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Thread: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

  1. #1
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    Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Revelation 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

    Revelation 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

    Revelation 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

    Revelation 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

    Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

    Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

    Revelation 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

    What are some things we can deduce about this pit?

    There is a key in relation to it, and a star that fell from heaven is then given this key(Revelation 9:1). This key is used to open it(Revelation 9:2). This pit has a king over them(Revelation 9:11). A beast ascends out of it once it is opened with the key to it(Revelation 11:7 Revelation 17:8). An angel comes down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit(Revelation 20:1). The devil is cast into this pit for a thousand years(Revelation 20:3).

    So in what sense should the bottomless pit be understood as? If it's not meaning in a literal sense, then that means it's being used figuratively to represent something else. So what would that be then?

    Even tho I asked whether there's a literal bottomless pit, my motivation for asking, is to Scripturally define exactly what it is, if it's not meaning as in literally. And no, let's not go that route by asking silly questions and making silly comments, like how can anything be literally bottomless, etc. That hardly Scripturally proves what exactly the bottomless pit is meaning, if the sense is not literal in some way or another. Let's try and let the Bible decide for us.

    Let's look at Revelation 9:2 a little closer. ...the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. In order to try and determine whether the smoke is literal or non literal, I think we would first need to determine if the sun and air are to be understood here as literally, or as figuratively? If literal, then how does smoke from a non literal place, the bottomless pit, then darken the literal air and sun?

  2. #2
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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    John, who wrote Revelation, was a big fan of poetry and symbology and metaphors and all that jazz. So I think you were right in assuming it's not literally a bottomless pit.

    Revelation 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

    To me, the pit being opened and the smoke coming out symbolizes the chaos about to ensue. The weird scorpion/locust things are about to torment mankind for 5 months. Also there are 2 more woes coming, although these don't proceed directly out of the Pit/Abyss like the first.

    I think God used the word bottomless to symbolize finality. If one was to stumble down a bottomless pit they obviously would not be coming back out, unless God reached down there and pulled them out.

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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by noizey View Post

    I think God used the word bottomless to symbolize finality. If one was to stumble down a bottomless pit they obviously would not be coming back out, unless God reached down there and pulled them out.

    How can it be symbolizing finality, given that it can be opened and closed, and that one can ascend out it, and one can be cast into it as well, as in the case of satan for a thousand years? That doesn't mean that I would go as far as to say there is a literal key being used here, in order to open and lock the pit. If this pit symbolizes something, then I would think that would be clearly defined somewhere in Scriptures. For instance, we know that the Lamb of God symbolizes Christ. The Scriptures clearly define that for us. We're not left guessing at what the Lamb of God does or does not symbolize. I would think the same principle has to apply here as well, if the bottomless pit symbolizes something, and that it's not a literal pit of some kind.

  4. #4

    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    I would say...

    First, 'symbol' is not the opposite of 'literal'. Literal objects can carry symbolism in them. The ark of the covenant, for example, was a literal object that was symbolic for God's throne. The opposite of 'literal' would be 'figurative' (i.e. simile, metaphor), not 'symbol'.

    Second, the 'dragon' is a metaphor. The 'binding' is a metaphor. For the 'binding' to take place in the 'depthless pit' means that the 'depthless pit' is a metaphor as well. That the 'depthless pit' can be opened and closed is irrelevant. The whole image of the dragon being bound in the pit is figurative for the literal, historical event.


    Metaphor Literal
    The dragon The satan
    is bound in the depthless pit is limited in his deception
    for one thousand years during the reign of Christ


    Let's look at Revelation 9:2 a little closer. ...the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. In order to try and determine whether the smoke is literal or non literal, I think we would first need to determine if the sun and air are to be understood here as literally, or as figuratively? If literal, then how does smoke from a non literal place, the bottomless pit, then darken the literal air and sun?
    The problem isn't that we have to go through trouble in deducing the meaning behind every single word. The problem is recognizing that the whole thing is a word-picture. Understanding that John uses metaphor and simile and symbols (which are not the opposite of 'literal') does not mean every single little word means something beside itself. It's the whole that means something other than itself.

    For Revelation 9, it's not that 'air' is a metaphor for one thing, and 'sun' is a metaphor for another thing, and 'smoke' is a metaphor for a third thing, so that by combining three metaphors together we discover some fourth metaphor and so on.

