All rights reserved by the author Homer Dewayne Shappley
Chapter Ten of the Commentary
Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment
The "thousand years" of Revelation
Popularly known as the...
An angel binds Satan Lucifer in the bottomless pit
for a thousand years.
How long does the Millennium actually last?
Definitely not for the entire Common Era (Christian Age).
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.” Revelation 20:1-3
Left. Painting by Pat Marvenko. The angel with the great chain. All rights reserved. www.revelationillustrated.com.
The word “Millennium” does not appear in translations of Revelation 20. It means “a thousand years” and “a thousand years” is the term used in Revelation 20: 2 and 3, this being the only Bible text where it is found.
Following is the complete text of Revelation 20:1-10.
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
3 and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.
4 Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
7 When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison,
8 and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of
the earth, Gog and Magog, in order to gather them for battle;
they are as numerous as the sands of the sea.
9 They marched up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded
the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down
from heaven and consumed them.
10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake
f fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were,
and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Satan, the “great red dragon,” seized, bound, and thrown into the bottomless pit, locked and sealed in.
Painting by Pat Marvenko. All rights reserved. www.revelationillustrated.com.
The angel “seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.” Revelation 20:2-3
Development of the subject
I. The First Scene of Revelation 20:1-10.
A. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven…” Revelation 20:1
1. “…an angel.” This Messenger from God descends from heaven with the specific mission of binding Satan for a thousand years. Revelation 20:2. He is one of the angels in the service of God the Father like others of his kind who perform different functions in the visions of Revelation. He is not Jesus Christ himself.
Christ is on his throne at the right hand of his Father long before this Scene opens, having ascended to heaven forty days after his resurrection and begun his rule “with all authority in heaven and on earth” ten days later on Pentecost. Matthew 28:18-20; Acts, chapters 1 and 2. It is not Christ in the form of an angel who takes a “key” and a “great chain” to seize Satan, bind him, throw him into the pit, lock, and seal him up there for “a thousand years” but an “angel” sent by God. As it is the “fifth angel” of the Fifth Trumpet, and not Jesus Christ himself, who is given a “key” with which he opens “the shaft of the bottomless pit” from which ascends “smoke like the smoke from a great furnace,” and, from the smoke, diabolical locusts. Revelation 9:1-11
This is not a throw-back vision to describe Jesus’ interactions with Satan at the beginning of his earthly ministry, as ample evidence throughout this study will further confirm. The Divine Celestial Being who became incarnate in the virgin Mary was not an angel or the Son of God in the form of an angel but Jesus himself, the very Son of God, "begotten" by the "Father." Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5
2. The “angel” descends “from heaven,” and it is assumed that he descends to the earth, since Satan, “the great dragon… the deceiver of the whole world… was thrown down to the earth” after he was defeated in the “war… in heaven” which took place in the time when Jesus Christ was crucified, was resurrected, triumphing over death and Hades, and ascended to heaven, taking “all authority in heaven and on earth” as the promised “Messiah.” Revelation 12:7-13; Matthew 28:18-20.
A literalistic painting representing an angel from heaven binding Satan, in his role as the “great red dragon,” with a great chain. Once subjugated, Satan Lucifer would be cast into the “bottomless pit,” locked and sealed in it. Of course, the real angel and the real Satan are spiritual beings who really do exist in spiritual dimensions where the actions described really do take place.
If the angel literally came to planet Earth, no human being on Earth would have seen him, for angels are spiritual beings, invisible to the human eye, unless they become incarnate, as in the case of the two angels who went to the house of Lot in Sodom. Genesis 19. Of course, the encounter of the angel from heaven with Satan on earth in the opening scene of Revelation 20 is between two spiritual beings in a spiritual context. We may attempt to visualize the protagonists and events physically and materially. Still, they belong, essentially, to the invisible realm, for us humans, of the spiritual. However, their impact on our own physical, material, moral, and spiritual world is readily observed and felt on the different levels of our existence.
B. “…holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit…”
1. Metaphorically, “…the key,” of this vision in particular represents the power to open and close “the bottomless pit.”
2. The “bottomless pit” is the place into which “the angels” who “sinned” were cast. Synonymous with “hell,” Tartarus in Greek. Also called “pits of darkness.” 2 Peter 2:4
C. “…and a great chain.”
1. Not a small, weak chain but a great, strong one.
2. Naturally, we should not think that reference would be to a literal “great chain” made up of very thick links of iron, stainless steel, or titanium. Rather, metaphorically, the “great chain” of the scene would symbolize the overpowering forces Almighty God possesses to render Satan altogether immobile or restrict at will his radius of action.
