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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 20 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And he laid hold on. Seized him by violence—ekrathse. The word denotes the employment of strength or force, and it implies that he had power superior to that of the dragon. Compare Mt 14:3; Mt 18:28; 21:46; 22:6; 26:4.

We can at once see the propriety of the use of this word in this connexion. 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 Barnes on "Re 12:2".

Compare Re 12:4,7,13,16-17; Re 13:2,4,11; 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 Barnes on "Re 16:13, See Barnes "Re 16:14".

It may include, however, all the forms of wickedness which Satan shall have kept up on the earth, and all the modes of evil by which he will endeavour to perpetuate his reign.

That old serpent. This is undoubtedly an allusion to the serpent that deceived our first parents, (Ge 3:1, seq.,) and therefore a proof that it was Satan that, under the form of a serpent, deceived them. Compare See Barnes "Re 12:3".

 

Which is the Devil. On the meaning of this word, see Barnes "Mt 4:1".

 

And Satan. On the meaning of this word, see Barnes 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 Calmets Dictionary, No. 152, says that this "almost resembles a modern Old Bally 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, or 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 endeavour 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 some things 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.

{b} "dragon" Re 12:9 {c} "bound him" 2 Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6

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