Good evening and welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Revelation. Tonight is study #1 of Revelation chapter 20 and we are going to read Revelation 20:1-3:
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: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
After God had gone into intense detail about Judgment Day in chapters 18 and 19, He is taking a couple of steps back. We have seen this before in the study of the Book of Revelation as God will go back to an earlier point in His salvation program; He will start there and then lead us again to the Day of Judgment. This is exactly what God is doing in these early verses of Revelation, chapter 20, when the Apostle John says, in Revelation 20:1:
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
This is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ; He is the “angel” and we have seen this numerous times throughout the Book of Revelation. The Greek word “angelos,” which is translated as “angel” can refer to an angelic being, but it can also refer to a “messenger” of God. Jesus is the Chief Messenger of the Covenant and, especially here, because we see this “angel” is acting with authority. Notice it says He has “the key of the bottomless pit.” He is the one that has the key to open it or to close it. The angel is the one that is going to chain Satan and bind him and cast him into the pit for the specified period of time. Angelic beings do not do that. That would not be their role. They are “ministers to the heirs of salvation,” according to Hebrews, chapter 1. They do not do battle with Satan one-on-one like this.
For instance, the Archangel Michael does battle with Satan in this way, as it says in Jude 1:9:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
The word “arch” means “chief” and this is, again, the “Chief Messenger” or Christ. Here, again, Michael is Jesus. Jesus and Satan, as heads of their respective kingdoms, are doing battle with one another; Satan is disputing with Him concerning the body of Moses. It is not some angelic being that Satan is disputing, but it is Christ.
When we see in our verse that the “angel” has the key to the bottomless pit, we can prove it is Christ when we look at Revelation 3:7:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
The only one that is “true and holy” is Christ. The Bible says that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” He is without sin and, therefore, holy. He is the “angel” that possesses the “key of David,” and with that key He can open and no man can shut. And the Lord Jesus Christ can use that key to shut and no man can open. In the case of our passage in Revelation 20, the key is being used to shut Satan in the bottomless pit. This is the work of God. It is the action of Christ and He is the one that can open or shut. Once He does so, no one can open a door that God has shut. Likewise, when God opened a “great door, and effectual” at certain times in the seasons of His salvation program, no one can shut it; God’s word would accomplish its program of going forth to save those He would save.
It is important for us to understand, first of all, that it is Jesus that is the messenger that came down from heaven. Jesus is also the one that has “the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in His hand.” The Greek word translated as “bottomless” is “abussos,” the word from which we get our English word “abyss.” It has a very similar meaning in the Greek and in the English. The word “abussos” means “the deep,” and it is translated that way two times. When the swine ran down into the sea, they drowned in “the deep” and it is the word “abussos.” It is found nine times in the New Testament. Five times it is translated as the two English words, “bottomless pit.” Two other times it is translated as “bottomless” in Revelation, chapter 9. What is interesting there is another word is used there. The word is “pit,” so it would read “bottomless pit,” but the Greek word “abussos” is only translated as “bottomless” and there is the additional word translated as “pit.” This is not the case in Revelation 20, verses 1 and 3. There is just the one Greek word “abussos” that is translated as the two English words, “bottomless pit.” It is a word that identifies with “hell.” When the swine went down into “the deep,” it typified “hell” or the “grave” or “destruction.” When Satan is cast into the “bottomless pit” and bound for the figurative thousand years, it is language indicating he is under the wrath of God and in the condition of “hell.”
It says in Revelation 9:1-3:
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth…
Revelation 9 is speaking of Judgment Day because it describes the darkened sun and it is the smoke of the pit that causes the sun and air to be darkened. What is happening is that the Lord Jesus Christ opened the pit and the condition of “hell” that the Bible refers to as being “down there,” just as “the deep” is down below. God is indicating that “hell” is coming up to the earth, as the entire world is now taking on the characteristic of the bottomless pit. The smoke of the pit rises to the earth and the sun is darkened and there is no light of the Gospel; there is no salvation on the earth, just as there is no salvation in “the deep” or in the “bottomless pit.” That is how God uses that word.