D. “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him…”
Seize, bind, throw into, lock, and seal over. These extraordinarily powerful verbs underscore the absolute dominion God the Almighty has over his arch-enemy Satan Lucifer. This most malevolent of all spiritual beings is always at the mercy of the only true and living God, the All-Powerful. So then, if it pleases the Supreme Creator to lock Satan up for a limited time or forever, he can do it without any difficulty, whenever, wherever, and however, he wishes to. What being in heaven or on earth could possibly break the seal and unlock the chain God ordains for Satan? Not all the evil forces combined of both material and spiritual universes could do it!
1. The “angel” of this mesmerizing Drama successfully carries out his mission, binding Satan, throwing him into the pit, and locking him up. He then seals the pit over him as a number of translations read or puts a seal on him according to others.
a)“...seized... bound... threw into ... locked... sealed it over.” These verbs are surely not merely rhetorical terms, descriptive of some purely esoteric vision that would have nothing to do with realities on the earth, but verbs that define real actions taken by God, by means of his chosen angel, against Satan Lucifer, the supreme commander of all evil forces.
b) These measures do, effectively, severely limit Satan Lucifer in the execution of his agendas, evil designs, machinations, strategies, trickeries, and crafty, deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Timothy 2:24-26), greatly hobbling him during the specific time determined by God, which is precisely quantified as “a thousand years.”
c) From these revelations, the following necessary deduction may be formulated: To Satan is NOT conceded the same measure of power all across every century of the Common Era (Christian Age, for Christians). For the vision of “the thousand years” identifies and defines a specific time period within the Common Era when he is bound and locked up in the “bottomless pit,” while before that period, as well as after it, he absolutely is not so bound and locked up.
2. “…a thousand years,” a time period commonly known as “the Millennium” in the language of theologians, Bible commentators, teachers, and preachers.
Interestingly, the word “Millennium,” just like “Apocalypse,” has become, at least in English, familiar in the modern jargon of comics, video games, movies, etc. “Millennium Falcon” is the name of the fictional starship YT-1300 Corellian light
freighter of Han
Solo in the
series of Star
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Falcon. And just like “Apocalypse,” the real meaning and application of “Millennium” is, lamentably, not known by the masses, is distorted, and misapplied by most Christian writers and teachers,
and, consequently, is not properly understood by most Christians, whatever their confession of faith. In its true context of the present Common Era, its moving drama and practicality for humanity are infinitely more important than its significance in the entertainment world.
II. How long does the Millennium last?
A. Seems like a rhetorical question, for certain, because a millennium is a thousand years and that is just how long the Revelation millennium would last! Right? Yet, just like other periods of time mentioned in Revelation, this one also is, without a doubt, symbolical to some degree. I do not find any reason whatsoever in the circumstances or facts of the vision that would require a literal interpretation, that is, that “the thousand years” should be understood as exactly one thousand years of 365 days each, not one minute more nor one less.
Some other periods of time in Revelation are: “forty-two months,” equal to “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Revelation 11:2; 13:5), “five months” (Revelation 9:5, 10), “a time, and times, and half a time” (Revelation 12:13), “a little while” (Revelation 20:3), “one hour” (Revelation 14:15; 17:12; 18:10), "ten days" (Revelation 2:10), and “half an hour” (Revelation 8:1). Each of the “times” is to be interpreted according to the parameters fixed for it in the special context to which it belongs. So do I reason personally. For if they are all one and the same expanse of time, then it would be surpassingly strange that very key factor should not be made diaphanously clear by God, the Author of Revelation. Common sense would dictate that he uses the different time periods to establish durations of events and circumstances, as well as sequences along the timeline of the whole Common Era.
B. Comparing the “thousand years” with the “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (“prophetical years” of Revelation 11:3), with the “one hour” during which the “ten horns” give their power to the beast (Revelation 17:12), and also with the “little while” before the end of the material universe and material time (Revelation 20:3), it may be reasonably deduced that the Millennium would probably be a comparatively long period of time.
C. Of one thing we may be certain, and it is that, definitively, the Millennium does not begin with the first year of the Common Era, lasting through all the centuries (twenty, thus far) of the Common Era to the very last day of material time. Let us consider.
