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Revelation 20:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He should deceive the nations no more - Be unable to blind men with superstition and idolatry as he had formerly done.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And cast him into the bottomless pit - See the notes on Revelation 9:1. A state of peace and prosperity would exist as if Satan, the great disturber, were confined in the nether world as a prisoner.

And shut him up - Closed the massive doors of the dark prison-house upon him. Compare the notes on Job 10:21-22.

And set a seal upon him - Or, rather, “upon it” - ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ epanō autouThe seal was placed upon the “door” or “gate” of the prison, not because this would fasten the gate or door of itself, and make it secure, for this was secured by the key, but because it prevented intrusion, or any secret opening of it without its being known. See the Daniel 6:17 note, and Matthew 27:66 note. The idea here is, that every precaution was taken for absolute security.

That he should deceive the nations no more - That is, during the thousand years. Compare the notes on Revelation 12:9.

Till the thousand years should be fulfilled - That is, during that period there will be a state of things upon the earth as if Satan should be withdrawn from the world, and confined in the great prison where he is ultimately to dwell forever.

And after that he must be loosed a little season - See Revelation 20:7-8. That is, a state of things will then exist, for a brief period, as if he were again released from his prison-house, and suffered to go abroad upon the earth. The phrase “a little season” - μικρὸν χρόνον mikron chronon“little time” - denotes properly that this would be brief as compared with the thousand years. No intimation is given as to the exact time, and it is impossible to conjecture how long it will be. All the circumstances stated, however, here and in Revelation 20:7-10, would lead us to suppose that what is referred to will be like the sudden outbreak of a rebellion in a time of general peace, but which will soon be quelled.

Section a. - Condition of the world in the period referred to in Revelation 20:1-3

It may be proper, in order to a correct understanding of this chapter, to present a brief summary under the different parts (see the Analysis of the chapter) of what, according to the interpretation proposed, may be expected to be the condition of things in the time referred to.

On the portion now before us Revelation 20:1-3, according to the interpretation proposed, the following suggestions may be made:

(1) This will be subsequent to the downfall of the papacy and the termination of the Muhammedan power in the world. Of course, then, this lies in the future - how far in the future it is impossible to determine. The interpretation of the various portions of this book, and the book of Daniel, have, however, led to the conclusion that the termination of those powers cannot now be remote. If so, we are on the eve of important events in the world‘s history. The affairs of the world look as if things were tending to a fulfillment of the prophecies so understood.

(2) it will be a condition of the world “as if” Satan were bound; that is, where his influences will be suspended, and the principles of virtue and religion will prevail. According to the interpretation of the previous chapters, it will be a state in which all that has existed, and that now exists, in the papacy to corrupt mankind, to maintain error, and to prevent the prevalence of free and liberal principles, will cease; in which all that there now is in the Muhammedan system to fetter and enslave mankind - now controlling more than one hundred and twenty million of the race - shall have come to an end; and in which, in a great measure, all that occurs under the direct influence of Satan in causing or perpetuating slavery, war, intemperance, lust, avarice, disorder, scepticism, atheism, will be checked arid stayed. It is proper to say, however, that this passage does not require us to suppose that there will be a “total cessation” of Satanic influence in the earth during that period. Satan will, indeed, be bound and restrained as to his former influence and power. But there will be no change in the character of man as he comes into the world. There will still be corrupt passions in the human heart. Though greatly restrained, and though there will be a general prevalence of righteousness on the earth, yet we are to remember that the race is fallen, and that even then, if restraint should be taken away, man would act out his fallen nature. This fact, if remembered, will make it appear less strange that, after this period of prevalent righteousness, Satan should be represented as loosed again, and as able once more for a time to deceive the nations.

(3) it will be a period of long duration. On the supposition that it is to be literally a period of one thousand years, this is in itself long, and will give, especially under the circumstances, opportunity for a vast progress in human affairs. To form some idea of the length of the period, we need only place ourselves in imagination “back” for a thousand years - say in the middle of the ninth century - and look at the condition of the world then, and think of the vast changes in human affairs that have occurred during that period. It is to be remembered, also, that if the millennial period were soon to commence, it would find the world in a far different state in reference to future progress from what it was in the ninth century, and that it would “start off,” so to speak, with all the advantages in the arts and sciences which have been accumulated in all the past periods of the world.

