This chapter is thought by some to be the darkest part of all this
prophecy: it is very probable that the things contained in it are not
yet accomplished; and therefore it is the wiser way to content
ourselves with general observations, rather than to be positive and
particular in our explications of it. Here we have an account,
I. Of the binding of Satan for a thousand years,
II. The reign of the saints with Christ for the same time,
III. Of the loosing of Satan, and the conflict of the church with Gog
IV. Of the day of judgment,
|The Binding of Satan.
||A. D. 95.|
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of
the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is
the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 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.
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.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand
years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first
resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they
shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be
loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four
quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to
battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed
the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came
down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of
fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are,
and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
We have here, I. A prophecy of the binding of Satan for a
certain term of time, in which he should have much less power and the
church much more peace than before. The power of Satan was broken in
part by the setting up of the gospel kingdom in the world; it was
further reduced by the empire's becoming Christian; it was yet further
broken by the downfall of the mystical Babylon; but still this serpent
had many heads, and, when one is wounded, another has life remaining in
it. Here we have a further limitation and diminution of his power.
1. To whom this work of binding Satan is committed--to an angel from
heaven. It is very probable that this angel is no other than the
Lord Jesus Christ; the description of him will hardly agree with any
other. He is one who has power to bind the strong man armed, to cast
him out, and to spoil his goods; and therefore must be stronger
2. The means he makes use of in this work: he has a chain and a
key, a great chain to bind Satan, and the key of the
prison in which he was to be confined. Christ never wants proper powers
and instruments to break the power of Satan, for he has the powers of
heaven and the keys of hell.
3. The execution of this work,
(1.) He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the
devil, and Satan. Neither the strength of the dragon, nor the
subtlety of the serpent, was sufficient to rescue him out of the hands
of Christ; he caught hold, and kept his hold. And,
(2.) He cast him into the bottomless pit, cast him down with
force, and with a just vengeance, to his own place and prison, from
which he had been permitted to break out, and disturb the churches, and
deceive the nations; now he is brought back to that prison, and there
laid in chains.
(3.) He is shut up, and a seal set upon him. Christ shuts, and
none can open; he shuts by his power, seals by his authority; and his
lock and seal even the devils themselves cannot break open.
(4.) We have the term of this confinement of Satan--a thousand
years, after which he was to be loosed again for a little
season. The church should have a considerable time of peace and
prosperity, but all her trials were not yet over.
II. An account of the reign of the saints for the same space of time in
which Satan continued bound
and here observe,
1. Who those were that received such honour--those who had suffered for
Christ, and all who had faithfully adhered to him, not receiving the
mark of the beast, nor worshipping his image; all who had kept
themselves clear of pagan and papal idolatry.
2. The honour bestowed upon them.
(1.) They were raised from the dead, and restored to life. This may be
taken either literally or figuratively; they were in a civil and
political sense dead, and had a political resurrection; their liberties
and privileges were revived and restored.
(2.) Thrones, and power of judgment, were given to them;
they were possessed of great honour, and interest, and authority, I
suppose rather of a spiritual than of a secular nature.
(3.) They reigned with Christ a thousand years. Those who suffer
with Christ shall reign with Christ; they shall reign with him in his
spiritual and heavenly kingdom, in a glorious conformity to him in
wisdom, righteousness, and holiness, beyond what had been known before
in the world. This is called the first resurrection, which none
but those who have served Christ and suffered for him shall be favoured
with. As for the wicked, they shall not be raised up and restored to
their power again, till Satan be let loose; this may be called a
resurrection, as the conversion of the Jews is said to be life from
3. The happiness of these servants of God is declared.
(1.) They are blessed and holy,
None can be blessed but those that are holy; and all that are holy
shall be blessed. These were holy as a sort of first-fruits to God in
this spiritual resurrection, and as such blessed by him.
(2.) They are secured from the power of the second death. We know
something of what the first death is, and it is awful; but we know not
what this second death is. It must be much more dreadful; it is the
death of the soul, eternal separation from God. The Lord grant we may
never know what it is by experience. Those who have had experience of a
spiritual resurrection are saved from the power of the second
III. An account of the return of the church's troubles, and another
mighty conflict, very sharp, but short and decisive. Observe,
1. The restraints laid for a long time on Satan are at length taken
off. While this world lasts, Satan's power in it will not be wholly
destroyed; it may be limited and lessened, but he will have something
still to do for the disturbance of the people of God.
2. No sooner is Satan let loose than he falls to his old work,
deceiving the nations, and so stirring them up to make a war
with the saints and servants of God, which they would never do if he
had not first deceived them. They are deceived both as to the cause
they engage in (they believe it to be a good cause when it is indeed a
very bad one), and as to the issue: they expect to be successful, but
are sure to lose the day.
