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According to 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6, they are:

4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; [2 Peter 2:4, KJV]

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. [Jude 1:6, KJV]

But Luke 11:24-26 seems to think otherwise:

24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. [Luke 11:24-26, KJV]

Are evil spirits chained or not?

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Oh, they are chained all right, just not 'chained' as we might know it.

The verses you quote in 2 Peter and Jude harmonise perfectly with another statement about demonic forces in the book of the Revelation:

"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. 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." (Rev. 20:1-3)

But the Luke 11 verse you quote simply shows how curtailed the activity of those evil spirits are, as they await the final judgment. Their freedom to traverse the invisible heavens, unrestricted, has long gone. They are chained by the power and authority of Christ's name. They cower before His person, doing what he commands them, even while he walks on earth. They have to ask his permission to enter into a herd of swine, to temporarily spare them going to what they dread the most - that Abyss (Luke 8:26-33). Christ's disciples see the demons flee when they use the name of Jesus. And when the 70 reported this to him, Jesus rejoiced, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:17-18).

This shows that your sequence of quotes is out of order. You should have put the Luke one first, then asked how the 2 Peter and Jude verses are to be understood in light of demonic activity in the time of Christ. That's where the Revelation verses would then make sense.

This, however, is a question about how to interpret verses. It's not strictly asking a biblical hermeneutics question because the verses you mention do not, in and of themselves, provide the answer you seek. Everything will depend on your interpretation of future events, and correctly understanding the 'time-line' for what happens invisibly, to invisible demons. None of the texts you cite provide such understanding.

But a very simple point is that there are long chains, and there are short chains. The shorter the chain, the more restricted the prisoner is. What we do know from Revelation is that there is a future judgment, which the demons seem to know more about than many readers of the Bible do, where everything stated about their punishment will culminate. Right now they are cast out of God's holy heaven, restricted to invisible activity on earth; the biblical imagery is similar to them already being chained, and that chain slowly and gradually being pulled in, getting shorter and shorter. Yet that imagery is symbolic, not literal.

Once symbolic texts are seen in their symbolic sense, then the idea of literal chains disappears, but many people try to mix up symbolic verses with literal interpretations. That is why this question is not really a hermeneutic one, but a matter of interpretation. The two verses in question (which mention chains) cannot be lumped together with that verse about invisible demonic activity triggered by the presence of the Son of God walking on earth.

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  • Very insightful answer, thank you! I resonate with a lot of what you said 😌🙏 Nov 4 '21 at 18:46
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I would regard evil spirits "being chained" as a metaphorical sense; that is, not literally chained but simply confined in some sense.

If we understand "chained" as simply meaning confined to the earth (or the abyss) and thus not allowed back into heaven, then this does not prevent spirits "walking" about on earth (or the abyss).

If this is true, then the scenario in the parable (usually metaphoric by definition!) in Luke 11:24-26 does not conflict with 2 peter 2:4 and Jude 6.

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  • I would agree with you, @Dottard. I would add that if an angelic being - transdimensional; transformable; fixed-start eternal - were then stripped of all physical embodiment and limited to invisibly influencing hearts and minds on earth, that would indeed be a “chaining”. They were, they are not and yet will be, and all people will marvel at them when they are set free from their ‘1000-year’ bondage in the abyss. Nov 4 '21 at 18:34
  • (That last part is a theory only for now, but it seems to fit!) Nov 4 '21 at 18:42
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4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; [2 Peter 2:4, KJV]

This verse does not explicitly say that all angels that sinned are chained.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. [Jude 1:6, KJV]

Again, the universal qualifier is missing from this verse. So some evil spirits are free to roam, Luke 11:

24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Are evil spirits chained or not?

Some are and some are not.

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  • Ah man…. I need to disagree with you, nice guy that you are 😆 Demons are angels and angels are incredibly amazing creatures with a real body. If they’ve been stripped down to the level of invisibility.. that’s a chain I would say..! Nov 4 '21 at 18:50
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2 Peter 2:4 the angels that sinned

Jude 1:6 the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation

As you are probably aware, both Jude and 2nd Peter are referencing Enoch; specifically, the episode about the angels or heavenly spirits that would eventually fall down to earth, drawn by the beauty of women, and become increasingly carnal as a consequence of their lust; thus:

  • the sin is carnal desire, which, to immaterial angels, is deeply unnatural; as sodomy, also mentioned by Jude in the following verses, is to males;

  • their first estate, which they did not keep, is their initially spiritual or disembodied state, which they've eagerly exchanged for carnality;

  • their original habitation, which they've left or abandoned in favor of earth, was heaven.

The above are indeed believed to be chained; others, however, whose main sin, according to an allegorical interpretation of Isaiah 14:12, is not lust, but pride, are not.

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Evil spirits are not chained. There is not a single verse anywhere in the Bible that says or implies this - at all!

You simple cannot equate evil spirits to Angels. That thinking only happens in academic reasoning, and has no exegetical foundation..

First, let’s overview ‘unclean spirits’. Although we gain some understanding of what makes something ‘unclean’ from scripture, the clarity of this is enhanced with some non canonical literature widely read in the times of the second temple. Unclean comes from mixture. Any mixture. A mixture makes something ‘unclean’. Unclean animals are a genetic mixture of two (or more) ‘kinds’. (Genesis 1:21-25). Unclean spirits are a ‘mixture’ of the sons of god and the daughters of men (Genesis 6 4-10).

Isaiah tells us these spirits ‘roam’ because they have any place (e.g. Sheol, where men’s spirits go) to go - because they don’t belong - they aren’t ‘man’. The ‘better’ renderings of Isaiah 26 (example early Septuagint, and the more literal translations of the Hebrew source.) clearly reflect the ‘fate’ of these spirits… the ‘dead’ comes from the source word ‘raphaim’.

The Rephaim were the other lords of Isaiah 26:13; they shall not rise because God visited and destroyed them (Isaiah 26:14). This plainly teaches that the giants or Rephaim have no resurrection like the dead of Israel referred to in Isaiah 26:19. They were the offspring of fallen angels, not ordinary men who do have a resurrection. See Giants and the Sons of God.

But, they are in some respects powerless - because they need a body (to ‘work’ through). Nevertheless they are, and have been a primary source of very much evil. But they need he ‘permission’ from the person who ‘owns’ the body - before they can ‘do’ evil. But essentially it is the person (man) doing the evil - and ‘he’ (the man’) then deserves the punishment - not the ‘spirit’ suggesting it - because ‘he’ (the man) ‘did’ (committed) the act.

On the other hand, Angels ‘have [immortal-heavenly] bodies’. Therefore they can directly ‘do wrong’. And those angels ‘chained’ - (Greek ‘seira’ - literally - to fasten, lock down, bind, so ‘chaining’ is figurative) - they themselves ‘did’ (committed) the ‘wrong’, so they can (were) held accountable for their actions.

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