Revelation 20:7
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
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(7) And when the thousand years are expired.—Rather, And when the thousand years have been finished. The binding of Satan implied restraint put upon his power and freedom of action; the loosing means the removing of these restraints. The reign of Christ with His saints has been a witness to the power of our Master over the wicked one. This witness has been an opportunity also to the world. It was the earthly approximation to the ideal picture. It testified how completely “all power in heaven and in earth was given to Christ,” and how there lay, therefore, within the reach of men the power of Him who would tread down their true enemies, and turn His hand against their adversaries (Psalm 81:13-14). But the time of opportunity must end. “O that Israel would have hearkened,” is a cry that might have its counterpart over the history of earth’s lost opportunities. Christendom is planted in the world to be a framework of regenerating power to mankind, just as the Law and its adjuncts were designed to be in Israel. But, as there the old idolatrous influences broke in upon the rule of God’s covenant, so here do we find the vision picturing to us how Christendom will be invaded by the influences of the evil one, when mankind has let slip this splendid opportunity of a really golden age.

Revelation 20:7-10. The following verses of this chapter to Revelation 20:11 inform us that the happy days of the church, prophesied of in the foregoing vision, will at length have their period, though they are to continue for a long time, and are not to expire till after one thousand years: yet then there shall be one attempt more against the purity of religion, and against the peace and prosperity of the church. Satan will be released for a little season, but in that little season he shall deceive many, and so far seduce them as to prevail upon them to join with him in his apostacy. This new attempt against truth and righteousness shall end in the utter ruin of the enemies of Christ and his religion; they shall be totally defeated, and their obstinate wickedness punished with everlasting destruction. This state of the church and world, so different from the preceding, deserves to be considered as a new period, which will therefore be the fifth in order. — Lowman. And when the thousand years are expired, &c. — “At the expiration of the thousand years the restraint shall be taken off from wickedness; Satan shall be loosed out of his prison — And make one effort more to re-establish his kingdom. As he deceived our first parents in the paradisiacal state, so he shall have the artifice to deceive the nations in this millennium kingdom, to show that no state or condition on earth is exempted or secured from sinning.

The nations whom he shall deceive are described as living in the remotest parts of the world; in the four quarters Εν ταις τεσσαρσι γωνιαις της γης, in the four angles, or corners, of the earth; and they are distinguished by the name of Gog and Magog, and are said to be as numerous as the sands of the sea. Gog and Magog seem to have been formerly the general name of the northern nations of Europe and Asia, as the Scythians have been since, and the Tartars are at present. In Ezekiel there is a famous prophecy concerning Gog and Magog, and this prophecy alludes to that in many particulars. Both that of Ezekiel and this of St. John remain yet to be fulfilled; and therefore we cannot be absolutely certain that they may not both relate to the same event, but it appears more probable that they relate to different events. The one is expected to take place before, but the other will not take place till after, the millennium. Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel, are said expressly (Ezekiel 38:6; Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:2) to come from the north quarters and the north parts; but in St. John they came from the four quarters, or corners, of the earth. Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel, bend their forces against the Jews resettled in their own land; but in St. John they march up against the saints and church of God in general. It may therefore be concluded that Gog and Magog, as well as Sodom, and Egypt, and Babylon, are mystic names in this book; and the last enemies of the Christian Church are so denominated, because Gog and Magog appear to be the last enemies of the Jewish nation. Who they shall be, we cannot pretend to say with any degree of certainty: but whoever they shall be, they shall come up from the four corners of the earth, on the breadth of the earth, and shall compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city — The new Jerusalem, with the saints encamped around it, as the Israelites encamped around the tabernacle in the wilderness. But they shall not succeed in their attempts; they shall not be able to hurt the church and city of God, but shall be destroyed in an extraordinary manner, by fire from heaven: and the devil himself, the promoter and leader of this new apostacy and rebellion against God and his Christ, shall not only be confined as before, but shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he shall be punished together with the beast and the false prophet, who were cast in before him, and shall be tormented for ever and ever.20:7-10 While this world lasts, Satan's power in it will not be wholly destroyed, though it may be limited and lessened. No sooner is Satan let loose, than he again begins deceiving the nations, and stirring them up to make war with the saints and servants of God. It would be well if the servants and ministers of Christ were as active and persevering in doing good, as his enemies in doing mischief. God will fight this last and decisive battle for his people, that the victory may be complete, and the glory be to himself.And when the thousand years are expired - See Revelation 20:2.

