wicked destroyed and righteous taken to heaven)
Thousand years begin (Satan is bound)
Verse 2 note
That old serpent
"And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan. . . ." (verse 2).
In chapter 12, we saw that the conflict between the woman and the dragon. This directed our thoughts to the picture of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden re1209a. God allowed Satan to come to one tree. When Eve and Adam agreed to follow Satan through his spirit medium, the serpent, Satan claimed the right to the whole earth. 100% of the ballots had been cast in his favor. God had given humanity dominion over the earth under His divine, loving leadership as Creator ge0126. Sin infested this planet by human choice and the dominion God had planned was lost. It is by your choice and mine to accept Christ that we will be saved out of it. We must choose to not only accept Christ as our Saviour but as our Lord as well. That means we do what He says.
God didn't have to accept the vote of our first parents, but in order to avoid any misunderstanding of His total fairness, He has waited to punish the wicked ec0811. Because Jesus opened the way, we may choose our eternal destiny jn1419, he0210. We, and indeed the universe, will see in the end, that Satan was wrong. Every knee will bow to Christ re0513a. Satan is cast down in stages as Christ is exalted as the true leader and the only way to eternal happiness and peace re1210b. (Sorry we don't have permission to share the images. This one is from a Correl collection.)
Note 1 for verse
"And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. . . ." (Rev. 20:3)
So what is this
prison like and where is it?
The term "bottomless pit" is equivalent to the word, "abyss." The Greek is, abussos, . It draws our attention to the chaotic earth at the beginning of creation week re0901-pit when the earth was " . . . without form and void [empty]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." (Gen. 1:2). From this we get the idea that the earth will be desolate and devastated. God will destroy those who destroy the earth re1118e-d. This statement is made in connection with Christ taking over this planet after the rampage of evil angels and evil men. This is the way we find it at the beginning of the thousand years. As we will see, the Lord also will be active in this destruction — perhaps in response to the destructive efforts.
Jeremiah saw it
Jeremiah was shown what was going to happen to his homeland in terms of the desolate earth during the thousand years. In other words, I believe the Lord showed him the millennial desolation to help him understand the desolation of Jerusalem. We get a picture of the chaos left behind after the time of trouble (Dan. 12:1).
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens,
and they had no light.
24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. (je0423)
Do you see how, in verse 27, the the desolation of Judah would be similar to what God showed the prophet except that the land would not be completely destroyed as in the case of the millennial desolation. Also, you noticed the terms "without form, and void" drawn from the the earth at the beginning of creation week, before God gave it order and and filled it with life.
. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said,
Let there be light: and there was light."
How will Satan be "bound" in this chaos? In our verse 5 we read: "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." The "dead in Christ" were resurrected to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:16) 2cor5-wh. Those who had not died in the Lord were not raised. Thus "the rest of the dead" at this point are still dead. Our verse says that Satan was sealed that ". . . he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled." Then he will be "loosed a little season." So during the waiting time, there is no one to deceive. His evil angels would be there but you can be sure that they won't be too happy about where the once-mighty Lucifer will have lead them 1204a.
of the abyss
On a different page look at several Bible events that help us understand the abyss and what happens there r20m. Another discussion of the description by Jeremiah is included click.
Many of you who read these study notes, will see a picture different from
what you expected. Just hold on. It becomes clearer as we continue. May
God richly bless each of you who have committed time to studying the precious
Note 2 for verse
Captured, bound, cast down, shut up, and sealed !
Let's add verse 3 to the first
two and look at the powerful scene of Christ taking control.
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. . . ." (Rev. 20:1-3)
This is a moment of action. At the end of chapter 18, the wicked woman was judged and found to have drunk the blood of the saints re1824. Then Christ rides the white horse re1911. The kings gather but all are destroyed in the end-time punishment of the wicked re1616. The false church (beast) empowered by the state (false prophet) are seen to be evil and are cast into the lake of fire. Now Christ turns and captures the dragon. Did you see the many action words in the passage? They show that this is a decisive and serious time. Don't they all say the same thing, expressing how Christ has removed Satan's power? Well, to some degree they do, but I see another reason for using them here. God is reminding us of a story about Daniel da06:
||Oppression described in Rev. 13|
|Bound||Movement restricted||16 Accusers took him||15 Image to beast empowered|
|Cast down||Authority degraded||16 They cast him into the pit with lions||15 Righteous condemned to death|
|Shut up||Ability to communicate
|17 Stone placed over opening.
