What is the abyss in the Bible?

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By BibleAsk Team


The Abyss

The concept of the abyss in the Bible is a theme that appears in both the Old and New Testaments. The term “abyss” is used to describe a deep, chaotic, and often mysterious place, symbolizing the primordial waters or the abode of evil forces. Throughout the biblical narrative, the abyss is associated with themes of chaos, judgment, and the supernatural. Let’s explore this concept in the word of God.

Old Testament References:

1-Genesis 1:2: In the opening verses of the Bible, the abyss is mentioned in the context of creation: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The term “deep” here is translated from the Hebrew word “tehom,” which can be understood as the abyss or the deep chaotic waters.

2-Job 38:16-17: God, in His response to Job, refers to the abyss as a place where no light dwells: “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?” Here, the abyss is linked to the mysteries of creation and the afterlife.

3-Psalm 42:7: In this psalm, the depths or abyss is used metaphorically to describe the psalmist’s longing for God: “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” The abyss becomes a symbol of spiritual longing and a desire for God’s presence.

New Testament References:

1-Luke 8:31: In the account of Jesus casting out demons from a possessed man, the demons beg not to be sent to the abyss: “And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.” This dark place is associated with the punishment or containment of evil forces.

2-Romans 10:7: In the context of salvation, the abyss is contrasted with the resurrection: “or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” Here, the term is depicted as a place of death, and Christ’s resurrection is portrayed as victory over the abyss.

3-Revelation 9:1-3: In the apocalyptic book of Revelation, the term is a key element. In Revelation 9, the fifth trumpet brings forth locusts from the this deep place, signifying demonic forces: “And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.”

4-Revelation 20:1-3: In the millennial reign of Christ, Satan is bound and cast into the abyss: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”

Here, the shutting up of the dragon in the pit is only a symbolic way of saying that Satan’s actions would be brought to a halt. This is made clear by the statement showing the purpose of his confinement, “that he should deceive the nations no more” (Revelation 20:3). At this time, the earth will be utterly depopulated at the second coming of Christ. According to Revelation 19:19–21, the wicked are all destroyed with the second coming of Christ and at the righteous are “caught up … in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The saints will spend the millennium in heaven (John 13:33, 36; 14:2, 3).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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