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Revelation 20:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The dragon - See the notes on Revelation 12:9.

That old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan - He who is called the old serpent is the Devil - the calumniator, and Satan - the opposer. He who supposes that the term old serpent here plainly proves that the creature that tempted our first parents was actually a snake, must enjoy his opinion; and those who can receive such a saying, why let them receive it. Selah.

A thousand years - In what this binding of Satan consists, who can tell? How many visions have been seen on this subject both in ancient and modern times! This, and what is said Revelation 20:3-5, no doubt refers to a time in which the influence of Satan will be greatly restrained, and the true Church of God enjoy great prosperity, which shall endure for a long time. But it is not likely that the number, a thousand years, is to be taken literally here, and year symbolically and figuratively in all the book beside. The doctrine of the millennium, or of the saints reigning on earth a thousand years, with Christ for their head, has been illustrated and defended by many Christian writers, both among the ancients and moderns. Were I to give a collection of the conceits of the primitive fathers on this subject, my readers would have little reason to applaud my pains. It has long been the idle expectation of many persons that the millennium, in their sense, was at hand; and its commencement has been expected in every century since the Christian era. It has been fixed for several different years, during the short period of my own life! I believed those predictions to be vain, and I have lived to see them such. Yet there is no doubt that the earth is in a state of progressive moral improvement; and that the light of true religion is shining more copiously everywhere, and will shine more and more to the perfect day. But when the religion of Christ will be at its meridian of light and heat, we know not. In each believer this may speedily take place; but probably no such time shall ever appear, in which evil shall be wholly banished from the earth, till after the day of judgment, when the earth having been burnt up, a new heaven and a new earth shall be produced out of the ruins of the old, by the mighty power of God: righteousness alone shall dwell in them. The phraseology of the apostle here seems partly taken from the ancient prophets, and partly rabbinical; and it is from the Jewish use of those terms that we are to look for their interpretation.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he laid hold on - Seized him by violence - ἐκράτησεν ekratēsenThe word denotes “the employment of strength” or “force”; and it implies that he had power superior to that of the dragon. Compare Matthew 14:3; Matthew 18:28; Matthew 21:46; Matthew 22:6; Matthew 26:4. We can at once see the propriety of the use of this word in this connection. The great enemy to be bound has himself mighty power, and can be overcome only by a superior. This may teach us that it is only a power from heaven that can destroy the empire of Satan in the world; and perhaps it may teach us that the interposition of angels will be employed in bringing in the glorious state of the millennium. Why should it not be?

The dragon - See the notes on Revelation 12:2. Compare Revelation 12:4, Revelation 12:7, Revelation 12:13, Revelation 12:16-17; Revelation 13:2, Revelation 13:4, Revelation 13:11; Revelation 16:13. There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the word here; for it is expressly said to mean the devil, and Satan. It would seem, however, that it refers to some manifestation of the power of Satan that would exist after the beast and false prophet - that is, the papacy and Mohammedanism - should be destroyed, and probably the main reference is to the still existing power of paganism. Compare the notes on Revelation 16:13-14. It may include, however, all the forms of wickedness which Satan shall have kept upon the earth, and all the modes of evil by which he will endeavor to perpetuate his reign.

That old serpent - This is undoubtedly an allusion to the serpent that deceived our first parents (Genesis 3:1 ff.), and therefore a proof that it was Satan that, under the form of a serpent, deceived them. Compare notes on Revelation 12:3.

Which is the devil - On the meaning of this word, see the notes on Matthew 4:1.

