1. Is Satan Bound?
Article contributed by www.walvoord.com
[Author’s Note: This article begins a series on problems in eschatology. Without attempting to include all the important subjects which are embraced in Biblical prophecy, aspects, of prophecy which are pivotal will be considered, giving particular attention to those which naturally arise in any attempt to form a system of interpretation. It is hoped that the series will be helpful to those who have serious problems in the interpretation of prophecy and that material will be supplied to confirm the faith of those who look for the coming of the Lord for His Church.]
There are many approaches to the field of eschatology, which includes the consideration of all that was prophetic in the Scriptures when written. Prophecy can be studied from the viewpoint of the purposes of God, with all history in its detail being a fulfillment. Prophecy can be examined as portraying Christ in His Person and work, a most fruitful field of study as every important aspect of prophecy has some relation to Christ. Prophecy can be viewed as an unfolding picture of human sin and a divine remedy of grace or judgment. Prophecy can be traced as it deals with Israel and the Gentile nations, constituting a most illuminating study of God’s program. Prophecy can be viewed, also, from God’s program for the angels, as revealed in the Scriptures, including the course and destiny of Satan. Each approach has its own contribution to the total of prophecy. The present subject involves the consideration of the last named, the place of Satan in the prophetic program. While any of the other approaches would be as suitable, the present subject has been selected because it establishes so simply and directly the point in God’s program in which we find ourselves. If the question in regard to the binding of Satan can be answered, as it can, a forward step of tremendous importance has been taken in establishing the whole point of view.
Most systems of interpretation of prophecy can be classified by their interpretation of the millennial doctrine. The Old Testament has frequent allusions to the glory and righteousness of a future kingdom. The New Testament reveals that this kingdom will continue for one thousand years. The nature of this millennium, or thousand year period, and its relation to other prophesied events constitute a determining factor in any system of prophetic interpretation.
There have been at least four important millennial views, all involving the relation of the Christ to the millennium. Three of these are mutually exclusive concepts. Postmillennialism had its rise in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Berkhof lists as its originators, “Coecejus, Alting, the two Vitringas, d’Outrein, Witsius, Hoornbeek, Koelman, and Brakel.”1 In its original form postmillennialism held that Christ would return to the earth after a millennium or period of time of great blessing during which the Gospel triumphed and righteousness and peace characterized the world. Postmillennialism constituted a rejection of premillennialism, admittedly an early doctrine of the church, and the amillennialism which characterized the eschatology of many Roman Catholics. Postmillennialism was particularly popular during the nineteenth century. The hope for a millennium on earth to be ushered in by the progress of the church was rudely shattered, however, by the first world war and succeeding events. The prospect of converting the world to an era of righteousness and peace by human effort is no longer a prominent factor in theology or preaching. A modern type of postmillennialism has persisted, however, though quite divorced from an attempt to expound the Scriptures. It may be identified with the evolutionary hypothesis that man is gradually evolving to a higher state. Adherents of this modern type of postmillennialism deny that there is much connection with world-betterment and the Gospel of salvation by grace. They advance the theory that it is the duty of man to better his conditions by a constructive policy of world-improvement. Just as human disease is being conquered by improvement in medical methods, so, they say, social problems can be solved by improved sociology and political science.
With the passing of the old type of postmillennialism, those who continued to preach a Scriptural message have turned back to the eschatology which characterized the period of stagnation prior to the Protestant Reformation, giving it the more or less new designation of amillennialism, by which is meant that there will be no millennium on earth. While the term is relatively new, the idea that there would be no earthly millennium was quite suited to the moral and spiritual temper of the centuries after Constantine the Great, when the church itself became corrupt and became more of an institution than an evangelizing agency. Amillennialism has not produced any considerable literature in the field of eschatology, contenting itself with the reaffirmation of the belief in the final triumph of righteousness, the judgment of all men, the destruction of the present earth and heavens, and the creation of a new heaven and earth. While their system stands in considerable contrast to the premillennial system, it hinges on the fact that amillennialism believes the “millennium” began when Christ died, and that it applies only to the heavenly estate, not the earth, and that there will be no earthly millennium in a literal sense. While it offers a pleasing simplification of the whole scheme of unfulfilled prophecy, and does not intend to cast any doubt on the inspiration of the Scriptures, it leaves unsolved many important passages of Scripture. Any amillennial work in eschatology is notable for the Scriptures it does not use. An interesting example is the recent work of Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial Faith, an attempt to present fairly the amillennial objections to premillennial interpretation. In this work there is no mention at all of the many prophecies of Jeremiah, no mention of 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 72, or Isaiah 11, passages which are among the most important in the Old Testament in relation to the prophesied kingdom. While the work is the result of careful study and is not intentionally unfair to premillennialism, it takes for premillennial truth positions which no intelligent premillennialist holds. It totally neglects the issue that by no principle of hermeneutics can the word earth be made to represent heaven in the millennial passages, as it is necessary to interpret the word in the amillennial position.
