The Abyss

When it is first introduced, “smoke” and locust-like creatures are seen ascending from the “Abyss” to torment the “inhabitants of the earth.” It is the deep pit from which satanic forces are seen ascending to wreak havoc on the Earth, and especially to wage war against the “saints.” It is also the “prison” where demonic forces are imprisoned until their appointed time when they will attempt to execute their malevolent plans to destroy God’s people.

In the Book of Revelation, in its first vision, John sees a being “like a Son of Man” that declares, “I am the First and the Last, and the Living One and I became dead, and behold, living am I unto the ages of ages!” He has absolute authority even over Death itself, possessing the “keys of Death and of Hades,” and the latter corresponds to what later is termed the “Abyss.”

Abyss - Photo by Juan Davila on Unsplash
[Photo by Juan Davila on Unsplash]

And so, while “
Hades” may be an unclean and ominous place, the habitation of demons, it is not beyond the authority and control of the “Son of Man” - (Revelation 1:9-20).


In the city of Thyatira, Jesus chastised the church’s “angel” for tolerating the prophetess “Jezebel.” Like the “Great Harlot, Babylon,” she was teaching the saints “to fornicate and to eat food offered to idols.”

This “Jezebel” claimed that it was permissible to “know the deep things of Satan.” In her mind, she was teaching the “deep things of God,” apparently, deeper spiritual insights and practices.

But Jesus exposed her doctrine for what it was - the “deep things” or bathos of Satan, and the Greek term bathos is a conceptual link to the “Abyss” in chapters 11 and 20, the deep pit from which Satan sends his forces to attack the “witnesses” of the “Lamb”- (Revelation 2:18-29, 9:1-2, 11:7, 13:1, 17:8, 20:1-3).

When the Fifth Trumpet sounded in Chapter 9, a “star” fell to the Earth with the “key” that opened the “Abyss.” Likewise, at the commencement of the “thousand years” in Chapter 20, an “angel” descended with the “key of the Abyss” where the Devil was imprisoned. And at the end of the “thousand years,” Satan is released to gather the nations “from the four corners of the Earth” to attack the “camp of the saints.”  - (Revelation 1:20, 9:1-12, 20:1-10).

The opening of the “Abyss” in Chapter 9 unleashed a horde of “locusts upon the Earth.” They were comparable to “horses prepared for battle,” and they were commanded by the “Angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is ‘Destruction’, also in the Greek, ‘Destroyer’.” This “angel” symbolizes the Devil.

In Chapter 9, the sounding of the “Sixth Trumpet” released the “four angels who were bound at the great river Euphrates,” and the river corresponds to the “Abyss” that was seen when the “Fifth Trumpet” was heard.

Together, the Fifth and Sixth trumpets parallel the Fifth and Sixth “Bowls of Wrath.” Like the “Fifth Trumpet,” the “Fifth Bowl of Wrath” causes the “darkening” of the kingdom of the “Beast,” as well as the tormenting of the men who have the latter’s “mark” or “number.” And like the “Sixth Trumpet,” the “Sixth Bowl of Wrath” dries up the waters of the “Euphrates” in preparation for the “way of the kings from the rising of the sun.”

And when the “Sixth Bowl of Wrath” is emptied, Demons are dispatched to gather the “kings of the whole habitable earth to the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at a place called “Armageddon” - (Revelation 16:10-16).


In Chapter 11, the “Two Witnesses” or “Two Lampstands” prophesy for a “thousand, two hundred and sixty days.” In Revelation, the image of a “lampstand” represents churches or “congregations.” At the end of the “testimony” of the “Two Witnesses,” the “Beast that ascends from the Abyss” attacks and “slays them” - (Revelation 1:20, 11:3-7).

That same “Beast” appears again in Chapter 13 when John sees it “ascending from the Sea.” The “sea” represents the same “depth” or reality as the “Abyss,” and in both pictures, the “Beast is ascending” from the depths to prosecute its war against the “saints/Witnesses.” Thus, the “Beast from the Abyss” is authorized to “wage war on the saints - to overcome and slay them.”

Both visions borrow and apply the same language from Daniel’s vision of the “Fourth Beast from the Sea” with its “Little Horn,” namely, “the same horn that made war with the saints and prevailed against them.”

Thus, the “Two Witnesses” in Chapter 11 represent the same group that is labeled the “saints” in Chapter 13. In both passages, the “Beast” ascends from a deep place to attack the church, the “Abyss” and the “Sea,” respectively - (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:1-10).


In Chapter 20, an angel “descended out of heaven with the key of the Abyss.” He used it to bind the Devil, not to release him. This locates Satan’s imprisonment in the “AbyssBEFORE the events described in Chapter 9 when the “star” from heaven arrived with the “key” to release demonic forces from the “Abyss” - (Revelation 20:1-3).

And the figure cast into the “Abyss” during the “thousand years” in Chapter 20 is identified as the “Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, he who is the Devil and Satan.” These four names applied to Satan in Chapter 20 link the image to the vision in Chapter 12:

  • The great red Dragon who was cast down, the Ancient Serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, and he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him” – (Revelation 12:9 – Emphasis added).

And so, in Chapter 20, Satan is “cast” (ballō) into the “AbyssBEFORE the commencement of the “thousand years.” With the victory of the “Lamb,” he lost his prosecutorial powers - (Revelation 12:9-13).

And the Devil is “bound” to prevent him from “deceiving the nations until the thousand years end,” and this clause further links Chapter 20 to Chapter 12 where the “Dragon” is called “the deceiver of the whole habitable earth.” He is not prevented from engaging in all activities, only from “deceiving the nations.”

In Chapter 12, the voice pronounces “woe” to the “inhabitants of the earth” for the Devil is “cast to the earth,” knowing he has only “a short time” remaining to wage on the “saints.” However, he is still able to unleash destructive forces against humanity, including the “saints.”

Thus, though imprisoned, Satan is the “Angel of the Abyss” and the “Destroyer” who is bent on annihilating the saints of the “Lamb” - (Revelation 9:1-12, 12:12).


Satan is freed from the “Abyss” at the “end of the thousand years” and allowed once more to “deceive the nations.” He gathers them for his final assault against the “saints.” As he does so, the nations “ascend” over the earth and attack the “camp of the saints.”

Once more, the theme of evil “ascending” from the depths is repeated. The “Dragon” does not escape from the pit, he is “released,” but not until the appointed “short time” at the end of the “thousand years” - (Revelation 20:7-9).

Likewise, the “Beast that ascends from the earth,” the “False Prophet,” deceives the “inhabitants of the earth” so they swear allegiance to the “Beast from the Sea.” And so, also, “Babylon” employs her “sorceries” to “deceive all the nations.”

And at the end of the “thousand years,” Satan is released to “deceive the nations” so that they launch one last effort under his direction to destroy the church - (Revelation 2:20, 13:14, 18:23, 20:8-10).

Thus, throughout the present age, the “Lamb” remains in firm control of events and sovereign over all things, including “Hades” and the “Abyss.” But the “Dragon” is released from the “Abyss” near the end of the age for one last attempt at annihilating the people of the “Lamb” when he “ascends” from the Abyss/Sea to “deceive the nations.”