And Satan - On the meaning of this word, see the notes on Job 1:6. In regard to the repetition of the names of that great enemy of God and the church here, Mr. Taylor, in the Fragments to Calmet‘s Dictionary, No. 152, says that this “almost resembles a modern Old Bailey indictment, in which special care is taken to identify the culprit, by a sufficient number of aliases. An angel from heaven, having the key of the prison of the abyss, and a great chain to secure the prisoner, ‹apprehended the dragon, alias the old serpent, alias the devil, alias the Satan, alias the seducer of the world,‘ who was sentenced to a thousand years‘ imprisonment.” The object here, however, seems to be not so much to identify the culprit by these aliases, as to show that under whatever forms, and by whatever names he had appeared, it was always the same being, and that now the author of the whole evil would be arrested. Thus the one great enemy sometimes has appeared in a form that would be best represented by a fierce and fiery dragon; at another, in a form that would be best represented by a cunning and subtle serpent; now in a form to which the word “devil” (“accuser”), would be most appropriate; and now in a form in which the word “Satan” - an adversary - would be most expressive of what he does. In these various forms, and under these various names, he has ruled the fallen world; and when this one great enemy shall be seized and imprisoned, all these forms of evil will, of course, come to an end.

A thousand years - This is the period usually designated as the millennium - for the word “millennium” means “a thousand years.” It is on this passage that the whole doctrine of the millennium as such has been founded. It is true that there are elsewhere in the Scriptures abundant promises that the gospel will ultimately spread over the world; but the notion of a millennium as such is found in this passage alone. It is, however, enough to establish the doctrine, if its meaning be correctly ascertained; for it is a just rule in interpreting the Bible, that the clearly-ascertained sense of a single passage of Scripture is sufficient to establish the truth of a doctrine. The fact, however, that this passage stands alone in this respect, makes it the more important to endeavor accurately to determine its meaning. There are but three ways in which the phrase “a thousand years” can be understood here: either:

(a)literally; or,

(b)in the prophetic use of the term, where a day would stand for a year, thus making a period of three hundred and sixty thousand years; or,

(c)figuratively, supposing that it refers to a long but indefinite period of time.

It may be impossible to determine which of these periods is intended, though the first has been generally supposed to be the true one, and hence the common notion of the millennium. There is nothing, however, in the use of the language here, as there would be nothing contrary to the common use of symbols in this book in regard to time, in the supposition that this was designed to describe the longest period here suggested, or that it is meant that the world shall enjoy a reign of peace and righteousness during the long period of three hundred and sixty thousand years. Indeed, there are somethings in the arrangements of nature which look as if it were contemplated that the earth would continue under a reign of righteousness through a vastly long period in the future.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here is a vision, showing by a figure the restraints laid on Satan himself. Christ, with Almighty power, will keep the devil from deceiving mankind as he has hitherto done. He never wants power and instruments to break the power of Satan. Christ shuts by his power, and seals by his authority. The church shall have a time of peace and prosperity, but all her trials are not yet over.
Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 485-6

Thus will be realized the complete fulfillment of the new-covenant promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.” Jeremiah 31:34; 50:20. “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 4:2, 3. GC 485.1

The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ.” Acts 3:19, 20. When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be. GC 485.2

In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, “without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away “unto a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil. GC 485.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 98

These strange differences of opinion rolled a heavy weight upon me, especially as Bro. A. spoke of the 1000 years being in the past. I knew that he was in error, and great grief pressed my spirits; for it seemed to me that God was dishonored. I fainted under the burden. Brethren Bates, Chamberlain, Gurney, Edson, and my husband, prayed for me. Some feared I was dying. But the Lord heard the prayers of his servants, and I revived. The light of Heaven rested upon me. I was soon lost to earthly things. My accompanying angel presented before me some of the errors of those present, and also the truth in contrast with their errors. That these discordant views, which they claimed to be according to the Bible, were only according to their opinion of the Bible, and that their errors must be yielded, and they unite upon the third angel's message. Our meeting ended victoriously. Truth gained the victory. 2SG 98.1

