Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
BOUND, AND THE
CAMP OF THE
CONSIGNED TO THE
1. The destruction of his representatives, the beast and the
false prophet, to whom he had given his power, throne, and
authority, is followed by the binding of Satan himself for a
the key of the bottomless pit--now transferred from Satan's
hands, who had heretofore been permitted by God to use it in letting
loose plagues on the earth; he is now to be made to feel himself the
torment which he had inflicted on men, but his full torment is not
until he is cast into "the lake of fire"
2. that old--ancient serpent
thousand years--As seven mystically implies universality,
so a thousand implies perfection, whether in good or evil
[AQUINAS on ch. 11]. Thousand symbolizes
that the world is perfectly leavened and pervaded by the divine; since
thousand is ten, the number of the world, raised to the
third power, three being the number of God
[AUBERLEN]. It may denote literally also a
3. shut him--A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and
ANDREAS omit "him."
set a seal upon him--Greek, "over him," that is, sealed
up the door of the abyss over his head. A surer seal to keep him from
getting out than his seal over Jesus in the tomb of Joseph, which was
burst on the resurrection morn. Satan's binding at' this juncture is
not arbitrary, but is the necessary consequence of the events
just as Satan's being cast out of heaven, where he had previously been
the accuser of the brethren, was the legitimate judgment which passed
on him through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ
Satan imagined that he had overcome Christ on Golgotha, and that his
power was secure for ever, but the Lord in death overcame him, and by
His ascension as our righteous Advocate cast out Satan, the accuser
from heaven. Time was given on earth to make the beast and harlot
powerful, and then to concentrate all his power in Antichrist. The
Antichristian kingdom, his last effort, being utterly destroyed by
Christ's mere appearing, his power on earth is at an end. He had
thought to destroy God's people on earth by Antichristian persecutions
(just as he had thought previously to destroy Christ); but the Church
is not destroyed from the earth but is raised to rule over it, and
Satan himself is shut up for a thousand years in the "abyss"
(Greek for "bottomless pit"), the preparatory prison to the
"lake of fire," his final doom. As before he ceased by Christ's
ascension to be an accuser in heaven, so during the millennium he
ceases to be the seducer and the persecutor on earth. As long as the
devil rules in the darkness of the world, we live in an atmosphere
impregnated with deadly elements. A mighty purification of the air will
be effected by Christ's coming. Though sin will not be absolutely
abolished--for men will still be in the flesh
--sin will no longer be a universal power, for the flesh is not any
longer seduced by Satan. He will not be, as now, "the god and prince of
the world"--nor will the world "lie in the wicked one"--the flesh will
become ever more isolated and be overcome. Christ will reign with His
transfigured saints over men in the flesh [AUBERLEN]. This will be the manifestation of "the world
to come," which has been already set up invisibly in the saints, amidst
Heb 2:5; 5:5).
The Jewish Rabbis thought, as the world was created in six days and on
the seventh God rested, so there would be six millenary periods,
followed by a sabbatical millennium. Out of seven years every seventh
is the year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the
world the seventh millenary shall be the millenary of remission. A
tradition in the house of Elias, A.D. 200, states
that the world is to endure six thousand years; two thousand before the
law, two thousand under the law, and two thousand under Messiah.
Compare Note, see on
Margin; see on
MARTYR, IRENÆUS, and
CYPRIAN, among the earliest Fathers, all held the
doctrine of a millennial kingdom on earth; not till millennial views
degenerated into gross carnalism was this doctrine abandoned.
that he should deceive--so A. But B reads, "that he deceive"
(Greek, "plana," for "planeesee").
and--so Coptic and ANDREAS. But A,
B, and Vulgate omit "and."
