At the same time as the Second Coming of Christ, John “saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:1,2).

The key to this scripture is an understanding the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit (translated “the abyss” in other versions) was first mentioned in Genesis 1 as the chaotic, formless condition of the earth before creation (Genesis 1:2 Greek Septuagint).

It also refers to the place where demons can be confined when they are cast out of people. In Luke 8:31 the demons begged Jesus not to send them to the abyss.  In the version of the same story found in Mark 5:10 the demons begged Jesus not to send them “out of the country” and in the same story in Matthew 8:31 they begged that they could go into a herd of swine.  Comparing these texts, it appears that the abyss is the place of confinement where demons are not permitted to possess and torment anyone.

This goes along with Jesus’ description of demons who are cast out of a person: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.” Jesus said that the the spirits try their best to go back into the person they had formerly inhabited (Matthew 12:43).

Peter described this “homeless” condition: “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (the Greek wordtartarus is unique to this scripture) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).

Putting all these scriptures together, the “bottomless pit” where Satan (and undoubtedly his demons with him) will be chained is simply the earth in its chaotic condition following the catastrophic events associated with the Second Coming of Christ.  Satan will be chained in the sense that he will not be permitted to leave the earth and there will be no one there to tempt— the wicked will be dead and the righteous will be in heaven.

The chaotic earth is described in Jeremiah 4:23-26, “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form and void [1]; and the heavens, they had no light.  I beheld the mountains and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth.  I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled.  I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the Lord, by His fierce anger”.

Isaiah gives a similar picture, “Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste… The inhabitants of the earth are burned… The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly… It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth.  They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished.” (Isaiah 24:1,6,19,21,22).  The “many days” which are mentioned are the thousand years that Satan will be bound.

But during this time, while Satan is chained to a depopulated earth, the redeemed will be in heaven as “priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).  See What happens during the Millennium?  for more information about what the redeemed will be doing.

Revelation 20:5 shows that “the rest of the dead”, in other words, those who were not a part of the first resurrection, will not be resurrected “until the thousand years are finished”. They will have been in an unconscious condition, but will come back to life with the same evil propensities that they died with, unaware of the passage of time or the developments of history. Their ignorance and sinful ambitions will give Satan one last chance to deceive them.

This is what it means that “when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle” (v. 7,8). He will lead them in a last desperate attempt to seize “the beloved city” (the New Jerusalem) which will have come down from heaven with the saints.

But the Great White Throne will appear and Satan will be judged, along with the rest of the unredeemed, and he will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone”.  According to Ezekiel 28:18,19, Satan will be “turned to ashes upon the earth… and shall be no more forever”.

For more information about the fate of Satan see chapter 20 of The Book.

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<![if !supportFootnotes]> [1]  <![endif]> Jeremiah uses the identical language of Genesis 1:2 which described the chaotic state of the earth before creation when “darkness was over the face of the deep (abyss)”.