Many commentators believe this angel is Christ Himself, as no single angel seems to be the match for Satan. When Daniel cried for God's help, it took two angels, both Gabriel and Michael to overcome “the prince of the kingdom of Persia,” thought to have been Satan (Daniel 10:13). If the key to the bottomless pit is like the keys of Hades and Death—that is, in the possession of Christ alone—Revelation 1:18 may support this speculation.
Satan's imprisonment in the bottomless pit is not his final sentence, but he will be “bound and gagged” for a thousand years, no longer able to deceive anyone. It is almost inconceivable to imagine what the world will be like without Satan around. Except for a short time in Eden, mankind has never experienced a time when his anti-God attitudes were not constantly pervading our environment (see Ephesians 2:2).
Once Satan is sealed away, a great weight will be lifted from the minds of people. A great sigh of relief will go up. When that prison door clangs shut and Satan's influence is cut off, people may finally experience true peace of mind. The brain-fog caused by his attitudes will be gone, and human beings will for once be able to think clearly. Sin will not disappear altogether, since people will still have to overcome their carnal natures, but without Satan's encouragement, they will have a fighting chance to conquer it.
With Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), triumphant over rebellious humanity, and Satan out of action, peace will descend over the whole earth. With peace, as James writes in James 3:18, the fruit of righteousness can flourish. Over time, under Christ's righteous government administered by the children of God, the creation will begin to return to the way it was before Adam sinned (Romans 8:18-21). With Satan a nonfactor, healing can begin.
Peter describes it in different terms in Acts 3:19-21:
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. And that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Two very important steps in God's plan will occur in quick succession: the return of Jesus Christ prompting the first resurrection and the binding of Satan. The Devil will be imprisoned for most of the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints, and until he is released for a little while (Revelation 20:7), the earth and its inhabitants, human and otherwise, will enjoy “times of refreshing.” During this time, God will work with humanity through His resurrected firstfruits and a proper relationship between man and God will be restored.
What an advantage those people will have then, able to live, overcome, and grow without Satan's constant pressure to ignore or defy God! Instead, godly teachers will be near to say, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). People will still have to make their own choices, but free from the Devil's hateful and rebellious attitudes, they will be much more inclined to decide to do what is good.
Yet, because of this advantage, they will not receive as great a reward as God's firstfruits. Because those in this age have had to fight Satan's influence all their converted lives, they will receive, as the author of Hebrews puts it, “a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35), one that includes, among other things, reigning with Christ throughout the Millennium (Revelation 20:6) and following the Lamb wherever He goes (Revelation 14:4). As overcomers of Satan with Christ, the firstfruits stand on the first tier of those who are raised into God's Kingdom.
When Christ returns, so many wonderful things will come to pass, not the least of which is the confinement of Satan for a millennium. What an excellent reason to pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10)!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Binding of Satan
Like everybody else, Satan has only the power God created in him and the latitude to use it only as He permits and no more. The power given to him is meted out for what God wants him to accomplish for His purposes. Seeing all of the horrible things happening on earth, we may suppose that his power is unlimited, but it most assuredly is not.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)
The Devil will again go on the offensive against God with the same results: He is cast back down to earth. In his anger over his defeat, he will savagely persecute God's people and gather the armies of man to fight against Christ when He comes. He and his human agents will be soundly defeated, and Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Satan's Origin and Destiny
The releasing of the azazel into the wilderness (Leviticus 20:21-22) is commonly—but incongruously—linked with the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). This linkage is problematic because the account in Revelation makes no mention of sins—whether mankind's or Satan's—being placed on Satan's head. Instead, the express purpose for his binding is “so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (verse 3). He is bound to cut off his influence, not to provide any sort of expiation.
In addition, since the book of Revelation is generally dated around AD 90-100, John's vision did not occur until the very end of the apostolic generation. Earlier, Jude had written to exhort the beleaguered first-century church “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3; emphasis ours throughout). “The faith” is a specific faith, indicating a well-defined body of beliefs. However, when Jude wrote his epistle, Satan's binding had not yet been foretold. It was not revealed to John until after “the faith” had already been delivered to the saints.
Similarly, Paul writes to Timothy that the “Holy Scriptures”—which, at that point, would have consisted of what is generally called the Old Testament—“are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). Even without the book of Revelation, the first generation of Christians had all they needed to understand God's plan.
The matter of how sin is atoned for is at the very core of being “wise for salvation,” and Paul's words indicate that “wisdom” was already available from 1) what had been written before, and 2) God-given faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, the apostolic generation understood salvation—including the Day of Atonement and how sins are expiated—without the revelation that Satan will be bound. The former is not dependent on the latter.
David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Three)
Notice that this is done so that Satan can no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years are finished. This is God's judgment. Why does He make this judgment? So that Satan will no longer be able to deceive. Man is separated from God because he was deceived into sinning, thus rejecting the government of God, causing estrangement from God. As long as Satan is free to deceive, mankind will never be reconciled to God.
So then, God judges that, even though Jesus Christ will be on earth, unless Satan is gotten out of the way, atonement can never take place. Thus, the first order of business, after Christ returns, is to make a judgment against Satan so that man can be reconciled to God.
The judgments of God are continuing. They do not stop with the Feast of Trumpets, but they keep right on rolling.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fall Feast Lessons
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 20:1:
1 Peter 3:18-20