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Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby Singalphile » Fri May 27, 2016 7:12 am

jaydam wrote:Making war against the church could still happen at the same time as Satan's confinement.

It seems you speak of Satan as being completely imprisoned, but that is not what the verse says. It speaks of the perspective of Satan's confinement, being restricted from deceiving the nations.

It says nothing of his ability to war against God's people, or to deceive people on a personal level.


Thanks, jaydam. That is the usual ammill response, and I think it's reasonable and plausible. But the premill response is also reasonable; the imagery does suggest more than a mere limitation of power - "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized ... Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 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." Rev 20:1-5 (ESV).

If one is amill (or maybe postmill) and preterist, then it seems plausible that the devil is in fact shut up and away for now. So far, I'm not aware of anything that should rule out that possibility.

Similar to your idea about Satan being cast to Israel rather than "Earth" (which is interesting), it is just something I'm toying with a little bit.

morbo3000 wrote:My question: How do we know if Satan is or isn't imprisoned? Isn't that a metaphysical reality? Or is it just interpretation of a text?

For me anyway, it's primarily the latter. I don't believe anything about the devil/Satan (i.e., "the adversary") other than the bits mentioned in the Bible. I don't know if Satan is "the greatest malevolent being to inhabit the universe". At this point, I don't know if he's loose or imprisoned, nor do I know if "we should be able to know" that, outside of authoritative revelation. I agree that my post is somewhat speculative, if that's what you mean, since the passage in question is brief and particularly open to interpretation.

Briefly, ammils often tie Rev 20:1-5 to the binding of the strong man in Mark 3 and Matt 12, which would imply that Rev 20 took place during Jesus' life, which would mean that Satan was not completely bound up since he is later mentioned as roaming the Earth or land. Reasonable, but I have never been convinced that the "strong man" necessarily refers to Satan.

Now I'm off to work. Have a good day!
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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby morbo3000 » Fri May 27, 2016 12:55 pm

Thanks singalphile. If I sounded antagonistic, which sometimes happens if I write too late in the evening, it is with the question that comes after the question you asked, not with your question itself. How do we draw a line between a spiritual description in the New Testament and a present day reality. How do we interpret our worldly experiences in light of a New Testament claim. In my experience, it's very difficult if not impossible. In light of the question of Satan, is an evil entity any more or less responsible for poverty than the abuse of power of a leader who refuses to allow humanitarian aid be distributed in his country? Or the man who tortures and rapes in the name of a god. I think it is impossible to tell, making the text meaningless in a practical sense.


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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby steve7150 » Fri May 27, 2016 2:44 pm

In my experience, it's very difficult if not impossible. In light of the question of Satan, is an evil entity any more or less responsible for poverty







I don't know about poverty per se but Satan is responsible for much of the evil in the world, but of course so is man. IMO as I have said before I think Islam is Satan's attempt to refute Christ and it is deceiving the nations. Based on current birthrates and demographics it could dominate the world in 30 or so years and it will try to destroy the city of the saints and anything that opposes it. This fire from heaven that comes down I hope is the Holy Spirit to change mens hearts, but it could be something destructive. So we may be in that final little season?
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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby Singalphile » Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:10 am

I noticed just now that Paul told the Romans that Satan would shortly be crushed under their feet (Romans 16:20). Another small suggestion that Satan was put away (described here as "crushed") sometime in the latter half of the first century, and perhaps he remains so to this day (unless he's been released). Again, I have not heard anything yet that would render that notion obviously wrong, though it does depend on amillennialism, which is a big if (to my mind).
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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby Paidion » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:17 am

Well, if he were "put away" or chained or whatever, in the latter part of the first century, one would expect that human behaviour would have been better thereafter, since Satanic influence would then be absent. But there is no evidence that human behaviour improved. Indeed, there seems to be evidence that it got worse.
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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby Singalphile » Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:18 am

I'm not sure what I'd expect. With or without the devil, I suppose that his angels, demons or evil spirits or whatever, would still be around, at least for a while, perhaps leaderless and cowed (I don't know). I would say that human behavior, and the world in general, is actually better in many ways, through the growth of God's kingdom, though we can't chart that out. In any case, something happened to Satan in the first century. At the least, he was apparently cast out of heaven.

