A Study of Satan
A Bible study by Fred Kenison, edited and revised by Merrill Douglass
First published as Appendix B in The Apocalypse of Revelation
We are often misled by contemporary definitions, by relying on what words mean in modern times. We would not be led astray so easily if we understood things the same way the apostles understood them. This study of the words devil and satan will begin in the Old Testament to establish a basis for their use in the New Testament. The writers of the New Testament undoubtedly drew on their conception of Old Testament subjects.
There are only two mentions of devil in the Old Testament. Both come from the Hebrew word saíiyr. The first time was in Leviticus 17:7.
"And they shall no more offer their sacrifices to devils, after whom they have gone a whoring."
The literal meaning of devil is he-goat. The he-goat was worshiped in Egypt, and the idolatrous Hebrews are supposed to have worshiped this idol either in Egypt or afterwards.
The second occurrence was in II Chronicles 11:15, referring to Jeroboam,
"And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made."
This clearly identifies the devils as idols; they had made idols of goats and calves (the NIV more accurately translates both these instances as goat idols). Many of the high places were places to worship the earth-goddess, which consisted of spilling sperm from both animals and men. This was done to insure a good crop of grain and baby animals for the next year. One of the reasons for worshiping he-goats was because of their fecundity.
In Isaiah, saíiyr was translated as satyr. Satyrs were considered
"wood-demons, half man and half goat, fancied deities, supposed to live in deserts, especially about Babylon in ruins" (Wilsonís Old Testament Word Studies, p. 367). Satyrs refers to heathen superstitions.
Isaiah 13:21 says,
"But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there (Babylon); and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there."
Have you ever seen a goat dance? Of course, if they were half man and half goat, it might have been possible. Isaiah 34:14 says,
"The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow."
In Genesis, the word saíiyr was used twice to describe Easu as "hairy". In Deuteronomy it was used to indicate small rain. In all other places, other than those commented on in the opening paragraphs, it was used to mean goat or male goat. In both places where the KJV translated the word as devil, it referred to goat idols. It certainly had nothing to do with a personal devil, as understood today.
Shed is another Hebrew word translated as devils twice in the Old Testament. The first was in Deuteronomy 32:17:
"They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not."
The second was in Psalms 106:37-38:
"Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood."
Both of these references clearly indicate that devils represented heathen idols.
Undoubtedly, the Hebrew shed was probably connected with the Babylonian word shedu, meaning either a good or evil demon. In pagan religions, the line between gods and demons was not constant. There were beneficent demons and malicious gods.
Generally speaking, though, a demon was less powerful than a god. In Mesopotamian thought, the shedu was a supernatural protective power for whose presence the gods were invoked. Specifically, the function of shedu represented the vitality of the individual, or his sexual potency.
There are very few places where the word devil, or devils, appear in the Old Testament. Devils referred to goat idols. There isnít even a remote hint about a devil or demon with a personality. There is absolutely no support for the devil being a person. That was a superstition borrowed from pagan religions, and continued by the Hebrews who joined them in their superstitions.
The Old Testament simply does not provide a clear concept of demons; however, non-biblical writings do provide such a concept. For example, Plato wrote that "Every demon is a middle being between god and mortal." He considered demons to be intermediaries between gods and men. Demons, he said,
"are reporters and carriers from men to the gods, and again from the gods to men, of the supplications and prayers of the one, and of the injunctions and rewards of devotion from the other."
According to Mede, this was the prevailing thought during the apostleís time, although it had begun long before then. (Much of the material and the quotations in this section come from Dr. Samuel Fallows, The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, 1904).
People believed there were two kinds of demons. The first kind were the souls of good men, which became demons at death, and eventually were elevated to gods. The second were the souls of bad men which became evil demons at death.
"the poets speak excellently who affirm that when good men die they attain great honor and dignity, and become demons."
Many ancient writers used the words angels and demons indiscriminately. Philo said that souls, demons and angels were only different names for the same thing.
Heathen people worshiped the demons which they believed were once the souls of men. This is one reason some scholars say that Jehovah in the Old Testament was frequently called "the living God." But what really happens to the spirits of men when they die? According to the scriptures, neither the spirits of good men, nor of bad men, hang around to badger the living.
Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 says,
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"
Ecclesiastes 12:7 says,
"Then (at death) shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
The heathens also believed that some demons were malignant by nature, and not just when provoked or offended. Plutarch wrote that,
"it is a very ancient opinion that there are certain wicked and malignant demons, who envy good men, and endeavor to hinder them in the pursuit of virtue, lest men should be partakers of greater happiness than they enjoy."
Pythagoras said that some of the demons sent diseases to men and cattle.