(22 Lions' mouths shut.)
|17 Righteous forbidden to buy and sell (gospel)|
|Seal over him||Fate confirmed as the righteous are also sealed||17 Sealed by king and lords||17 Righteous required to have beast's mark|
Following the pattern
of Daniel's experience with the lions, we see how Satan's experience is
based on how he will have treated God's people. Praise God for his perfect
The parallel with Daniel's experience continues. He was protected by God and then exalted.
Set a seal upon him
In chapter 5 we saw that the Lamb was worthy to read the book and to break its seals. I believe that the seals represent Satan's challenge to the saving power of Christ as He forgives and cleanses helpless sinners re0504. Here, after the seventh seal of silence where the righteous have been tried in the fire and are shown to be ready re0801, Christ assumes power and Satan is sealed with the doom he had claimed for the saved ones. To see this connection takes a little study. The seal on Satan is placed in justice as described by God's law of love. Is God right in confining Satan? Would he refrain from deception if released, that is, stop deceiving the peoples? Verses 7 and 8 say, no. God is just. As we face these final times of persecution, we may know that He is waiting to lift us up!
Verse 4, note 1, A popular misconception
rapture theory says that the Jews will be sacrificing until some date during
the millennium marking the middle of the 70th "week." There are several
problems with this idea.
(1) It uses an unnatural combining of texts.
(2) No one will be in the temple during the plagues re1508. And at the end of that time, the temple will be closed re1617b.
(3) Such worship services would constitute a different way of salvation for them. Paul objects. He said that there was only one gospel ga0108. It's true that people offered sacrifices during the time of the OT, but their salvation was always through Christ whom they understood only through symbols. God ended the recognition of the sacrificial system at the moment Christ died mt2751, he1010. For Jews or anyone else after the cross to believe animal sacrifices to play a part in their salvation, would be faith in an alternative gospel.
(4) Also see our discussion about the new Israel re0704b.
According to the sequence of events discussed above, the wicked (who followed the beast and false prophet) will be slain. No one is left to convert. This is the reward for the end-time wicked. Thus when the thousand years begins, all will have made their permanent decision between righteousness and sin. Christ will already have come with his rewards for righteous and wicked re2211. We see the same picture at the end of chapter 14 and in re1508 and re1608. Also see Eccl. 9:5, 6.
Let us now make our personal commitment firm. God will help us.
Verse 4, note 2
More about the thousand years
Is this time a
thousand literal years?
As already noted, this term is equivalent to the Latin millennium. We understand these to be literal years because the word "year" is not known elsewhere in Scripture to represent anything but literal time, and because another symbol "time" is used in 12:14 for a symbolic year (360 "days" or literal years) 1214c.
The thousand years
as a sabbath
Calculating from information about the life spans of the patriarchs of the patriarchs who lived before the flood and knowing something of the history of the earth since then, we may realize that it was close to 4,000 years old at the time Jesus came to it in human form. Another 2, 000 since then make 6,000. Signs all indicate that we are around the time of the beginning of the seventh millennium. According to popular thought it has already begun.
We have discussed resting on the seventh-day Sabbath r14j. Did you know that there was also a seventh-year sabbath? Read from Leviticus beginning at le2503. We may expect that the seventh thousand years would be for the earth to rest. It would be the time of no activity while Satan ponders his great transgression.
We saw that Satan will be bound for a thousand years. At the end of verse 3, we have a little glimpse of the end of that period.
"And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." (20:3). What will happen then? We will see later in the chapter. Here in verse 3 we see that the sealing which prevents him from deceiving will be removed. In the next verse we will learn just how this restraint is imposed. Also see an overview of the chapter.