SUMMARY.--Satan Bound for a Thousand Years.
Thrones and Saints Reigning with Christ.
The First Resurrection.
Satan Loosed at the End of a Thousand Years.
The Gathering of Gog and Magog and of the Nations.
Their Attack Upon the Saints.
The Devil Cast into the Lake of Fire.
The Great Judgment.
After the mighty conflict, the crisis of the fate of the world, the
apostle beholds the results of the glorious victory. Spiritual Babylon
and the beast, the Papacy and its secular allies, overwhelmed in the
battle of Armageddon, have disappeared from earthly history. The old
serpent, the dragon, the devil, who under so many forms, as pagan Rome,
as the imperial power, as the kings of the earth, has persecuted the
Church, yet exists, but his power is broken, and he is now to meet the
results of his disastrous failure.
1-3. And I saw an angel come down from heaven with a chain, and
the key of the abyss. The abyss is named in
Rev. 9:1, 11; in 11:7, and 17:8.
It is the present abode of Satan and his evil spirits. The things seen
by John are symbolical. They imply that in some way the power of Satan
shall be virtually destroyed upon the earth.
2. He laid hold on the dragon . . . and bound him a
thousand years. The chain
I suppose to be the Word of God. At this period of the triumph of
righteousness the gospel takes such hold of the hearts of men that
Satan loses his powers over them. We can easily see how this is
accomplished by what takes place under our own eyes. A man may be
drunken and lawless, but if he repents under the influence of the
gospel he ceases to serve Satan. The devil loses his power over that
man. When that period shall come for which the saints in all ages have
wistfully looked, when the laws of God shall be written upon every
heart, then Satan, bound with a chain, the chain of truth, shall be
deprived of influence on the earth.
3. And cast him into the abyss.
During this millennial period the chained enemy of man is cast into a
prison house, but not the lake of fire. Had he gone there he should
never more return. He shall go there as his ultimate fate (see
but after the thousand years, he is to return to the earth for a little
season, and until the final effort of his long struggle against God he
shall be confined in the abyss, from whence there is the possibility of
escape, instead of being cast into the lake of fire, which is an
eternal doom. In the bottomless pit the great deceiver shall remain
till the thousand years are ended, when for a little season he shall
regain his power.
4-6. And I saw thrones and they that sat upon them. These
thrones are symbols of rule. It implies that they who sit on them shall
And judgment was given to them. They shall exercise a moral
judgment over humanity.
I saw the souls of them. Of the martyrs. Note that it is the
souls that he observes.
And they lived and reigned with Christ. John saw that those who
sat on the thrones reigned with Christ a thousand years. "In the last
days the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top
of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations
shall flow into it."
Will Christ come visibly to reign in person as an earthly monarch? The
personal coming of the Savior is placed by all the sacred writers as
the last event before the great judgment day. This great epoch is
placed after the millennial period, and also after the overthrow of
Satan in his last conflict. If the Savior, then, during the millennial
period, is not visibly present upon the earth, how can he reign? Just
as he reigns over each saint now. Those who know the Lord accept him as
king, but in this period "the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the
earth as the waters do the channels of the sea."
All men shall hear and obey the gospel, and all shall submit to the
beneficent sceptre of Christ.
Souls of them that had been beheaded. These are they "who lived
and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Is this a literal
resurrection from the grave? I answer decidedly in the negative. (1)
The apostle does not say one word about the resurrection of the
bodies of the martyrs, nor does he say that he saw the martyrs
themselves. He is particular to say that he saw the souls or
spirits of the martyrs living and reigning with Christ. (2)
They had been put to death in the body, and their souls were unseen
upon the earth, but there is no intimation in Scripture that their
souls had ever ceased to exist. They were alive with Christ, but now
they live in some sense different from that existence which they had
before. It cannot mean that their souls came to life, for they had
never ceased to have existence. (3) What, then, does the affirmation
mean? That as Christ reigns upon the earth during the millennial period
by his truth, so the spirit of the martyrs is revived and lives in the
Church. The souls of the martyrs live because the Church is composed of
those who love Christ better than goods or liberty or life. This
glorious reign of Christ pervades the earth because the souls of the
martyrs are resurrected and live in all who name the name of Christ,
and who are filled with the spirit of ancient martyrs. (4) If any
should think such an interpretation of symbolical language far fetched,
let him compare Scripture. This explanation is not forced nor the
interpretation of the language unusual. It was predicted by the
prophets that Elias must come again before the Messiah. He did come in
spirit and power, not in person, but as the stern, fearless, upright
reformer of the wilderness of Jordan. In the same sense Ezekiel speaks
of the return of the captive Jews to their own land: "I will open
your graves, oh my people, and cause you to come up out of your
graves, and bring you into the land of Israel." When Martin Luther
was engaged in deadly struggle with the Papacy, Pope Adrian sent a
brief to the German Diet at Nuremburg, which contained these words:
"The heretics Huss and Jerome are now alive again in the person of
A thousand years. I am not prepared to say that this blessed
period shall be limited to a thousand years, but am rather disposed to
believe that a thousand years, a round period of great duration, is
chosen to show to the longing student of the prophets that there shall
be a long, long period of righteousness upon the same earth that has
been reddened with blood, filled with crime, and made foul by sin. The
characteristics of this golden period of the human race are clearly
pointed out by the prophets.