Josephus always used the word demon in a negative sense, as do the writers of the New Testament. He said,
"Demons are no other than the spirits of the wicked, that enter into men and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them" (from Fallows).
Many scholars point out that the writers of the New Testament used the word demon in the same sense as it was understood by people of their time.
In the New Testament, demon-possessed persons were supposed to have a demon or demons inside them. These demons took over their minds and bodies, so that what they said or did was attributed to the demons inside them.
On the other hand, some scholars question the belief in demons, and point out that the symptoms of certain diseases, such as insanity and epilepsy, match the behavior pattern of many supposedly demon-possessed people. They maintain that the New Testament writers did not understand the nature of many ordinary diseases any better than anyone else did at the time.
There is little doubt that the general populace of the Jewish nation believed in demons. Like their heathen neighbors, they believed that the spirits of dead men, especially those who had lived evil lives or died violent deaths, entered the bodies of living men.
Any disease or malady they did not understand was ascribed to demons. The questions is whether or not Jesus and the apostles, wishing to be understood, expressed themselves within the popular language and beliefs? If so, then this would not imply assertions of fact or doctrine.
Some point out that Jesus did not correct the popular opinion, because it was not necessary to attack the misconception in a formal manner. The belief in demons would be replaced when his doctrine about the state of the dead was embraced. Jesus (and the apostles) taught that the spirits of the dead enter a state corresponding to their character, and do not return to this world. To argue with people in whom the notion of demons was so deeply rooted, would have led them away from the central theme of his ministry.
The Hebrew word satan occurs 33 times in the Old Testament. Twice it was translated as withstand or resist, and thirteen times it was translated as an adversary, accuser, or prosecutor. Our prosecuting attorney today is the exact equivalent of a satan in the Old Testament. It usual refers to something in opposition to, or in disagreement with, the best for men and God.
The old Adamic nature, or what the New Testament commonly called the flesh, is an adversary of, or in opposition to, a godly life; and the flesh could easily be called a satan. In Galatians, Paul said that this old nature and the spirit are in constant war with each other.
The first use of satan occurs in Numbers 22:22.
"And Godís anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him."
This refers to the prophet Balaam who was going with the princes of Moab against the wishes of God. The word adversary is satan. Therefore, the angel of the Lord is called satan. This was not a proper name, but a description or a characteristic.
The use of the word satan to indicate adversary also occurs in Numbers 22:23; I Samuel 29:4; II Samuel 19:22; I Kings 5:4, 11:14, 11:23, 11:25; Psalms 38:20, 71:13, 109:4, 109:20, 109:29. It may help to check these out.
I Chronicles 21:1 is the only place in the Old Testament that satan was used as a proper name.
"And Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel."
In every use of the words commonly associated with the devil, or satan, the sin in view is always one of some human foible. In this case it was Davidís pride. David wanted to count the people so he might revel in the growth of Israel under his tutelage. However, in another scripture which describes this same incident, a disturbing element is introduced to those who believe in a literal, personal satan.
II Samuel 24:1 says,
"And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah."
Here are two versions of the same incident: one says Satan caused David to number the people, and the other says the Lord moved David to do it. Using the rules of logic, we could say that the Lord is Satan. What nonsense! This would be a perfect example of biblical contradiction if satan is considered a personality.
However, if satan is not considered a personality, but only an allegory referring to anything adversarial, or in opposition, then the contradiction disappears. In this case, if satan means something which causes men to oppose themselves, then the Lord could certainly be a satan when he opposes men in order to bring judgment upon them, as he does here.
The next scriptures to consider are in Job, which contain almost every occurrence where satan was referred to as if it were a person. These verses are the ones most people are probably familiar with, and also the ones most likely to be misunderstood.
The book of Job, for the most part, is a poem. The writer exercised a great deal of poetical license as far as language is concerned. However, the first two chapters, with which this study is concerned, was not written in poetical form, but seems to be an introduction of the rest of the book.
In Job 1:6, the adversary, or satan, was introduced as a "son of God." There has been a great deal of speculation about the meaning of this term. Many believe it to be a gathering of angels; however, as other scriptures have revealed, the serpent was a beast of the field, not an angel. It would be best to keep in mind that the book of Job is also highly allegorical in its concepts.
According to the context, the adversary had been out for a leisurely stroll throughout the earth for no particular reason. Then in verse 1:8, the Lord asked him if he had noticed Job, his faithful servant. No reason is given for this question to the adversary, or satan.
Perhaps it would be analogous to me saying I had been to Kansas, and you asking if I had noticed your relatives there. Of course, this gives the adversary, or accuser, an opportunity to do what an adversary does best: accuse Job of serving God for profit, not out of love.
