Is Satan Currently Bound
Haydock Bible Commentary on Rev 20
Ver. 2. And bound him for a thousand years. I shall give the reader an abridgment of what St. Augustine has left us on this chapter, in this 20th book de Civ. Dei [The City of God]. From the 5th to the 16th chap. (t. vii. p. 578, et seq.) he treats upon these difficulties: What is meant by the first and second resurrection; by the binding and chaining up of the devil; by the thousand years that the saints reign with Christ; by the first and second death; by Gog and Magog, &c. As to the first resurrection, chap. vi. he takes notice on the 5th verse, that resurrection  in the Gospels, and in St. Paul, is applied not only to the body but also to the soul; and the second resurrection, which is to come, is that of the bodies: that there is also a death of the soul, which is by sin; and that the second death is that of soul and body by eternal damnation: that both bad and good shall rise again in their bodies. On those words, (ver. 6) Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection; in these the second death hath no power. Such, saith he, (chap. ix.) as have risen from sin, and have remained in that resurrection of the soul, shall never be liable to the second death, which is damnation. Cap. vii. p. 580, he says that some Catholics not understanding rightly the first resurrection, have been led into ridiculous fables, and this by the interpretation which they put on the thousand years; as if the first resurrection implied a resurrection of the bodies of the martyrs and saints, who should live on the earth with Christ for a thousand years before the general resurrection, in all manner of delights. This was the opinion of those called Millenarians: this, saith he, might seem tolerable in some measure, if taken for spiritual delights, (for we ourselves were once in these sentiments) but if for carnal pleasures, it can only be believed by carnal men. He then expounds what may be understood by the binding and chaining of the devil for a thousand years (Cap. vii. & viii, p. 581) that the thousand years, meaning a long time, may signify all the time from Christ's first coming to his second at the end of the world, and to the last short persecution under antichrist. The devil is said to be bound, that is, his power much lessened and restrained, in comparison of the great and extensive power he had over all nations before Christ's incarnation; not but that he still tempts many, and raiseth persecutions, which always turn to their greater good; and that towards the end of the world he shall be let loose, as it were, for a short time, and permitted with his infernal spirits to exercise his malice against mankind, to try the patience of the elect, and to shew the power of God's grace, by which his faithful servants shall triumph over the devil. (N. B.) What St. Augustine adds divers times in these chapters: "Let no one," says he, "imagine that even during that short time, there shall be no Church of Christ on the earth: God forbid: even when the devil shall be let loose, he shall not be able to seduce the Church." Cap. ix, p. 586, he expounds those words, (ver. 4-5) I saw the souls of them that were beheaded....and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years....this is the first resurrection: i.e. the first resurrection is while the devil is chained up for the space of a thousand years. He takes notice that the present state of the Church is many times called the kingdom of God, and that the Church of Christ reigns now with Christ, both in the living saints, and those who are dead, in the souls of the martyrs, and of others, who have lived and died piously, now reign with Christ, not yet in their bodies, but their souls reign with him. On those words of the 4th verse: who had not adored the beast, nor his image, nor received his mark, he only gives this exposition, as agreeable to the Christian faith, that by the beast may be understood the multitude of wicked sinners in general, and the image of the beast  those who are of the Church in outward appearance and profession only, and not by their works. When it is said (ver. 5) that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished: they lived not, says he, as to their souls, when they should have lived; and therefore not being happy in heaven, when their bodies shall rise, it shall not be to life, but to judgment and damnation, which is the second death. Cap. xi, he expounds the 7th and 8th verses, where it is said that Satan shall be loosed....and seduce the nations which are over the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, and shall gather them together to battle. This, says St. Augustine, will be the last persecution at the approach of the day of judgment, which the whole city, or the whole Church of Christ dispersed through the universe, will suffer from the whole city of the devil. Neither need Gog and Magog be taken for a particular barbarous people, but such as are dispersed in a manner in every nation, and who shall then break out by the instigation of Satan into an open hatred and persecution against the faithful servants of God; as it is said, (ver. 8.) they ascended upon the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, where we cannot literally understand one camp, one city, or one place, but the Church every where dispersed. Cap. xii, he expounds the 9th verse, where he takes fire to signify, metaphorically, the firm resistance and constancy of the good, and the fire  of their zeal, which devoured as it were the wicked; or we may understand with others, the temporal fire of God's judgments in this world against the wicked, but not the last eternal fire; because the eternal fire comes not down from heaven but the wicked are cast into it below. Cap. xiii, he teacheth that the last persecution of antichrist, here mentioned, shall