The Binding of Satan

The Theological study of Satan is known as Demonology. Many Futurists believe that it is the role Christians today to “bind” Satan…

I’m a ‘Pentecostal’ Preterist. To be more precise I’m a Pentecostal Partial Preterist. If you’re wondering what on earth does any of that mean? It means I wake up every morning to start my day living for Jesus, rather than againstSatan. I don’t have to bind Satan to get over difficulties or to make it through life. Let me explain further…

If I was a Full-Preterist I would have to believe that every prophecy and every intention of God was already fulfilled- and therefore that the supernatural gifts of Spirit ceased with the close of the Old Covenant in 70AD. But I’m not a Full-Preterist. I believe in miracles for today. I believe in the New Testament’s promise of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit for the believer today. I’ve been a Pentecostal Pastor now for more than 20 years. But I’m not a Dispensational Pentecostal (which I find an oxymoron) who regard the Devil as requiring the believer to mortally combat in order to further the Great Commission. This Dispensational concept of over-stating the power and role of Satan is rooted in the heretical notion that Christ descended into Hell to wrestle the keys of Hell and Death out of the hand of Satan in the corridors of Hell in order to achieve our salvation. And therefore in order for the believer to live a victorious life they must constantly battle Satan, says the Dispensational Pentecostal.

HOW PARTIAL PRETERISM REGARDS SATAN…

Defeated. Conquered. Bound.

In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross of Christ.
Colossians 2:15

Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil and according to Colossians 2:15 He did just that by dying on the Cross.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—
Hebrews 2:14

It wasn’t in the corridors of Hell that salvation was achieved and the Devil was defeated, it was on the Cross! While Dispensationalists argue that a method of salvation was achieved by the Cross, they reject the notion that the Devil was defeated because of the Cross. Because they read Revelation as largely unfulfilled, they also read the account in Revelation 20 of Satan’s binding as also unfulfilled and yet to happen. But this interpretation is against the tenor of the New Testament’s description of Satan’s position since the Cross.

 

“BINDING” IN THE BIBLE

“Binding” can be physical, such as being bound by shackels, chains or ropes (Mk. 5:4) or bandages (Lk. 10:34). But it can also be non-physical. That is, someone could be bound by an oath (Mat. 23:16; Acts 23:12), a condition, or an obligation. Jesus questioned whether it was right for Him to heal a woman who had been ‘bound by Satan for eighteen years‘ (Luke 13:16). Christ also stated that we could only ‘bind’ people on earth with what what they were already bound by in heaven. In this sense, binding referred to obligations and it meant that people who could no longer do what the Pharisees had done when they invented certain rules they called ‘binding rules’ (things forbidden), instead they could only restrict people from doing what God said they were restricted from doing.

When it comes to interpreting the passage in Revelation 20 about Satan being bound at the beginning of the one thousand year reign of Christ it is assumed by the Pre-millennialist (one who believes in a literal and future 1,000 reign of Christ on earth) that neither the Kingdom (“1,000” years) or the binding of Satan has taken place. Silly simplistic arguments are used to rebutt those, who like me, regard the “1,000” years as linguistically representing the rule and reign of Christ from the close of the Old Covenant in 70AD to the present day (and beyond). To ignore the way the Bible uses the number “1,000” and to then impose a wooden-literal understanding of it into the Revelation 20 text is perilous. Job says that he could ask a thousand questions of God and have them all answered. Surely this language is stating the enormous depth of God’s knowledge rather than limiting God to the capacity to only answer a thousand questions. The Law-Giver says that God’s love extends to a thousand generations to those who keep His covenant. Surely God’s love does not expire after a thousand generations of humanity? The Psalmist said that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Does this imply that the cattle on a 1001st hill are not God’s? It appears that the Biblical usage of a thousand paints a picture of a number so large that it’s not meant to be counted. That’s exactly what it means in Revelation 20.

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
Revelation 20:2

Secondly, since Satan is a non-corporeal being (that is, he doesn’t have a physical body) physical objects, such as metal chains, cannot restrict him. Therefore, whatever binding means in Revelation 20:2, its certainly cannot mean a physical restriction. Since we have already seen that binding can mean something non-physical, it is far more probable that the binding referred to in Revelation 20:2 is symbolic language for restriction. The Cross terminally weakened Satan, and the culmination of the Old Covenant in 70AD destroyed his ability to exploit the condemnation of the Mosaic Covenant.

