Does Revelation 20:1-3 Teach That Demons Were Removed From The World When Jesus Died On The Cross?

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It is written:

Ephesians 6:12-For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Psychiatrist Scott Peck did not believe in the devil or in demons.

However, his experience in the clinical field convinced him otherwise:

“Until the day I met Jersey I did not believe in the devil. Or, to be perfectly precise, up until three hours after I had met her I was 99 + percent sure that the devil did not exist. Indeed, I was using Jersey as part of a strategy to prove the devil’s nonexistence as scientifically as possible—to myself. Only my experiment began to backfire the minute I heard Jersey say about her demons, “I feel sorry for them; they’re really rather weak and pathetic creatures.” When I flew home after that first evaluation I was hardly converted to a belief in the devil; it was fifty-fifty at best. Still, what an extraordinary movement of the mind! From antagonistic to neutral within the course of a single day—certainly enough to keep on investigating. Three months later, after Terry and I had confronted Jersey, exposing a flagrantly evil personality, and after I’d talked to Malachi and had time to digest the experience, I suppose I had been converted. I was now 95 percent sure, enough to command an exorcism to be performed, even though I knew that my own profession might well seek my excommunication. Two months later, on the eve of the exorcism, having heard Jersey scream at me while simultaneously smiling, my certainty that she was demonically possessed was 99 percent. Four days later it was 100 percent. Total. I would never again doubt the existence of Satan. Beccah’s exorcism did not increase my certainty of the devil’s existence; there is no place to go beyond total certainty. All I can say is that it was so confusing—that Beccah/ Lucifer toyed with us so viciously—I’m not sure I could have survived it without my total certainty. As a psychiatrist, I had been converted by Jersey’s case alone, from a belief that the devil did not exist to a belief—a certainty—that the devil does exist and probably demons (under the control of the devil) as well. By the devil, I mean a spirit that is powerful (it may be many places at the same time and manifest itself in a variety of distinctly paranormal ways), thoroughly malevolent (its only motivation seemed to be the destruction of human beings or the entire human race), deceitful and vain, capable of taking up a kind of residence within the mind, brain, soul, or body of susceptible and willing human beings—a spirit that had various names (among them Lucifer and Satan), that was real and did exist. I have attempted to tell the stories of Jersey and Beccah with the greatest possible scientific thoroughness. I have left out no significant detail. Consequently, you and I have exactly the same database to work from. But I do not think it likely at this point in time that we would arrive at the same conclusions. So I was converted to a belief in the devil….In summary, it is my hope that you will envision that matters of possession and exorcism, of demons and deliverance, constitute a proper field of scientific inquiry. Specifically, I wish that you will join me in proposing that “demonology” be made an incipient subspecialty of psychiatry and psychology.” (M. Scott Peck, M.D., Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption, 237-239 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Free Press)

As we see, it is a simple and straightforward teaching of the Bible that demons are real, and that the testimony of Scripture is adamant that demonic activity is to increase during the church age (i.e., the period of time between the establishment of God’s church in Acts 2 and the end of the world when Jesus Christ will Return).

However, there are many Christians who deny these facts, claiming that demons were confined to Hades when Jesus died on the cross.

Why do they believe this?

One reason is because of a misunderstanding of what John wrote in Revelation:

Revelation 20:1-3-Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2  He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3  and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

What are we to make of this passage?

Let’s study.

Revelation follows a pattern or structure which was used consistently throughout several Old Testament visions. Often the Prophets would relate a series of visions with numerous symbols, each describing the same basic message and utilizing diverse imagery while emphasizing different themes and shown from multiple vantage points.

For example, in Daniel chapters 2 and 7, the Prophet uses this pattern. In Daniel 2:36-45, Daniel describes the emergence of four great world empires which are pictured as different types of pieces in a statue which Nebuchadnezzar had in his dream. The four different elements of the dream describe the kingdoms that would arise: Babylon, the Medco-Persian Alliance, Greece, and Rome. Later in chapter 7 of Daniel, the Prophet describes the same four kingdoms under the imagery of animals.

In Revelation, John follows the same pattern in seven different visions. Each one begins with the First Coming and shows Jesus’ defeat of Satan, followed by the church age, and then culminating in the Second Coming and Day of Judgment. Furthermore, each of these visions describes a rise in demonic activity during the Christian Age leading up to the Second Coming. Then, the vision resets, beginning the same cycle again!

Notice the following pattern:

Revelation Section One (Revelation 1:1-3:22)

Initial Triumph Of Jesus At First Coming (Revelation 1:5-7; 2:1-2, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 2:2, 6, 9, 10, 13-15, 20; 3:3-4, 9, 17)

Final Triumph At Second Coming (Revelation :7, 10, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21)

Revelation Section Two (Revelation 4:1-7:17)

Initial Triumph Of Jesus At First Coming (Revelation 4:2-3; 5:5-7, 9-10)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 6:1-8, 12-17)

Final Triumph Of Jesus At Second Coming (Revelation 7:13-17)

Revelation Section Three (Revelation 8:1-11:19)

Initial Triumph Of Christ At First Coming (Revelation 8:1-6)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 9:1-12; 11:1-10)

Final Triumph Of Jesus At Second Coming (Revelation 11:11-19)

Revelation Section Four (Revelation 12:1-14:20)

Initial Triumph Of Christ At First Coming (Revelation 12:1-5)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 12:13-17; 13:13-14)

Final Triumph Of Christ At Second Coming (Revelation 14:14-20)

Revelation Section Five (Revelation 15:1-16:21)

Initial Triumph Of Christ At First Coming (Revelation 15:3-5)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 16:13-14)

Final Triumph Of Jesus At Second Coming (Revelation 16:17-21)

Revelation Section Six (Revelation 17:1-19:21)

Initial Triumph Of Jesus At First Coming (Revelation 17:14)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 17:6; 18:2)

Final Triumph Of Christ At Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21)

Revelation Section Seven (Revelation 20:1-22:21)

Initial Triumph Of Jesus At First Coming (Revelation 20:1-3)

Rise In Demonic Activity During Church Age (Revelation 20:4-9)

Final Triumph Of Christ At Second Coming (Revelation 20:11-22:21)

Notice that in each of these seven segments, we find the same pattern being played out.

