The passage begs the question: “Why is Satan released to deceive the nations again?” Mounce** (Pg. 361) says that “neither the designs of Satan nor the waywordness of the human will be altered by the passing of time”.
The Amillennial is much easier as that view states that the war in this passage is the very same war spoken about in 19:11-21 which is also described in 16:17-21. Satan has been “limited” so that there will be a church, but he is not unleashed in order to try to destroy it.
7 And when1 the thousand years should be complete, Satan will be released2 from his prison. 8 He will come out to deceive3 the nations, the ones in the four corners of the earth4, God and Magog5, to gather them together for war6. Their number7 is like the sand of the sea8. 9 And they went up on the breath of the earth9 and surrounded the camp of the saints10, namely, the beloved city11. And fire came down from heaven and consumed12 them13 . 10 And the devil who deceived14 them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where both the wild beast and the false prophet were thrown. They will be tormented day and night15 forever16.
1 ὅταν (when)
or “whenever”. This word is a continued source of debate among scholars. Amillennialist say the word needs “whenever” so that the figurative force of the passage can be seen. Premillennialist say it means “when” to show that there must be a fixed completion time after 1000 years. I should also note that the following verb τελεσθῇ (should be complete) is in the subjunctive which adds a degree of probability. The whole passage can also be translated “when/whenever the thousand years might be complete” or “when/whenever the thousand years may be complete”. Osborne*** (Pg. ) agrees with “when” and Beale* (Pgs. 1021-1022) agrees with “whenever”.
2 λυθήσεται (will be released)
Greek: “will be loosed”.
Perhaps this could infer the Tribulation, which is thought by many to begin in the middle of the seven years of the last week.
3 πλανῆσαι (to deceive)
Greek: “to lead astray”. Satan deceives the nations of the earth in order to make war.
The deception intensifies and is more and more apparent.
4 An idiom that means “from everywhere throughout the earth”. We also see this phrase in 7:1.
5 τὸν Γὼγ καὶ Μαγώγ (Gog and Magog)
Transliterated Hebrew. An allusion to Ezekiel 38-39. Gog means “the king of the northern lands” and Magog means “the land of Gog”. Here, it is symbolic for all of the people on the earth who are unbelievers.
Walid Shoebat’s book “God’s War On Terror” presents an compelling case for these references not only to symbolize unbelievers, but indicate ,in particular, the Islamic enemies surrounding Israel, even naming the nations. These are nations that openly seek the annihilation of Israel and consider the idea of Christ as the Son of God, crucified, and raised as part of the Godhead as blasphemous. They consider the Bible as corrupt and that Jesus serves Muhammed.
John sees this as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39 where Israel is now believers (the Israel of God) in Galatians.
6 συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν πόλεμον (to gather them together for war)
Osborne*** (Pg. 713) states where 20:3-4 seems problematic for the Amillennial view, he is balanced in saying that 20:8b is problematic for the Premillennial view as it is the very same line as 16:14. He holds to the view that it was the “Army” that was destroyed in 19:17-20 and the people here are unbelievers who didn’t fight in that battle.
7 ὧν ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτῶν (Their number)
Greek: “whose the number of them”.
8 Idiomatic in nature. The people of the nations were so many that they could not be counted.
Satan stood on the sand by the sea and looked out with defiance and malice. He will not stand before the Lord, Whose feet will rest on the Mount of Olives and gives voice to the Mountain of God.
9 Osborne*** says that “the breadth of the earth” adds to the imagery of the “four corners” and means that the people came from everywhere. (Pgs. 713-714). Mounce** thinks it to be a metaphor that describes that there is a large space around the camp of the saints so that Satan’s army can surround it. (Pg. 363).
10 In the OT, “the camp” was that of Israel in their wanderings after the exodus. They would camp around the tent of meeting where God’s presence was. Beale* points out a possible parallel from the Dead Sea Scrolls! TheWar Scroll “projects Israel’s wilderness encampment into the time preceding the end of history, referring to the ‘camps of the saints’ where the ‘bliss of God’ swells at the end time, when the enemy attempts to destroy the camp of true Israel, the Qumran community in the wilderness. But ‘God overthrows all the sons of darkness...and destroyed them’ (1QM 3:5-9)”. (Pg. 1026).
11 Figuratively meaning Jerusalem. From the context of the preceding passages, we know that it is the Lamb and the saints (believers) who are being sieged. In the OT, Israel and Jerusalem are not always meant literally. Sometimes Israel and Jerusalem represent God’s people in the OT. Such is the same here. Jerusalem is representing God’s people: Christian believers. Those believers consists of Gentiles as well as Jews who have become Christian believers. Paul spoke of his native people in Romans 11 as not being rejected as they too had the ability to believe in Jesus.
12 κατέφαγεν (consumed)
Greek: “devoured” or “ate up”.
13 Note that like 19:11-21, there is no battle or at least not by the enemies of the camp of God. Just as the passage in 19:11-21 stated that the army’s destruction was so complete that the birds feed on the flesh of the soldiers, here, the fire consuming the army of nations here is total in its destruction.
14 See note of verse 8.
15 ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς (day and night)
An idiom that means “continually”.
16 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (forever)
Greek: “into the ages of ages”.
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)