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I don’t see anywhere else in scripture that there will be a 1000-year earthly kingdom where Christ reigns except in Revelation 20:4.

So why is Satan bound, if the world from the last bowl judgment is destroyed the earth completely? I realize that this book is not in chronological order. But nowhere in the Gospels or OT ever mentioned Satan being bound for a short period of time.

Revelation 20:1-4 (NASB)

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

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    – agarza
    Aug 24, 2023 at 19:47
  • Despite quoting a text, your question is really a theological question. The idea of Christ "reigning with the saints" is actually found in Rev 20:4. However, it is during this 1000 years that Satan is bound and the wicked are all dead - very different from the common notion.
    – Dottard
    Aug 24, 2023 at 22:02
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    This is a very important question and I'm glad you have asked it. It is also good to know that you realise the events described in Revelation are not in chronological order.
    – Lesley
    Aug 26, 2023 at 11:01
  • While the question asks about some things that might need cross-reference, it's not seeking answers debated in Eschatology or other SysTheo. It is an attempt to understand the specific texts in Revelation 20:1-3 in light of other verses in that same book, and merely with consideration for the entire Bible to support our understanding.
    – Jesse
    Sep 3, 2023 at 1:24

3 Answers 3

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There seems to be two related issues raised with this question; a reason for Satan being bound, and when this happens. The reason is given in the text in question. Verse 3 clearly says:

"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." Revelation 20:2 A.V.

That answers the first part of the OPs question, "So why is Satan bound...?" He is bound in order to stop deceiving the nations as he had been doing, prior to being bound for "a thousand years" in the bottomless pit.

But the second part of the OPs question shows why there seems to be a problem, "...if the world from the last bowl judgment is [sic. - has] destroyed the earth completely?" Ah, well, if that is a misunderstanding about sequence of events, that would need to be cleared up. The OP knows that the Revelation is not in chronological order, so this is where two things Jesus said might help bring clarity.

"And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his goods." Mark 3:26-27 A.V.

"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:17-18 A.V.

Does that not link in with Revelation 12:7-17 when, after the symbolic woman births the male child, Satan's attempt to destroy this one (Jesus Christ, surely?) fails due to the archangel Michael casting Satan, "who deceives the whole earth" (vs.9) down to Earth. Verse 12 adds that Satan knows he then has "but a short time", and wages war against the remnant of the woman's seed (vs. 17). Satan is greatly restricted and confined, yet is able to orchestrate persecution against those who "keep the commandments of God" on Earth. This happens before the final Day of Judgment with its resurrection of all the dead.

This also links in with Revelation 20:1-3. They are not separate events and different times, for the Revelation keeps repeating the sequence of events starting with Christ returning in glory to heaven, to be enthroned there, till the Day of Judgment. Chapter 12 begins the 4th repeating sequence of this (adding more details to what was stated before), and chapter 20 starts the 7th repeating sequence. This enables a build-up of understanding, more details being added to what has already been revealed. This is explained in this book:

"The seventh and last opening brings the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to a perfect consummation. Beginning at chapter 22, this breathtaking series of visions - each in itself astounding - as a whole overwhelms the reader. There passes before the eye the prophetic sequence of the judgment of the dragon; the first resurrection; the Last Judgment, the passing away of the earth and of the heaven; the second death; the bringing in of a new heaven and a new earth; the revelation of the holy city; and the vision of the everlasting glory...

The first two verses show the commencement of the thousand years; verses 3-6 narrate the continuation of the thousand years; and verses 7-10 declare the conclusion of the thousand years. The final verses, 11-15, depict the Last Judgment at the end of the world." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp/535-6, John Metcalfe (published 1998) http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm for details of the 2022 reprint.

Then it explains why the thousand years cannot be taken as a literal number; it is symbolic of the whole time from Christ's glorious ascension to heaven until his return. That fits in with what Jesus said in the verses quoted above.

"...are we asked to believe by those who take such numbers literally, in realms and dispensations beyond known time, invented by premillennialists and dispensationalists for the purpose of rationalizing the irrational, that the thousand years of Revelation 20:2 is a cold, factual measure of time? But we had been told by the Holy Ghost 'that there should be time no longer.' Chapter 10:6. If so, how can a period subsequent to the cessation of time be measured by a period dependent upon its existence.