1. Before the Millennium, Satan was not bound and sealed in the bottomless pit; he deceives the ruling secular-political powers of the world. During the Millennium, he is tied up with the “great chain” and locked in the bottomless pit. Enlightened secular-political leaders guarantee religious freedom. After the Millennium, Satan’s bonds are removed, and he again deceives secular-political powers during the “little while.” Revelation 16:13-14. All this takes place during the Common Era. Therefore, it is patently evident that the Millennium does not cover the entire Common Era. On the contrary, it is the Second Period of the three distinct periods that make up the Common Era and decidedly is not synonymous with the whole Common Era itself.
2. Let us concentrate our attention on the “little while,” or “short time.” It comes AFTER “the thousand years” END. Satan deceives “the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.” It is, then, axiomatic that the thousand years DO NOT last from the beginning to the end of the Common Era (Christian Age). Do the “thousand years” include the “little while?” Absolutely not! The “little while” comes after the “thousand years.” Though this is so simple and elemental that our emphasis would seem uncalled for, it is, nevertheless, true that some expositors of Revelation affirm that the “thousand years” cover from the birth of Jesus Christ to the end of material time, a truly defective interpretation that results in confusion and exegetical errors.
D. Counter arguments in favor of the interpretation according to which the Millennium (“the thousand years” of Revelation 20) is simply another way of identifying the time-period from the birth of Jesus Christ to the end of material time.
It is asserted that after the 40 days of fasting in the desert, Jesus bound Satan when he unhesitatingly rebuffed and refuted the three powerful temptations that Evil One brought before him.
Additionally, it is argued that Matthew 12:29 sustains the thesis. There, Jesus says:
“Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered.”
Given that Jesus Christ performed many miracles during his earthly ministry, among them, casting out a considerable number of demons (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-13; 16:9), it is reasoned that he did indeed, effectively, “enter” Satan’s “house,” “tying” him “up.” It is observed that the verb “tying” is the same as the one in Revelation 20:2, and the conclusion is that Satan was bound at the very beginning of Christ’s ministry, remaining in that state during the entire Common Era. Those in agreement with this line of
interpretation assure us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that binds Satan all during this Era.
I personally find these arguments and conclusions defective for the following reasons:
1. In the first place, “demonstrate the power to bind” and, on the other hand, “bind, really and truly during the whole Common Era,” even to the end of the material universe and material time, are two very distinct actions. Now then, during his earthly ministry, Jesus of Nazareth did most assuredly demonstrate convincingly his power over Satan, resisting his strong temptations, casting out demons, perfectly healing the sick and afflicted, raising to life on earth some whose physical bodies had died, and, when his own physical body died on the cross, by restoring that body to life after three days in the tomb, accomplishing it he himself by the authority and power his Father in heaven had given him, (John 10:17-18), thus triumphing personally over death and Hades. Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 1:18
Nevertheless, let it be fully understood that, during his earthly ministry, Jesus absolutely did not bind Satan for the entire Common Era! On the contrary, God the Father granted Satan Lucifer authority and power for the realization of great works of iniquity during much of the Common Era, even of the most bone-chilling, horrible kind, such as:
(a) The crucifixion of the Messiah. (b) Terrible wars against Israel that resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem, with its magnificent temple, the death of many millions of Israelites, and the exile of multitudes. (c) The worldwide manifestation of “all power, signs, lying wonders.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9. (d) Deep and widescale deception and diabolic manipulation of secular-political-social-culture leaders and activists around the world, except for “the thousand years.” (e) The persecution, torture, and killing of millions (approximately 50 million some sources say) of Christians by Christians of conflicting confessions (an example is the soulless barbarisms, tortures, and murder perpetrated over some 800 years by the Roman Catholic Holy Inquisition), and of Christians by non-Christians. (f) The spine-chilling momentous rise and growth of the great, destructive power of “Babylon the Great… the great whore… mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.” Revelation 17:1-8. (g) Interminable wars from small to worldwide, including many, many religious wars. (h) Sink many peoples and nations in the enormous tragedy of the Dark Ages. (i) After “a thousand years” (the Millennium) of religious freedom and enlightenment on multiple levels, “demonic spirits, performing signs… go abroad” during the “little while,” “to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” Etc.
