30-70AD: What the New Testament says about Satan not being bound prior to AD 70

by Duncan McKenzie

There is no indication in the New Testament of Satan being bound in the abyss during the time between AD 30 and the AD 70 parousia. To the contrary, Satan is portrayed as being active in the world during this time (as my position would predict). Some try to prove that Satan was bound at AD 30 by citing Jesus' comment about his ministry binding the strong man (Matt. 12:28-29). There is no doubt that Jesus' ministry was curtailing the powers of Satan (cf. Luke 10:17-20). Yet Revelation 12:1-12 shows that it was only at the ascension (i.e., the male Child being caught up to God's throne, v. 5) that Satan was fully cast out of heaven (cf. John 12:31-32). Notice that he is cast unbound to the earth at this time (Rev. 12:7-12)—not bound and thrown into the abyss. This would result in a time of trial for the earth (v. 12) that would last until the AD 70 end of "a time and times and half a time" (v. 14)—a time period that Scripture always shows as ending at the AD 70 full establishment of God's kingdom (cf. Dan. 7:25-27, Dan. 12:7).

Consistent with this, in 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul (c. AD 55) calls Satan "the god of this age" (i.e., the pre AD 70 age). In Ephesians Paul (c. AD 60) refers to Satan as "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." (Eph. 2:2). Peter writing in the early AD 60's said Satan "walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). James (c. 48-62) said that the Devil needed to be resisted (James 4:7). Similarly, Paul (c. AD 60) exhorts believers to put on the whole armor of God so they could stand against the "wiles of the devil" as well as the "fiery darts" that he was then shooting (Eph. 6:11, 16). In 1 Thessalonians 2:18 Paul (c. AD 50) writes of being "hindered" by Satan (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9). John (c. AD 60-65) said that the whole world was "in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19 NASB). That does not sound very bound to me!

The NT paints a picture of Satan being loose and active on the earth rather than bound in the abyss during the period of AD 30 to AD 70. Some full preterists attempt to get around this by saying that the scriptures cited above speak of the time at the end of the millennium when Satan is loosed (Rev. 20:7). To do this, however, they would have to put the end of the millennium around AD 50 or 60 (to explain why Paul told the Thessalonians that he was hindered by Satan in AD 50 or why he would say to the Ephesians that Satan was currently working in the sons of disobedience around AD 60). This would cut the millennium down to around 20-30 years in length (from around AD 30 to around AD 50-60). If this were true then it would mean that John was writing (c. AD 65) about a millennium that had already ended! It would mean that the "thousand years" during which Satan was bound and God's people fully shared in Jesus' reign was over before the readers of Revelation had even heard of it! That of course makes no sense whatsoever. The millennium was being held out as an incentive to those who would face the soon coming individual beast (cf. Rev. 11:3-12); the promise was that even those who were killed for not taking his mark (Rev. 13:11-18) would have a part in the soon coming full establishment of Jesus' kingdom reign (Rev. 20:4, cf. 2:26-27; Luke 19:11-27).