In the amill scheme, it seems likely to me that the devil is currently imprisoned and out of the picture. But amills generally go to pains to say that the symbolism of Rev 20:1-5 doesn't mean what it seems to picture. I don't know why, not withstanding what "one would expect".

But I'm not decided on what or when the 1,000 years is.
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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby Singalphile » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:48 pm

Musing about this again, and re-reading this thread. I've seen only one passage that could be used to imply that Satan was not completely sealed away - in a way that matches the imagery of being chained up, thrown into an abyss, shut and sealed in - shortly after the visions of Revelation circa AD 70, i.e., at the beginning of the 1,000 years (assuming some preterism and amillennialism):

2 Thess 2:8ff - "Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, .... [emphasis added]"

That could imply that Satan is active and about during the time of the "lawless one", which might be during the 1,000 years. Or is that describing something before the start of the 1,000 years or after Satan's release at the end of the "1,000 years"? It's not all that clear (it's just a few words after all).

Again, I'm not even decided between premill and amill. I just wonder why someone who is both partial preterists and amillennialists will not allow that Satan (but not necessary his angels/demons) has been rendered 100% inactive - as the imagery of Rev very strongly suggests - for the "1,000 years", beginning not long after AD 70.
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Re: Why Couldn't Satan be Literally Imprisoned Now?

Postby TruthInLove » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:02 pm

I'm not aware of any passages that completely eliminate the possibility that Satan's detention in the Abyss results in completely removing his influence from the world. But while largely preterist myself, unlike mainstream preterism and amillennialism, I do believe in an interpretation of the 1,000 years that requires that when Satan is detained in the Abyss, his influence will be completely and permanently (not just temporarily) eliminated. That detention seems to coincide with a glorification of creation.

Attempts to place the end of the 1,000 years at any point in our past or our future seem flawed to me. In fact, I don't see convincing evidence that the 1,000 years has an endpoint at all. I think a good case can be made that the 1,000 years is actually eternity future.

Now, on the surface, the language of Revelation 20 definitely sounds like it is describing a segment of time with a discernible endpoint, after which certain events "will" happen. Specifically, 1) Satan must be released for a short time to deceive and gather the nations against the city God loves (20:3,7-8) and 2) the dead who do not partake in the first resurrection will come to life (20:5).

However, the number 1,000 is used elsewhere in Scripture where it clearly implies the "total of all possibilities" or "number without limit" (Psalm 50:10-11; Exodus 20:6). In light of this, I honestly think the description of the 1,000 years is a gratuitously verbose way of saying that the above two events will only take place after all years have passed. In other words - never. Such convoluted wordy excess is characteristic of the prophets, particularly Ezekiel 38-39 which these last chapters of Revelation draw heavily upon.

In this view of the 1,000 years, regarding those who do not partake in the first resurrection, while they will be raised from the dead, they will never be raised to life in the sense of those whose names are written in the Book of Life. They will only be raised to everlasting contempt and shame (Revelation 20:12-15; Daniel 12:1-3).

Likewise, Satan's detention in the Abyss will never end. He will never again go out to deceive the nations into attacking the city God loves in the manner described just previously in Revelation 19:17-21. This sarcastic reference to the imaginary future release of Satan ends with the narrative returning to the use of past verb tenses (20:9-10) highlighting the reason the hypothetical release and battles will never happen - because the deceived nations had been devoured by fire from heaven and Satan himself was also cast into the burning lake of sulphur with the beast and false prophet. That is, Revelation 19:17-21 and 20:8-10 are largely describing the same events. Evidence for this can be seen in the similarities between Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:8 (Gog and Magog) and Ezekiel 39:4,17-20 and Revelation 19:17-21.

One may wonder why God couldn't have just said "never" instead of resorting to symbolic language with such potential for interpretive error. I think there are good reasons for this relating to the fall of the original creation but I'll not go into that here.

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