3. His last efforts seem to be the greatest. The power now permitted
to him seems to be more unlimited than before. He had now liberty to
beat up for his volunteers in all the four quarters of the
earth, and he raised a mighty army, the number of which was as
the sand of the sea,
4. We have the names of the principal commanders in this army under the
dragon--Gog and Magog. We need not be too inquisitive as to what
particular powers are meant by these names, since the army was gathered
from all parts of the world. These names are found in other parts of
scripture. Magog we read of in
He was one of the sons of Japheth, and peopled the country called
Syria, from which his descendants spread into many other parts.
Of Gog and Magog together we only read in
a prophecy whence this in Revelation borrows many of its images.
5. We have the march and military disposition of this formidable army
They went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of
the saints about, and the beloved city, that is, the spiritual
Jerusalem, in which the most precious interests of the people of God
are lodged, and therefore to them a beloved city. The army of the
saints is described as drawn forth out of the city, and lying under the
walls of it, to defend it; they were encamped about Jerusalem: but the
army of the enemy was so much superior to that of the church that they
compassed them and their city about.
6. You have an account of the battle, and the issue of this war:
Fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured the enemy.
Thus the ruin of Gog and Magog is foretold
I will rain upon him and upon his bands an overflowing rain, and
great hailstones, and fire and brimstone. God would, in an
extraordinary and more immediate manner, fight this last and decisive
battle for his people, that the victory might be complete and the glory
redound to himself.
7. The doom and punishment of the grand enemy, the devil: he is
now cast into hell, with his two great officers, the beast and the
false prophet, tyranny and idolatry, and that not for any term of
time, but to be there tormented night and day, for ever and
|The Universal Judgment.
||A. D. 95.|
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from
whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was
found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and
the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the
book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which
were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and
hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were
judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is
the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was
cast into the lake of fire.
The utter destruction of the devil's kingdom very properly leads to an
account of the day of judgment, which will determine every man's
everlasting state; and we may be assured there will be a judgment when
we see the prince of this world is judged,
This will be a great day, the great day, when all shall appear
before the judgment-seat of Christ. The Lord help us firmly to
believe this doctrine of the judgment to come. It is a doctrine that
made Felix tremble. Here we have a description of it, where observe,
1. We behold the throne, and tribunal of judgment, great
and white, very glorious and perfectly just and righteous.
The throne of iniquity, that establishes wickedness by a law,
has no fellowship with this righteous throne and tribunal.
2. The appearance of the Judge, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, who
then puts on such majesty and terror that the earth and the heaven
flee from his face, and there is no place found for them; there is
a dissolution of the whole frame of nature,
2 Peter 3:10.
3. The persons to be judged
The dead, small and great; that is, young and old, low and high,
poor and rich. None are so mean but they have some talents to account
for, and none so great as to avoid the jurisdiction of this court; not
only those that are found alive at the coming of Christ, but all who
have died before; the grave shall surrender the bodies of men, hell
shall surrender the souls of the wicked, the sea shall surrender the
many who seemed to have been lost in it.
4. The rule of judgment settled: The books were opened. What
books? The books of God's omniscience, who is greater than our
consciences, and knows all things (there is a book of remembrance with
him both for good and bad); and the book of the sinner's conscience,
which, though formerly secret, will now be opened. And another
book shall be opened--the book of the scriptures, the
statute-book of heaven, the rule of life. This book is opened as
containing the law, the touchstone by which the hearts and lives of men
are to be tried. This book determines matter of right; the other books
give evidence of matters of fact. Some, by the other book,
called the book of life, understand the book of God's eternal
counsels; but that does not seem to belong to the affair of judgment:
in eternal election God does not act judicially, but with absolute
5. The cause to be tried; and that is, the works of men, what
they have done and whether it be good or evil. By their works men
shall be justified or condemned; for though God knows their state
and their principles, and looks chiefly at these, yet, being to approve
himself to angels and men as a righteous God, he will try their
principles by their practices, and so will be justified when he
speaks and clear when he judges.
6. The issue of the trial and judgment; and this will be according to
the evidence of fact, and rule of judgment. All those who have made
a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell, shall
then be condemned with their infernal confederates, cast with them into
the lake of fire, as not being entitled to eternal life, according to
the rules of life laid down in the scripture; but those whose names are
written in that book (that is, those that are justified and acquitted
by the gospel) shall then be justified and acquitted by the Judge, and
shall enter into eternal life, having nothing more to fear from death,
or hell, or wicked men; for these are all destroyed together. Let it be
our great concern to see on what terms we stand with our Bibles,
whether they justify us or condemn us now; for the Judge of all will
proceed by that rule. Christ shall judge the secrets of all men
according to the gospel. Happy are those who have so ordered and
stated their cause according to the gospel as to know beforehand that
they shall be justified in the great day of the Lord!