but last three years and six months; i.e. a little while. Cap. xiv and xv, he expounds the 10th and following verse, of the devil being cast into the lake of fire, after the last persecution of antichrist. By the beast he understands, as before, the city or multitude of all the wicked; and by the false prophet, either antichrist or the outward appearance of faith in them that have none. Then follows the last judgment, where it is said that the books are opened, and also that another book was opened. By the first book, may be understood men and their consciences; and by the other book, the book of life, that of eternal predestination. Thus far S. Augustine, where we see that he delivers the common Catholic doctrine, that by the thousand years, so often mentioned in this chapter, he understands all that time in which the souls of the martyrs, and of all other saints, reign happy with Christ in heaven, till after the general resurrection they receive a full and complete happiness, both as to soul and body. A false exposition of these thousand years gave occasion to the mistake, the error, and heresy of those called the Millenarians, which Mede and Dr. W. have followed. Papias, who lived soon after, or perhaps with St. John, was the chief promoter of this mistake; a man, says Eusebius, of "little judgment and capacity," who misconstrued the discourses which he heard. He was followed by divers writers in the second, third, and fourth century, who did not hold with Cerinthus and his followers, that the saints should rise before the general resurrection, and reign with Christ on earth for a thousand years in all manner of sensual pleasures; but in spiritual delights, in the city of Jerusalem, built anew after that glorious manner described in the next chapter. Now though this opinion had several considerable abettors, of which I find these seven: Papias, St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenæus, Tertullian, Nepos, (a bishop, in Egypt; in Eusebius, lib. xii. chap. xxiv.) Victorinus Petabionensis, Lactantius, and Severus Sulpitius: yet were there always other learned Catholic writers who rejected it as a fable. Of this number was Caius, a priest, at Rome, about the end of the second age [century]; Origen, in his prologue on the Canticles; St. Denys, of Alexandria, who in the third age [century] wrote to confute Nepos; (see Eusebius, lib. vii. History of the Church, chap. xxiv., who treats it as a fable ) St. Basil, who calls it an old wife's tale, and a Jewish fiction, Epist. 293; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. 52; St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, Philastrius, Theodoret, who place this opinion among the heresies and heretical fables: so that this could never be looked upon as the constant doctrine and tradition of the Church. The bishop of Meaux takes notice, that Mede either mistook or falsified the text of St. Justin, who, in his Dialogue with Tryphon, holds that opinion of a thousand years reign; but adds, "I also told you, that many who are Christians of pious and sound sentiments, do not own this to be true." Thus we read in the Greek, as well as in the Latin translation: but Mr. Mede quite changes the sense, by adding a negative in this manner; but many who are not of this pure and holy doctrine, &c. We may observe that St. Justin says in the next page, that they who own not the resurrection of the body, and say that souls go to heaven without any future resurrection, are not to be accounted Christians, but are to be looked upon as Sadducees and unbelievers. Which is very true. And he adds, that he, and others who think right with him, know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and a rebuilding of Jerusalem for a thousand years, which St. Justin himself judge grounded on the prophets, Isaias, Ezechiel, &c. So that not to make St. Justin contradict himself, he mentions three opinions: the first is the heresy of those who absolutely denied the future resurrection of the dead: these were not Christians, but unbelievers, Sadducees, &c. The second was of those who held that the martyrs and saints should rise and reign for a thousand years in their bodies on the earth; this, which was his own opinion, he calls the right and true doctrine. But thirdly, he does not condemn those pious Christians who, as he had said before, disowned this thousand years reign, for this would be to contradict himself. (Witham) --- In the above chapter, what man can reflect without trembling, that the devil has the rage of a dragon, the cunning of an old serpent, the malice of a calumniator, and that he is a most implacable enemy? On the other hand, what man is there that does not feel consolation in the reflection, that Jesus Christ has vanquished this savage fiend, and bound him in fetters, by limiting the exercise of his rage and malice? Some understand this chaining of the dragon of the reign of Constantine, and particularly after the defeat of Licinius; (see above, [Apocalypse] chap. xii. 18.) and the thousand years of the intermediate period between Constantine and antichrist, when the devil will again be let loose, but for a short time, only three years and a half. (Bible de Vence) --- Bound him, &c. The power of Satan has been very much abridged by the passion of Christ; for a thousand years; that is, for the whole time of the new testament, but especially from the time of the destruction of Babylon or pagan Rome, till the new efforts of Gog and Magog against the Church, towards the end of the world. During which time the souls of the martyrs and saints live and reign with Christ in heaven, in the first resurrection, which is that of the soul to the life of glory, as the second resurrection will be that of the body, at the day of the general judgment. (Challoner)
 Ver. 2. St. Augustine, chap. vi. Prima animarum est.
