The Bottomless Pit


Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 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. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

  • Revelation 20: 1 – 3

The Difficulty:

  1. Is there a bottomless pit somewhere that Satan is going to be chained in? Some people believe there is one deep in the middle of the ocean somewhere.
  2. Will Satan be released after a thousand years?
  3. Why a thousand years and not forever?
  4. Is Satan going to be imprisoned or destroyed?

Principle: Let the Bible interpret itself.


Since our text comes from the first few verses of the chapter, we will consider the preceding verses in chapter 19. As you will recall, the Bible originally was not divided into chapters and verses.

Verses 11 to 21 paint the picture of a final battle between good and evil. It begins with Someone called Faithful and True who sits on a white horse; Someone we identify and Jesus Christ. He makes war with the forces of evil arraigned against Him, and is victorious. While this event should not be taken to come immediately before the chaining of chapter 20, it does present the broad context in which God defeats Satan. We find more light on this if we read on into verse 4 of chapter 20:

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

So immediately after seeing the Devil chained, John sees a scene of royalty, in which those who suffered and died for Christ are sitting in kingship with Christ. They are given thrones, and are given the authority to judge and settle the cases of the wicked. The Bible tells us in John 14:1 -3, and 1 Thessalonians 4:15 – 17 that when Christ comes He will take His people out of their suffering and persecution into Heaven to be with Him. This vision shows the fulfillment of that promise. We read in the next verses that that those who died in sin at the Second coming and before, are resurrected to receive their judgment after the thousand years are over.

The Text

This is the same thousand years the devil is chained for. You see, after the Lord has taken us out of this world to be with him, the sinners will perish in the fire and heat of His coming (2 Peter 3:10). The dead in Christ will be resurrected to join the living saints in ascending to Heaven. We will live and reign there with Christ, leaving the Devil and his angels here on the destroyed Earth with nobody left to deceive.

Here is where it gets interesting. Have you ever seen a singer who has lost their voice and can no longer sing? An athlete who lost their limbs in an accident and can no longer do their favorite sports? A pianist who has lost their fingers? A birdwatcher who has gone blind and can no longer see the wonderful creatures of the sky? The frustration and anguish they would feel, would not compare to that of the great deceiver, who has lost his audience and can no longer deceive.


Satan will be left to contemplate the results of their evil, as well as their impending fate. He will know that we are in Heaven, putting a seal on the final destiny of all creatures. He will know that there is no escape, and that when we are done we will come back with the Lord to dispense righteous, terrible punishment upon him, his angels, and all who have believed and followed them.

Interestingly, the word “bottomless pit” is the Greek abussos, the Greek version of the Hebrew te-howm, which is translated as “the deep”. It describes the early-created earth when it was formless and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. It represents a state of chaos, loneliness, and destruction. John in Revelation uses this word to describe the Earth after Christ has come the second time. At the second coming the Earth will be destroyed to such enormous proportions that it will once again appear like the deep – a formless, dark, uninhabited, desolate place – and It will remain like this for one thousand years while the saints rule in Heaven. It is this deserted Earth that Satan will be left in. The chains represent his inability to do what he does best – he is in a prison of circumstances, rather than in a physical prison. In a sense you might say, to use the English expression his hands will be tied.

What will happen after the thousand years? That is our subject for tomorrow. Until then, keep studying the word. Prove all things, and hold fast what is good. My name is Agana-Nsiire Agana. God richly bless you!

Agana-Nsiire Agana is a theologian, communicator and writer. His passion is for communicating eternal truth in a contemporary context which is influenced by postmodern, secular thought. The gospel, though unchanging, can and should be expressed in terms of the challenges, philosophy and language of the present day.