On Satan Being Bound and What “Binding and Loosing” Is

"The binding of Satan means the coming of Christ, His presence on earth, the exercise of His power among men, has accomplished a defeat of Satan so that his power is broken. Satan is bound."– George Eldon Ladd

Ladd, the eminent NT professor who is now home with the Lord, is explaining in what ways the Kingdom has come Today. Though it's fullness is for the Age to Come, the "power of Satan has been broken because in some sense Satan has been bound and men and women may now be delivered from bondage to satanic power. Satan is a defeated enemy; and because of the work of Christ I may be delivered from the power of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God's dear Son."

Makes me wonder if we shouldn't spend time "binding" the Devil (since he's already been bound, though not the final binding that Rev. 20:3 speaks of), and that we should instead give our time to helping to rescue the men and women that were the "strong man's goods" (Matt. 12:29).

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the COMMENTS for a discussion on what "binding and loosing" likely refers to in Matt. 16 and 18. Those who were raised on "spiritual warfare" language– as I was– beware. This might turn a few things around.] 

12 thoughts on “On Satan Being Bound and What “Binding and Loosing” Is

  1. What was Jesus refering to when He said whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven. What do you believe He was saying we could/should bind?


  2. Hi Jeremy….In my opinion, it’s about forgiveness. The context in Mt. 18 is what to do with a brother who sins…and upon calling the elders he refuses to repent. The “binding and loosing” line is a repeat of what He had told Peter in Mt. 16, where Jesus says the Church would be built on him…Seems to me that binding/loosing on earth what has already been bound/loosed in heaven is about pronouncing forgiveness (loosing) or the lack of (binding) to those who already have received it from heaven…
    In other words, to those who repent, we “loose” them– free them of obligation– for they have already been loosed in heaven. To those who refuse to repent, we bind them– we pronounce them enslaved to their sin– for they are already bound in heaven.


  3. Thanks Glen for your response.
    It’s an interesting topic. I don’t think I have ever looked at it from the forgiveness angle before.
    How do you explain the fact that Jesus said “whatever” you bind on earth is bound in heaven vs. “whomever”? I’m not sure if that makes much of a difference but it seems strange that He would be talking about loosing or binding people in the context of forgiveness and simultaneously referring to them as a thing…but that could just be a translation issue or something. I’m definitely not a scholar.
    I see what you mean about the context in Matthew 18 but what about the context in Matthew 16? It seems in that passage Jesus is talking about something other than forgiveness. Also, it seems in Matthew 18 that Jesus was talking about several issues. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine when the topic ends and another begins. Verse 19 seems to me to be a different topic than forgiveness. It’s difficult to know if 18 is a separate topic, a part of the previous discussion or a part of verses 19 and 20.
    The Bible also talks about “binding” the strong man in Matthew 12:29. This passage seems to be dealing with the demonic.
    I definitely still have a lot to learn and would be interested to hear your opinion.


  4. Jeremy…I so appreciate the humility…I am learning too.
    As for the “whomever” vs. “whatever”, I’m not sure. But vs. 19 about the 2 or 3 is still on the subject of forgiveness and church discipline…See vs 16 where He says that by 2 or 3 witnesses a thing is established. So the whole “pericope”– fancy word for context for the idea– seems to be about church discipline and the pronoucing of forgiveness.
    As for Mt. 12, that is precisely the passage Ladd is referring to when he says that Jesus, in announcing that the Kingdom has come near, is saying that HE has bound the strong man and is pludering his goods…That’s why Jesus used the casting out of demons as “proof” that the Kingdom had come…men and women were now loosed from Satan’s control.


  5. Thanks again Glen. Sorry for the stupid questions but I have just one more (this whole discussion changes how I think about binding and loosing).Considering the contex, what do you think Jesus was reffering to in Matt. 16:19? It seems like the context there is a bit different than in Matt. 18? That one is still a little confusing.
    Thanks again!


  6. Jeremy…no stupid questions…especially not from you. Very thoughtful. Yes, Mt. 16:19 is about Peter being given the “keys to the Kingdom”…
    Imagine if you had never heard any teaching on “binding & loosing” as spiritual warfare. How would you read this story? Probably that Peter, as the first leader of the Church would be the one to pronounce who was entering the Kingdom (present and future reality) and who wasn’t. After all, since Peter had the revelation from God about Jesus’ Divinity, it was he who understood what a person needed to believe/recognize/surrender to in order to enter the Kingdom. Perhaps that’s why binding and loosing is said in the context of “keys” (i.e. things that allow one in or keep one out) of the Kingdom.
    In this light, Matt. 16 becomes consistent with Matt. 18…both are about pronouncing someone’s entrance into the Kingdom based on their repentance and acknowledgement of Christ as the Son of God. And in both instances, it should read “whatever you bind will have already been bound…” meaning that Peter and the early church’s proclamations weren’t determining someone’s salvation; they were simply confirming (or denying!) it.


