Satan Was Bound In 30 AD

This unpolished article is a list of annotated excerpts that evince the binding of Satan in 30 AD.

Let us begin by establishing that as of the time of the Last Supper, Satan had become “the ruler of this world”.  So said Jesus at least three times that evening:

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

John 16:31 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Just a few days later, however, after his resurrection, Jesus was to utter these words:

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

And Peter would later write this about the authority that Jesus had been given at that time:

1 Peter 3:21 …..Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

How was this possible, except that Satan had been removed as “ruler of this world” and Jesus had taken over?  Indeed, if “all” authority lay in the person of Jesus, then that left no authority for Satan to have.  And that brings us to Jesus’ statement about binding Satan:

Matthew 12:29how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

Jesus had been casting out demons, and was accused of being in allegiance with Satan, thus explaining (erroneously) his power to do so.  In his response, he gives us a big clue as to what he intended to do shortly thereafter.  Jesus was going to “bind” Satan and “plunder his house”.  This was a reference to putting Satan in “the pit” for “a thousand years” while Jesus’ servants “plundered” the world, finding converts to Yahweh.  The gods of the nations—actual beings who had been put in charge of them after the Babel rebellion (See Deuteronomy 32:7-9), had been deposed as of Jesus’ resurrection, and Jesus was now in charge over all the nations.  And he would keep Satan out of the way until it was time for the final battle.

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit[a] and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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.

It had to happen that Satan would first be removed, else it would have been pointless to dispatch the gospel message to the nations of the world.  And this is not just my own theory, for this is how it had been prophesied:

Isaiah 16:4b When the oppressor is no more,
and destruction has ceased,
and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land,
5 then a throne will be established in steadfast love,
and on it will sit in faithfulness
in the tent of David
one who judges and seeks justice
and is swift to do righteousness.”

When Jesus declared that he had been given all authority, that’s when his throne had been established (v. 5), and very soon thereafter, he would ascend to heaven to be seated on that throne.  For that to happen, however, Satan had to be “vanished from the land”.

And while we’re here, let us be sure to notice that Jesus is the sort who is “swift to do righteousness”.  Satan was oppressing the world, and the very moment Jesus was given all authority, he bound Satan to make him stop.  This is extremely different from the model of Jesus held by so many today, who believe that 2,000 years later, Jesus still has not managed to do anything about Satan.

About plundering Satan’s house—the people of the world—that, too, had been prophesied in a very interesting way.  Consider this extended passage about what would happen in Israel after Jesus’ resurrection:

Isaiah 11:10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush,[a] from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
12 He will raise a signal for the nations
and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth. (This is a reference to the gathering of Jews in Jerusalem, starting in Acts 2, and not a reference to the angel-assisted gathering of “the elect” of Matthew 24, for the latter would include Gentiles, where this does not.)
13 The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
and those who harass Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.  (The Christians would all make peace with one another, despite the traditional strife between their nations.)
14 But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west,
and together they shall plunder the people of the east.
They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites shall obey them.

So what is this about plundering?  How is that even remotely a Christian activity?  It is used here as a metaphor.  The Christians would take the gospel message out, and those who accepted it would submit themselves to the apostles.  This was not a military campaign, but a campaign of good will and facts:  That Jesus was the king of kings, that the old gods were deposed, that Jesus was enthroned in their place, and that he was offering eternal life to those who would serve him—even among those nations who were the longest enemies of Israel.  And for this plundering to be maximally effective, it was necessary for Satan to be removed from the picture.

But What About All the References to Satan in the New Testament?

Someone will surely object to this model, thinking it obvious that Satan was on the loose between 30 and 70AD.  They will cite passages like these:

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

1 Thessalonians 2:18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

We may reason, of course, that any such passage written after Satan was released (which I believe to have been approximate to 66AD), would not cause us any problem.  This would probably rule out passages such as the last one in the list above (1 Peter 5:8) as disproofs of the absence of Satan from 30-66AD, for it seems that this particular epistle was written after that:

1 Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ……4:7a The end of all things is at hand;…. 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

When Peter tells them, therefore, to resist the devil, this is because Satan has already been released at this point.

