In Matthew 12:29, Jesus said people were seeing Him “bind the strong man,” referring to Satan. This showed Jesus is stronger than Satan, and able to deliver people from his kingdom. Learn how Satan obtained a kingdom (Hebrews 2:5-9).
Table of contents
- The Book of Hebrews Is About Jesus Being Better
- God Gave Man Authority
- How the World’s Kingdoms Look to Man Versus God
- Jesus Binds the Strong Man
The Bible could be thought of as The Tale of Two Kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. We see Jesus “bind the strong man” (Satan) throughout His earthly ministry when His Kingdom defeated Satan’s kingdom.
An obvious question might be, how did Satan get a kingdom? It was not when he was kicked out of heaven with one third of the angels. If he received a kingdom at that time, it would seem like he was rewarded for his rebellion. Instead, another event took place that gave Satan a kingdom, and I think the clearest passage helping us understand it is found in Hebrews 2. Because we are jumping into Hebrews, let me briefly explain this wonderful book.
The Book of Hebrews Is About Jesus Being Better
If we put ourselves in the place of Jewish Christians, consider how difficult it was for them to let go of all they knew to embrace Christianity: all the temple worship, sacrifices, and holy days. Christianity wasn’t an improved Judaism. It replaced Judaism. Think of the parable of the new and old wineskins:
Luke 5:36 No one tears a piece from a new garment (referring to the New Covenant) and puts it on an old garment (referring to the Old Covenant). If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine (referring to the New Covenant) into old wineskins (referring to the Old Covenant – you don’t force the New Covenant into the Old Covenant). If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
The Old and New Covenants can’t be combined or they’ll both be ruined. But this is exactly what Jewish Christians were trying to do!
Luke 5:38 New wine (referring to the New Covenant) must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine (referring to the Old Covenant). desires new, for he says, ‘The old is [better].’”
This captures the situation with the Jews: they thought the Old Covenant was better because they drank the old wine of the Old Covenant. Hebrews is written to show them how much better Jesus is than everything in the Old Covenant. So, it’s not that the Old Covenant is bad, it’s just that Jesus is better. For example:
- The Old Testament sacrifices were good, but Jesus’s sacrifice is better.
- The Sabbath was good, but the rest found in Christ is better.
- The Levitical priesthood was good, but the Melchizedekian priesthood, which Jesus is part of, is better.
- Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and he was a good mediator, but Jesus is a better Mediator.
Jesus Became Better than the Angels?
In the first few verses of Hebrews 1 the author describes how much better Jesus is than the prophets. Then the author describes how much better Jesus is than the angels:
(NASB) Hebrews 1:4 having become so much better than the angels, to the extent that He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
Saying Jesus became better than the angels makes it seem like He was not BETTER before, which is true:
Hebrews 2:7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
Man was made lower than the angels, so when Jesus became a man, he became lower than the angels too. Interestingly, in Hebrews 1 Jesus is better than the angels, but in Hebrews 2 He is lower than the angels. This seems like the opposite of what we would expect from an author who is supposed to be showing how much better Jesus is. Isn’t it almost a liability to argue that Jesus would be a man lower than the angels? What kind of Messiah isn’t even better than the angels? The author didn’t introduce this liability. He knew this dilemma was already in his readers’ minds, so he brings it up to address it.
This is one of the most fascinating passages in the entire New Testament, because it reveals why Jesus became lower than the angels. By understanding this we will see how Satan obtained a kingdom of his own, and why Jesus had to bring the kingdom of God from heaven to earth.
God Gave Man Authority
Hebrews 2:5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.
This means authority in the coming age is not given to angels, but to man. Think back to the creation account, and God giving man authority:
Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let…man…have dominion OVER the fish of the sea and OVER the birds of the heavens and OVER the livestock and OVER all the earth and OVER every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”…28 God said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion OVER the fish of the sea and OVER the birds of the heavens and OVER every living thing that moves on the earth.”.”