    The metaphor is the whole picture: of an angel called Destruction falling from heaven into a depthless pit, pouring out smoke that blots out the sky and sun, releasing a plague of locusts at the behest of God's will for the punishment of the wicked. Now, certain smaller parts can carry additional meaning (e.g. the 'depthless pit' representing the origin of chaos, the 'locusts' representing an army), but not every single thing is supposed to be turned around to mean something new.

    Turning the revelation into a coded puzzle (the opposite of the definition of 'revelation') is not what John was doing. The majority of John's imagery comes from the Old Testament. But it's not super tiny images packed together (like 'air' and 'sun' and 'smoke' and 'depthless pit' and 'star' and 'key' and 'heaven' and 'earth'), but larger images (like 'locusts' representing an army sent by God, or 'darkness' representing a period of divine judgment).

  5. #5

    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    In the case of the 'depthless pit', John makes a conceptual play throughout the book.

    Chapter 9 shows that the angel called Destruction (i.e. the satan) comes from the pit. Chapter 20 has him being banished there. Chapter 13 has the Dragon (i.e. the satan) standing on the edge of the sea. For the Beast to rise from 'the depthless pit' (chapters 11 and 17), and 'the sea' (chapter 13), shows that the evil empire the Beast represents derives its power from the satan.

    In the Old Testament (which John makes extensive use of in his symbols and pictures), the 'sea' and the 'deep' were interchangeable (John turns it around from 'the deep' to 'the depthless', perhaps to emphasize that it is the farthest from God one can get). Together, the 'sea' and the 'deep' could represent chaos and disorder (consider Genesis 1, where God's spirit hovers over the surface of the 'deep', only to bring order to creation; or Daniel 7, where four beasts come from the 'sea', from which they impose disorder upon God's people).

    So...

    sea/depthless pit > Destruction/the Dragon > the Beast
    =
    chaos > the satan > the evil empire

    For 'the dragon to be bound and sealed in the depthless pit' is a word-picture to show that 'the satan's power of deception have been limited'. The reason for 'the dragon's binding' is because of 'the sword of the rider of the white horse', meaning the satan's deception is limited because of the power of the gospel of Jesus the Christ.

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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by divaD View Post
    Let's look at Revelation 9:2 a little closer. ...the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. In order to try and determine whether the smoke is literal or non literal, I think we would first need to determine if the sun and air are to be understood here as literally, or as figuratively? If literal, then how does smoke from a non literal place, the bottomless pit, then darken the literal air and sun?
    I personally believe its literal meaning is the depths of earth ie the lava and whatever is found deep below the crust of the earth. But you have to read context to see if the phrase is meant symbolically. If Satan is literally bound there, or figuratively in this deep dark place whilst literally being bound in another 4th dimensional type "spiritual plane" I do not know. One thing I do know is that he is an actual being and therefore his presence will actually be somewhere. Whether literally or figuratively in the depths of this earth I do not know.

    In addition, because its a deep dark place, it also figuratively represents a deep dark evil place. Thus when the beast rises out the bottomless pit, this could be representative of the final empire that re-appears being re-established with the backing of Satan rather than God. The beast empire arises from a deep dark place, ie with evil intent.

    The sun and the air being darkened could actually be literal, the earth breaking asunder and emitting smoke from actual volcanoes and lava pits.

    I actually haven't given any real answers here, hopefully some ideas.

  7. #7

    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Hello divaD, There is a clue to the bottomless pit and who the angel that was put into it was in the book of Enoch. It said the bottomless pit was in a Jagged, rocky place and the angel that was thrown into the pit was the angel that taught men weapons of war, and that is why he comes out of the bottomless pit. It says the angel's name but I don't remember. -The bible tells us Enoch prophesied, and Enoch pleased God.

    Jude 1:13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
    Jude 1:14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,

    Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
    Last edited by T W Taylor; Dec 26th 2011 at 04:53 PM. Reason: add a little

  8. #8
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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    If Satan is literally bound there, or figuratively in this deep dark place whilst literally being bound in another 4th dimensional type "spiritual plane" I do not know
    If this place is literal, then the only conclusion would be that satan is lterally bound there. Let's take premil for instance. If it turns out that premil is correct, then why would satan still be roaming around during the thousand years, but just be bound figurativally speaking? If the 1000 years turns out to be the present, then satan being bound, as in a figurative sense, that would be perfectly logical. But that wouldn't be a logical conclusion if the 1000 years are yet future. That's why I'm trying to figure out exactly what this bottomless pit is, and how it's to be understood according to Scriptures.