Satan shall be loosed out of his prison - See Revelation 20:3. That is, a state of things will then occur as if Satan should be for a time let loose again, and should be permitted to go as formerly over the world. No intimation is given "why or how" he would be thus released from his prison. We are not, however, to infer that it would be a mere arbitrary act on the part of God. All that is necessary to be supposed is, that there would be, in certain parts of the world, a temporary outbreak of wickedness, as if Satan were for a time released from his chains.

7. expired—Greek, "finished." When the long time expressed under the notion of a thousand years shall be expired, God shall take off his restraint from the devil, so as he shall influence the wicked of the earth once more to make opposition to his church. And when the thousand years are expired,.... Which are not yet expired; not in the year 1000, or 1033 or 4, reckoning from the birth or death of Christ, when Paganism, which had been destroyed in the Gentile world, was introduced into the church, which bore the Christian name, through the man of sin; for this had been bringing in by degrees more or less from the times of Constantine; whence it appears, that Satan in this respect was loose before, and therefore this was not the time of his loosing; nor in 1073, reckoning from the destruction of Jerusalem, and the carrying and spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles, in which year Hildebrand came to the popedom, who may be truly called the brand of hell; Damianus, a brother cardinal, who lived at the same time with him when he was archdeacon of Rome, calls him the holy devil; he was an impostor, sorcerer, and necromancer, and by wicked arts got into the Papal chair; this pope raised the Papal power over princes to a very great height, and made the see of Rome absolutely independent, and all bishops dependent on it; he forbid bishops receiving their investiture from the emperor, or any lay person, under pain of excommunication: this is the pope that made the emperor, with his empress and child, wait three days barefoot at his gates, in the depth of winter, before they could be admitted to him; that doctrine of devils, forbidding priests to marry, was established by him; and in his days that monstrous and absurd notion of transubstantiation began to prevail, though he himself used his breaden god but very roughly; for taking it to be really God, he required an answer from it against the emperor; but it not speaking, he threw it into the fire, and burnt it. Now it will be allowed, that the devil was loose at this time, but then so he was before: there had been popes before this who were conjurers, necromancers, and had familiarity and confederacy with the devil; and near five hundred years before this time, the pope was declared universal bishop by Phocas; and the forbidding priests marriage was started in the council of Nice, and was approved of by Pope Siricius, long before this time, though it was now more firmly established; add to this, that if the expiration of the 1000 years and the loosing of Satan were at this time, he must have been loosed near 700 years, which can never be called a little season, as in Revelation 20:3 especially in comparison of the 1000 years, the time of his binding; when it is two thirds of that time: nor did these years expire in or about 1300, reckoning from Constantine, about which time Pope Boniface the Eighth lived, of whom it is said, that he came in like a fox, railed like a lion, and died like a dog; upon his accession to the popedom, he instituted a jubilee, and on the first day he appeared in his pontifical habit, and gave the benediction to the people, and on the next day he clothed himself with an imperial habit, and put on a rich diadem, and sat on a throne, with a naked sword bore before him, when he uttered these words, "Ecce hic duo gladii", "Behold here are two swords", referring to Luke 22:38 which the Papists would have understood of the temporal and spiritual power which Peter and his successors are possessed of; at the same time Ottoman was crowned emperor of the Mahometan nations, who founded the Turkish empire, and spread the Mahometan religion in Asia and Greece; and by both these, great disturbances and wars were occasioned, both in the east and west: but still this does not make it appear that now was the time of Satan's loosing; since before this time the Papal power was at its utmost height, and the Mahometan religion had been hundreds of years in the world, and had greatly prevailed; and therefore Satan must be loosed before; and indeed it is in vain to seek after the expiration of these years, and the loosing of Satan, when as yet the years are not begun, nor has Satan been bound, as has been shown on Revelation 20:2 but however, when they will be ended,

