When we observe Satan at the end of Revelation, we read of him as a dragon or as the ancient serpent (Revelation 20:1-3). He’s the one who is released to deceive the nations and the one who battles against God’s beloved. Yet, in the end, Satan lands in the lake of fire and sulfur forever with another beast and a false prophet (Revelation 20:7-10).
Revelation 20 uses strange language dripping with metaphor. It leaves many questions about Satan unanswered. What does it mean that he’s a dragon? How can he be restrained and then released? When a battle happens between God’s beloved and Satan, how does that practically unfold?
In addition, the metaphor of Satan being an ancient “serpent” clearly reflects the Genesis narrative (Genesis 3:1). But, what if we also study the first mention of Satan in the book of Revelation? When studying Scripture, it’s important to look within the context of the book to ensure we stay within the complete intended thought of the author. It’s interesting to note that the first mention of Satan in John’s book of Revelation is in a letter to the church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:13). Letters are for real people experiencing real turmoil, and John refers to Satan in a slightly more tangible way.
Take a few minutes to get curious about this text and what it tells us about Satan’s dominion.
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. – Revelation 2:12-13
- What can you observe about Satan and his character from this text only? List at least five things you notice.
- What questions does this text leave to be answered about Satan? List at least five questions.
- For an even more challenging question: How might Revelation 2 inform our understanding of Revelation 20?
Getting curious about God’s word and about specific characters in the story is a great way to help us develop healthy patterns of study. In conclusion, thank God for his Word and for whatever you discovered today.
By Yvonne Biel