You can’t miss the repetition of the word “over” describing man’s authority over all of creation.1
At this point we might wonder something like, “Who is man that God would give him so much authority? What is so special about man that God would put him over all creation?” The author of Hebrews anticipated his readers thinking this:
Hebrews 2:6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
This is a quote from Psalm 8:4-6. The author says, “It has been testified somewhere,” instead of quoting the chapter and verse, because the chapter divisions didn’t come until 1227 and the verses until 1551.
Man Forfeited His Authority to Satan at the Fall
Instead of getting an answer to the questions in verse 6 we get a description of the situation:
Hebrews 2:7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
We have been made lower than the angels, which we talked about earlier. We were put over everything, but that’s the case now, or “at present.” When Adam and Eve submitted to the devil in the garden, they represented all mankind and gave Satan the authority that had been given to them. Whatever we submit ourselves to becomes our master and we become its slaves:
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
When Adam and Eve chose to obey Satan, they became his slaves and forfeited the authority God gave them.
2 Peter 2:19 Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
Adam and Eve were overcome by Satan and enslaved by him.
John 8:34 Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
We became slaves to sin, and we gave up the authority given to us.
Satan Offered Jesus His Authority
In Satan’s second temptation in the wilderness, he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, because they belonged to him:
Luke 4:5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for IT HAS BEEN DELIVERED TO ME, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
Satan said “it,” referring to “all this authority,” had been delivered to him, and it was delivered to him at the fall. Jesus didn’t dispute Satan’s claim to have this authority, because it’s true.
Satan wants to give his authority to someone who will worship and serve him: “I give it to whom I will” (Luke 4:6). Jesus rejected the offer, but Satan will find someone to give the authority to, and that’s the antichrist.
The Antichrist Accepts Satan’s Offer
Revelation 13 is the antichrist chapter and look at the repetition of the words give, gave, or granted referring to Satan giving his authority to the antichrist:
Revelation 13:2 The dragon (referring to Satan) GAVE [the beast] (referring to the antichrist) his power, his throne, and great authority…4 So they worshiped the dragon who GAVE authority to the beast…5 [The beast] was GIVEN a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was GIVEN authority…7 It was GRANTED to [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was GIVEN him…14 he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was GRANTED to do in the sight of the beast…15 [The beast] was GRANTED power to give breath to the image of the beast.
One of the reasons we see wicked people – such as Nero, Hitler, and Stalin – with authority is because Satan can give people authority.
1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now MANY ANTICHRISTS HAVE COME.
There have been many lowercase antichrists throughout history – such as Nero, Hitler, and Stalin – who accepted the authority Satan gave them, but there will be a capital A antichrist. They all prefigure the ultimate antichrist to come.
Satan Is not Ruling and Reigning in Hell
Now that we understand Satan has a kingdom, let’s talk about what that kingdom is…
There’s a belief that Satan was kicked out of heaven, thrown into hell, and that is his kingdom. God is ruling in heaven, and Satan is ruling in hell. Some of the most common imagery of Satan is him sitting on a throne in hell with a pitchfork in his hand.
This is false. Hell is not a kingdom. Hell is a place of unimaginable torment. Satan is not in hell now and when he is thrown into hell he will not be ruling there. This describes Satan being cast into hell after the Millennial kingdom and before the great White throne judgment:
Revelation 20:10 The devil who had deceived [the nations] was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Satan finally finds himself in hell, and it could just say he is tormented forever. But it says “forever and ever” to emphasize that his torment never ends. This is not a kingdom where he rules and reigns.
Satan is the Ruler Over this World
If Satan is not in hell yet, where is he? Consider the interesting interaction between God and Satan at the beginning of the book of Job:
Job 1:7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”…Job2:22 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Satan spends his time going “to and fro on the earth,” because this is his kingdom. Satan received the authority man had to rule over this world, and that’s what Satan rules over: this world.