 Ver. 2. Chap. vii, p. 580. In quasdam riduculas fabulas.
 Ver. 2. P. 581. Utcunque tolerabilis.
 Ver. 2. Mille annos pro annis omnibus hujus sæculi posuit, &c. Chap. viii, p. 583. A primo adventu Christi usque ad finem sæculi.
 Ver. 2. Chap. viii, p. 583. Alligatio diaboli est non permitti exercere totam tentationem, &c.
 Ver. 2. Ne quis existimet eo ipso parvo tempore, quo solvetur diabolus, in hac terra ecclesiam non futuram, &c. Tales erunt, cum quibus ei belligerandum est, ut vinci tanto ejus impetu, insidiisque non possint, &c.
 Ver. 2. Chap. ix, p. 586. Quamvis ergo cum suis corporibus nondum, jam tamen eorum animæ regnant cum eo.
 Ver. 2. P. 587. Quæ sit ista bestia....non abhorret a fide recta, ut ipsa impia civitas intelligatur, et populus infidelium contrarius populo fideli, et civitati Dei. Imago vero simulatio ejus mihi videtur....fallaci imagine Christiani.
 Ver. 2. Chap xi, p. 589. De Gog et Magog: hæc erit novissima persecutio, novissimo imminente judicio, quam sancta ecclesia toto terrarum orbe patietur, universa scilicet civitas Christi ab universa diaboli civitate.
 Gentes istæ, quas appellat Gog et Magog: non sic sunt accipiendæ tanquam sint aliqui in aliqua parte terrarum barbari constituti....non utique ad unum locum venisse, vel venturi esse significati sunt, &c.
 Ver. 2. Chap xii, p. 589. Bene intelligitur ignis de cælo de ipsa firmitate sanctorum, qua non cessuri sunt sævientibus, quoniam non poterunt attrahere in partes antichristi sanctos Christi.
 Ver. 2. Chap xiii. Hæc persecutio novissima, quæ futura est ab antichristo (p. 590) tribus annis et sex mensibus erit....tempus exiguum, &c.
 Ver. 2. Chap. xv, p. 593. Prædestinationem significat eorum, quibus æterna dabitur vita, &c.
 Ver. 2. Eusebius (lib. 3, chap. xxxix) says of Papias, Greek: omikr on ton noun; and that he followed Greek: muthikotera.
 Ver. 2. St. Basil (tom. 3, p. 284) says, Greek: graiodeis muthous.
 Ver. 2. St. Justin, (Ed. Joachimi Perionii, p. 62.) multis autum eorum, etiam qui integræ piæque sententiæ Christianæ sunt, hæc incognita (seu non agnita) esse tibi exposui. In the Greek of Rob. Stephen, out of a manuscript in the king's library, in the year 1551, p. 88, Greek: pollous d au, kai ton tes katharas, kai eusebous onton christianon gnomes, touto me gnorizein, esemena soi.
THE STRONG MAN IS BOUND
'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'
(Matthew 12: 29)
In Luke's account the strong man is represented as armed and guarding his palace or residence. But once disarmed by a stronger opponent, he is deprived of his spoils (Luke 11: 21-22). Christ's claim, then, is crystal clear. He has 'bound' Satan and can plunder his house at will...Satan cannot successfully resist Christ. The tyrant has been defeated. He may and does counter-attack, but he has already lost the war. He knows that his time is short (Revelation 12: 12). So do his minions as they ask Christ, 'Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?' (Matthew 8: 29). They know that torment awaits them in hell, a place 'prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matthew 25: 41).
Satan is bound by the cross of Christ. There the serpent's head was crushed and the forces of evil routed. So certain was Christ of victory as He went to His cross that He could say emphatically, 'Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out' (John 12: 31). It (also) needs to be remembered that the atonement is retrospective...in its efficacy, as well as prospective. In other words, it relates equally to all post-Fall history, whether for us it is past or future. It is trans-historical.