4, 5. they sat--the twelve apostles, and the saints in general.
judgment was given unto there--(See on
The office of judging was given to them. Though in one sense having to
stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yet in another sense they "do
not come into judgment (Greek), but have already passed from
death unto life."
souls--This term is made a plea for denying the literality of
the first resurrection, as if the resurrection were the spiritual one
of the souls of believers in this life; the life and reign being
that of the soul raised in this life from the death of sin by vivifying
faith. But "souls" expresses their disembodied state (compare
as John saw them at first; "and they lived" implies their coming to
life in the body again, so as to be visible, as the phrase,
"this is the first resurrection," proves; for as surely as "the rest of
the dead lived not (again) until," &c., refers to the bodily
general resurrection, so must the first resurrection refer to
the body. This also accords with
"They that are Christ's at His coming." Compare
I infer that "souls" is here used in the strict sense of spirits
disembodied when first seen by John; though doubtless "souls" is
often used in general for persons, and even for dead
beheaded--literally, "smitten with an axe"; a Roman
punishment, though crucifixion, casting to beasts, and burning, were
the more common modes of execution. The guillotine in revolutionary
France was a revival of the mode of capital punishment of pagan
imperial Rome. Paul was beheaded, and no doubt shall share
the first resurrection, in accordance with his prayer that he
"might attain unto the resurrection from out of the rest of the dead"
(Greek, "exanastasis"). The above facts may account for
the specification of this particular kind of punishment.
for . . . for--Greek, "for the sake of"; on
account of"; "because of."
and which--Greek, "and the which." And prominent
among this class (the beheaded), such as did not worship the beast. So
Greek, "and the which," or "and such as," particularizes
prominently among the general class those that follow in the
description [TREGELLES]. The extent of the
first resurrection is not spoken of here. In
1Co 15:23, 51;
we find that all "in Christ" shall share in it. John himself was not
"beheaded," yet who doubts but that he shall share in the first
resurrection? The martyrs are put first, because most like Jesus in
their sufferings and death, therefore nearest Him in their life and
reign; for Christ indirectly affirms there are relative degrees and
places of honor in His kingdom, the highest being for those who drink
his cup of suffering. Next shall be those who have not bowed to the
world power, but have looked to the things unseen and eternal.
foreheads . . . hands--Greek, "forehead
. . . hand."
reigned with Christ--over the earth.
5. But--B, Coptic, and ANDREAS read,
"and." A and Vulgate omit it.
again--A, B, Vulgate, Coptic, and
ANDREAS omit it. "Lived" is used for lived
again, as in
John saw them not only when restored to life, but when in the act of
first resurrection--"the resurrection of the just." Earth is not
yet transfigured, and cannot therefore be the meet locality for the
transfigured Church; but from heaven the transfigured saints with
Christ rule the earth, there being a much freer communion of the
heavenly and earthly churches (a type of which state may be seen in the
forty days of the risen Saviour during which He appeared to His
disciples), and they know no higher joy than to lead their brethren on
earth to the same salvation and glory as they share themselves. The
millennial reign on earth does not rest on an isolated passage of the
Apocalypse, but all Old Testament prophecy goes on the same view
Isa 4:3; 11:9; 35:8).
Jesus, while opposing the carnal views of the kingdom of God prevalent
among the Jews in His day, does not contradict, but confirms, the Old
Testament view of a coming, earthly, Jewish kingdom of glory: beginning
from within, and spreading itself now spiritually, the kingdom of God
shall manifest itself outwardly at Christ's coming again. The papacy is
a false anticipation of the kingdom during the Church-historical
period. "When Christianity became a worldly power under Constantine,
the hope of the future was weakened by the joy over present success"
[BENGEL]. Becoming a harlot, the Church ceased to
be a bride going to meet her Bridegroom; thus millennial hopes
disappeared. The rights which Rome as a harlot usurped, shall be
exercised in holiness by the Bride. They are "kings" because they are
Re 1:6; 5:10);
their priesthood unto God and Christ
is the ground of their kingship in relation to man. Men will be willing
subjects of the transfigured priest-kings, in the day of the Lord's
power. Their power is that of attraction, winning the heart, and not
counteracted by devil or beast. Church and State shall then be
co-extensive. Man created "to have dominion over earth" is to rejoice
over his world with unmixed, holy joy. John tells us that,
instead of the devil, the transfigured Church of Christ; Daniel, that
instead of the heathen beast, the holy Israel, shall rule the world
Re 14:13; 19:9).
on such the second death hath no power--even as it has none on
Christ now that He is risen.
priests of God--Apostate Christendom being destroyed, and the
believing Church translated at Christ's coming, there will remain
Israel and the heathen world, constituting the majority of men then
alive, which, from not having come into close contact with the Gospel,
have not incurred the guilt of rejecting it. These will be the subjects
of a general conversion
"The veil" shall be taken off Israel first, then from off "all people."