But what about those mentions of Satan in the earlier epistles?  Let me first ask you a question, and then I’ll address it more directly.

Let’s take a statement of Jesus, made before Satan was bound:

Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word  is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

How shall we understand Jesus here?  Shall we take him to mean that Satan himself, that single personality, personally visited everyone who heard the word, so as to attempt to take it away from them?  Or did Jesus have in mind something more general?  Could it be that although he says “Satan” here, what he is referring to is the greater influence of Satan in the world, including fallen lesser angels, evil spirits, and humans already under the influence of evil?  If we include all these, it becomes much easier to see how Satan had become “the ruler of this world”–as opposed to a model in which every act of evil has to be personally inspired by Satan himself, and where every evil thought has to be prompted by an invisible, in-person visit by Satan himself.

When Jesus bound Satan, he did not bind all of Satan’s influence in the world.  Had he done that, it would require that not only every evil angel and every evil spirit had to be locked away, but also every evil and misinformed human would have to be locked away, too. And that would be ridiculous, for these were the very ones that Jesus was attempting to snatch from Satan’s clutches:

Acts 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Jesus did not bind the humans who had gone over to Satan’s power, nor the other fallen angels (so far as we are told), nor the evil spirits.  But Jesus did bind the “strong man”.  He did not bind the strong man’s “children” or “servants”, but only the strong man himself.  And in his wisdom, that was enough.

In Satan’s absence, there were still evil spirits about.  (Acts 19:12-15)   And there were still all manner of other evil entities in play:

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Romans 8:38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
Holy angels did not let humans worship them.  The unholy ones encouraged, or even demanded it.

If we did not have Isaiah’s prophesy that Satan would be “vanished from the land” (Isaiah 16:4), and Jesus’ declaration that “now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31), then we might be at liberty to consider that the person of Satan was still free to move about the Earth from Acts 1 forward.  Then we could take every mention of his name(s) as being a mention of his personal being and presence—even though we can be pretty sure that many passages used his names in a more general sense to speak of his kingdom and/or influence.

But if we strive to be honest, rational, and responsible with all the information we have, we are forced to relent somehow in the way we interpret passages that mention Satan.  At that point, we can freely admit that no passage written during his time of incarceration explicitly states that he was someplace (other than in the pit) in person.  Even where Paul says this:

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

We are not forced to understand it as a reference to something that Satan was personally involved in at the time of the writing.  Paul knew that Satan had done it before his incarceration, and he knew he would do it after his release.  This was how Satan had “deceived the nations”—and it was the very thing that had to be stopped in order for the gospel to thrive.

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit[a] and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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.

Were More Than Just Satan Bound?

I’ll answer that question shortly, but let’s start with looking at an exceptional event where the tables were turned.  Shortly after the day of Pentecost, when the gifts and power of the Spirit were poured out on Christ’s people in Jerusalem, Peter and John healed a man who had been lame from birth, and were subsequently threatened by the ruling council of the Jews.  (Acts 4:1-22).  Upon refusing to be intimidated by them, the apostles were released “because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.”  This council, who may have previously thought that they had won in their battles with Jesus, were now irritated by his “unschooled and ordinary” students, who were now doing similar works in his absence.

When Peter and John were released, they went back to their friends and they all prayed this prayer:

Acts 4:24b “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[d] said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers were gathered together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed’[e]

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants[f] to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

In the prayer, they recite a section from Psalm 2.  Why would they do this?  What was it in their understanding, or rather, in the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that would bring this Psalm to mind?  Well, let’s look at it and see what may be obvious:

Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

God “laughs” at them, it says, because their governments had been undermined by the establishment of Jesus as the king of kings.  Thus Peter and John were preaching on God’s behalf, and the ruling council was vying for Satan’s bests interests (in his absence).  But just who was in bonds in this story?  Let’s look again:

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.