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Revelation 12:12

The teaching of the New Testament is that Christ came to defeat the works of the Devil. For those who believe that nothing changed for Satan since the Cross, then the statement in Revelation 12:12 becomes non-sensical as they are forced into the absurd position of claiming that the Devil’s short time is from the Cross to the present day. This type of Bible interpretation requires mental, theological, and exegetical gymnastics. For those of us not prepared to abandon the ordinary rules of Bible interpretation (including: Context, Non-Contradiction, Original Intention) such fanciful interpretations are not only ridiculous but impossible.

Since we know that the Cross announced the end of the Old Covenant which continued to function until the the New Covenant had been preached to every Jew in the Empire, and which Christ said was conditional for the ending of the Old Covenant-

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world [Greek word: “oichoumene”, def’n: ‘Roman Empire’] as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:14

The writer of Hebrews, who wrote to discouraged Jewish Christians encouraging them not to succumb to the taunts of Pharisaic Jews that the Mosaic Covenant has not been done away with since the Temple, Priesthood and Sacrifices were still in place, revealed to them-

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:13

Satan did everything he could to prevent the first Church from preaching the Gospel to every creature-

because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.
First Thessalonians 2:18

But despite Satan’s best efforts, the Gospel prevailed by 70AD-

the word of the truth, the gospel,
which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—
Colossians 1:5b-6a

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Colossians 1:23

When all those living under the Old Covenant had had an opportunity to convert to Christ and accept the New Covenant, the Old Covenant could end. With the end of the Old Covenant came the ‘binding’ of Satan. From that point Satan could no longer come into the presence of God (as he did in Job 1-2), instead he was ‘bound’ from approaching God, and ‘bound’ for eternal damnation (“bottomless pit”).

 

MILLENNIALISM & PARTIAL PRETERISM

Satan was defeated at the Cross. He was bound at the close of the Old Covenant. This means that he is restricted from deceiving nations and accusing the brethren in the presence of God (since he is now cast out of heaven). For those who claim that if Satan is bound now “he certainly has a long leash” – I suggest that if he isn’t bound now he certainly lacks imagination! If Satan is not now restricted from conducting unlimited evil by the Lordship of Christ then his lack of rampant evil is bewildering.

Futurists are quick to ignorantly attribute natural disasters to Satan as evidence of his unbounded evil. But so-called natural disasters are more often than not a vital part of God’s maintenance plan for sustaining creation. Earthquakes, tsunamis, bush-fires, floods are all designed by God for the purpose of sustaining life on earth. (I explore this issue further in my article on the Boxing Day Tsunami.)

The Biblical expression “1,000” speaks of not meant to be counted. God owns the cattle on a 1,000 hill, Job could ask 1,000 questions and each time receive an answer, God’s faithfulness is to 1,000 generations, and so on. In a similar way, after the close of the Old Covenant Age with the destruction of the Temple and abolition the sacrificial system, Christ established His New Covenant reign. There will eventually come a time when Christ will hand over this Kingdom to His Father (1Cor. 15:24) at His Appearing.

 

HOW FAR INTO THE FUTURE DID REVELATION CLAIM SATAN WOULD BE BOUND?

Dispensationalism claims that the Book of Revelation was written about events which were to be fulfilled in the much distant future. But the Book of Revelation makes emphatic claims that its contents pertained to its original audience. The opening verses of Revelation could not be clearer-

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John…Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Revelation 1:1, 3 ESV

It flies in the face of logic to claim that although it plainly states that its contents are immediately about to happen, it actually meant that they were thousands of years off! That is an absurd interpretation. This also relates to what it says about the doom of Satan. Partial Preterism interprets Satan’s “time is short” (Rev. 12:12) as the forty or so years (an incredibly short time in the scheme of Biblical history) as being from the Cross to the destruction of Jerusalem. To suggest that Satan’s “short time” was from the Cross to the present day defies all ordinary senses of language.

In my eBook, The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible (Understanding The Book of Revelation), I present the case for most of the Book of Revelation being fulfilled. Therefore, there is a strong case to be made from both the witness of Scripture and history that the Dispensationalist’s claim that Revelation is mostly about the future is without credibility.

 

The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBook, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBook, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 5:25

Amen.

Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia, 25th December 2006

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