” (1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. (4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-4, 6, KJV).
Discussions of this subject sometimes involve the following questions.
(1) Was Satan bound in 1874, when Jesus returned invisibly?
(2) Was Satan bound in 1914, when the time of Trouble began (Daniel 12:1)?
(3) Is the binding of Satan gradual since our Lord’s return?
(4) Will Satan be bound when the Church is complete?
(5) Does the binding of Satan include the fallen angels?
(6) Is the binding of Satan by Christ alone or by Christ and his complete Church?
The first explicit statements that the Kingdom of God will reign on earth for a thousand years appear toward the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation. Revelation 19 describes the Revelation of Jesus Christ in full glory and power with his 144,000 Bride, his “body” members all raised to the Divine realm to institute a new, just reign on earth (verses 11‑16). Christ will put down rebellion and institute a government of God for the 1000 year Millennium.
The Evil One Bound
Revelation 20, describing the binding of Satan, follows Revelation 19 and is linked to that narrative. Revelation 19 depicts the marriage of the Bride class, and subsequently describes the closing judgments of the Harvest of the Gospel Age that introduce the Millennium. Revelation 19:11 and forward speak of the treading of the winepress. Verse 17 says “I saw an angel standing in the sun,” probably referring to the Church complete (compare Matthew 13:43). It then speaks of the “supper of the great God,” which continues through verse 18. This draws symbolically from Ezekiel 39:17-20, which refers to the defeat of Gog and his allies when they attack Israel at the end of the harvest.
Revelation 19:19-21 then refers to the Beast, and the False Prophet, and chapter 20:1 add the Dragon — so that we now have all three elements that are involved in precipitating the Battle of Armageddon (compare Revelation 16:13,14). Thus the passage that speaks of the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1 and forward) follows through on depictions that refer to the close of the Harvest, introducing the Millennium. All of this puts Revelation 20:1 at the close of the Harvest, rather than earlier in the Harvest.
“Notice that the great symbolic battle, and the harvesting of the vine of the earth [are] here described as closing the present age and opening up the Millennial Age (Revelation 20:1-3)” (Volume One, page 324).
In Revelation 20, one of the first events after the Church is complete, is the binding of Satan for 1000 years. We read this in Revelation 20:1‑3 (ESV):
“(1) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. (2) And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and 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.”
Is there still deception on earth?
YES. Thus, we believe the binding of the evil one has not yet occurred. The agencies by which Satan has controlled affairs are under judgment. But his deception over the nations remains until he is deposed as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
The subsequent rule of righteousness will begin at Israel and gradually expand outward to a weary world, prepared to learn something better after the deceptions of Satan have been removed. Thus the world is given a thousand years to learn righteousness, and have it rooted in their hearts, before “the little season” of testing (Revelation 20:3,7,8). Thereafter Satan and all evil ones shall be destroyed forevermore. Then all the former things will have passed away. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
A Process of Judgment Precedes the Binding
Throughout the Parousia of Christ, and specially from the Time of Trouble in 1914 onward, the institutions Satan has used to control his usurped domain have been under judgment and are crumbling. All of this is part of bringing down the power of the adversary — and preliminary to the complete divestment of Satan from the domain he has manipulated for 6000 years.
When Jesus came at his first advent, he entered into the “house” of the strong man, Satan, and measurably disrupted the progress of affairs. Thereafter, during the opening centuries of the Gospel Age, the rule of the world by Pagan Rome, an instrument of the Adversary, was overthrown, and this was a major step in the progress of the Gospel (see Revelation 12:7-9). However, as a counter to this, Satan corrupted the Church and the great Nominal System of Christianity grew so much as to be described as “where Satan dwelleth” (Revelation 2:13).
It is thus after dispossessing the systems of Christendom — represented by the Beast (Papacy) and False Prophet (Church of England and associated allies) — that Satan, the great “Dragon” who exercises his power through the political systems of earth, is defrocked of his personal power and allowed no more influence, until the close of the Millennium.
The judgments of Nominal Christendom are depicted as a series of seven “plagues” in Revelation chapters 15 and 16. These judgments have proceeded ever since the return of Christ, and build toward the Armageddon conflict that opens the seventh plague. Notice that during the time of plague 6, which builds toward Armageddon, that there is a coalition for mutual support by the “dragon … the beast, and … the false prophet” (Revelation 16:13) — but no chain restraining the “dragon” appears as of that time. Thus the “chain” symbol, appearing in Revelation 20:1, applies not during the entire Harvest period, but only at some time following plague six.