Satan shall be loosed out of his prison; during the thousand years he will be in a state of confinement, being bound, shut, and sealed up in the bottomless pit, which is therefore here called a prison, as is the place of damned spirits, in 1 Peter 3:19 but when these will be at an end; his chain will be taken off, at least will be lengthened; the seal upon him will be broken off, the bottomless pit will be opened, and he let loose; which will be done not by himself, but by him that bound him, or by divine permission.

{14} And when the {15} thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

(14) The second history, of the latter victory of Christ, as was said in Re 20:1. In which are summarily described the work, overthrow, and eternal punishment of Satan.

(15) Of which I spoke. See Geneva Re 20:2 Then there will be given to him liberty to rage against the Church, and to molest the saints for the sins of men: to whom the faithful shall have associated themselves more then was fitting, tasting with them of their impurity of doctrine and life.

Revelation 20:7-10. After the completion of the one thousand years, Satan is let loose; then he leads the heathen nations, Gog and Magog, to an attack upon the saints. But fire from heaven consumes those nations, and Satan is cast eternally into the lake of fire.

λυθήσεται. Here and in Revelation 20:8 (ἐξελεύσεται) the statement has the express form of prophecy, which also is repeated in Revelation 20:10 b (βασανισθήσονται); in Revelation 20:9 and Revelation 20:10 a, however, the prophet speaks so as to report the revelation imparted to him concerning the events impending at the end.[4176]

τὰ ἕθνη. The difficulty that here the heathen nations once again enter into conflicts against the saints, after, Revelation 19:21, all nations and kings (rendering allegiance to the beast) have been annihilated,—to which also the other difficulty is added, that enemies to be found in the earthly life contend against believers who are partakers in the first resurrection,[4177]—is not explained fully by emphasizing[4178] the fact that these ἔθνη, Gog and Magog, dwell at the extreme ends of the earth. Vitr., Ewald, De Wette, etc., are indeed right when in harmony with the prototype, Ezekiel 38:3-9,[4179] and the idea of Revelation 20:9 (ἈΝΈΒΗΣΑΝ ἘΠῚ ΤῸ ΠΛΆΤΟς Τῆς Γῆς), they regard the farthest ends of the earth as the abode of these nations;[4180] but in the entire description of ch. 8. it was presupposed that all unbelieving inhabitants of the earth without exception, all kings and nations, had served the beast, and with him had perished. It is also to be acknowledged that the introduction of ἔθνη in this passage is a similar inconsistency as was previously shown in that the winds prepared at Revelation 7:1 for destruction do not afterwards come into activity; but this inconsistency—which is in general a material, and that, too, an inexplicable difficulty, only when the entire description, Revelation 20:1-10, is regarded in all its individual parts as a prophecy to be thus actually fulfilled, instead of distinguishing the ideal character of the Apocalyptic mode of representation, and the actual contents of the prophecy to be determined from the analogy of the Holy Scriptures—is modified by the fact that the nations here presented, Gog and Magog, stand in no relation whatever to the beast, and dwell at such a distance that also, in this respect, they may appear with the dwellers on earth formerly found in the empire of the beast. For it is also in harmony with this, that these heathen nations are led to the conflict against the saints immediately by Satan himself.[4181]

