The Binding Of Satan


Revelation 20 is the most difficult chapter of the book, if not the entire Bible. Premillennialists have used this chapter as the basis for their theory of a literal thousand-year reign of Christ, in literal Jerusalem, on the literal throne of David.

A proper understanding of this chapter as well as the other chapters begins by recognising that all of John’s visions are described in highly figurative, ‘apocalyptic’, language. Their big mistake is to make John’s visions literal.

To understand this chapter, we must keep in mind it’s a sequel to chapter 19. Chapter 20 is the climax to the last scenes of chapter 19. The dragon, ‘Satan’, the instigator of all opposition to Christ and His church, is about to be cast into the abyss, ‘bottomless pit’ thus the final and complete defeat of Satan, Revelation 20:1.

There is a holy war that rages between two opposing kingdoms, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. The abyss is the present abode of Satan where he and his angels carry on their opposition to God and His church.

The ‘key’ and ‘chain’ are symbolic. A spirit cannot be bound with a literal chain. The angel is probably Christ and they symbolise His complete power over Satan, Revelation 20:2.

Through His death on the cross, Jesus destroyed Satan’s power to rule and ruin men through sin. The cross sets men free, but it binds Satan. There are things he no longer does that he once did, he cannot destroy the church, and he cannot prevent the Gospel from being preached to the entire world. He is bound for a thousand years which as other numbers in Revelation are figurative, it represents the Christian age sometimes referred to as ‘the last days.’

The abyss or bottomless pit is the same as the ‘chains of darkness’ where sinful angels were placed, Revelation 20:3 / 2 Peter 2:4. Satan’s power has been broken, he is completely defeated.

This doesn’t mean he’s not active, but he is greatly limited by the blood of the cross. God’s truth guards those against all nations who have come to the Saviour. He will be released for a little time could mean his influence is short in comparison to what it was before Christ’s blood was shed. Since no explanation is given about this, we may not understand all that is involved but the inspired reader, would have known what it meant, Revelation 1:3 / Revelation 20:4.

We aren’t told where these thrones were but we would assume they are in heaven. The context suggests that justice is being accomplished. John sees those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God and those who remained faithful until death. They hadn’t worshipped the beast or had his mark on them, they had died to their sins and no longer had anything to do with Satan.

John saw souls indicating they were without bodies which is the state of man between death and the resurrection. Thus, they are living and reigning with Christ in complete victory for a thousand years, which is the Christian age, not a literal thousand years, Revelation 20:5.

The rest of the dead are the wicked that have died. When Jesus comes for the second and only time they too will be resurrected but will suffer a second death, ‘separation’ by being cast into hell. The Scriptures are clear that there is but one life, one death and one resurrection, John 5:28-29 / Hebrews 9:27.

The ‘first resurrection’ is used in a symbolic sense which is further mentioned in the next verse. Revelation 20:6. Those who have experienced the ‘first resurrection’ are to be blessed because they don’t have to fear the second death, which is hell. The ‘first resurrection’ is symbolic of the resurrection Paul speaks of in Romans 6 where one is buried in the waters of baptism and is raised to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:1-5.

They become dead to sin but are now alive in Christ because they have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, Romans 5:9.

In Revelation 20:7-8, John describes the final defeat of Satan. The Christian age now comes to an end and Satan is loosed from his prison. Again, he would deceive the nations, this is not a physical battle but rather the final battle between Christ and Satan.

Gog and Magog were ancient cities, which are used here as the symbolic enemies whom the Lord would defeat. No specific geographical designation is intended, they are as the sand of the sea, innumerable, Revelation 20:9.

The large area of the enemy armies are ready to attack the beloved church Jesus has established. This isn’t a literal city but is symbolic of the church. While it looks like they are ready to destroy the church there is no battle described because God defeated Satan and his forces with fire from heaven. The defeat is decisive and final, it will occur with the second coming of Christ, Revelation 20:10.

The deceiver, the devil, is cast into hell the place of eternal punishment, a lake of fire and brimstone. The word ‘torment’ implies pain, anguish and punishment, it will last forever with no end, Revelation 20:11-15.

In these final verses, John sees the final judgment. The white throne is the throne of God in all its glory and majesty. The earth and the physical heavens will be destroyed at the judgment, all the people that have ever lived, both good and bad, will stand before God in judgment.

The books containing the deeds of men will be opened so each one must account for his deeds. A second book is the ‘book of life’ which contains the names of those who have been faithful children of God. Regardless of where men may have died, on land, or in the sea they will be there. Hades is the destination of all men until Jesus comes, it’s the place of disembodied spirits, Luke 16:23.

The ‘second death’ is a designation for hell, it’s eternal separation from God. Death and Hades being cast into the lake of fire means they will no longer exist. All who aren’t listed in the ‘book of life’ will be cast into the ‘lake of fire.’ These are the ones who didn’t obey the Gospel so they could be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

Premillennial doctrine is based to a great extent on this chapter. However, it should be observed not one word is said about establishing a kingdom on earth for a thousand years in the literal city of Jerusalem on the literal throne of David.

Nothing is said about a second coming to earth, a rapture, the conversion of Israel. the restoration of Palestine, the rebuilding of the temple, all these theories are missing.

However, we do learn that the Christians are greatly blessed and comforted with the assurance of the Lord that Satan can no longer harm, hinder or prevent us from having eternal life if we remain faithful to him unto the end.

Satan our greatest enemy is defeated



"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."