In verse 1:12, in order to prove Job was really a righteous person, the Lord gave satan power over all of Jobís possessions. Then, in verses 1:13-22, the adversary was supposedly given the power to slay Jobís servants, since the one servant who escaped told Job it was
"the fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them."
The context, however, shows that each of the four servants reporting the incident had a different explanation, some rather fanciful. This is mentioned simply to show how even the prose part of Job is highly poetical.
In verses 2:1-3, God asked the adversary, accuser, or satan, what he had been doing. When he said he was again strolling around the earth, the Lord again asked him if he had noticed his servant Job. This is essentially the same scenario as verses 1:6-8. The adversary, not willing to give up, tells the Lord in verse 2:4 that a man will do anything to save his life.
Look carefully at the next verse, 2:5:
"But put forth thy hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face."
Make careful note that only the Lord has the authority to touch anyone, although he may delegate this authority to someone else. Keep in mind, too, that the Lord was really testing Jobís faithfulness when he gave satan the authority to afflict Job, but not to kill him.
All of the tests the adversary brought to Job were things which often come between men and God: family and possessions. But when Jobís family and possessions were destroyed, he said in verse 1:21,
"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
These two chapters in Job reflect a judicial setting. God is the judge; satan, or the adversary, is the prosecuting attorney trying to bring evidence to convict Job of some fault. Though he does his best, Job is vindicated by his faith in God, though later chapters of the book, or poem, show he was proud of his stance for the Lord and his faithfulness.
The Lord then took Job to task for failing to understanding that all good things come from him. The weaknesses pictured are common to all people. Are these weaknesses pictured as a person to make this allegorical study more understandable?
Psalms 109:6 says,
"Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand."
In this psalm, David was telling God what his enemies were saying about him. He asked God to
"appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser (satan) bring him to trial."
In verse 109:4, this same word was translated as adversary. The same word, translated as adversary, occurs in verses 109:20 and 109:29, where David is asking the Lord to punish his adversaries when they are found guilty of falsely accusing him.
The last scriptures in the Old Testament containing the word satan, are in Zechariah 3:1-2.
"And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?"
In the Old Testament, Joshua is the equivalent of Jesus in the New Testament. The Joshua which led the people into the promised land died long ago. This Joshua, or Jesus, was standing, or ministering before the angel of the Lord.
According to the context, Zechariah was seeing a vision. If this was a vision, then what is the truth being revealed? With the knowledge revealed in the New Testament this should not be too difficult a task.
Joshua, or Jesus, was ministering before the angel of the Lord. His ministry is to act as the high priest. The high priest was the one who went into the holy of holies with the blood of the sacrifice and put it upon the ark of the covenant for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 9:11-14 says the high priest, Jesus, ministers before God, or as Zecharias says, the angel of the Lord.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
In other words, Zechariah saw satan standing at the right hand of Joshua to accuse him, or to act as prosecuting attorney.
Let us jump ahead to the New Testament for further explanation. Jesus entered into the holy of holies in heaven with his own blood which was to cover all the accusations made, not only against him, but against all of mankind.
This accumulation of the sins of the whole world, which John the Baptizer saw taken away by the Lamb of God, or Jesus, was the thing which accused Jesus before God the judge. When Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world, those sins accused him before God and required a sentence of death for him instead of all mankind.
When Jesus ministered as high priest before God with his own blood, Zechariah, in his vision, heard the angel of the Lord say to Satan,
"The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?"
Satanís accusation, or the accumulation of all the sins of mankind, could not stand before the offering of the blood of Christ.
In Luke 10:18, when he was looking forward to offering his blood, Jesus told the seventy,
"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."
All of this accumulation of mankindís sins, or satan, could not stay in heaven before God in the presence of the blood from the sacrificial Lamb of God, or Jesus, or Joshua.
The angel of the Lord said,
"Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?"
All of mankind was doomed to the fires of judgment if it had not been for this one man without sin, Joshua, or Jesus.
In verse 1:3, Zechariah saw that,
"Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel."
Those filthy garments were the sins of the world.
He went on to say,
"Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment."
All the sins with which he had been clothed were removed by the sacrifice of his lifeís blood, and Joshua was clothed with clean clothing.
When Zechariah was first written, this was not as clear as we have made it here. However, verses 3:6-10 contained a prophecy pointing forward to the fulfillment described in the New Testament. We have the advantage of understanding Zechariah with the additional revelation from the New Testament.
Although used very little in the Old Testament (KJV), in the New Testament, the word devil appears 56 times, the word devils appears 44 times, and the word satan appears 34 times. Both devil and satan will be examined without distinction as they seem to be used interchangeably in the New Testament. In fact, Revelation 12:9 indicates that they mean the same thing.