Going back to Revelation, chapter 20, it says in Revelation 20:2:
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
The “angel” or “messenger” is Jesus and He “laid hold on the dragon.” This word translated here as “laid hold” is a word that can be identified with arresting someone. For instance, it says in Matthew 14:3:
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
Herod did not like what John was saying, plus Herodias (his brother Philip’s wife) was probably urging Herod to lay hold on John. She did not want John stirring up Herod. So he laid hold on John and bound him and put him in prison. It is very similar language to Revelation 20, where Christ “laid hold” on the dragon and bound him in the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit is also called a prison, as it says in Revelation 20:7:
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
So a “prison” is equivalent to the bottomless pit. So in a real way, it is as if God had “arrested” Satan. Satan had been loose and he had great freedom throughout the Old Testament to bind the hearts of men all over the world. Even in Israel, the outward representation of God’s kingdom, kings would be unfaithful and the people would fall away (from God) and worship idols in the high places. Normally, there was only a remnant of true believers that God had saved and that was because Satan was loose and when the true Word was proclaimed Satan would come with another false prophet.
We see this with Jeremiah in Judah. Jeremiah was a true prophet of God and he would tell people the true Word of the Lord, but there would be all kinds of other prophets that would call Jeremiah a false prophet and they would prophesy things that were completely opposite to what Jeremiah declared from God. God commanded Jeremiah to tell the people of Judah that they must go into captivity for their unfaithfulness and rebellion against Him, but the other prophets would come along and say, “Oh, no, that is not true. In a couple years God will deliver us.” They completely contradicted the things God commanded Jeremiah to proclaim. It was difficult (since the Bible was not yet complete) to know what was the true Word of God when there were competing prophets, but it was primarily due to Satan being loose to cause this kind of confusion and trouble all over the earth.
However, it was God’s plan to evangelize the world through the churches and congregations and, therefore, it was necessary to bind Satan to stop him from being so free; there would need to be limitations placed upon him in order for God to accomplish the purpose of spreading the Bible to all the earth and establishing the church age to bring in the firstfruits over the many centuries of the church age.
So the first order of business was to “arrest” Satan or “lay hold” on him. Notice that it says, “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan.” There are four names that all apply to Satan because it is a universal binding – he would be restrained worldwide. God would then send forth His Gospel into all the nations of the earth and Satan would be powerless to stop God’s plan. Of course, Satan would continue to come against God and His kingdom. He would continue to try to do the things he had always done throughout history to sow seeds of doubt and to cause people to wonder, “Hath God said?” So Satan would still do these things because he was not destroyed when he was bound. The Bible indicates that Satan was bound, but continued to exist and he continued to go about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He was still active in many ways, but he could not hold back God’s program of evangelizing the world through the churches and congregations and he could not prevent the spread of the Bible.
That was a very big deal. In the dark world where there were barbarians and heathens and people that had never heard of the Word of God there would now come the Bible to establish the teachings of Christ. The Bible went into the world and began to bring civilization; it began to turn the heathen into men and women that would live in many ways by the Law of God to varying degrees. They already had the Law of God written upon their hearts, but now came the Word of God to make things much clearer and God would lay out details of His Law and much explanation of His Law. Where the Word of God went “law and order” entered in and “light” came and it began to produce blessings and positive effects upon the previously darkened minds of the people of the world. God was saving people. For example, three thousand people were saved on the Day of Pentecost and Satan was powerless to prevent these things because he was bound. Again, it says in our verse in Revelation 20:2:
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
The word “bound” is the same Greek word that we find in regard to the binding of the strong man. It is Strong’s #1210. It says in Matthew 12:25-29:
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Here, Jesus is really giving us a very important truth in regard to spoiling the goods of the strong man. The Greek word translated as “goods” is the same word translated as “vessel” in Romans 9, verses 21 through 23, where God speaks of people that are vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour. God calls those that He saves “vessels of mercy,” or we could say “goods of mercy,” so this word “goods” does relate to those God saved. God is asking how one (God) can enter into a strong man’s house (Satan) and spoil his “vessels,” except he first bind the strong man and then spoil his house.
This is why we read in Revelation 20 that Christ came down from heaven and bound Satan. So, you first “bind the strong man.” What follows? Now you can “spoil his house” or spoil his goods. It is interesting that the word for “laid hold” is used a few times; they laid hold on Christ and arrested him. Just as Herod laid hold on John the Baptist, Satan sought to “lay hold” on Christ and kill him, but God turned it about. Satan intended it for evil, but God turned it to good. As Jesus was laid hold upon and brought to the cross, God used that occasion to “lay hold” upon Satan and to arrest him instead and cast him into a bottomless pit, bound in chains, for a figurative thousand years. While Satan was bound, Christ would then ransack his house and rescue the vessels that God had determined to be vessels of honour, His elect people. It was truly a glorious plan that God devised and implemented at the cross. Satan thought he would be the one to win and he would be the one to “lay hold” on Christ, but God turned it in the opposite direction and Satan found himself bound and his house was being plundered. It was not God’s house that was plundered. It was God that delivered the captives held in the dungeon of the kingdom of darkness.