τὸν Γὼγ καὶ τὸν Μαγώγ. Even in Jewish theology these two names occur, of which the first in Ezekiel, l. c., designates the king of the land and people of Magog[4182] as names of nations belonging together.[4183] Already, in Ezek., Magog appears, whose ethnographical determination,[4184] of course, nevertheless, lies in the background of the description[4185] as the representative and leader of the heathen nations in general, who rage against the people of God ruled by the Messiah, and are then destroyed by God. This prediction of Ezekiel was made use of already at Revelation 19:17 sqq.;[4186] but only in this passage is it expressly interwoven in the description of the final catastrophe. Therefore the art. of the ΤῸΝ ΠΌΛΕΜΟΝ refers to the final attack to be made on the part of those heathen nations, as a conflict which is confessedly to be expected.[4187] [See Note LXXXIX., p. 473.] ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ πλάτος τὴς γὴς. From the ends of the earth (Revelation 20:8) those nations come up to the broad plain of the earth,[4188] in order thus to reach the city in which the saints are encamped. The ἀναβαίνειν, which is a common expression for military expeditions,[4189] because the position of the attacked is naturally regarded as one that is to be found at an elevation,[4190] is here the more appropriate, because the going up of the nations is properly regarded against Jerusalem.[4191]

καὶ ἐκύκλευσαν τὴν παρεμβολὴν τῶν ἁγίων καὶ τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἠγαπημένην. The expression first of all distinguishes between the camp of the saints and the beloved city, i.e., Jerusalem, of course not in the sense wherein, e.g., Grot. understands by the camp, the seven churches, chs. 1–3, and by the beloved city, Constantinople; but the saints are to be regarded as gathered in the camp, in order to defend the holy city against the attacks of the heathen.[4192] The camp possibly surrounds the city, so that enemies at the same time enclose both.[4193] That the beloved city is the earthly Jerusalem,—not the new Jerusalem[4194] coming from heaven only at Revelation 21:1 sqq., after the judgment of the world (Revelation 20:15),—is acknowledged with substantial unanimity; but it is an ordinary eluding of the context when Jerusalem is regarded as having the force only of a symbolical designation of the Church.[4195]

καὶ κατέβη πῦρ, κ.τ.λ. Already, even in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 39:6), this means of destruction alone is mentioned,[4196] because it is represented in the most terrible manner as an immediate instrument of the Divine judgment of wrath.[4197]

ὁ πλανῶν αὐτοὺς. Here, where, with the final judgment upon the Devil, there is an allusion to his peculiar guilt, the pres.[4198] marks in a general way his seductive influence.

βασανισθήσονται, κ.τ.λ. Eternal torture; cf. Revelation 14:11.

[4176] Cf. Revelation 19:9 sq., 17 sq.

[4177] See on Revelation 20:10.

[4178] Vitr.

[4179] Cf. especially Ezekiel 38:15. ἀπʼ ἐσχάτου βοῤῥᾶ.

[4180] Against Hengstenb.: “The corners comprise whatever lies within the corners,” so that the four corners of the earth designate, in fact, the same as τὸ πλάτος τῆς γῆς.

[4181] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 16:13 sq.

[4182] Genesis 10:2. Cf. Winer, Rwb., on this word.

[4183] “At the end of the extremity of the days shall Gog and Magog, and their army, come up against Jerusalem; but by the hand of King Messiah shall they fall, and seven years of days shall the children of Israel kindle their fire with their weapons of war” (Targ. of Jerusalem on Numbers 11:27). Avoda Sara I.: “When Gog and Magog shall see war, the Messiah will say to them, Why hast thou come hither? They will reply, Against the Lord and his Christ.” Cf. Wetst.