Old Testament believers (too) were saved by that cross, exactly as are New Testament believers. The blood of bulls and goats could not, and did not, cleanse their sin, but it did prefigure Christ's effectual sacrifice on the cross. New Testament believers have vastly greater knowledge of what happened at Calvary than the saints of old, but in terms of justification they have nothing essential that Old Testament believers did not have.
Christ's death redeems from transgressions those who were 'under the first covenant' (Hebrews 9: 15)...the truth that the cross relates equally to all human history since the Fall, means that Satan has always been 'bound' by the cross and able to move only as God permits him (see Job 1: 12 and 2: 6). This does not mean that the sacrifice left the situation unchanged. There has been a significant change, in that Satan's activity has been further curbed and restricted, so that he can no longer deceive the nations (Revelation 20: 3)...(meaning) he cannot frustrate the Great Commission or prevent the spread of the gospel throughout the world...of course Satan is still a dangerous enemy. A dog on a chain is circumscribed in its movement, but within that sphere it can be dangerous. So it is with Satan. His movement is restricted by a sovereign God - as the book of Job makes clear - but the Christian is nevertheless exhorted to wear the armour of God. Only thus can he 'quench the fiery darts of the evil one' (Ephesians 6: 16)...Scripture strikes a careful balance between presenting Satan as 'bound', yet as dangerous as a hungry lion (1 Peter 5: 8).
Overall, Scripture sees Satan as clearly under God's power. Calvin sees Satan serving God in spite of himself, 'Because with the bridle of His power, God holds him bound and restrained, he carries out only those things which have been permitted to him; and so he obeys his Creator, whether he will or not, because he is compelled to yield Him service...' (Institutes, 1:14:17). That was supremely the case at Calvary (compare Acts 2: 23).
Because Satan is on a leash, and the Christian is delivered from his authority...(being) now indwelt by the Holy Spirit and 'sealed' by the Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4: 30), Christ's people can succesfully resist the devil (James 4: 7). But to do so consistently they must use the means that God has provided. Satan fears those who delight in God's Word and who pray believingly. Contrary to some modern teaching, the Christian is 'kept by the power of God' (1 Peter 1: 5)....Satan lays his snares and tempts the Christian, but he cannot compel him to sin. If and when the believer sins, it is his own doing to be confessed as such (Romans 6: 14; James 1: 14-15). ...to believe and teach, as some do, that a Christian can be demon-possessed is a monstrous error that runs counter to all that the Bible says about the believer. It is utterly grotesque to think that the Holy Spirit and an evil spirit can reside together in the same person...many so-called 'deliverance ministries' of our day are blighted by this false doctrine and are doing incalculable damage to anxious souls.
Another great result of Christ's victory over Satan and his underlings is the assurance the Church has in obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20). In going forth as Christ has commanded, the Church knows that Satan cannot frustrate God's purpose. His Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish what God desires, gathering His Church out of the world until the end of the age (Isaiah 55: 11)...every time a sinner is saved, whether demon-possessed or not, Christ has ransacked Satan's house!
THE AMILLENNIAL VIEW OF REVELATION 20:1-3
With the principle of progressive parallelism as his base, the amillennialist holds that the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3 took place at Christ's first coming.9 This binding ushered in the millennial kingdom. As William Cox says,
Having bound Satan, our Lord ushered in the millennial kingdom of Revelation 20. This millennium commenced at the first advent and will end at the second coming, being replaced by the eternal state.10
Thus the present age is the millennium and one characteristic of this millennial period is that Satan is now bound. This binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3, according to the amillennialist, finds support in the Gospels, particularly Jesus' binding of the strong man in Matthew 12:29. As Hoekema states,
Is there any indication in the New Testament that Satan was bound at the time of the first coming of Christ? Indeed there is. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan, Jesus replied, "How can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?" (Mt. 12:29). 11
Hoekema also points out that the word used by Matthew (delta epsilon omega) to describe the binding of the strong man is the same word used in Revelation 20 to describe the binding of Satan.12 In addition to Matthew 12:29, amillennialists believe they have confirming exegetical support from Luke 10:17-18 and John 12:31-32. In Luke 10, when the seventy disciples returned from their mission they said to Jesus, "'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.'" And He said to them, 'I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning'" (Luke 10:17-18). According to Hoekema, "Jesus saw in the works his disciples were doing an indication that Satan's kingdom had just been dealt a crushing blow-that, in fact, a certain binding of Satan, a certain restriction of his power, had just taken place."13