Not to say that in the old testament the only intimation of a thousand years belongs within the compass of time, Psalm 90:4, and in the new, other than Revelation 20, the sole reference to a thousand years of time is applied by the apostle Peter [2 Peter 3:8] prior to the second coming of Christ and the dissolution of the heavens and the earth." (Ibid. p537)

Revelation 20:1-2 is taken to mean the commencement of the (non-literal) thousand years, chapter 12 being examined to show that the dragon was defeated, and cast out of heaven following the birth and ascension of Jesus Christ:

"This was at the present age, after Christ, made of a woman, made under the law, came to 'redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons', Galatians 4:4,5. This was when Christ blotted out 'the hand-writing of ordinances that was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers', that is, by casting them out of heaven - 'he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it' - namely, in the cross - see Colossians 2:13-15.

This answers to that which is written, 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage', Hebrews 2:14,15. This destruction of the devil, casting him powerless out of heaven - as it were, bound - took place because through death Christ delivered his people from the law and its curse, robbing the accuser of the brethren not only of the strength of his legal case, but also of any lawful right to make a case at all. Why? Because deliverance from the law took the accused out of the courtroom for ever. Thus Christ fought against the accuser, prevailed over him, cast him out of heaven, and brought him down to earth. This was the position in which the dragon was seen at the close of Chapter 12." (Ibid.) p.539

This lengthy sequence of quotes has been necessary to clear up the second part of the OPs question. Conclusion: Satan is confined, bound, from Christ's ascension until a short time before Christ returns, so that Satan then has another go at deceiving the nations. But as Revelation 20:10-15 shows, Satan and his minions are cast into the eternally burning lake of fire and brimstone, followed by the Last Judgment, where his earthly followers are judged and join them. After that comes the new heaven and the new earth (21:1 on).

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My take on Satan's role in Revelation is that he acts as the promoter of persecution.

This is explained in ch12 and ch13.He has been functioning as the Accuser of men's sins (see Job ch1, see Zechariah ch3 v1). But in Revelation ch12 he has been "thrown down" as an accuser (v10), and this has been accomplished by the atonement on the Cross and by the gospel message of forgiveness (v11). He feels wrath (v12) at the loss of his accusing function, and he tries to get his revenge by accusing Christians in front of human authorities instead. The tribulation (ch13) is Satan trying to compensate himself for the loss of his other accusing function (ch12).

That is why, in ch2 v13, "the place where Satan dwells" is the place where the martyr Antipas was killed. I suggest that it is the reason why the Jews of Smyrna are called a "synagogue of Satan" (they were doing some of the accusing).

How is this relevant to your question? I propose that when Satan is bound he is bound as a persecutor. Never mind the other functions which tradition has attached to Satan. It is his function as the organiser of wholesale persecution that is being suspended.

Even more controversially, I suggest that he was bound in that sense by Constantine, who finally brought to an end the persecutions of the pagan Roman empire; and that we are even now living in the interval between that event and the eventual renewal of wholesale persecution.

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The Book of Revelation may actually be in chronological order, though there does seem to be a flashback and flash forward in chs 11 and 17.

But, ch 16 (Bowl Judgments) do not entirely destroy the earth, especially since there is an earth for Jesus to reign on in ch 20. The ch 16 Bowl Judgments are specifically punitive measures taken against "the beast and his kingdom".

Revelation 16:10 (NASB)

Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,

This is consistent with an idea that the events of Revelation 13 (where the Beast's kingdom is well described) is not a comprehensive, fully sovereign world government. Daniel describes two kings, a king of the north and king of the south in Daniel 11.

About the 1,000 years, yes, this number does seem unique to Revelation. So, there is little to keep us from saying that it could not be 1,000,000 years or longer. But, the idea of a long time of Messiah reigning with peace on earth is indeed found elsewhere. Isaiah is one of the most concise...

From Isiah 11 (NASB)

6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,

And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,

And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little boy will lead them.

7 Also the cow and the bear will graze,

Their young will lie down together,

And the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,

And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.

9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

As the waters cover the sea.

10 Then in that day

The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,

Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;

And His resting place will be glorious.

That seems to match with what earth might look like under a reign of Messiah described in Revelation 20, right after v3 where Satan is bound, likely being a contributing factor...

Revelation 20:4-6 (NASB)

4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

So, with the entire earth not destroyed, and with the Beast's kingdom being part of a war between many kings on earth, it might become more understandable why Satan is imprisoned while Jesus reigns for a long period of time.

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