The Binding of Satan

COPYRIGHT ©2019 - James M. Frye


All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.


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Revelation 20:2-3 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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.

When seeking to understand the binding of Satan, we must begin by asking ourselves two questions?

1. Is this binding literal (physical) or spiritual?

2. Is it total, or partial?

We will look at each of these one at a time.

1. Is this binding physical or spiritual?

Even the most ardent Premillennialist will have to admit, if he is honest, that no spiritual creature (such as an angel - Satan is a fallen angel) could possibly be bound with a literal physical chain.

Mark 5:2-3 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  

If no man could bind a man possessed by evil spirits with a chain, how much less the evil spirits themselves? They can walk through walls, appear, disappear, etc. So we know, based upon scripture that this binding is not to be understood in a wooden literal/physical sense.

Just break out a concordance and check how many times the words "bind" and "bound" are used in a non-physical sense. The church "binds" things upon earth that are "bound" in heaven (Matt 18:18). A wife is "bound" unto her husband in marriage (Rom 7:2). Are people being "tied up" in these passages? No, of course not! The words are used to refer to "an authoritative restriction upon one's activities". The wife is not "free" to be married to another so long as her husband is still alive. A lawyer, for example might speak of whether or not a contract is "legally binding". He means by this, whether or not it has authority over us. We understand, by interpreting this unclear passage (Rev 20) in light of clear passages (1 Pet 5:8), that this is how the term is being used here.

Is there anywhere in the New Testament that suggests that Satan was indeed "bound" in this sort of way at the first coming of Christ? Yes, there is! In this passage, Jesus had just cast out an evil spirit. 

Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

They accused Jesus of casting out evil spirits by the power of Satan.

Matthew 12:25-26 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

If Jesus were casting out evil spirits by the power of Satan, then Satan would be fighting against himself (his own house), and his own evil spirits (Matt 25:41) and his kingdom would fall and could not stand.

Matthew 12:28-29 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Jesus says, that is order for him to cast out evil spirits (those of Satan's house), he had to first "BIND" the "strong man" (the one in charge) of that house - Satan. Study the passage! Jesus said that he had to "bind" Satan (at his first coming) otherwise he would not have been able to have cast out his evil spirits. So we know from scripture that Satan was indeed bound spiritually at the first coming of Christ.

2. Is this binding total or partial?

Let's look at the passage.

Revelation 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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.

The passage specifically says that this binding involved setting a seal upon Satan so that he would "deceive the nations no more" until the thousand years (millennium) is over. And after the millennium is over…

Revelation 20:7-8 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

How is Satan bound? What restriction is placed upon his power? The passage only lists one restriction that is placed upon Satan during the millennium. He is no longer permitted to deceive the nations (keep them in darkness). He had kept them in darkness in during the Old Testament while God –

Acts 14:16 … suffered all nations [except the Jews] to walk in their own ways.

To Paul (the apostle to the gentiles) Jesus said:

Acts 26:17-18 ... the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 

The gentile nations had been kept in darkness and under the power of Satan during the time of the Old Testament. But under the New Covenant the gospel was to go into all the world (Mk. 16:15) and to all nations (Matt. 28:19). Paul said to these gentiles who had been saved that God …

Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

We also read regarding the gentiles … 

Ephesians 2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

During this age (the millennium), between the first and second coming of Christ, Satan is no longer able to keep the gentile nations in darkness. During the tribulation the gentile nations will once again fall under his deception (Rev 13:7, 14). 

So we see, when interpreting the binding of Satan in Revelation 20 in light of the clear passages in rest of the New Testament, that Satan is indeed bound now. We also see that this binding is not physical, nor is it total, but is only in regard to one aspect of his power - deceiving the nations.