a) Let us further consider objectively. Jesus Christ personally overcame Hades. Acts 2:31. Notwithstanding, Hades continues until the end of material time. Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13
b) Christ personally overcame death. Revelation 1:18; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:55. Notwithstanding, death continues reaping the lives of human beings until this day and is “the last enemy to be destroyed.” 1 Corinthians 15:26
c) So also, Christ personally bound Satan. Nevertheless, “like a roaring lion” our “adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour.” 1 Pedro 5:8
d) Conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth personally demonstrated, in a fulminating and unequivocal way, his power over sin, Hades, death, and Satan, assuring his eventual absolute triumph over all the forces of evil. Nevertheless, in order that God’s “mystery,” that is, his purposes-plans-projections for humanity and the material universe might be fulfilled, these forces continue to be present and manifest themselves on planet Earth, within fixed divine parameters, until the end of the material universe and time.
2. The undeniable reality is that Satan continued untied on Earth even during the ministry of Jesus Christ. Did he not eventually deceive and conquer for his Evil Empire the immense majority of Israelites of that time, even a great part of those who claimed to be, at one point or another, followers of the Prophet of Nazareth (John 6:66), including Judas, one of the twelve apostles, and the apostle Peter himself for a short time? Luke 22:54-62. Did he not accomplish the same with the Roman governors of Israel during the ministry of Jesus, including Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers who beat Jesus, ridiculed him, and nailed him to the cross?
3. As an immediate consequence of Jesus Christ’s triumph over “the rulers and authorities” (Colossians 2:15) on the cross and by his resurrection, Satan is thrown out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-13) to the earth, and “a great voice in heaven” exclaims: “… woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
This event, accentuated by the somber exclamation “…woe to the earth and the sea!” that is, to their inhabitants, certainly teaches that Satan is not tied on the earth even though Christ has taken his thrown at the right hand of his Father and reigns with all authority in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:22-36. Much to the contrary: He has been thrown down to the earth where, “with great wrath,” he diligently occupies himself even more than ever to the persecution of earthly Israel, as also to that of “the rest of” the “children” of “the woman clothed with the sun,” who are Christians faithful to Jesus Christ. And will persevere in those great evils for “a time, and times, and half a time.” Revelation 12:13-17. Until the blessed time of religious freedom is initiated and lasts for “a thousand years” (the Millennium).
4. According to Revelation 13, Satan imparts his power to the “beast” that comes up out of the sea, and to the second “beast” that “rose out of the earth,” as well to the entity represented by “the image of the beast.”
He is loose, untied, unhobbled, not in the “bottomless pit,” during the first three centuries of the Common Era, instigating secular-political-pagan powers of the Roman Empire to persecute Christians. Not continually but there were at least ten serious persecutions.
He continues in that state during the Middle Ages, also called the Dark Ages or Medieval times, manifesting himself freely and ferociously as the “Apostate Mother Church,” “Babylon the great, mother of whores and earth’s abominations;” as the “lawless one,” or “man of sin,” who “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God,” actions the Popes of Rome audaciously and notoriously take. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Then comes “the thousand years” (the Millennium) during which Satan is tied up and thrown in the “bottomless pit,” curtailed his powers to deceive and use secular-political-social-cultural-religious leaders and militant activists to persecute, torture, and kill. A time when religious freedom prevails generally in most of the world, though not all the time and in every place.