The consideration of the present subject of the binding of Satan is an important preliminary consideration to premillennial truth in that it determines at once many of the issues. The amillennial position requires the hypothesis that Satan is now bound. If it can be demonstrated that Satan is not bound, it will at least leave an important if not insuperable obstacle to the amillennial system of interpretation.
The premillennial position, which is here assumed, in its simplest form asserts that Christ will return before the millennium and will by His own power and presence institute a period of righteousness and peace on the earth to continue for a thousand years. It offers a satisfactory solution to all the prophetic Word, allows for the literal fulfillment of all of God’s promises, and honors the Bible as meaning what it appears to mean. It is significant that specialists in prophecy are usually premillennial, that those who hold the premillennial faith are usually conservative in their theological positions, that they uphold the doctrine of verbal inspiration, that they preach the old-fashioned Gospel, and as a class are comparatively free from liberal theology. Other millennial views have been signally sterile in their prophetic studies. The writer has never heard of those holding either the postmillennial view or the amillennial view conducting a prophetic Bible conference. Many amillennialists and postmillennialists will frankly admit that they have never seriously studied prophecy. It is the writer’s opinion that anyone coming to the Scripture without preconceived ideas will naturally assume that the Word of God teaches the premillennial return of Christ.
A fourth millennial view may be merely mentioned. There are some who spiritualize the return of Christ, advancing the theories that Christ returned in the Person of the Spirit at Pentecost, or at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., or at the death of saints. While as a class they deny the millennium, and are therefore amillennial, they do not attempt to interpret the Scriptures or develop any system, and are always more or less liberal in their theology. Their position is easily refuted by the Scriptures themselves. None of the prophesied events to follow the second coming of Christ occurred either at Pentecost or 70 A.D., nor do they occur at the death of saints. John, writing the book of Revelation long after 70 A.D., was still looking for the coming of Christ (Rev 22:20).
I. The Power of Satan Is Limited.
In coming, now, directly to the question to be considered, whether Satan is bound, it is necessary, first, to establish some of the elements of Satanology. It is, after all, a matter of tremendous significance whether Satan is bound as indicated in Revelation 20:1-3. The idea that it matters little what view is taken of the millennium is contrary to fact. A full understanding of the “wiles of the devil” is essential to spiritual victory and it is unfortunately characteristic of amillennial and postmillennial systems of theology to ignore or minimize the power and activity of Satan, as a survey of their systematic theologies will illustrate. Satan is revealed in the Scriptures as a created being of great power, wickedness, and cleverness. The Scriptures never minimize the Adversary. It is essential, then, to know the extent of this power and its nature.