- In John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11 Jesus calls Satan the ruler of this world
- In Ephesians 2:2 calls Satan the prince of the power of the air
- 2 Corinthians 4:4 calls Satan the god of this world – lowercase g
- 1 John 5:19 says the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, referring to Satan
This is why there are such strong verses in the Bible about the world:
- Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world,
- 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul criticized Demas for being in love with this present world
- James 4:4 Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
- 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
If you’ve ever wondered why there are such some strong verses about the world, it’s because the world is ruled by Satan. The world tends not to look that bad to us because it’s all we know. Imagine pigs rolling around in the mud. They don’t look around and say, “Wow, what are we doing rolling around in the mud?” It’s all they know!
How the World’s Kingdoms Look to Man Versus God
This is why it’s hard for us to see things the world the way God does. We can understand how the world looks from our perspective and then how it looks from God’s perspective in Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was one of the most vicious, power-hungry men in history. He dreamt about power and fame. One night he had a dream about the great kingdoms of the world that he craved, and to him they looked like a huge, beautiful, majestic statue:
- The head of gold was Babylon
- The chest and arms of silver were Medo Persia
- The belly and thighs were Greece
- The legs of iron were Rome
Daniel interprets the dream for him…
Daniel 2:31 “You, O king, were [dreaming]; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.
To Nebuchadnezzar the statue looked “excellent [and] awesome,” because this is how the world’s kingdom look to a man like him. God gave Daniel a vision of the same kingdoms and hey looked like wild, ravenous, ferocious beasts and even one hideous monster:
Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
This is how the kingdoms of the world look to God, and these are the kingdoms Satan rules over.
We See Jesus Bind the Strong Man When His Kingdom Destroys the World’s Kingdoms
A stone, representing the kingdom of God, crashes into the statue:
Daniel 2:34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand (which is to say it wasn’t created), and it struck the image…35 Then [it was] broken in pieces, and became like chaff…and the wind carried [it] away, so that not a trace of [the statue] could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Daniel gives the interpretation a few verses later:
Daniel 2:44 The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.
The Kingdom of God crashes into the kingdoms of this world, destroys them, and then fills the whole earth. This illustrates the Kingdom of God destroying the World’s kingdoms and filling the earth.
The Gospels Record the Kingdom of God “Crashing” into Satan’s Kingdom
Because Satan’s kingdom is on the earth, when Jesus brought His kingdom from heaven to earth, it created a titanic conflict.
Hebrews 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
The depth of this verse is incredible. It could take pages to unpack it, because it looks to is about Jesus being our Kinsman Redeemer. He experienced death to accomplish our redemption.
Jesus Our Kinsman Redeemer
According to God’s law, land always had to be restored to the original owner. Man forfeited his authority over creation to Satan, but that authority had to be restored to man. This restoration is known as redemption (redeem means buyback). To redeem something there’s always a price. Because man forfeited the land when he sinned, and the wages of sin is death, the redemption price is death.
If the owner couldn’t redeem the land, then only a relative could; hence the title, kinsman redeemer. An angel, for example, wouldn’t be able to redeem the land, because angels are not related to man. Another sinful man also couldn’t redeem the land, because the land was originally forfeited because of sin. A sinless man was needed, so God became a Man in the Person of Jesus Christ to be our Kinsman Redeemer.
Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things (Jesus became flesh and blood too), that through death he might DESTROY THE ONE WHO HAS THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL,
The Gospels are a record of Jesus destroying Satan and his kingdom. This is why Jesus came…
1 John 3:8 Jesus was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The Gospels record Jesus leading His Kingdom victoriously over Satan’s kingdom. He destroys the work of Satan repeatedly as He casts out demons, sets people free from being held captive by Satan, and heals diseases and illnesses that are attributed to Satan:
- In Luke 13:16 Jesus said, “Shouldn’t this woman, whom SATAN HAS BOUND FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS, be loosed from this bondage?”
- Acts 10:38 says Jesus went about doing good and healing all who WERE OPPRESSED BY THE DEVIL.