The glorious events attending Christ's appearing, the destruction of
Antichrist, the transfiguration of the Church, and the binding of
Satan, will prepare the nations for embracing the Gospel. As
individual regeneration goes on now, so there shall be a
"regeneration" of nations then. Israel, as a nation, shall be
"born at once--in one day." As the Church began at Christ's
ascension, so the kingdom shall begin at His second advent. This
is the humiliation of the modern civilized nations, that nations which
they despise most, Jews and uncivilized barbarians, the negro
descendants of Ham who from the curse of Noah have been so backward,
Cush and Sheba, shall supplant and surpass them as centers of the
world's history (compare
Ro 10:19; 11:20,
&c.). The Jews are our teachers even in New Testament times. Since
their rejection revelation has been silent. The whole Bible, even the
New Testament, is written by Jews. If revelation is to recommence in
the millennial kingdom, converted Israel must stand at the head of
humanity. In a religious point of view, Jews and Gentiles stand on an
equal footing as both alike needing mercy; but as regards God's
instrumentalities for bringing about His kingdom on earth, Israel is
His chosen people for executing His plans. The Israelite priest-kings
on earth are what the transfigured priest-kings are in heaven. There
shall be a blessed chain of giving and receiving--God, Christ, the
transfigured Bride the Church, Israel, the world of nations. A new time
of revelation will begin by the outpouring of the fulness of the
Spirit. Ezekiel (the fortieth through forty-eighth chapters), himself
son of a priest, sets forth the priestly character of Israel; Daniel
the statesman, its kingly character; Jeremiah
both its priestly and kingly character. In the Old Testament the whole
Jewish national life was religious only in an external legal manner.
The New Testament Church insists on inward renewal, but leaves its
outward manifestations free. But in the millennial kingdom, all spheres
of life shall be truly Christianized from within outwardly. The Mosaic
ceremonial law corresponds to Israel's priestly office; the civil law
to its kingly office: the Gentile Church adopts the moral law, and
exercises the prophetic office by the word working inwardly. But when
the royal and the priestly office shall be revived, then--the
principles of the Epistle to the Hebrews remaining the same--also the
ceremonial and civil law of Moses will develop its spiritual depths in
the divine worship (compare
At present is the time of preaching; but then the time of the
Liturgy of converted souls forming "the great congregation"
shall come. Then shall our present defective governments give place to
perfect governments in both Church and State. Whereas under the Old
Testament the Jews exclusively, and in the New Testament the Gentiles
exclusively, enjoy the revelation of salvation (in both cases humanity
being divided and separated), in the millennium both Jews and Gentiles
are united, and the whole organism of mankind under the first-born
brother, Israel, walks in the light of God, and the full life of
humanity is at last realized. Scripture does not view the human race as
an aggregate of individuals and nationalities, but as an organic whole,
laid down once for all in the first pages of revelation.
(Ge 9:25-27; 10:1, 5, 18, 25, 32;
recognizes the fact that from the first the division of the nations was
made with a relation to Israel). Hence arises the importance of the Old
Testament to the Church now as ever. Three grand groups of nations,
Hamites, Japhetites, and Shemites, correspond respectively to the three
fundamental elements in man--body, soul, and spirit. The flower of
Shem, the representative of spiritual life, is Israel, even as
the flower of Israel is He in whom all mankind is summed up, the second
Thus Israel is the mediator of divine revelations for all times. Even
nature and the animal world will share in the millennial blessedness.
