He seized the dragon – Revelation 20:2-3

Previously: The key to the abyss – Revelation 20:1

The scripture

Rev. 20:2 – He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. 3 He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time. (HCSB)

He seized the dragon

In verses 2-3 Satan is “seized,” bound for 1,000 years, and thrown into the abyss. Note the different names by which the evil one is called: the dragon, that ancient serpent, the Devil, and Satan. We have explored these names before, most notably in “The woman, the dragon, and the child – Rev. 12:1-6,” and “Then war broke out in heaven – Rev. 12:7-12.” But a quick review is in order.

The dragon is a sign, or symbol, of Satan. John is not given to myths and legends but uses the imagery of a vile, dangerous, and wicked beast to describe the one who once was “an anointed guardian cherub” (Eze. 28:14) and who appears to people as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). As Hank Hanegraaff often points out in his “Bible Answer Man” radio program, scripture does not use the term “dragon” to show us what Satan looks like, but to describe what he is like.

The ancient serpent – imagery Paul uses in 2 Cor. 11:3 – likely is a reference to Genesis 3 in which “the serpent” tempts Eve. This is not to say that Satan literally is a snake, for the context suggests that the serpent is a finite creature (Gen. 3:14 – “all the days of your life”) while Satan is an everlasting angelic being.

The name “Devil” comes from the Greek word diabolos, meaning “accuser” or “slanderer.” It is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to translate the Hebrew satan. Matthew uses the name to introduce him as Jesus’ tempter (Matt. 4:1), and Jesus calls him the Devil to indicate that he is in charge of a demonic host for whom hell has been created (Matt. 25:41). We see the Devil accusing God of placing a protective hedge around Job, and slandering Job about the presumed motive behind his righteous deeds (Job 1-2). We also see him accusing Joshua the high priest before the Angel of the Lord (Zech. 3:1). He is no doubt “the accuser of our brothers” (Rev. 12:10).

The Hebrew word satan means “accuser” or “adversary.” In the Old Testament, we see him not only in Job and Zechariah, as mentioned above, but in 1 Chron. 21:1, where he rises up against Israel and incites David to take a census. The New Testament clearly depicts Satan as the head of the demons and as God’s chief opponent, as well as the enemy of all people, particularly those who belong to Christ.

The angel seizes the dragon. The Greek word krateo means “to seize.” It also means to use strength, to hold on to, arrest, control, or keep. Interestingly, this word is used several times in Revelation 2 in different ways. Jesus “holds” the seven stars in His right hand (v. 1). The church at Pergamum is “holding on” to Jesus’ name (v. 13), but some there “hold to” the teaching of Balaam (v. 14), while others “hold to” the teaching of the Nicolaitans (v. 15). Finally, Jesus exhorts those in Thyatira to “hold on” to what they have until He comes (v. 25). The word is used a few other places in Revelation but in every case the emphasis is on holding someone or something securely. The angel seizes the dragon, holds him securely, and confines him in the abyss.

Next: For 1,000 years – Revelation 20:2-3

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