  7. I’m wondering Glenn, how does your head pastor and the members of your church board and the general population of your church feel about your interpretation here? How about pastors at the Mill? I would expect this more from a Lutheran, maybe a Presbyterian (not to say it’s wrong, just seemingly different than your environment.) Are you calling for a revolution in Charismatic theology? Just wondering? I agree with Eric, it seems you have really gravitated towards more “non-charismatic” theology over the past few years. Up with Eugene Peterson, down with Oral Roberts? I’ve actually been quite interested in observing this transformation and would love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks!


  8. Oh Eric and Collin…that’s a funny observation, but the truth is I have never been comfortable with much in the “charismatic movement”. I think you may have misunderstood or overestimated my “charismatic” association. I grew up in an Anglican church til I was 8 and we then started attending a church that called itself “Full Gospel”. (All this is in Malaysia.) There I was exposed to a mostly healthy expression of the gifts of the Holy Spirit– from teaching to prophecy to healing to freedom from demonic oppression. There were a few people who talked about these things in ways that made me question the Scriptural basis for their belief. I was always the kid who questioned and analyzed and searched. When I got to ORU, I was alarmed to discover a new brand of “Charismatics” that taught healing is a “divine right”, paid for at the cross and to be received ALWAYS here and now. This is to say nothing of the downright stupid prosperity preaching I saw on TV and in a few chapel services. Thank God that the faculty in the Theology department at ORU are outstanding scholars who treat the text in a proper, orthodox way. I had an Anglican Church HIstory Prof, a Catholic Systematic Theology Prof, and others who faithfully exegeted the text and taught us to do the same. Most of these dear faculty members had massive problems with the ridiculous things some chapel speakers would say– uneducated, backwoods, Southerners who interpreted the Bible based on what “God told them it said” and used clever rhymes and oratory techniques to dazzle a crown or TV audience. I always thought it was bullcrap.
    So, why have I stayed in the so-called “charismatic movement”? In a sense, I haven’t. New Life is not really “that” kind of charismatic church. It wasn’t when it started and it isn’t now under Brady. I don’t think any of the senior leaders would disagree with my explanations of binding and loosing…though there are many who attend New Life who still carry the “teachings” they had from famous Charismatic teachers who themselves had no theological training. I know Aaron Stern and I (you mentioned theMILL) are on the same page theologically. As for Oral Roberts…I never had a class with him, but did have the privilege of being in his home. I respect him as a man of God who showed radical obedience. His theology? I don’t care for a lot of it and never did.
    So…have I changed all that much? I don’t think so. I think I’ve learned how to counter/correct/re-butt the nonsense that passes for teaching in so many “charismatic” circles and am willing/able to articulate my views better now than ever. It may be my role– in whatever small way– to be that voice from within…as one who believes the Holy Spirit is active today but doesn’t believe all that nonsense and superstition that somehow masquerades as teaching on “spiritual warfare”, “prayer”, “faith” etc. There is a better way to think and talk about such matters. The podcast for the Sunday Night service (which I preach at) shows my treatment of the Supernatural in what I hope is a Biblical, balanced presentation. I have certainly worked at it being that. You can listen to it at http://www.newlifechurch.org to decide for yourself.
    See what you provoked (in a good way!) 🙂


  9. Wow, that’s a great response! I was trying to be a little provocative…(I was afraid I had come across a bit rude). Like you, I wasn’t raised in a Charismatic church, but I started going to New Life during college. I found myself so drawn to the believers I met who actually believed in God’s power displayed in the world today, who tried to worship whole-heartedly (and not afraid of bodily expression in worship), and took the word of God seriously. I’ve been so blessed by New Life, by you and Aaron and Evan and the many other pastors and friends I’ve met here. However, during my transition, I came across many theological problems with some of the more extreme charismatic doctrines I encountered. For example, spiritual gifts are so important, and much of the church has neglected them (to their, and the world’s misfortune). But in some charismatic circles there seems to be a flippancy toward them, as if they were commodities you could buy or sell, or formulaically twist God’s arm into giving you–think simon the sorceror. I agree with your assessment of new life. It is not one of “those” charismatic churches. However, they have certainly partnered or alligned themselves with many of “those” types over the years, which is where I encountered some of my issues. I have always felt that New Life does an amazing job of staying true to legitimate charismatic theology, while steering clear of false teaching.
    I’m thankful for your role at New Life, as a sort of rudder. I agree with your opinion there–I’ve seen you as a very positive force within the church for years, and want to thank you for your faithfulness. I think it’s awesome that you refuse to throw the baby out with the bath water, searching constantly for the truth. Have a great week, and thanks again for your response!


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