As sin loses its power, decay and death will decrease [AUBERLEN]. Earthly and heavenly glories shall be united
in the twofold election. Elect Israel in the flesh shall stand at the
head of the earthly, the elect spiritual Church, the Bride, in the
heavenly. These twofold elections are not merely for the good of the
elect themselves, but for the good of those to whom they minister. The
heavenly Church is elected not merely to salvation, but to rule in
love, and minister blessings over the whole earth, as king-priests. The
glory of the transfigured saints shall be felt by men in the flesh with
the same consciousness of blessing as on the Mount of Transfiguration
the three disciples experienced in witnessing the glory of Jesus, and
of Moses and Elias, when Peter exclaimed, "It is good for us to be
the Transfiguration is regarded as the earnest of Christ's coming in
glory. The privilege of "our high calling in Christ" is limited
to the present time of Satan's reign; when he is bound, there will be
no scope for suffering for, and so afterwards reigning with, Him
compare Note, see on
Moreover, none can be saved in the present age and in the pale of the
Christian Church who does not also reign with Christ hereafter, the
necessary preliminary to which is suffering with Christ now. If we fail
to lay hold of the crown, we lose all, "the gift of grace as
well as the reward of service" [DE BURGH].
7. expired--Greek, "finished."
8. Gog and Magog--
Magog is a general name for northern nations of Japheth's posterity,
whose ideal head is Gog
A has but one Greek article to "Gog and Magog," whereby the two,
namely, the prince and the people, are marked as having the closest
connection. B reads the second article before Magog wrongly. HILLER [Onomasticon] explains both words as
signifying "lofty," "elevated." For "quarters" the Greek is
to battle--Greek, "to the war," in A and B. But
ANDREAS omits "the."
9. on the breadth of the earth--so as completely to overspread
it. Perhaps we ought to translate, ". . . of the [holy]
the camp of the saints and the beloved city--the camp of the
saints encircling the beloved city, Jerusalem
Contrast "hateful" in Babylon
Septuagint). Ezekiel's prophecy of Gog and Magog
refers to the attack made by Antichrist on Israel before the
millennium: but this attack is made after the millennium, so
that "Gog and Magog" are mystical names representing the final
adversaries led by Satan in person. Ezekiel's Gog and Magog come from
the north, but those here come "from the four corners of the
earth." Gog is by some connected with a Hebrew root,
from God--so B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and
ANDREAS. But A omits the words. Even during the
millennium there is a separation between heaven and earth, transfigured
humanity and humanity in the flesh. Hence it is possible that an
apostasy should take place at its close. In the judgment on this
apostasy the world of nature is destroyed and renewed, as the world of
history was before the millennial kingdom; it is only then that the new
heaven and new earth are realized in final perfection. The
millennial new heaven and earth are but a foretaste of this
everlasting state when the upper and lower congregations shall be no
longer separate, though connected as in the millennium, and when new
Jerusalem shall descend from God out of heaven. The inherited
sinfulness of our nature shall be the only influence during the
millennium to prevent the power of the transfigured Church saving all
souls. When this time of grace shall end, no other shall succeed. For
what can move him in whom the visible glory of the Church, while the
influence of evil is restrained, evokes no longing for communion with
the Church's King? As the history of the world of nations ended with
the manifestation of the Church in visible glory, so that of mankind in
general shall end with the great separation of the just from the wicked
10. that deceived--Greek, "that deceiveth."
lake of fire--his final doom: as "the bottomless pit"
was his temporary prison.
where--so Coptic. But A, B, Vulgate, and
Syriac read, "where also."
the beast and the false prophet are--
day and night--figurative for without intermission
such as now is caused by night interposing between day and day. The
same phrase is used of the external state of the blessed
As the bliss of these is eternal, so the woe of Satan and the lost must
be. As the beast and the false prophet led the former conspiracy
against Christ and His people, so Satan in person heads the last
conspiracy. Satan shall not be permitted to enter this Paradise
regained, to show the perfect security of believers, unlike the first
Adam whom Satan succeeded in robbing of Paradise; and shall, like
Pharaoh at the Rod Sea, receive in this last attempt his final doom.
for ever and ever--Greek, "to the ages of the ages."
11. great--in contrast to the "thrones,"
white--the emblem of purity and justice.
him that sat on it--the Father [ALFORD].
