SATAN GETTING HIS DUE
Pastor Jim Gray
At the great war the ambassadors of Satan were captured and their armies were destroyed (Rev 19:17-21). They were thrown into the lake of fire to await their leader, Satan himself. Chapter 20 speaks to the capture and imprisonment of Satan.
Satan is said to be the supreme example of good gone wrong. He was created good in the highest rank of angelic beings (Ezek. 28:12, 15). Yet, he decided to overthrow God and take his place (Isa. 14:12-14). He took with him part of the heavenly host; these rebels became like him. The, like he, embody evil. Satan is called the evil one (1 John 5:19), a murderer (John 5:19), a roaring lion which devours (1 Pet 5:8), the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10); the fathyer of lies (John 8:44). God pronounced judgment upon him from his fall (Isa. 14:15). What he intends and what he achieves are two different things. Instead of the apex of heaven, he will be assigned to eternal torment.
Revelation 20:1-3 begins the first stage of his judgment. Newell observes that “This imprisonment of the great enemy is the closing scene connected with the Day of Wrath; and, we may say, the opening scene of the coming age—the Millennium.”
The Instrument: An Angel—20:1
The text clearly indicates that “an angel coming down from heaven,” is God’s divine agent for this task. Angels are a common agents of God in the book of Revelation (cf. 10:2; 18:1). Their task is judgment. The angel’s two main functions are loosing and binding; opening and closing. This angel has two tools in his hands:
· “The key to the abyss.” This is not the first time that an angel is used in reference to the abyss. In Rev.9:1 the angel is given a key to release the demons of the bottomless pit. The Greek word in both references is abussos, a compound word meaning an immeasurable depth, bottomless, the underworld, the abyss of Sheol, commonly translated bottomless pit or abyss. In the Old Testament, it is Toperth, the place of burning (Isa. 30:33; Jer. 7:31). Here it is associated with the place of demons (as in Luke 8:30-31), however, Paul says it is the place of the dead (Rom. 10:7). The question becomes who could the demons be release without releasing the dead? It seems to me the natural answer is that there are compartments within the abyss for different classes of beings. The abyss is unlocked in 9:1 for the demons to be released; in 20:3 it is shut and sealed.
· “And a great chain in his hand.” If this is a literal chain is debated. It most likely figurative, describing the power and authority to retain Satan. Spiritual beings cannot be restrained by physical means or instruments.
The Incarceration of Satan—20:2-3a
This is the climax of the event. It involves the following:
- The Arrest— “he was laid hold of.” The word laid hold of (ekpathsen) is precisely the same word used of the arrest of Jesus (Matt. 26:50). It literally means to exercise power over; thus, to lay hold of, subdue, apprehend, or seize. The angel arrests Satan.
- The aliases. Satan is known by a number of names: the dragon, the serpent of old, the devil, and Satan. These are the four names used of him in the book of Revelation. John brings these together so there can be no confusion of identity, and that they all refer to the same person.
- His approved sentence— “bound him for a thousand years.” This sentence is not eternal, it is for a thousand years. This indicates there is more to come from Satan. His final destination will come (cf. 20:10). It must be noted that some view his imprisonment as happening today. That Satan is bound, an event that happens today and carries through until the second coming of Christ. I reject this view. There is no evidence that Satan is bound in this age of the church. His activity on earth today is clearly seen in Scripture.  Blinds the minds of those on earth (2 Cor. 4:3-4).  He destroys lives today (1 Peter 5:8).  He deceives the nations (Rev. 12:9).  He is still the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:6). His being bound in this text is to put a stop to such activities by him. The millennial age is a time when divine righteousness is demonstrated (Isa. 11:5; 32:1; Jer. 23:6; Dan. 9:24).
- His assignment— “he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him” (20:3a). Satan’s non-activity in the world is reinforced by the security of his judgment. He is in the abyss, which is shut and sealed. He is securely put away.
His inactivity in the world—20:3b
Now John states the reason for Satan being bound— “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were competed.” MacLeod observes “Satan’s imprisonment during the thousand years is not so much punitive as it is precautionary. It is a precaution against his deceiving the nations.” If the stated purpose of the blinding of Satan is so he cannot deceive the nations, and as amillennialists hold, it started a the cross; how can Satan deceive the nations in Rev. 12:9? He could not. They hold that this binding is simply a limited power in regard to his work on earth, “as a rope, which can be more or less lengthened” Satan’s power has always been limited by the sovereignty of God. This is totally against the immediate context, which speaks of complete inactivity by Satan. If Satan is bound today, there are two things to notice:
- It goes against those scripture that show us Satan is the god of this world and active in the world today.
- It goes against the experience of the early believers and those today. Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie (Acts 5:3). We are warned not to give place to the devil (Eph. 4:27). We are in a battle against a spiritual host of wickedness (Eph. 6:12). The whole world today lies under the power of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). The Scripture and experience speaks in concert that Satan is not yet bound.
He will be released from being bound at the end of the thousand years (20:3b). This will be his final release. Notice the word must, it speaks of absolute necessity. MacLeod states: “For some reason, grounded in the divine will, Satan will be released and will deceived the nations again. It is apparent that his long imprisonment will not change either his own plans or the character of humanity.” He is released to lead the world in the last great war—Gog and Magog (20:7) that leads to his final destruction. During the time of his incarceration, Christ will rule on earth for that one thousand years. Rejoice! Christ will be the victor.
 J.I. Packer, “The Devil’s Dossier,” CHRISTIANITY TODAY, June 21, 1993, 24.
 William R. Newell, THE BOOK OF REVELATION [Chicago, Moody Press, 1935], 315.
 David J. MacLeod, “The Third ‘Last Thing’: The Binding of Satan,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, October-December 1999, 474,
 R.C.H. Lenski, THE INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION, [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1943], 564.
 David J. MacLeod, “The Binding of Satan,” 482-483.
 Simon J. Kistemaker, NTC: REVELATION, [Grand Rapids, Baker, 2001], 534.
 David J MacLeod, ‘The Binding of Satan,” 483.