5. But the rest of the dead lived not. If "the souls of the
martyrs" live again spiritually and morally upon the earth in the
millennial period, as I have explained, then this statement is to be
explained in harmony.
The rest of the dead lived not until the end of the thousand
years. The sublime faith of the martyrs pervades the saints during this
period, and other men, wicked or less noble, sleep in silence, unseen
and unknown, without influence upon the earth, until the millennial
period is ended. They have no part of the first resurrection, of the
spirits of the martyrs.
6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first
resurrection. In this great moral and spiritual resurrection that
brings in the Millennium.
On such the second death hath no power. The second death is the
sad doom of eternal death. See
7-10. When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be
loosed. The earth shall have its golden age but it shall not last
forever. Satan shall, when many ages have rolled away, be loosed for a
little season. From some cause, that is wrapped in the darkness of the
future, righteousness shall wane; wickedness shall revive; the great
adversary shall in part regain his influence over our race. But it is
cheering to know that his triumph will be short. He shall be loosed
only "for a little season."
8. And shall go out to deceive the nations. Again he shall
marshal the hosts of sin and renew his old conflict.
The four quarters of the earth. From the whole earth.
Gog and Magog. See
Gen. 10:2 and Ezekiel 38:2.
Josephus says that Magog represented the Scythians, a great race spread
over the country now occupied by Southern Russia.
9. And they went up over the breadth of the earth. They spread
Compassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city. Assailed
the true Church and sought to destroy it. How the Church shall be
assailed cannot now be told, but there will be a determined attempt to
extirpate it. The beloved city, the spiritual Jerusalem, the Church,
shall be surrounded, but in the day of her extremity the Lord will hear
her cry for help. Fire from heaven will descend on her enemies. Christ
shall come. "As the lightning flashes from the east unto the west, so
shall the coming of the Son of man be."
Then shall the Lord consume the wicked "with the spirit of his mouth
and the brightness of his coming."
"The day of the Lord shall come, when the heavens shall pass away with
a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and all
its works shall be burned up."
Fire came down from God and consumed them. For a comment on this
2 Thess. 1:7-10.
They shall come in flaming fire to destroy his enemies. The time will
have come for the arm of the Lord to be revealed in might.
10. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of
fire. This is Satan's last battle. His time has come. The great
deceiver is not cast into the bottomless pit now. The lake of fire is
opened, and we discover there the beast and the false prophet, but they
have gone whence none ever return. There the devil is cast in and
locked up to abide with his allies in wickedness forever.
11-15. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it.
This is one more act in the great drama. The throne of judgment is set.
The nations, living as well as dead, are called to stand before God.
The white throne indicates purity, triumph, and glory. It is the color
of the light.
From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. See
There is to be a new heaven and earth. The old ones are destroyed to be
12. And I saw the dead, small and great. As we learn from the
the dead of every land, of earth, and sea and hades deliver
their dead and all come to judgment.
The books are opened. The records that contain all the deeds of
Another book. The book of life in which the names of the saints
are recorded. From these books all are judged according to their
13. The sea. A symbol of the lost dead of whom no man knoweth.
Death and Hades.
The unseen world which hides from our view those who have departed from
earth. The thought of the verse is that all the dead shall be
14. And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.
After this judgment day "death and hades" also, death and the unseen
land of the dead, disappear forever. This is the significance of being
cast into the lake of fire, the eternal prison house. Until the end of
the Millennium and the final judgment men shall die, but after the
grand epoch in the history of the Universe, there shall be no more
death. The last enemy, death, shall be destroyed. Then shall come to
pass the saying that is written, "O! death, where is thy sting? O!
grave, where is thy victory?"
15. And whosoever was not found written . . . was cast
into the lake of fire. Into the same lake of fire, that prison
house to which have gone the false prophet and the beast, to which has
been consigned the dragon, "that old serpent the devil,"
the "eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his
There shall also be banished those whose "names are not written in the
book of life."
This is the second death. As far as Inspiration throws its light
upon the sad lot of those consigned to that "lake of fire,"
theirs is an eternal fate. When some one has shown that doors of this
final prison of the Universe have opened to permit the escape of those
who have been consigned to its keeping, then we may perhaps indulge
some hope that its prisoners will, in the lapse of endless years,
escape from their sad environment.