POST OVERVIEW. A study of John 12:31-32 (“Satan will be cast out”) and the relation of those verses to Satan being thrown into the abyss for the thousand years in Revelation 20:2-3.
Recently, during my preparation for a Bible study of the gospel of John, I observed that Jesus declared, “The ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). As I considered this section of Scripture, I began to see a connection between these verses and Revelation 20:1-3, when Satan is thrown into the abyss by “the angel” (Jesus) at the start of the thousand years. This post is a study of those connections.
REVIEW OF THE INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION 20:1-3
In other posts on this site and in my book, The Last Act of the Drama, I have presented my interpretation of Revelation 20:1-3, a passage about the binding of Satan and the inauguration of the thousand years. In this passage, Christ (“the angel”) “bound Satan for a thousand years and he threw him into the abyss, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer.” I maintain that this binding of Satan occurs during Christ’s ascension to heaven (Acts 1:9; Rev. 5:6ff) at the very beginning of the gospel age so that the church can accomplish its commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20) without Satan’s interference. Satan is thrown into the abyss so that he cannot hinder the gospel advance and the church then rides out into the world (Rev. 6:1-2) proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
The passage in Rev. 20, therefore, presents Christ restraining Satan during the thousand years (church age) so that the gospel can be proclaimed to the Gentiles (“the nations”) without Satan’s hindrance.
A PARALLEL TEXT IN JOHN 12:31-32
Now we turn our attention to our study text in John 12:31-32. In John 12:31, Jesus says that Satan “will be cast out.” Clearly implied here is that Satan will be cast out of this world, since “of this world” appears twice in John 12:31. Also apparent in this verse is that Jesus will be the one who will cast Satan out.
Now, as we consider what Jesus says here in John 12:31, we must ask some questions. First, what does it mean for Satan to be “cast out?” Does it mean that he is completely eliminated or does it mean something less absolute? And second, we must ask, “When did this happen?” When did Jesus cast Satan out of this world? Or was Jesus just speaking figuratively about casting Satan out?
Before we answer these questions, however, we should also notice that the results of John 12:32 are connected to the events of John 12:31. That is, the “lifting up” of Jesus and the “drawing all men to Myself” in 12:32 are dependent upon or derived from the “ruler of this world being cast out” in 12:31. A closer examination of these two verses reveals that the casting out of the ruler of this world (Satan) enables or facilitates the drawing of all men to Jesus. In other words, Christ casts Satan out (12:31) so that the preaching of the gospel (“Jesus is lifted up”) will draw men to Jesus from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (12:32) without Satan’s interference.
“CAST OUT.” In this context, then, “cast out” (John 12:31) should be understood to mean “taken off the playing field” or “removed from being an obstacle to the gospel and to the salvation of the nations.” “Cast out” does not mean complete elimination or destruction but is better understood as “limiting or restraining his activity.” If this understanding of “cast out” is accurate, then “cast out” in John 12:31 is virtually identical in meaning to binding Satan and throwing him into the abyss we see in Rev. 20:2-3. In fact, at this point we can say that binding Satan and throwing him in the abyss (Rev. 20:2-3) was the means that the Lord Jesus used to cast Satan out (John 12:31).
In John 12:31-32 Jesus is speaking prophetically and His prophecy spoken there is fulfilled in Rev. 20:1-3. Both these passages are teaching that Christ restrains Satan’s activities and abilities during the thousand years so that Satan cannot hinder (“deceive”) the nations (Gentiles) from being drawn to Jesus.
Christ has declared, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18) and He has also commissioned His church as those who will be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). By restraining Satan for the thousand years, Christ makes certain that His church will accomplish their task.
Soli Deo gloria rmb 3/22/2023 #634