Even if there were no special divine interposition, it might be presumed that the race, in such circumstances, would make great and surprising advances in the long period of a thousand years. And here a very striking remark of Mr. Hugh Miller may be introduced as illustrating the subject. “It has been remarked by some student of the Apocalypse,” says he, “that the course of predicted events at first moves slowly, as one after one, six of seven seals are opened; that, on the opening of the seventh seal, the progress is so considerably quickened that the seventh period proves as fertile in events - represented by the sounding of the seven trumpets - as the foregoing six taken together; and that on the seventh trumpet, so great is the further acceleration, that there is an amount of incident condensed in this seventh part of the seventh period equal, as in the former case, to that of all the previous six parts in one. There are three cycles, it has been said, in the scheme - cycle within cycle - the second comprised within a seventh portion of the first, and the third within a seventh portion of the second. Be this as it may, we may, at least, see something that exceedingly resembles it in that actual economy of change and revolution manifested in English history for the last two centuries. “It would seem as if eyelets, in their downward course, had come under the influence of that law of gravitation through which falling bodies increase in speed, as they descend, according to the squares of the distance” (First Impressions of England and its People, pp. 7,8.). If to this we add the supposition, which we have seen (see the notes on Revelation 20:2) to be by no means improbable, that it is intended, in the description of the millennium in this chapter, that the world will continue under a reign of peace and righteousness for the long period of three hundred and sixty thousand years, it is impossible to anticipate what progress will be made during that period, or to enumerate the numbers that will be saved. On this subject, see some very interesting remarks in the “Old Red Sandstone,” by Hugh Miller, pp. 248-250,258,259. Compare Prof. Hitchcock‘s “Religion and Geology,” pp. 370-409.

(4) What, then, will be the state of things during that long period of a thousand years?

(a) There will be a great increase in the population of the globe. Let wars cease, and intemperance cease, and slavery cease, and the numberless passions that now shorten life be stayed, and it is easy to see that there must be a vast augmentation in the number of the human species.

(b) There will be a general diffusion of intelligence upon the earth. Every circumstance would be favorable to it, and the world would be in a condition to make rapid advances in knowledge, Daniel 12:4.

(c) That period will be characterized by the universal diffusion of revealed truth, Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 25:7.

(d) It will be marked by unlimited subjection to the scepter of Christ, Psalm 2:7; Psalm 22:27-29; Isaiah 2:2-3; Isaiah 66:23; Zechariah 9:10; Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 13:31-32; Revelation 11:15.

(e) There will be great progress in all that tends to promote the welfare of man. We are not to suppose that the resources of nature are exhausted. Nature gives no signs of exhaustion or decay. In the future there is no reason to doubt that there will yet be discoveries and inventions mere surprising and wonderful than the art of printing, or the use of steam, or the magnetic telegraph. There are profounder secrets of nature that may be delivered up than any of these, and the world is tending to their development.

(f) It will be a period of the universal reign of peace. The attention of mankind will be turned to the things which tend to promote the welfare of the race, and advance the best interests of society. The single fact that wars will cease will make an inconceivable difference in the aspect of the world; for if universal peace shall prevail through the long period of the millennium, and the wealth, the talent, and the science now employed in human butchery shall be devoted to the interests of agriculture, the mechanical arts, learning, and religion, it is impossible now to estimate the progress which the race will make, and the changes which will be produced on the earth. For Scripture “proofs” that it will be a time of universal peace, see Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 11:6-9; Micah 4:3.

(g) There will be a “general” prevalence of evangelical religion. This is apparent in the entire description in this passage, for the two most formidable opposing powers that religion has ever known - the beast and the false prophet - will be destroyed, and Satan will be bound. In this long period, therefore, we are to suppose that the gospel will exert its fair influence on governments, on families, on individuals; in the contact of neighbors, and in the contact of nations. God will be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and not in the mere “forms” of devotion; and temperance, truth, liberty, social order, honesty, and love, will prevail over the world.

(h) It will be a time when the Hebrew people - the Jews - will be brought to the knowledge of the truth, and will embrace the Messiah whom their fathers crucified, Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1; Romans 11:26-29.

(i) Yet we are not necessarily to suppose that “all” the world will be absolutely and entirely brought under the power of the gospel. There will be still on the earth the remains of wickedness in the corrupted human heart, and there will be so much “tendency” to sin in the human soul, that Satan, when released for a time Revelation 20:7-8, will be able once more to deceive mankind, and to array a formidable force, represented by Gog and Magog, against the cause of truth and righteousness. We are not to suppose that the nature of mankind, as fallen, will be essentially changed, or that there may not be sin enough in the human heart to make it capable of the same opposition to the gospel of God which has thus far been evinced in all ages. From causes which are not fully stated Revelation 20:8-9, Satan will be enabled once more to rouse up their enmity, and to make one more desperate effort to destroy the kingdom of the Redeemer by rallying his forces for a conflict. See these views illustrated in the work entitled “Christ‘s Second Coming,” by Rev. David Brown, of James‘ Free Church, Glasgow, pp. 398-442; New York, 1851.

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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