John 12:31-32, another supporting text used by amillennialists states: "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." Hoekema points out that the verb translated "cast out" (epsilon kappa beta alpha lambda lambda omega) is derived from the same root as the word used in Revelation 20:3 when it says an angel "threw [ballo] him into the abyss." 14
What is the significance of this binding of Satan according the amillennial position? This binding has special reference to Satan's ability to deceive the nations during the present age. Because Satan is now bound, he is no longer able to deceive the nations as he did before the first coming of Christ. Before Christ's first coming, all the nations of the world, except Israel, were under the deception of Satan. Except for the occasional person, family or city that came into contact with God's people or His special revelation, Gentiles, as a whole, were shut out from salvation.15 With the coming of Christ, however, Jesus bound Satan, and in so doing, removed his ability to deceive the nations. This binding, though, did not mean a total removal of Satan's activity, for Satan is still active and able to do harm. As Cox says, "Satan now lives on probation until the second coming."16 But while he is bound, Satan is no longer able to prevent the spread of the Gospel nor is he able to destroy the Church. Also, according to amillennialists, the "abyss" to which Satan is assigned is not a place of final punishment but a figurative description of the way Satan's activities are being curbed during this age.17
Hoekema summarizes the amillennial view of Revelation 20:1-3 by saying,
"We conclude, then, that the binding of Satan during the Gospel age means that, first, he cannot prevent the spread of the gospel, and second, he cannot gather all the enemies of Christ together to attack the church."18
Is Satan Bound?
To give you some perspective most of us amils believe in the recapitulation view of the book of Revelation. This means that Revelation isn't written chronologically, rather it is written as a series of seven cycles of judgment. What is germane to this discussion is that we believe there is a break in cycles between Revelation 19 and 20. Thus, the events of Revelation 20 don't follow Revelation 19 chronologically, they start a new cycle of judgment. I don't want to argue that right now, I'm just using it for background.
We believe that the millennium described in Revelation 20 is the period of time between the first and second advents of Christ. Hence, we now live in the millennium. And, if you read Revelation 20 you can see that Satan was bound at the beginning of the millennium. Thus, amils interpret that to mean that Satan was bound during the first advent of Christ.
This is what is objectionable to many. Exegetical concerns aside, the main reason most folks have trouble believing that Satan is bound is because they see so much evidence of his activity on the earth today. From looking around, it appears that Hal Lindsey was right - Satan is alive and well on planet earth.
Sometimes we amils get mocked when we say that Satan is bound, or at least people say "yeah right, he sure doesn't look bound to me."
But our contention is simply that believing Satan to be bound is the result of using a consistently literal hermeneutic when it comes to interpreting all of Scripture. By literal we mean that we interpret the literal, literally and the figurative figuratively. Also, the literal should interpret the figurative. Along with this we believe the clear should interpret the unclear, and the new should interpret the old.
Before I flesh this out let me use an analogy that I think is almost exactly parallel. The rationale for saying Satan is not bound is that the presence of Satanic activity on earth rules out the notion that Satan could be bound.
Having said that, who here believes they are dead to sin? Raise your hand if you believe this? The Bible states absolutely and unequivocally that we are dead to sin.
Romans 6:2 - We died to sin
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
And yet, I still sin every day. There is ample evidence to me and anyone who looks around that I sin. And yet, the Bible says I am dead to sin. Paul himself writes in Romans 6 that he is dead to sin and in Romans 7 he writes about his ongoing struggle with sin.
My point is that, if we say Satan cannot be bound because we see so much Satanic activity, then we need to argue just as strongly against these statements in Romans and Galatians which say that we have died to sin. But nobody does that. We affirm the truth of these verses - that we are dead to sin, while interpreting them in the light of other Scriptures that speak of our ongoing struggle with sin. Whatever the details of your particular exegeis of these Scriptures or mine, we come out with something affirming that there is a sense in which we can be dead to sin, and yet still sin.
Amillennialists say the same thing about Satan. There is a very real sense in which he can be bound, yet active.
That Satan is bound is so clear from the New Testament that I am frankly surprised that anyone would argue otherwise. It may be that we amils completely misunderstand (or twist) Revelation 20, but when it comes to the larger question of the binding of Satan, the burden of proof is not on the amil to prove he is, it is on our critics to prove that he isn't.