When “the thousand years” come to an end, Satan is again loosed and comes out of the “bottomless pit.” Using “three foul spirits like frogs,” who are “demonic spirits, performing signs,” he “goes abroad” to the rulers “of the whole world, to assemble them for battle… in the place called… Harmagedon.” Revelation 16:12-16; 20:1-3, 7-8
5. Now, the “eternal gospel” (Revelation 14:6) binds Satan only in a figurative sense and only in the hearts, minds, and spirits of human beings who keep the commandments of the Lord. The rest are his prey. Even the strongest Christians must not ignore his machinations, heading the admonition of the apostle Peter. “Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:24-26
This state of affairs is perennial, prevalent, and global across the entire span of the Common Era. Even during “the thousand years” when Satan is tied up in the
“bottomless pit.” Yes, for though, while there, his powers to use those in authority, in all categories of human organizations, to persecute, torture, and kill Christians is curtailed, the seed-knowledge of sin and evil continues to be passed from generation to generation of human beings during the Millennium, the consequence being that all other genres of moral corruption, degradation, and crime, wars too, pogroms and genocides, are practiced by citizens of the world in that timeframe who, to their shame, “do not see fit to acknowledge God” but “to do what is not fitting.” Romans 1:18-32
In the context of the secular-political leaders of the world and all who exercise authority under them, Satan Lucifer, when loosed before and after the Millennium, is the “great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his head. His tail” sweeps “a third of the stars of heaven and” throws “them to earth.” Revelation 12:3-4. He is the “dragon” who gives “his power and his throne and great authority” to the beasts of Revelation. Of the second beast it is said that he “spoke like a dragon.” Revelation 13:2, 11. From “the mouth of the dragon” comes one of the “three foul spirits like frogs.” Revelation 16:13. It is the “great red dragon” who is thrown in and tied up in the “bottomless pit” during the Millennium, locked up and sealed there. Revelation 20:2-3
On the other hand, In the context of individual human beings throughout the entire Common Era, Satan Lucifer is “like a roaring lion” that “prowls around, looking,” both
within and without the Kingdom of God (the church) on earth, “for someone,” anyone, any careless soul, “to devour.” The subject of 1 Peter 5:8 is not “nations, secular-political rulers, or any and all people and entities with authority, whatever such authority might be,” but individual human beings.
Of course, “great red dragon” and “roaring lion” are metaphorical, representing characteristics, powers, and actions of Satan Lucifer who is a spiritual being, a fallen angel, existing as a spiritual entity with form and shape in spiritual dimensions, just as the Creator God himself, his Son Jesus Christ, and the angels who serve them have form and shape. John 5:37; 6:46; 8:38; Daniel 10:10-14.
He is not an amorphous, pantheistic entity literally present all the time, at the same time and in every corner of planet Earth before every human being. Personally, subjugating and devouring careless, corrupt souls in England, India, Africa, Australia, and North America, all at the same time.
Rather, he works through the vast knowledge of evil in its infinite ramifications and applications that all normal human beings acquire to one degree or another after reaching the point of distinguishing between good and evil and deciding which of the two to follow. He works through bad, evil, terrible, barbaric, sadistic, hellish thoughts and philosophies embraced and acted upon by deceived, depraved, hedonistic, megalomaniacal, criminal human beings. However, his presence and powers diminish to zero and he flees away from any person who challenges him and powerfully resists him, over and over again, as often as necessary. James 4:7
6. According to the visions recorded in Daniel and Revelation, there are certain time periods within the Common Era when the followers of God and Christ are overcome.
“As I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them, until the Ancient One came; then judgement was given for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time arrived when the holy ones gained possession of the kingdom.” Daniel 7:21-22
Regarding the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11, it is said: “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Revelation 11:7-8
The first “beast” of Revelation is “allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.” Revelation 13:7
With what logic, then, could it be postulated that the pure gospel of Lord binds Satan during the sad and dangerous times when these particular prophecies are fulfilled? Practically, the very opposite occurs! That is, the true gospel is rejected, falsified, forbidden. Great masses of humanity are deprived of the Bible. The divine light of Truth is almost completely extinguished and the Kingdom of God on earth, made up of faithful and true Christians, is reduced to a small remanent. That is exactly what happened during the long, dark centuries of the Middle Ages. And is repeated in the “little while” when the Two Witnesses are killed.
Text and document composition by Homer Dewayne Shappley
CATEGORY Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. 21st Century Commentary.
Part 2 of the series of studies on the Millennium. Does the Millennium (the “thousand years”) precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, or does it transpire after the Second Coming? What are the conditions on planet Earth before, during, and after the Millennium? Regarding the power and work of Satan Lucifer on planet Earth before and after the Millennium, what does “deceive the nations” mean? During the Millennium, Satan does not deceive the nations. What does “not deceive the nations anymore” mean?
Este tema, El Milenio, Parte 1, en ESPAÑOL.
Could YOU TRANSLATE this STUDY? If you are academically QUALIFIED to TRANSLATE THIS SUBJECT to your NATIVE LANGUAGE, would you be willing to do that free of charge as an additional resource of serious information for all who speak it? Have the accuracy of your translation verified by at least one other person. Your name as translator would appear on the document. If you are willing, please inform me, identifying the language, or languages to which you can translate. I would be most grateful and perhaps many people might thank you and praise you for your invaluable service, Homer Dewayne Shappley email@example.com