The Gospel References
The binding of Satan is referred to in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These passages are sometimes appealed to in a discussion of the binding of Satan in Revelation 20. However, properly, in context, those Gospel passages apply the influence of Jesus at his first advent restraining the influence of Satan, binding his power to keep the world and its inhabitants under his control. We here look at the passage from Luke 11:21-22 (KJV).
“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”
Jesus had entered the strong man’s house at his first advent, and began an active ministry after his baptism that was counter to the influence of Satan. When Jesus healed others, it was contrary to the influence of Satan who had imposed the distress on mankind by leading our first parents into disobedience. “Ought not this woman … whom Satan hath bound … be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16). More than this, the teachings Jesus declared during his ministry liberated those who received them, from the control of the adversary. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
In the Luke passage about the binding of Satan, this is the kind of work that Jesus refers to. Jesus was the strong one that came upon Satan and his “palace” and “goods.” Jesus was stronger, in that Jesus had access to Divine power. Jesus healed, and enlightened the people, and in this way removed Satan’s “armour wherein he trusted.” By this means Jesus restrained or bound the influence of Satan, and began taking to himself those who turned to Jesus out of the domain of the adversary. In this way he “spoiled” the house of Satan — that is, Jesus took to himself, some of the precious goods out of the house of Satan. These precious goods, the “spoils,” were ones who had formerly been under the control of Satan.
A Parallel to the Second Advent
We can take a parallel from this, perhaps, respecting the work of Jesus’ second advent, when he returns in order to dispossess Satan and take control of the world of mankind as the “spoils” of his conquest. During the parousia of Christ, Jesus has been removing the armour in which Satan trusted, piece by piece, through the increase of knowledge.
The “spoils” to be taken by Jesus are the world of mankind that has lain captive as part of the usurped domain of the “strong man” of the old world. Now that a stronger has come upon him, Satan is in retreat, using whatever schemes he is able in order to thwart the inevitable. He continues to exercise himself to resist the incoming Kingdom, and evidently would be pleased to see confusion in the Church, and the defeat of Israel, to thwart the establishment of both the complete Church in glory, and the nation of Israel being prepared as the beginning of the earthly Kingdom in due time.
Satan’s final extremity apparently is his marshalling of forces against Israel as prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, to quash the opportunity for Israel to facilitate the establishment of an earthly kingdom. But this extremity will his last. The defeat of Gog in Armageddon, and the subsequent fall of “great Babylon” (Revelation 16:19), are followed by Satan being completely removed from his ability to control, manage, and deceive — as referred to in Revelation 20:1.
Thereafter his “spoil” — the world of mankind — will be taken by Jesus and controlled, managed, and enlightened, by Christ and his Church class. “He [Jesus] shall divide the spoil with the strong [the overcoming Church class]” (Isaiah 53:12).
Thereafter follow a thousand years when all the dark effects and influences of Satan rule will be turned back, not in a day, but as the blessings of the Kingdom flow outward and people respond to them. Then all the world’s current problems — wars, hatred, drug addiction, abuse, mental and physical illness, will be gradually eradicated. Whereas today, under Satan, some of these problems are increasing.
Suggested Further Reading — With Direct Online Reading Reference Links —
“Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) in 1874.” BIBLE Students DAILY.
“Epoch Periods In God’s Plan.” BIBLE Students DAILY.
“ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process.”
“Three and a Half Years” by Br. David Rice. The Beauties of the Truth Journal, http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTAUG08.PDF
“Daniel 12” by Br. David Rice, Faithbuilders Fellowship — Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia, “Journal” section, March-April 2009
“Daniel: Conclusion” by Br. David Rice. Faithbuilders Fellowship — Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia, “Journal” section, May-June 2009 (at 2043ad.com / button “Journal.”) Here is the direct link to this article:
“Questions of Interest” — What Is the Meaning of Christ’s Presence? Faithbuilders Fellowship — Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia, “Journal” section, May-June 2008 (at 2043ad.com / button “Journal.”) Here is the direct link to this article:
“Coming Blessings” by Br. David Rice (www2043ad.com). The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Sept-Oct. 2012 issue.
“An Important Greek Word — Parousia” by Br. David Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
“Every Eye Shall See Him” by Br. Gilbert Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
“The Harvest — The End of the Age” by Br. Carl Hagensick. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
“The Prophetic Date — 1874.” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
“Questions and Answers. The Beginning and Ending of the Millennium.” Reprint No. 2739 of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
“Further Confirmations of Our Chronology.” Reprint No. 3459-60 of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
“A Secret Coming — A Thief In the Night.“ The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
“Chronos and Kairos – Times and Seasons.” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.