A classic passage on this is Matthew 12:25-29:
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.
Notice the parallel between vv. 25-28 and verse 29. The binding of the strong man in verse 29 is analogous to Jesus' casting out of Satan by the Spirit of God. There is a ton of eschatological meaning in this passage and it goes beyond particular instances of demonic deliverance. It is a paradigm for the coming of the kingdom of God. The fact that Jesus casts out demons by the Spirit of God is evidence that a) Satan has been bound, and more importantly b) the eschatological kingdom of God has come upon us.
So, the point is that the coming of the kingdom entails the binding of Satan. The timing of the coming of the kingdom is given here. It is not a time somewhere in the future - it is at the time that Jesus demonstrates His binding of Satan by casting out demons. This happened at His first advent.
This is seen more clearly in several other passages.
In John 12:31, predicting His death, Jesus says this:
31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids
Please notice that, and notice the parallel to Revelation 20:1-3. Jesus says "now the prince of this world will be driven out." Who is the prince of world? Satan. Where is he being driven from? It has to be this world. In Revelation 20 the angel comes down out of heaven to seize Satan, so in Revelation 20 it appears that Satan is on the earth when he is bound. In John 12:31 Satan is driven out of this world. And, according to John 12:31, when is Satan to be driven out (bound?)? At the time of the crucifixion.
Colossians 2:15 says:
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
At the cross Christ disarmed the powers and authorities and triumphed over them. It wasn't the Roman or Jewish authorities He disarmed, it was the satanic, spiritual powers and authorities.
I realize that "binding" and "disarming" are two different words, but they both have the same idea of defeat and subjection to Christ.
Hebrews 2:14-15 says:
14 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— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids
As in Colossians 2:15, Hebrews 2:15 says that something happened to Satan at the cross. In Colossians Satan was disarmed, in Hebrews 2 we see that Satan was destroyed. Again, the word "destroy" is not the same word as "bind" but the idea is the same - Satan is defeated and subjected to Christ on the cross.
I John 3:8 says:
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids
Here we see that the Son of God "appeared" - past tense. This appearance was at His first advent. What did He do at His first appearance? He destroyed the devil's work.
All of this is to simply say that we must let the Scriptures interpret our experience, not the other way around. Again, the objection that is raised against the amil view of the binding of Satan is that our experience tells us otherwise. I am trying to show that the Bible is very clear, apart from Revelation 20 that Satan is bound, and we need to interpret our experience in light of the Bible, not vice versa.
As a reminder, my focus has been very narrow here. I have not attempted to prove that amils understand Revelation 20 correctly (although I think we do). It may be that we are wrong in our assertion that Rev. 20 does not follow Rev. 19 chronologically and that we have messed up all kinds of eschatological details.
But, if one plank in the argument against amillennialism is that Satan cannot be bound because our experience tells us differently, then that plank needs to be removed.
On a larger note though, this does give an example of the amil contention that we ought to interpret Revelation in light of the whole of Scripture, not the other way around. When we look at the whole of Scripture we see that it is very clear that Satan was bound at the first advent of Jesus. So, when we see Revelation 20 talking about Satan being bound and cast out of the earth we say hmm . . . All of those other passages, and especially John 12:31 insinuate that Satan was cast out of the earth during the first advent of Jesus, maybe there is a correlation.
Satan "bound" does not mean inactive. It means that his activity is restricted here in the millennium. It means that he can’t stop the Gospel from going forth, he is being restrained from exercising all that he is capable of exercising.
You may disagree with me on these particulars - some may think that the description of "binding" sounds too weak, i.e. Satan doesn't seem to be very bound. But I will push you back to the very strong language of Scripture describing what happened to Satan at the first advent - he was bound, disarmed, destroyed and cast out. The Scripture itself can use that strong of language while acknowledging the continued activity of Satan.
So I conclude by restating that, though Satan may still be active, the Scripture is unmistakably clear that he is bound and we are to interpret our experience in light of this rather than the other way around.
In the Book of Jude, we read in verse 6:
And the angels [Satan is a fallen angel] which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
In other words, something happened to the fallen angels before the Book of Jude was written.
Moreover, in 2 Peter 2:4 we read of another past judgment:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.
Whatever happened to these angels was an accomplished fact when 2 Peter was written, which was a few decades after the cross. Thus, we know that something happened at the cross.