What does "binding Satan" mean?

by Matt Slick

The concept of "binding Satan," means to restrict the work of the devil.  It means to cause him to have less ability, to decrease the power of, to prevent, his success.  The phrase is used mostly in charismatic circles dealing with spiritual warfare where Christians, in prayer, ask the Lord to bind Satan in order to accomplish a spiritual good.

Unfortunately, some Christians mistakenly pray to Satan when they are undertaking spiritual battle. Sometimes they will address the evil one in their prayers and say something like "I bind you Satan in the name of Jesus." Where the sentiment of relying on the authority of the name of Christ (Acts 4:7) is certainly biblical, we should be careful not to address our prayers to the devil. We should address our prayers to God and ask him, in the name of Jesus, to bind the devil. Our prayers should always be addressed to God and God alone.

Would there ever be a time when it is appropriate to address the devil directly? Yes, if he were to manifest in person. Then it is not a prayer to him but a direct address and even if that were to occur, the proper response is found in Scripture. Consider where Michael the Archangel had an encounter with the devil.

Jude 9, "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”"  

Notice that Michael said, "The Lord rebuke you!"  Even then, the appeal is to the authority of God. Granted, we have authority from God as believers (John 1:12). But we must always trust in the Lord and seek him above all.

Focus on God not the demonic

Unfortunately, in some Christian groups the supernatural occupies an inordinate amount of attention. This is often due to a lack of focus on the person and work of Christ and more on experience. Sometimes in some hyper-charismatic circles, people are seen as being oppressed or even possessed by demonic forces. It is almost as though some groups look for demonic activity under every rock and within every soul. Fortunately, these groups are not that common.

One of the ploys of the evil one is to get people to focus on the demonic realm more than on Christ. If the wicked angels can get Christians to be more concerned with the activity of demons than Christ, then that can open up Christians to false doctrines by elevating experience above Scripture.

Binding of Satan

There are mentions of the binding of Satan in the Bible, let's take a look;

  • Matthew 12:28–29, "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “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."
  • Revelation 20:1–2, "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years."

In the first Scriptures, Jesus had been casting out demons from people and the Jews were accusing him of doing it by the power of the evil one. Jesus then gave the response about binding the strongman.  The question is whether or not the strongman is actually the devil. It seems from the context that it is, since in Matthew 12:26 Jesus said, "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?"  So, it does seem the context is about Satan

In the second set of scriptures we see Satan bound for a thousand years. Of course, we don't know if this length of time is literal or figurative because of the figurative context. But the fact is Satan is bound on earth when Jesus was performing his ministry, or it is a future event as is held by those who are firm premillennialists.  I will leave it up to you to decide which is the case.


The binding of Satan is something we as Christians can do in the authority of Jesus (Acts 4:7) because we have the authority as sons of God (John 1:12). However, it is best not to pray to the demonic forces. Instead, we should pray to God and ask the Lord, in the name of Jesus, to bind those evil beings.





About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.