  9. #9

    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    I would agree with much of what Markedward wrote, but would add that I see the 'bottomless pit' as a figure of speech to denote 'deception'. Paul alludes to this as to 'night' and to 'sleep'.(1 Thess. 5:1-8) and 'darkness'.

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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    What I find interesting is that we believe the most impossible thing: God became a man and dwelt amongst us. We believe that God is simultaneously infinite and finite; but more than that, He set the fullness of His limitless being into a human frame - and an infant human frame, no less.

    However, when the scripture says, "bottomless" then we think in terms of literary devices and figures of speech.

    I'm not saying John wasn't using a figure of speech or that John wasn't using dramatic language to describe something intense; I'm just commenting on our need to acknowledge the possibility that John wasn't utilizing hyperbole or figurative language since we are, in fact, talking about God punishing Satan. Since God created an infinite and ever expansive (yet consistently contracting) universe, I'm guessing a bottomless pit wouldn't be so hard.

    My bigger point is that we tend to speak with confident assurance regarding contextual / grammatical cues when in fact, there are unknowns to these kinds of endeavors
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by divaD View Post
    If this place is literal, then the only conclusion would be that satan is lterally bound there. Let's take premil for instance. If it turns out that premil is correct, then why would satan still be roaming around during the thousand years, but just be bound figurativally speaking?
    What I meant is that the "bottomless pit" could be referring literally to the area under this crust, but figuratively to a literal 4th dimension that isn't actually in the centre of this earth but is more like a spiritual place where spirits are bound. Both ways Satan is literally bound but I do battle to picture an actual pit with an actual lock and an actual key.

  12. #12

    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by the rookie View Post
    What I find interesting is that we believe the most impossible thing: God became a man and dwelt amongst us. We believe that God is simultaneously infinite and finite; but more than that, He set the fullness of His limitless being into a human frame - and an infant human frame, no less.

    However, when the scripture says, "bottomless" then we think in terms of literary devices and figures of speech.

    I'm not saying John wasn't using a figure of speech or that John wasn't using dramatic language to describe something intense; I'm just commenting on our need to acknowledge the possibility that John wasn't utilizing hyperbole or figurative language since we are, in fact, talking about God punishing Satan. Since God created an infinite and ever expansive (yet consistently contracting) universe, I'm guessing a bottomless pit wouldn't be so hard.

    My bigger point is that we tend to speak with confident assurance regarding contextual / grammatical cues when in fact, there are unknowns to these kinds of endeavors
    Just curious then, do you view that Jesus give his disciples a literal 'Key'?

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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beckrl View Post
    Just curious then, do you view that Jesus give his disciples a literal 'Key'?
    You're asking an unrelated question to make your point. Figures of speech in one section of the Bible do not establish a hermeneutic. Neither does it negate the possibility of an actual "bottomless pit".

    Again, my point isn't to "prove" that it's "bottomless". Perhaps it isn't, and it truly is a figure of speech. However, the idea that there is no "literal key" is insufficient evidence to prove this to be so.
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  14. #14

    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Quote Originally Posted by the rookie View Post
    You're asking an unrelated question to make your point. Figures of speech in one section of the Bible do not establish a hermeneutic. Neither does it negate the possibility of an actual "bottomless pit".

    Again, my point isn't to "prove" that it's "bottomless". Perhaps it isn't, and it truly is a figure of speech. However, the idea that there is no "literal key" is insufficient evidence to prove this to be so.
    Okay It's seems you're trying to ride the fence.

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    Re: Is there a literal bottomless pit?

    Nope. My point was in a different yard, and you're trying to defend turf.

    (That's figurative language, by the way)

    Meaning, my very "non-fence sitting" point is that we speak of these passages with interpretive certainty that we really cannot possess. And "non-literal keys" certainly don't provide that certainty. We have to leave open the possibility of a bottomless pit because we believe in an infinite God walking around in finite resurrected, glorified flesh. Thus, "I don't know for sure" becomes a wise answer with passages such as these, not a "fence-sitting" one.
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

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