Jesus Binds the Strong Man
Jesus was casting out demons, which gave Him credibility. The religious leaders couldn’t have this, but they faced a dilemma: hey couldn’t deny Jesus’s exorcisms, but they also couldn’t acknowledge that it was a demonstration of His victory over the demonic realm, because that would make Him look powerful. So, they said Jesus was possessed by Satan and that’s where He got the power to cast out demons:
Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
When I think about the religious leaders, I don’t think about them being dumb. I think about them being rebellious and stubborn. But this is one time that they were just plain dumb. Obviously, if Satan possessed someone, the last thing he would do is use that person to cast out his own demons. Jesus pointed out that if Satan was using Him to cast out demons, it would be like Satan was casting out himself. Satan would be the ruler of a kingdom he was trying to destroy.
Matthew 12:27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
The religious leaders had their own exorcists, and if casting out demons showed people were working with Satan, then the religious leaders would also have to acknowledge that their exorcists were working with Satan. As a result, their exorcists would criticize – or judge – them for their words.
Matthew 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Jesus Could Bind the Strong Man Because He Is Stronger
If the religious leaders acknowledge Jesus is casting out demons by the power of God instead of the power of Satan, they would also have to acknowledge Jesus brought the kingdom of God with Him. The conquering of Satan’s kingdom reveals the Kingdom of God has come to replace Satan’s kingdom. In Matthew 12:29 Jesus tells them exactly what is happening, and I’m going to explain it piece by piece:
Matthew 12:29a Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house.
The strong man is Satan, and his house is his kingdom.
Matthew 12:29b and plunder his goods,
Satan’s goods are unbelievers who are part of his kingdom. Unbelievers belong to Satan.
Matthew 12:29c unless he first binds the strong man?
The only way someone could enter the strong man’s house, or Satan’s kingdom, and bind him, is if he is stronger than the strong man, or stronger than Satan, which Jesus is.
Matthew 12:29d Then indeed he may plunder his house
Then Jesus could plunder Satan’s goods, or unbelievers, from his house, or kingdom.
Jesus Binds the Strong Man to Deliver People into His Kingdom
Every time Jesus cast out a demon, it was an instance of Him binding the strong man. But every time Jesus saves someone, it is also an instance of Him binding the strong man. He is plundering unbelievers, or delivering them, from Satan’s kingdom into His kingdom.
People love to say, “We’re all children of God.” If that were true, everyone would go to heaven and nobody would go to hell. Instead, there are two types of children: children of God and children of Satan:
- 1 John 3:10 It is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil.
- John 1:12 To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. This implies there are some who are not children of God.
People are not born as children of God in His Kingdom. Instead, they are born into Satan’s kingdom. In Jesus’s first coming He came to plunder people from Satan’s kingdom to bring them into His Kingdom:
- Acts 26:18 describes salvation as Jesus delivering people from the power of Satan to God.
- Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
- 1 Peter 2:9 says we are his own possession…called…out of darkness into his marvelous light.
These are all ways of describing Jesus plundering people from Satan’s kingdom, and placing them in His kingdom:
If you wish to come into God’s kingdom, therefore, you must ask God to rescue you from the dominion of darkness and bring you into the kingdom of the Son He loves. You must renounce your deal with the devil and swear allegiance to Christ the King.Philip Ryken, When You Pray, page 83-84.
- Daniel is probably the most prophetic book in the Old Testament and numerous verses prophesy that man would receive the kingdom and rule over it:
Daniel 7:18 The saints of the Most High shall RECEIVE THE KINGDOM and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’ 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints POSSESSED THE KINGDOM. 27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under THE WHOLE HEAVEN SHALL BE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE OF THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’
In the parable of the minas, the master tells the faithful servants they will receive cities:
Luke 19:16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have AUTHORITY OVER TEN CITIES.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And YOU ARE TO BE OVER FIVE CITIES.’
When Jesus wrote to the church at Laodicea, He said in the future we will receive thrones to sit on with which to rule with Him:
Revelation 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
We will even rule over angels:
1 Corinthians 6:3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels?