The binding of Satan, Part 1 (Matthew 12:29)

INTRODUCTION. There are two places in the Bible that teach about the binding of Satan, in Matthew 12:29 and in Revelation 20:1-3. This post will be a study of Matthew 12:29, seeking to discover what Jesus teaches us about this subject.

Our purpose in these two posts is to discover what the Scripture teaches us about the binding of Satan, implicit in Matthew 12:29 and explicit in Revelation 20:1-3. First, Matt. 12:29.

Our study verse is at the end of a passage (Matt. 12:22-29) in which Jesus teaches about casting out demons. Satan does not cast out Satan (12:26) and Jesus does not cast out demons by Beelzebul (12:27). Rather, Jesus casts out demons by the Spirit of God, thus proving that He has more power than Satan. Then He says,

“Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” – Matthew 12:29

Let’s examine and interpret this verse.

First, who is “the strong man?” From the context, it is clear that the strong man refers to Satan. Satan is the one who deceives and captures the unrighteous (2 Tim. 2:26). Satan blinds the minds of the unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4). Satan has his schemes (Eph. 6:11) and he is the one who hinders us from proclaiming the gospel (1 Thess. 2:18).

And “the strong man’s house” speaks of Satan’s kingdom (12:26), consisting of his demons and his deceptions, his temptations and his tricks. Satan’s kingdom also contains his most valuable property, namely all the unrighteous whom he desires to keep trapped in their ignorance of the gospel. It is the unrighteous who are considered his property, and these Satan will guard with all his might. Satan is “the strong man, fully armed” of Luke 11:21. He is a formidable foe, and it seems unlikely that anyone has the power to “carry off his property” and to “plunder his house.”

But there is One who is able and who has the power. Jesus, the Son of Man, is the one who “first binds the strong man, and then He will plunder his house.” Although this is in figurative language, we know exactly what Jesus is saying here. The Son of God came “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus was sent “to proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4:18), to render the devil powerless and “free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and Jesus will certainly accomplish His mission. Thus Jesus BINDS Satan so that He can plunder his house. When Satan is bound, he is unable to guard his house.

How does this look in biblical, redemptive terms? Now, Satan has been bound, and as the church proclaims the gospel among the nations, Satan can only watch helplessly as his house is plundered. Through His church, Jesus is now plundering Satan’s house and is drawing all men to Himself (John 12:32).

In summary, then, Matthew 12:29 teaches us that Jesus is going to BIND Satan so that Satan’s kingdom can be plundered. So far, so good.

But this still leaves us with key questions unanswered. For example, when is Satan going to be bound? That is, at what point in history does Jesus bind Satan so that Satan’s house can be plundered? Also, exactly how is Satan bound? For these questions we must ask, “Is there any other place in Scripture that might tell us more about this binding of Satan?” Glad you asked. As a matter of fact, there is. It turns out that Revelation 20:1-3 is another passage that explicitly mentions the binding of Satan, and a careful reading of these verses will reveal both when Satan is bound and how this binding takes place so that his kingdom can be plundered.

And that study will be the subject of our next post.

SDG                 rmb                 9/7/2022                     #566

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