We are told that Satan was bound in chains and incarcerated in the pit:

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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 Psalm 2 an indication that a plurality of beings were also bound along with Satan?  Perhaps it is, for Isaiah chimes in on this one, speaking of the occasion of a great earthquake at a time when God would reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem:

Isaiah 24:18b For the windows of heaven are opened,
and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken,
the earth is split apart,
the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man;
it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again.
21 On that day the LORD will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
23 Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,
for the LORD of hosts reigns
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.

The similarities here are striking.  And here we see that it is not only Satan, but “the kings of the earth” who were imprisoned.  I believe these are the Sons of God (`bene `elohim), who were condemned long ago for their injustice and negligence as overseers of the nations:

Psalm 82:1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
    in the midst of the gods [plural] he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I said, “You are gods,
    sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
    and fall like any prince.”
Arise, O God, judge the earth;
    for you shall inherit all the nations!

Their condemnation had long been decreed. And Isaiah prophesied what would be said about these Sons of God by the faithful in the Holy City, after this judgment had finally been executed against them:

Isaiah 25:13 O LORD our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
14 They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.

Now, when Psalm 82:5 says “all the foundations of the earth are shaken”, I don’t believe this to be a reference to earthquakes, but to dysfunction in the intended order of things.  With this overseers neglecting justice, the Earth was not running as it should.  So Yahweh was going to put these “sons of the Most High” to death, and he would inherit the nations for himself, ruling them through Jesus.

Isaiah 24 shows us that they were all incarcerated, along with Satan, who had become the ruler over them (by his own influence).

And When Did This Happen?

Isaiah 24 gives us some clues as to when this incarceration happened.

  1. When the Earth would be emptied out:
    Isaiah 24:1 Behold, the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate (empty),
    and he will twist its surface (turn it inside out) and scatter its inhabitants.
    2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
    as with the slave, so with his master;
    as with the maid, so with her mistress;
    as with the buyer, so with the seller;
    as with the lender, so with the borrower;
    as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
    3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered (notice that word, plundered, again!);
    for the LORD has spoken this word.I believe this is a reference to the Matthew 27:52-53 resurrection:Matthew 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
  2. After a great earthquake:
    Isaiah 24:18For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. 19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. 20 The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.We are told as much about the Matthew 27 event, this time in reverse order from the account given above:Matthew 27:51 And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
  3. When the “sun” and “moon” would be “ashamed” and “confounded”:

    Isaiah 24:23 Then the moon will be confounded
    and the sun ashamed,Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land[g] until the ninth hour.

    Luke 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed.

    I believe there is a double entendre in play here.  The “sun” and “moon” in Isaiah 24:23 is not primarily a reference to the literal heavenly bodies, but to angel-type beings who had been assigned under the old order of things (established in Genesis 1) to “rule over” the Earth.  They had not done their jobs properly, and now that Jesus had been “lifted up”, they knew their time was coming to a close.  (Remember that in the “new heaven”, there is no need for sun and moon.  Revelation 21:23.)  So while there was a literal darkness over the land, it was only a sign of what was unfolding with these entities.

All three of these time clues align with the events surrounding Jesus’ resurrection.  That is when Satan and the Sons of God who had ruled over the nations were bound and tossed into the pit, not to be released again until about 66AD, when their time would be “short” to make war against the Earth, and after which they would “die like men”, have their flesh eaten by birds, and have their spirits tossed into the Lake of Fire, the “eternal” fire that had been prepared for them, and from which they can never escape.

What We Didn’t Know About Hades

When Jesus bound Satan and the rebellious Sons of God, he also ransacked Satan’s place in Hades.  Apparently, he had built quite a headquarters there:

Isaiah 25:2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.

It would never be rebuilt because Satan would be incarcerated for about 36 1/2 years, and would then be let out only for a brief time before being utterly destroyed.  Meanwhile, those among the Christians who would die (while still faithful), would inhabit Hades while awaiting the return of Jesus.

 

 

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