[4184] Cf. Joseph., Ant. Jud., I. Revelation 6 : Μαγώγης δὲ τοὐς ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ Μαγώγας ὀνομασθέντας ᾥκισε, Σκύθας δὲ ὑπʼ αὐτῶν (sc. Ἑλλήνων) προσαγορευομἑνους [Magog colonized those named from him Μαγώγαι, but called by them (sc. the Greeks) Scythians]. M. Uhlemann (Zeitschr. für Wissenschaftl. Theol. herausg. von Hilgenfeld, 1862, p. 265 fl.) has in an exceedingly instructive way shown that Magog originally meant nothing but “dwelling-place, the land of Gog.” But the name of the people, Gog, means “mountain.” All etymological and geographical marks show that we are to recognize the actual people of Gog in the inhabitants of the Caucasus, as also the Greek καυκάσιον οὖρος in Herodotus really says nothing else than “the Asiatic Kauk (Gog), or the Asiatic high mountain” (p. 283).

[4185] Cf. Ezekiel 38:15.

[4186] Cf. Revelation 16:13 sqq.

[4187] Cf. Revelation 16:14 : τὸν πολ. τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκέιν, κ.τ.λ.

[4188] Cf. Habakkuk 1:6.

[4189] 1 Kings 22:4; Jdg 1:1.

[4190] Hengstenb.

[4191] Cf. Luke 18:31.

[4192] De Wette.

[4193] ἐκυκλ. Cf. Luke 19:43.

[4194] Cf. Andr., who, indeed, if the text is correct, says expressly τὴν νέαν Ιερουσ., but in his other remarks presupposes the earthly Jerusalem.

[4195] Augustine, Beda, Andr., Vitr., Hengstenb. Likewise Klief.: “The essential meaning is “that finally also the peripheral nations shall in a mass arise somewhere against the Lord and his people, and that thereby, at some place, the Divine judgment of destruction shall occur” (p. 280).

[4196] Cf., on the other hand, Ezekiel 38:22.

[4197] Cf. Genesis 19:24; As Baligant, lord of the pagans, issues from the East to challenge Charlemagne and be crushed, Satan emerges from his prison for a short period (3) after the millennium, musters an enormous army of pagans to besiege the holy capital, but is decisively routed and flung into the lake of fire to share the tortures of his former agents. The tenses shift from future (Revelation 20:7-8; Revelation 20:10 b) to aorist (Revelation 20:9-10 a) the latter (cf. Revelation 11:11) being possibly due to the influence of Semitic idiom.The Loosing of Satan, the War of Gog and Magog, the Judgement on the Devil, the Beast, and the False Prophet, Revelation 20:7-107. Satan shall be loosed] “for a little season,” as we heard in Revelation 20:3. The words are different from the “short time” of Revelation 12:12, and we have no reason to understand that they refer to the same period: still the two passages to a certain extent illustrate one another.Revelation 20:7. Τα, those) Those thousand years only, during which Satan was bound; for now again Satan is treated of. The article so refers to the noun (thousand years) applied to two preceding subjects [the two distinct periods of a thousand years each], that it has reference to the former subject. Thus altogether τὸ θηρίον, that beast, ch. Revelation 13:15, does not refer to Revelation 20:11, but to Revelation 20:1. Thus 2 Samuel 23:19; 2 Samuel 23:23, τρεῖς refers not to the nearest, but to the more distant, ternary, Revelation 20:8, etc.—χίλια ἔτη, thousand years) The threefold expression of the former millennium (to which the threefold mention of the second millennium harmoniously answers) plainly makes a threefold opposition to the Non-chronus (which occupies the time between 1111 1/9 and 999 9/9 or 1000 years), to the short space [Revelation 17:10] (888 8/9 years), and to the time 1, 2, ½ (777 7/9 years); for these three periods, which the dragon rendered particularly disastrous, are immediately followed by a thousand joyful years, while the dragon is bound, and these years are three times expressed [in Revelation 20:2-3; Revelation 20:7].—λυθήσεται ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς) An abbreviated expression: that is, shall be loosed from his chain, and sent forth from his prison.Verse 7. - And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison; are finished; that is, the power of the devil having been in principle completely overthrown by our Lord (see on preceding verses), Satan is still permitted to wage war and exercise sway on the earth. "His prison" is the "abyss" of vers. 1, 3 (cf. also ver. 3).
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