“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while“
Chapter 20 presents the millennial reign of Christ on Earth. Structurally, this is the third main section of the book of Revelation (1:19). The first section presented the past, the person of Christ (chapter 1). The next two chapters set forth the present (the church). Chapters 3 to 22 develop the future: the Tribulation period, the Millennial reign of Christ, and the eternal state.
Now we come to the millennial (1000 years) reign of Christ (chapter 20).
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
The “then” indicates a sequence: the defeat of the ruler of the Revived Roman Empire and his false prophet (chapter 19) and is followed by the second coming of Christ.
An angel descends from heaven holding the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. This “chain” indicates rigorous restraint.
The angel possessing a “key” to the bottomless pit indicates that he has authority over the bottomless pit, the place for fallen angels (demons). This is the same place Peter calls “pits of darkness” [tartaros, 2 Peter 2:4,5; Jude 6-7].
He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
The angel seized Satan and bound him for 1000 years. The words “thousand years” occur six times in this chapter. Many passages in the Old and New Testaments tell of a coming Kingdom, but only Revelation 20 tells us how long that Kingdom will last.
Notice the four titles of Satan: the dragon (12:3), that serpent of old (12:9), Devil (2:10; 12:9), and Satan (2:9, 2:13, 3:9, 12:9). Revelation makes it perfectly clear that it is Satan who will get his comeuppance.
and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.
The angel casts Satan into the “bottomless pit.” This angel limits his sphere of operations to a specific locale – a hell for angels.
The purpose of the binding of Satan is that he would not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished (20:8,10). Satan was cast out of heaven during the Tribulation. He then deceived the earth (Re 12:9, 13, 15, 17; 13:4). God limits and diminishes his power of deceiving the nations by putting a seal on him.
Satan cannot be bound today; otherwise, he would have to have a very long chain to do what he does!! Some claim that this securing of Satan is when Jesus bound him at the cross. However, the natural language of these verses will not allow this interpretation. Clearly, the angel will bind Satan for a specific period of 1,000 years for the specific purpose of not deceiving “nations” anymore (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 12:9).
Jesus did disarm Satan’s power at the cross (Colossians 2:15; cf. Luke 11:21,22), but he is still today the prince of the powers of the air (Ephesians 2:2). The binding at the cross was only true for those who place their trust in Jesus’ forgiveness by the cross. However, the binding has to do with “nations” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). This binding does not occur at the cross but at the end of the Tribulation and following Christ’s second coming. This clearly relates to the events of chapter 19.
But after these things he must be released for a little while
Satan will make a final stand of rebellion at the end of the Millennium. This clearly shows that the final defeat of Satan did not occur at the cross. Jesus defeated Satan and the sin issue in principle at the cross, but Satan is still active today. At the beginning of the Millennium, the angel will bind Satan so that he is not free to influence the nations of the world. God will allow his release for a short period at the end of the Millennium.
We blame many things on the devil, but people in the Millennium will not be able to do that because he will be bound. People then will live in a perfect environment, and still, they will commit sin. There will be perfect government, perfect health, perfect climate, and even formerly wild animals like lions will be tame. There will be perfect justice.
Adam and Eve had a perfect environment in the Garden of Eden. A perfect environment will not keep man from sinning. This is the great hope of governments today. If they can create the proper environment, then man will be kind to man. This is a delusion. Even under the perfect environment of the millennium, people will not choose God.
In God’s economy, He “must” release Satan for a short time. It is a logical necessity that He must release Satan. It is in God’s divine appointment (Re 20:7-9).
A perfect environment will not solve humanity’s problems; only personal trust in the person and work of Christ will change a person’s heart.
Satan is in the business of deception. Throughout history, he propagated the lie that mankind, by its own efforts, can provide the perfect environment. This never succeeded, nor will it ever succeed. Communism was an attempt to provide a social environment whereby people would be equal. However, no amount of government can create perfect people. People cannot reach their ultimate potential by their own efforts.
The one thing we learn from the millennium is that a perfect environment is not the solution to mankind’s problems. People will fail even under the perfect environment of the millennial reign of Christ. A perfect society is one of the greatest deceptions of Satan. He loves to put this in the minds of national leaders. His deception in the Tribulation was that internationalism is the panacea for mankind.
Satan is on the loose today. He is out to deceive. Only faith in the Word of God will enable us to resist him today.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan is not bound today; he is free to roam about “seeking whom he may devour” [literally, gulp down]. However, Satan’s power cannot control us if we operate by faith in the promises of God.
Satan’s main deception involves the Word of God. He wants to destroy its credibility. If he can do that, he can destroy the credibility of God.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3).
Satan deceives us about the true values of life. He instills values of power lust, sex lust and greed. These things are the polar opposite of faith in Christ as the One who provides everything we need.