A brief summary of the power of Satan is afforded in the following quotation:
“According to his own declaration, which Christ did not deny, he [Satan] has power over the kingdoms of this world, which kingdoms he said were delivered unto him, and which power he bestows on whom he will (Luke 4:6). It is said of him that he hath the power of death (Heb 2:14), but that power has been surrendered to Christ (Rev 1:18). Satan had the power over sickness in the case of Job (Job 2:7), and was able to sift Peter as wheat in a sieve (Luke 22:31; 1 Cor 5:5). Likewise, Satan is said to have weakened the nations, to have made the earth to tremble, to have shaken kingdoms, to have made the earth a wilderness, destroying the cities thereof, and not to have opened the house of his prisoners (Isa 14:12-17). Against the power of Satan even Michael the archangel durst not contend (Jude 9); but there is victory for the child of God through the power of the Spirit and the blood of Christ (Eph 6:10-12; 1 John 4:4; Rev 12:11). Satan’s power and authority are exercised always and only within the permissive will of God.”2
The Scriptures present, then, on the one hand the great power of Satan and on the other hand that this power is limited and under the sovereign control of God. It is important to note that the premillennialist, seeking as he does to honor the Word of God, does not for one moment deny that the power of Satan is limited in the present age, in fact, in any age. Strangely, some amillennial writers have attempted to demonstrate that the premillennial view is erroneous by pointing to Scriptures which speak of Satan’s limitation. Both the Old and New Testaments bear a clear revelation on this point, and all millennial views must accept what the Scriptures teach. Whether this limitation should be identified with the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3 is quite another issue. While all agree that Satan is limited, all do not agree that Satan is bound.
II. The Amillennial View of the Binding of Satan.
The central passage on the subject of the binding of Satan is, of course, Revelation 20:1-3, which in the revised edition is as follows:
“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a little time.”
Whatever view may be taken of the nature of the millennium, it is obvious from the passage whether taken literally or symbolically that Satan is bound before the millennium. If, then, the millennium is still future, it follows that Satan is not bound, but if the millennium has already begun and is now in progress, as the amillennialist believes, then Satan must be bound now. The usual amillennial approach to this passage points out the fact, which all recognize, that the book of Revelation uses symbols, that its chronological scheme is that of recapitulation, and that it is therefore difficult to determine dogmatically what the exact meaning of any symbol may be and the exact place in the chronological plan of the book in which to fit each new revelation. It is the opinion of the writer, however, that the events of the nineteenth and twentieth chapters are progressive and successive and that this is plain in the nature of the narrative, but it is not necessary to assume this in order to determine the meaning of the binding of Satan.
The most obvious fact in Revelation 20 is that the binding of Satan makes the millennium possible, i.e., there is a causal relation-the millennium would be impossible without Satan bound. If that is the case, then it is well to ask at the outset, where will the millennium take place, on earth or in heaven? If the millennium has its only fulfillment in heaven, then the binding of Satan applies only to heaven; if the millennium takes place on earth, then Satan is bound in respect to the earth.
A survey of amillennial literature reveals a most significant fact: they all agree that the millennium will take place only in heaven, but they have at least four contradictory explanations of the binding of Satan. First, and least important, is the group which spiritualizes the return of Christ-suggests He returned at Pentecost, at 70 A.D., or at the death of saints. While this group is amillennial in its main characteristics in that they believe Satan is now bound, they are in a certain sense an off-brand of premillennialism, as they believe Christ has already come and that the millennium is following His return. They hold, then, that Christ has returned to earth, and the millennium has begun in heaven. They identify the binding of Satan as an act subsequent to the triumph of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection. A second group, in which may be classed the work of William Masselink, Why a Thousand Years?, takes the position that Satan is fully bound in relation to heaven, and partially bound in relation to the earth. This group identifies the binding of Satan with the victory of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection. A third view is advanced by Floyd E. Hamilton, in his recent work, The Basis of the Millennial Faith, which sets forth the evidence to prove that Satan is now bound in relation to the earth. A fourth view to be mentioned-and it is the only one which is logically consistent with the conclusion-was expounded by B. B. Warfield. His view is that the binding of Satan refers only to the freedom of saints in the intermediate state, i.e., those in heaven now, from attacks of Satan. He states clearly that the binding of Satan does not refer to the earth.
The amillennialists often refer to difference of opinion among premillennialists in respect to details of prophecy. They may well look to their own system. All premillennialists worthy of the name believe that Satan is bound just before the millennium. Amillennialists offer instead a strange series of interpretations. One group believes Christ has come to earth and produced a millennium in heaven. Another believes Satan is bound in respect to heaven and partially in respect to earth and that this results in a heavenly millennium. Another believes that Satan is bound in respect to the earth, but that this produces a millennium in heaven. Still another believes that Satan is not bound in respect to earth, but only in heaven. From a standpoint of logic itself, apart from specific revelation of Scripture, it would follow that if Satan is bound only in respect to heaven, the millennium can be only in heaven; if partially bound in respect to earth, a partial millennium on earth would follow; if fully bound in respect to earth, then the millennium must be on earth rather than in heaven. An argument to demonstrate that Satan is now bound in respect to the earth has no logical connection with demonstrating a millennium in heaven, though if proved, would indicate that the millennium has already come to the earth.