Rather, the Son, to whom "the Father hath committed all judgment." God
in Christ, that is, the Father represented by the Son, is He before
whose judgment-seat we must all stand. The Son's mediatorial reign is
with a view to prepare the kingdom for the Father's acceptance. When He
has done that, He shall give it up to the Father, "that God may be all
in all," coming into direct communion with His creatures, without
intervention of a Mediator, for the first time since the fall.
Heretofore Christ's Prophetical mediation had been prominent in
His earthly ministry, His Priestly mediation is prominent now in heaven
between His first and second advents, and His Kingly shall be so during
the millennium and at the general judgment.
earth and heaven fled away--The final conflagration, therefore,
precedes the general judgment. This is followed by the new heaven and
12. the dead--"the rest of the dead" who did not share the first
resurrection, and those who died during the millennium.
small and great--B has "the small and the great."
A, Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS have "the
great and the small." The wicked who had died from the time of Adam to
Christ's second advent, and all the righteous and wicked who had died
during and after the millennium, shall then have their eternal portion
assigned to them. The godly who were transfigured and reigned with
Christ during it, shall also be present, not indeed to have their
portion assigned as if for the first time (for that shall have been
fixed long before,
but to have it confirmed for ever, and that God's righteousness
may be vindicated in the case of both the saved and the lost, in the
presence of an assembled universe. Compare "We must ALL appear," &c.
The saints having been first pronounced just themselves by Christ out
of "the book of life," shall sit as assessors of the Judge. Compare
Mt 25:31, 32, 40,
"these My brethren." God's omniscience will not allow the most
insignificant to escape unobserved, and His omnipotence will cause the
mightiest to obey the summons. The living are not specially
mentioned: as these all shall probably first (before the destruction of
be transfigured, and caught up with the saints long previously
transfigured; and though present for the confirmation of their
justification by the Judge, shall not then first have their eternal
state assigned to them, but shall sit as assessors with the Judge.
the books . . . opened--
The books of God's remembrance, alike of the evil and the good
(Ps 56:8; 139:4;
(Ro 2:15, 16),
the word of Christ
God's eternal counsel
book of life--
Ex 32:32, 33;
Besides the general book recording the works of all, there is a special
book for believers in which their names are written, not for their
works, but for the work of Christ for, and in, them.
Therefore it is called, "the Lamb's book of life." Electing
grace has singled them out from the general mass.
according to their works--We are justified by faith, but
judged according to (not by) our works. For the general
judgment is primarily designed for the final vindication of God's
righteousness before the whole world, which in this checkered
dispensation of good and evil, though really ruling the world, has been
for the time less manifest. Faith is appreciable by God and the
But works are appreciable by all. These, then, are made the
evidential test to decide men's eternal state, thus showing that God's
administration of judgment is altogether righteous.
13. death and hell--Greek, "Hades." The essential
identity of the dying and risen body is hereby shown; for the
sea and grave give up their dead. The body that
sinned or served God shall, in righteous retribution, be the body also
that shall suffer or be rewarded. The "sea" may have a symbolical
[CLUVER from AUGUSTINE],
besides the literal meaning, as, in
Re 8:8; 12:12; 13:1; 18:17, 19;
so "death" and "hell" are personifications (compare
But the literal sense need hardly be departed from: all the different
regions wherein the bodies and souls of men had been, gave them up.
14. Death and Hades, as personified representatives of the
enemies of Christ' and His Church, are said to be cast into the lake of
fire to express the truth that Christ and His people shall never more
die, or be in the state of disembodied spirits.
This is the second death--"the lake of fire" is added in A, B,
and ANDREAS. English Version, which omits
the clause, rests on inferior manuscripts. In hell the ancient form of
death, which was one of the enemies destroyed by Christ, shall not
continue, but a death of a far different kind reigns there,
"everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord": an
abiding testimony of the victory of Christ.
15. The blissful lot of the righteous is not here specially
mentioned as their bliss had commenced before the final
judgment. Compare, however,
Mt 25:34, 41, 46.