PMW 2020-076 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In my previous article I began a two-part study on the binding of Satan as an important feature of the postmillennial hope. This article concludes the thoughts begun there.
The dramatic imagery that John employs in Revelation 20:1–3 teaches that Satan has been “bound” so that he “should not deceive the nations any longer.” This allows all those who are spiritually resurrected believers to “reign with him” in his kingdom. Despite popular misunderstanding of this passage, this vision speaks of realities already established in Christ’s first coming, as we can tell from several reasons.
First, Christ informs us that He has already bound Satan: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Matt. 12:28-29). Whatever else we might think, Christ Himself declares He has bound this strong one during his earthly ministry so that He may spoil Satan’s kingdom while establishing His own. Here Satan’s binding and Christ’s kingdom are linked together by the Lord who was teaching John who later penned Revelation 20.
Blessed Is He Who Reads: A Primer on the Book of Revelation
By Larry E. Ball
A basic survey of Revelation from the preterist perspective.
It sees John as focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.
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Second, Christ also teaches that salvation by grace through faith effects a spiritual resurrection to new life: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live” (John 5:24-25; cp. Eph. 2:5-6; Rom. 6:5-11; 1 John 3:14). This is the backdrop to the image of the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20. Christ teaches two resurrections, which John the author of Revelation records for us: the first resurrection is a spiritual one while we are in our present life (John 5:25), the second a physical one after we leave this world at the end of history (John 5:28-29; cp. John 6: 39, 44, 54; 11:24).
Third, in the didactic introduction to Revelation John declares that we are already a kingdom of priests, which he presents in dramatic imagery in Revelation 20: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (Rev. 1:6). Note the past tense: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests.” This historical reality, which already exists when he writes Revelation, explains the symbolic vision of chapter 20 which declares: “they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him” (Rev. 20:6).
Fourth, we must note that Satan’s binding does not totally incapacitate him. Rather his binding is for an expressly declared purpose: “that he should not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev. 20:3). This speaks of the “plundering of his house” (Matt. 12:29): Satan is bound by the first century coming of Christ’s kingdom so that he may not continue to deceive and dominate the nations any longer. In the Old Testament era only Israel knew God: “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!” (Psa. 147:19-20). “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2a; cp. Deut. 7:6-7). This is why Christ did not dispute Satan’s claim when he showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world” and said: “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me’” (Luke 4:5-6).
It is only in the past that “in the generations gone by He [God] permitted all the nations to go their own ways” (Acts 14:16). But now the whole world is open to release from Satan’s absolute dominion because of his having been bound by Christ. The Great Commission, therefore, confidently sends us out to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19)1 who previously were totally subject to Satan and “without hope” (Eph. 2:12). Jesus declares to Paul that he is sending him to open the Gentiles’ eyes “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).
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Formal, full seminary course developing and defending postmillennial eschatology.
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Christ’s victory over Satan is spoken of frequently, and under various images in addition to “binding”:
- “He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning’” (Luke 10:18).
- “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out” (John 12:31).
- “Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:11).
- “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
- “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20a).
- “He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Col. 2:14).
- “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).
Christian, because of Christ’s triumph over Satan, the Scriptures promise you victory. As redeemed vessels of mercy, you must neither despair in your struggles nor blame Satan for your failures. Too many Christians pick up on deficient theology rampant in trite maxims such as “I can resist anything but temptation” and “the devil made me do it.”
You must remember that Christ has prayed for you: “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). He has taught you yourself to pray: “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13).
The Bible teaches how that you may “put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). You are directed to “not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:27). You can “submit therefore to God” so that if you “resist the devil . . . he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Satan is a powerful foe, but he is a defeated foe. Otherwise such biblical directives regarding victory over Satan would be meaningless. Christ has bound him so that he may not dominate us. The victory is ours if we but seize it.
Tagged: binding of Satan, Jesus binds Satan
For me, the overall theme of Revelation from a preterist perspective, began to make more sense once you realize that the binding of Satan reflects and actually brings about a transition from a primarily Jewish centered kingdom in the OT to one of an expanded international body, made up of both Jew and Gentile, in the NT.
You refer to Luke 4:5-6 where Satan says, “I will give you all this domain and glory, for it has been handed over to me.” Who handed Satan this world? Was it before the creation of the earth when Satan rebelled against God and God thru him down to earth? Is this why God commanded Adam to subdue the earth? Or was it when Adam sinned in the garden of Eden that Satan was handed this world?
Scripture does not say, though we can place between the end of Day 6 (when all things were “very good,” Gen 1:31) and Gen 3 (when Satan approaches Eve to tempt her).
So is Satan now bound, or just on a leash? Where is he? What about 1 Peter 5:8? If Satan is bound, who is back of all the present evil…the demons….man’s own fallen state? Sorry for all the questions, but this really confuses me and I want to understand your position. I have just ordered your book “He Shall Have Dominion”, maybe this will be explained more thoroughly there? Thank-you.
He is bound in this respect: He no longer can stop the spread of the gospel. Whatever we may think about his binding, Jesus affirmed it. Thus, we have to understand in what sense he is bound. Rev. 20:3 explains it to us.
Does Rev 20:7-8 give more clarity on what is meant in 20:3? Rather than simply “deceive” the nations as in verse 3, verses 7-8 seem to indicate the nature of the deception is to gather the nations against the church rather than evil being restrained or a Christianizing of the nations. This is why I asked in the other installment about verse 4 teaching the nations on earth becoming “Christianized” rather than ruling with Christ with him in heaven through death. I don’t necessarily see the straight reading of Rev 20 teaching the ruling and reigning of Christians on earth. The binding seems to prevent Satan from gathering the nations against the church just before Christ’s return.
This may well be the case.
Dr. Gentry, these articles have been a wonderful resource to send to friends. Was curious to see if you’ve dealt with 1 John 5:19 in any of your articles or writings? Thanks
Not directly. But this statement arises from its first century setting in which the vast majority of men in the world were under Satan’s influence.