In the nature of the case, the issue relative to the binding of Satan breaks into two pointed questions: Is Satan bound in respect to heaven? Is Satan bound in respect to earth? In reality it is necessary only to demonstrate the answer to the first question to undo the amillennial position, but inasmuch as many amillennialists also have dealt with the second question, it may well be handled too.
III. Is Satan Bound in Respect to Heaven?
B. B. Warfield, acknowledged by all to be a great theologian, can well be taken as offering the most incisive analysis of the amillennial position. To present this, he is quoted somewhat at length:
“The ‘binding of Satan’ is, therefore, in reality, not for a season, but with reference to a sphere; and his ‘loosing’ again is not after a period but in another sphere: it is not subsequence but exteriority that is suggested. There is, indeed, no literal ‘binding of Satan’ to be thought of at all: what happens, happens not to Satan but to the saints, and is only represented as happening to Satan for the purpose of the symbolical picture. What actually happens is that the saints described are removed from the sphere of Satan’s assaults. The saints described are free from all access to Satan-he is bound with respect to them: outside of their charmed circle his horrid work goes on. This is indicated, indeed, in the very employment of the two symbols ‘a thousand years’ and ‘a little time.’ A ‘thousand years’ is the symbol of heavenly completeness and blessedness; the ‘little time’ of earthly turmoil and evil. Those in the ‘thousand years’ are safe from Satan’s assaults: those outside the thousand years are still enduring his attacks.”3
The amillennial position as stated by Warfield may be summed, then, as follows: (1) There is no chronological system to the twentieth chapter of Revelation at all-the millennium is not a millennium and events which are stated to occur after the millennium, i.e., the loosing of Satan, actually occur during the millennium. (2) In reality, Satan is not bound at all, but saints are merely removed from his power by being taken to heaven. (3) The nations mentioned in Revelation 20:3 are really glorified saints, not nations upon earth. (4) Revelation 20:1-3 is not an historic or prophetic event but just a symbolic picture of peace after trial. It will appear to the most casual student that Warfield’s interpretation has no basis in the text itself, but that it is superimposed upon the text. No one reading Revelation would possibly arrive at such a conclusion unless determined to make it harmonize with a preconceived idea. Warfield’s view is pure opinion-he offers no proof for his definition of terms worthy of consideration; he makes no attempt at a real exegesis. In reality he holds that the passage teaches nothing. If the same principles of hermeneutics used by Warfield in Revelation were applied to the whole Bible, theology would be impossible and there would be no sure foundation for any doctrine.
In the study of prophecy it is absolutely essential to distinguish a revelation in symbolic form from its interpretation. Warfield states that the primary principles of interpretation of prophecy are (1) the principle of recapitulation; (2) the principle of successive visions; (3) the principle of symbolism; (4) the principle of ethical purpose.4 It is noteworthy that he omits from his principles that prophecy may be interpreted as factual history prewritten, that prophecy may have a chronological scheme, and that the Bible itself may give the interpretation. His concept seems to be that prophecy is merely ethical-a portrayal of moral purpose rather than a foretelling of a coming event.
In the study of Revelation 20:1-3, there is a careful distinction between the vision which John saw and its interpretation which was revealed. In fact, this is the key to the chapter. John saw an angel bind Satan with a chain, cast him into the abyss, shut him up, and set a seal upon him. This was the vision. Now consider the interpretation-i.e., facts which are revealed to John which in the nature of the case could not be seen. It was revealed to John that Satan was thus shut up for a thousand years, that the purpose of the act was that he would not deceive the nations, and that he would be loosed again for a short time after the thousand years. If John had merely recorded what he saw, there would be room for varied interpretation, but he was guided by the Spirit in also writing the interpretation of the vision. This interpretation must be taken in the same degree of authority as any doctrinal portion or historical portion of the Scriptures. When John wrote of a thousand years, or Satan not deceiving the nations, etc., he was revealing a doctrine, not a vision.
