What is the “abyss” that Legion was imploring Jesus not to command them to go away into in Luke 8:31?

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What is the “abyss” in Luke 8:31?

What is the “abyss” that Legion was imploring Jesus not to command them to go away into in Luke 8:31?

Strong's Concordance

abussos: boundless, bottomless Original Word: ἄβυσσος, ου, ἡ Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: abussos Phonetic Spelling: (ab'-us-sos) Definition: boundless, bottomless

Usage: the abyss, unfathomable depth, an especially Jewish conception, the home of the dead and of evil spirits.

This abyssing of Satan is for a thousand years, (Rev. 20:2-3) during which time his influence on mankind will be no more than that of a prisoner in a boundless, bottomless pit, when Satan is abyssed, no doubt his angels also be hurled into the abyss with him.

Revelation 20:2-3 NASB

"2 And he took hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time."

Isaiah 24:21-22 NET. The Lord Will Become King

21 At that time the Lord will punish the heavenly forces in the heavens and the earthly kings on the earth. 22 They will be imprisoned in a pit, locked up in a prison, and after staying there for a long time, they will be punished.


Abyss Luke 8:31: It is bottomless pit--"prison" that Satan and his demons will be hurled into so that they will not be able to mislead mankind for a thousand years, after which time, they will be released for a short period.


The word ἄβυσσος (abyssos) only occurs twice (Luke 8:31, Rom 10:7) in the NT outside of the book of Revelation where it occurs another seven times, see Rev 9:1, 2, 11, 11:7, 17:8, 20:1, 3.

Its meaning in the NT is given by BDAG as:

a transcendent place associated with the dead and hostile powers, netherworld, abyss.

In the NT it is the place from the devils and his minions rise (Rom 9:1, 2, 11, 11:7, 17:8) and into which the devil is finally thrown and locked up (Rev 20:1, 3). Thus, the usage in Luke 8:31 is quite consistent with those in the Book of Revelation.

In the LXX it used of:

  • the sea, Job 28:14
  • deep water that covered the earth before creation week, Gen 1:2
  • depths of the waters, Deut 8:7
  • depths of the earth, Ps 71:20

The Pulpit commentary offers this few remarks:

What is the abyss these rebel-spirits dreaded with so great a dread? It would seem as though, to use Godet's thought, that for beings alienated from God, the power of acting on the world is a temporary solace to their unrest, and that to be deprived of this power is for them just what a return to prison is for the captive. St. Mark's expression here is a curious one. He represents the spirits requesting Jesus "not to send them away out of the country." The two accounts put together tell us that these spirits were aware, if they were driven out of the country - whatever that expression signified, this earth possibly - they must go out into the deep, the abyss, what is called "the bottomless pit" in Revelation 9:1, 2, 11. Any doom seemed to these lost ones preferable to that. The whole train of thought suggested by the incident and the words of the Lord is very terrible. We see at least one reason why the first preachers of the Word have selected this exorcism. It indeed lifts a bit of the curtain which hangs between us and the night of endless woe!

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