Several things need to be considered here.

First, the events of Revelation 20:1-6) describe the events that took place after Jesus’ death at the First Coming. We see this from noticing that at the end of chapter 19, we read of the Second Coming. Following the same pattern observed throughout the entire Book, the final vision then resets! In other words, the Millennium (i.e., the 1, 000 year “reign” of Christ on Earth) which takes place in the opening of Revelation 20 describes the church age.

Second, we are told that Satan is “bound.” This happens in all the other visions as well (noted above in reference to the Initial Triumph Of Jesus At The First Coming). However, this binding did not mean that Satan was forever defeated at that point! Indeed, the parallel accounts all show us that Satan and demonic activity begin to increase in the world and continue to do so until the time of the Second Coming!

Indeed, we see also from Revelation 20 that demonic activity will increase during the church age as well!

Revelation 20:7-8-Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8  and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.

What then does it mean that Satan is “bound” during the church age?

Jack Cottrell writes:

“The question of present-day demon activity usually calls forth a remarkable display of strong feelings and strong convictions. This is true because most people recognize that a great deal is at stake here. Those who deny demon activity today usually do so because they are convinced that it is inconsistent with certain important Biblical doctrines. Those who affirm it are concerned about the real suffering and loss that occur when the demonic danger is minimized or denied. Since I believe in the reality of demonic activity today, I share this latter concern. I am concerned for those who are harassed by evil spirits to the point that they suffer physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. I am concerned for the many who are consigned to mental hospitals because their real problem is undiagnosed. I am concerned about those who have been deluded by demonic miracles and have accepted demonic doctrines given by demonic inspiration. I am concerned because the church is not sounding an adequate warning against the real dangers that exist today in this area, and because the church is largely unprepared to help those who are suffering from demonic oppression. Demons are active today, in every aspect of their work. They still spawn false doctrines and provide supernatural powers and wonders to increase the deception. They still tempt us to sin. And they still are able to oppress and even to possess the bodies of the unwary. A. The Evidence We must admit that demons are active today, simply because the evidence for it is overwhelming. The abundant testimony of competent eyewitnesses leaves us no other choice. The only sufficient explanation for a virtual mass of related phenomena is that they have been caused by demons. Other explanations have been suggested: fraud, error, psychological abnormalities or powers, mysterious natural forms, harmless but mischievous spirits, and even God. These may explain some or even many of the current happenings, but they cannot explain all of them. For instance, a person’s speaking and conversing in an unlearned foreign language has often been observed in pagan contexts or in connection with apparent demon possession. See Kurt Koch’s book, Demonology Past and Present (Kregel, 1973), p. 144. Edgar Cayce’s documented ability to diagnose difficult diseases while in a trance is another example. The demonic origin of Cayce’s powers is confirmed by the circumstances and by the anti-Biblical religious teaching that came from the same trance-source. See Gary North, None Dare Call It Witchcraft (Arlington House, 1977), chapter 6. Still another example is “Arigo, surgeon of the rusty knife,” the Brazilian peasant who performed automatic, painless, instant operations on thousands of his countrymen. His ability came from a spirit that took possession of him, he said. See John G. Fuller, Arigo, Surgeon of the Rusty Knife (Crowell, 1974). We could also cite Ouija boards that move under their “own” power, poltergeist (“ haunted house”) phenomena, visible instant healings by witches and sorcerers, and people who have all the Biblical symptoms of demon possession. I have talked with many who have been eyewitnesses of such phenomena and who are convinced that only demonic activity can explain them. There are numerous books (besides those mentioned above) that document such cases with all the objectivity and scholarly care that can reasonably be required. Some of these are as follows: Merrill Unger, Demons in the World Today (Tyndale House, 1971); Victor Ernest, I Talked with Demons (Tyndale House, 1970); Raphael Gasson, The Challenging Counterfeit (Logos, 1966); John Nevius, Demon Possession (Kregel, 1968); Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil (Reader’s Digest Press, 1976); John Richards, But Deliver Us from Evil (Seabury, 1974); and John W. Montgomery, editor, Demon Possession (Bethany Fellowship, 1976)…One major objection to continuing demonic activity is based upon the Biblical teaching that Satan was bound through the death and resurrection of Christ at His first coming. That Satan was indeed bound at that time is, I think, the proper understanding of Revelation 20: 1-3 and Matthew 12: 25-29. To interpret this as eliminating all Satanic and demonic working goes too far, however, since the devil still “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5: 8). Our struggle is still “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness” (Ephesians 6: 12). That Satan has been bound means that his power has been limited, and this limitation is specified in Revelation 20: 3: “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer.” Satan’s power to deceive and entrap whole nations has been limited by the spread of the gospel of truth. Anyone who hears and believes and obeys this truth is set free from Satan’s power—in every way. Through the power of Christ we can escape Satan’s grip.” (Jack Cottrell, Spirits: Holy and Unholy (The Collected Writings of Jack Cottrell Book 8), 2713-2780 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Mason, OH; The Christian Restoration Association)

Demonic activity continues in the world-but the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to “bind” Satan and his forces so that the nations are not fully deceived thanks to the truth of God. Yet through Christ we have the victory!

Colossians 2:11-15-In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12  buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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