Is Satan Bound?

Many raise this question as they read the book of Revelation and encounter the passage that says Satan will be bound. I don’t want to stir up controversy over specific end-times views as there are several views and much grace is needed and shown between Christians regarding this topic. I want to look at this question in light of the Great Commission.

This question was raised to me several years ago, when a former pastor preached that Satan is currently bound. I struggled with this question. My initial reaction was to question how could all the evil, pain, and suffering in this world still be happening if Satan is bound?

Let’s look directly at the passage that refers to the binding of Satan, Revelation 20:1-3.

1Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

We understand from John’s own words that the book of Revelation is to symbolic and we are not to interpret this as an actual binding with physical chains. If he is bound now, we expect him to be bound until near the return of Christ.

What is the purpose for which Satan is bound?

In simple terms Satan is bound so that he will no longer deceive the nations. With what or from what? Let’s step back to the time this was written in the early church after Christ had ascended to heaven. John was a Jew, God’s chosen people, this is part of his context. The nation of Israel was separated from the rest of the nations, called Gentiles. God protected the Israelites but Satan had free rein over the Gentile nations. He could oppress them, confuse them, and deceive them from knowing the true God without the same restraints that God gave him for Israel. Satan was restricted from deceiving Israel before the revelation of the mystery of Christ and the cross. He is now restricted from that deception against God’s people in the rest of the nations of the earth.

He was bound in the Old Testament, he is bound even more after the coming of Christ.

We see that binding doesn’t have to be a complete binding. Just as a vicious dog is put on the leash, it has freedom within the length of the chain, but is bound from going beyond its limit.

What else is Satan bound from?

Consider the story of Job in the Old Testament. There we read that Satan, along with others, would come into the presence of God. God asked Satan, “have you considered my servant Job?” Satan claimed that Job was upright only because God put a hedge around him. God allowed Satan to test his theory but gave him some limits. God is in control and Satan can do nothing outside of the permission of God. God’s authority binds Satan, similar to how a father’s authority binds his child. Still, God loosened those limits with Job. (Job 1:6-12)

In the new Testament when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God (Luke 10:1-12) they returned and were amazed. In verse 18 Jesus said he saw “Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)

From these two events we see that with the coming of Christ and the proclamation of the gospel, Satan no longer has access to heaven and the presence of God. He is bound partially but still free to go to and fro on the earth. The gospel binds Satan.

But isn’t Satan the ruler of this world?

Jesus himself refers to Satan as the ruler of this world (John 14:30). He also says that he has no claim on me. Christ’s authority is higher than the freedoms of Satan, he is still limited by Christ and the Gospel. The Great Commission says that all authority on heaven and earth have been given to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). Satan had more authority before Jesus than after, he has been limited and is cast out (John 12:31). It is hard to imagine what the world was like in the years before Christ came.

What does that mean to us today in the Great Commission?

Go forth, share the gospel, proclaim it in the streets, share it in the coffee shop and in homes. It is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Satan seeks to deceive, but the power of the gospel unveils his deception. Christ has power over all things (1 Corinthians 15:27, Hebrews 2:7-8), even Satan. Each time we share the gospel, we symbolically add one more link in the chain that binds Satan.


Author: Jon Neifert
Posted on February 06 2021