In its simpler statement, Warfield’s position concerning the binding of Satan is that saints in glory are free from his attacks. To this all must agree, even those who believe that Satan is not cast out of heaven until the time of the tribulation (Rev 12:9). It is inconceivable that saints in any period were open to attacks from Satan, and if the binding of Satan means only that, it is merely a reaffirmation of Satan’s limitations and no new revelation. The millennium becomes then identical with the glorified state, nothing more, nothing less.
The binding of Satan is not, however, in reference to attacks on glorified saints. The only definition we have of the binding of Satan and its purpose in Revelation 20:1-3 is that he is no longer permitted to deceive the nations. Now was Satan ever permitted to deceive glorified saints? While it is clear from the Scripture that Satan is the accuser of saints and is permitted access to heaven, it can hardly be held that at any time Satan could attack saints in heaven or even deceive them.
In the last analysis, we must choose between two alternatives: either Revelation 20 reveals nothing more than what has already been made clear in other Scriptures, i.e., that the saints in heaven are safe from all his evil work, or, the binding of Satan must have reference to the earth and consists in a total end to his work of deceiving the nations. Facing this obvious alternative, Masselink and Hamilton in their defense of the amillennial position present the binding of Satan as related to the earth, not simply to heaven.
A fact apparently overlooked by the amillennial interpretation is that the binding of Satan is not the total of his limitation. According to Revelation 20:3, Satan is not only bound but the angel “cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him....” This is not even a symbolic picture of partial limitation, but of total limitation. Only the premillennial interpretation can fit such a description. According to the Scriptures Satan is far from being totally inactive either in heaven or in earth. While it is true that the victory of the disciples in performing great miracles is connected by Christ to Satan falling as lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18), i.e., a sign pointing to his ultimate downfall, and it is also said that Satan is now judged through the work of Christ on the cross (John 16:11), the actual dismissal of Satan from access to heaven does not occur until the time of the great tribulation according to Revelation 12:9. That Satan does have access to heaven is the clear implication of the Scriptures (Job 1:6; 2:1, 2; Rev 12:7-13). Obviously, Satan cannot be cast out of heaven unless he once was in heaven. The terrible conditions on earth during the tribulation period are traced to the fact that Satan knows he has only a short time (Rev 12:12), and pours out his wrath upon the earth and manifests his power as never before. If the binding of Satan and his being shut up in the abyss occur at the same time, then it is inaccurate and misleading to say that Satan is now bound. While his power is limited, and always has been, and while saints have always been free from his assaults, it is not proper to refer to this limitation as the binding of Satan. One can conclude, therefore, that Satan is not “bound” now in respect to heaven in the sense of Revelation 20:1-3. If this conclusion be accepted, obviously, there is no ground for the amillennial position that there is now a millennium in heaven following the binding of Satan.
IV. Is Satan Bound in Respect to the Earth?
As has been previously stated, one of the peculiarities of the amillennial position is that they cannot agree among themselves as to the extent of the binding of Satan. Warfield denies that the binding of Satan has any reference to the earth now, as indicated in his statement, “Outside of their charmed circle [the saints in glory] his horrid work goes on.”5 Other amillennialists are more prone to attempt to meet the premillennial arguments that the Old Testament demands a kingdom of righteousness on earth, if prophecy is to be fulfilled. After the amillennialist has referred all the passages to heaven which can possibly be made to refer to a heavenly kingdom, there remains a great bulk of passages which cannot be explained away. If words mean anything, Isaiah 11 refers to the earth, not to heaven. Psalm 72 could not possibly be twisted to apply to heaven, and so with other passages. In an attempt to meet this problem, and a major one, of the amillennial interpretation, the binding of Satan has also been referred to the earth, even though logically, it would have nothing to do with a heavenly kingdom. The question is, then, Is Satan now bound in respect to the earth? If he is, we must find some explanation for this present evil world, for apostasy in the church, for the rapid growth of non-Christian religions. We must be able to explain all reference in the New Testament to the present activity of Satan. If this is impossible, as it is not hard to demonstrate, then Satan is not bound in respect to the earth, and the amillennialist must find some other explanation for passages referring to a period of righteousness on earth and universal peace and knowledge of the Lord.