From Volney we went to Port Gibson. The meeting there was held in Bro Edson's barn. There were those present who loved the truth, and those who were listening to and cherishing error, and were opposed to the truth. But the Lord wrought for us in power before the close of that meeting. I was again shown in vision the importance of brethren in Western New York laying their differences aside, and uniting upon Bible truth. Wednesday we left Bro. Edson's, intending to spend the next Sabbath in New York City. We were too late for the packet, so we took a line boat, designing to change when the next packet came along. As we saw the packet approaching, we commenced making preparations to step aboard. Bro. Bates was to pay our fare. The packet did not stop, and we had to spring aboard while the boat was in motion. Bro. Bates was holding the money in his hand, saying to the men on the line boat, “Here, take your pay.” As he saw the boat moving off he sprang to get aboard, but his foot struck the edge of the boat, and he fell back into the water. Bro. Bates commenced swimming to the boat. His pocket-book was in one hand, and a dollar bill in the other. His hat came off, and in saving it lost the bill, but held fast his pocket-book. The packet halted for him to get aboard. We were near Centerport, and called at Bro. Harris’ and put Bro. Bates’ clothes in order. Our visit proved a benefit to that family. Sister Harris had been a sufferer for years with catarrh, and used snuff for this affliction, and said she could not live without it. She suffered much pain in her head. We recommended her to go to the Lord, the great Physician, who could heal her affliction. She decided to do so, and we had a sweet season of prayer for her. She left the use of snuff entirely. Her difficulties were greatly relieved, and her health better than it had been for years. 2SG 99.1

While at Bro. Harris’ I had an interview with a sister who professed to be looking for Christ's coming, who wore gold. We spoke of the express declaration of scripture against it. But she referred to where Solomon was commanded to beautify the temple, and that the streets of the city of God were pure gold. And said if we could improve our appearance by wearing gold, so as to have influence in the world, it was right. I replied that we were poor fallen mortals; and instead of decorating these bodies because Solomon's temple was gloriously adorned, we should remember our fallen condition, and that it cost the sufferings and death of the Son of God to redeem us. This should cause in us self-abasement. Jesus is our pattern. If he would lay aside his humiliation and sufferings, and cry, “If any man will come after me, let him please himself, and enjoy the world, and he shall be my disciple,” the multitude would believe, and follow him. But Jesus will come to us in no other character than the meek, crucified One. If we would be with him in heaven, we must be like him on earth. The world will claim its own, and whoever will overcome, must leave what belongs to it. 2SG 100.1

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 657-61

At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth—consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the City of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants. “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.” “The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.” “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned.” Isaiah 24:1, 3, 5, 6. GC 657.1

The whole earth appears like a desolate wilderness. The ruins of cities and villages destroyed by the earthquake, uprooted trees, ragged rocks thrown out by the sea or torn out of the earth itself, are scattered over its surface, while vast caverns mark the spot where the mountains have been rent from their foundations. GC 657.2

Now the event takes place foreshadowed in the last solemn service of the Day of Atonement. When the ministration in the holy of holies had been completed, and the sins of Israel had been removed from the sanctuary by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, then the scapegoat was presented alive before the Lord; and in the presence of the congregation the high priest confessed over him “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat.” Leviticus 16:21. In like manner, when the work of atonement in the heavenly sanctuary has been completed, then in the presence of God and heavenly angels and the hosts of the redeemed the sins of God's people will be placed upon Satan; he will be declared guilty of all the evil which he has caused them to commit. And as the scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, so Satan will be banished to the desolate earth, an uninhabited and dreary wilderness. GC 658.1

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 289-91

I then saw Jesus leading His people to the tree of life, and again we heard His lovely voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, saying, “The leaves of this tree are for the healing of the nations. Eat ye all of it.” Upon the tree of life was most beautiful fruit, of which the saints could partake freely. In the city was a most glorious throne, from which proceeded a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal. On each side of this river was the tree of life, and on the banks of the river were other beautiful trees bearing fruit which was good for food. EW 289.1

Language is altogether too feeble to attempt a description of heaven. As the scene rises before me, I am lost in amazement. Carried away with the surpassing splendor and excellent glory, I lay down the pen, and exclaim, “Oh, what love! what wondrous love!” The most exalted language fails to describe the glory of heaven or the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. EW 289.2

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