Revelation 20:1-3 is the great text on the millennium where Satan is bound for one thousand years by an angel. Many Christians believe this will occur at some future time when Christ returns to set up his kingdom. But does a future binding of Satan fit with the rest of Scripture? Could the binding of Satan have already occurred? Here is some Biblical evidence which suggests the binding of Satan is in the past.
The Binding of Satan
Jesus specifically says that he has come to bind the strong man in Matthew 12:24-30. He uses the exact same word that John uses in Revelation 20:2. The word “bind” is common in the New Testament. But in Matthew it is used alongside Satan just like it is in Revelation 20. This makes the connection with Revelation 20 stronger. Mark 3:22-27 says something similar. Luke 11:17-23 does not use the word “bind.” Yet the passage is clear that Jesus is here to plunder Satan and his kingdom.
Jesus regularly casts out demons, which is a sign of his dominion over Satan. The demons cannot resist him. A similar idea is seen when his disciples go out in Luke 10:18, where Jesus says he saw Satan fall like lightening. In Acts the Apostles cast out demons. (Acts 5:16, 8:7, and 19:12) Satan’s power was broken with the coming of Christ.
John says in at least two places that the ruler of this world is judged. (John 11:31 and 16:11) In 11:31 he also adds that the ruler of this world will be cast out and then speaks of Christ’s death on the cross.
Jesus tells Paul that he was chosen to deliver people from the power of Satan to God. (Acts 26:17-18)
The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus came to destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)
John specifically says that Satan is bound so that he will no longer deceive the nations. (Revelation 20:3) The preaching of the gospel to the nations in Acts and the uniting of Jew and Gentile indicates that this is already occurring. We are not waiting on some future event where the nations’ eyes will be opened. Their eyes are being opened now.
The Devil tempts Jesus by offering him the kingdoms of the world. Jesus does not dispute Satan’s claim. He does not say, “No, Satan the world really belongs to me.” (Matthew 4:8-9). In Matthew 4, it appears that the nations do belong to Satan. However, by the end of Matthew Jesus is claiming authority over the nations. (Matthew 28:18-20) Something has shifted from Matthew 4 to Matthew 28. Paul picks up on this idea in Colossians when he says that Christ by his death has, “disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15)
But What About…
Some will object that Satan still has power and therefore cannot have been bound. I Peter 5:8 comes to mind. But a careful reader will notice that in many places where the Devil is mentioned the Christian is commanded to resist him. And if we resist him, he will flee (Ephesians 6:11, James 4:7, I Peter 5:8-9) The average, everyday Christian can resist the Prince of Darkness. The question is not does the Devil still have some power. He clearly does. But does he have the power he did before Jesus came. The answer is no. He no longer keeps the nations in chains as he did before. Yes, he still seeks to devour and destroy, but he no longer rules.
Another verse that could be used as an objection would be I John 5:19. John says that the “whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” I may address this verse at a later date. But for now just note that “world” for John has a wide range of meanings. So in I John 5:4-5 he says that we have overcome the world by faith. Do not assume that what John means here is that all the nations and people in the nations are still ruled by Satan.
The New Testament teaches that Satan has some power, but since Christ’s death that power has been greatly reduced so that the individual Christian can resist him and the nations can no longer be deceived by him.