What is the testimony of the Scriptures? Can Satan deceive the nations now? Is he totally inactive? We need only quote Scripture. Acts 5:3, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.” 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.” 2 Corinthians 11:14, “And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 12:7, “And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch.” 1 Thessalonians 2:18, “Because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9, “And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” 1 Timothy 1:20, “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme.” 1 John 3:8, “He thaf doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:10, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. ...” 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Satan is seen to tempt, to deceive, to blind, to buffet, to hinder, to work signs and lying wonders, to have children (i.e., unbelievers), to walk about seeking whom he may devour. Is this a picture of Satan bound? Is this in harmony with the amillennial interpretation of Revelation 20:1-3? The obvious answer is that Satan is not bound, that he still deceives, that he still has great power, and that in respect to the earth he can severely attack both the Christian and the unsaved-howbeit in the will of God.
Compare these Scriptures with the following statement of the amillennial view by William Masselink:
“The binding of Satan for a thousand years is the symbolical figure used to teach us that his power is completely broken for a season... From this passage in Revelation we learn that Satan is bound in a two-fold sense: in the relative sense and in the absolute sense. With respect to the nations he is not bound completely. The result of this binding is that he can deceive the nations no more. In regard to the saints he is bound in the absolute sense. The glorified souls are entirely beyond his dominion?”6
Revelation 20:1-3 teaches, in contrast to William Masselink, that Satan will be completely bound, that he will be totally inactive. At the present time, the Scriptures themselves indicate the continued activity of Satan, his attacks upon saints in the earth, his deceiving of men.
Floyd Hamilton’s argument from Matthew 12:24-29 that Satan was already bound at that time is refuted by the plain facts of the context. In the first place, Christ does not say that Satan is bound-he uses the word only in the illustration. Obviously, Satan was not bound in the sense of Revelation 20:1-3 as demon possession abounded. Even Mr. Hamilton would be loath to state that the Jews who demanded the crucifixion of Christ were not deceived by Satan. Yet his hypothesis demands that Satan can no longer deceive the nations. He states, “The way of salvation has been opened to all nations and there is nothing that Satan can do to block that way.”7 Does not the Scripture reveal that the reason for the unbelief of the world in relation to the Gospel is due to Satan’s deceptive and blinding work (2 Cor 4:3, 4)? How is it that after nineteen centuries of proclamation, the Gospel has yet to win even a majority of those who have heard it? How is it that in contrast to the Christian faith with its Spiritual power the heathen religions such as Mohammedanism are actually gaining converts faster than Christianity? How is it that apostasy has overtaken the church to-day? There can be only one answer, and that is that Satan is working, deceiving, hindering, blinding, devouring. If so, then Satan is not bound, nor is he shut up where he cannot deceive the nations. If Satan is not bound, then the millennium is yet future and our hope is for the coming of the Lord.
A,study of all the factors which enter into the interpretation of Revelation 20:1-3 leads to three conclusions: (1) Satan is not now bound and shut up in the abyss in relation to heaven, though his power has always been limited. (2) Satan is not now bound and shut up in the abyss in relation to the earth, though here too his power is limited; Satan stands judged and defeated; and Christ is victorious. (3) The binding of Satan and his period of total activity are still future and will constitute a major feature of the future millennium on earth. There is not now nor ever will be a fulfillment of the prophecies of a righteous rule upon earth until after Satan is bound-an event coincident with the return of Christ to establish His earthly kingdom.
(Series to be continued in the January-March Number, 1944)
This article was taken from the Theological Journal Library CD and posted with permission of Galaxie Software.
1 Systematic Theology, Second Edition, p. 716.
2 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, p. 121.
3 Biblical Doctrines, p. 651.
4 Ibid., pp. 645, 646.
5 Ibid., p. 651.
6 Why a Thousand Years? p. 202.
7 The Basis of Millennial Faith, p. 130.