The first group of scriptures about the devil, or satan, is in Chapter 4 of Matthew which describes the Lordís temptation immediately after his baptism. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the spirit for the express purpose of being tempted, as it says, by the devil. The word devil, diabolos, means an accuser, or slanderer. Parallel scriptures occur in Mark 1 and Luke 4.
Revelation 12:9 says,
"that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world."
Revelation 12:3 said it was
"a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns" and a tail so large that with it he "drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth."
Henceforth, we will speak of the dragon in regard to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
This big red dragon comes to Jesus and tries to tempt him with different temptations. First, he tempts him with food to satisfy his hunger. Next, this big red dragon with seven heads and ten horns takes Jesus into Jerusalem, deposits him upon the highest part of the temple, and tempts him to cast himself down so that it would be evident that he is Godís son because angels would catch him and keep him from harm. Then the big red dragon took Jesus on top a very high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and offered to give them to him if he would worship the big red dragon. Please notice that every temptation centers on a natural tendency of man: hunger, recognition, and power.
Those who wish to take everything in the Bible literally will have trouble with these verses. For example, there is no mountain so high that the whole world can be seen. The earth is round, and no matter how high the mountain, there will always be the other side of the world which cannot be seen.
These comments are deliberately made to sound ridiculous for the purpose of showing that the temptation of Jesus cannot be considered in a literal sense. It was simply a description of the carnal nature, which Jesus took when he came to earth, tempting him to misuse the power God gave him for doing good. This is precisely the same kind of temptation we all face.
Those of us who yield to the temptations and use the power God has given us for doing good, pervert that power of God into a power which promotes evil in the world. This power of evil is very real, and in order to clarify how terribly real it is, the scripture writers gave it the name of dragon, serpent, devil, or satan. But it was never meant to be taken as a literal, living, breathing being. It was meant to be taken very seriously because of the great influence this accumulated power has upon the affairs of the world and those who seek to serve God.
The power of satan, or the accumulated sins of mankind, was apparently not as great a power in the Old Testament as it had become by the time of Jesus in the New Testament. There could be several explanations for this. For example, the holy spirit had been poured out on only a few people, primarily prophets, priests, and kings. Those who had received portions of holy spirit did indeed pervert that power, such as Saul, Solomon, and David. But since there were so few people with portions of holy spirit, the accumulation was slower.
Also, the way the Israelites continually mixed with heathen religions built up over time. By the time Jesus arrived, the Israelite religion had deteriorated to such an extent that they thought Jesus had a devil, that he spoke madness.
When Jesus came to this world from being the word of God, he became flesh, or sarx, which means,
"the sensuous nature of man, the animal nature: without any suggestion of depravity, of sexual desire; the animal cravings which incite to sin; a suggestion of weakness, frailty, and morality." (Thayer, p. 570).
Thayer added that in John 1:14, (ha logos sarx egeneto, the word became flesh, or entered into participation in human nature),
"the apostle used sarx, not anthropos, apparently in order to indicate that he who possessed supreme majesty did not shrink from union with extreme weakness."
Hebrews 2:18, commenting on the temptations of Jesus, says,
"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."
Hebrews 4:15 says,
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Now, to pose a question. Are we tempted by our own selves, or does the devil, that old dragon with the seven heads and ten horns, tempt us? James 1:14 says,
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
If this is true of mankind, why was it not also true of Jesus, since he was also a man? Many often speak of being tempted by the devil when it is only their own lust, or desire, for something which is tempting them. In Matthew, the scriptures say that Jesus resisted the temptations, or his own lustful desires.
In Matthew 12:24-28, Jesus was answering the accusation that he was casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, which means lord of dung, or filth, and refers to idolatry.
"But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."
Jesus said that the power called satan never opposes itself, so therefore, the source of power which he used was not from it. Jesus used the power of God, not the power from the accumulated unbelief of men. Parallel scriptures occur in Matthew 9, Mark 3 and Luke 11.
The explanation of the parable of the tares, in Matthew 13:39, says that the devil was the one who sowed the tares. Keep in mind that this is a parable, not a true story, told to illustrate a truth. Therefore, it is not necessary to accept the characters in the parable as real. As Jesus explained this parable, the crop was good men, and the tares were evil men. The devil was given credit for sowing the tares, or the evil men. Parallel scriptures are in Mark 4 and Luke 8.
Recall that James said men were tempted to do evil by their own flesh, carnality, or the old Adamic nature. Is the devil and menís carnality one and the same? Or, did James, who was inspired by the holy spirit, write his letter to disagree with Jesus?
Matthew 13:18-23 contains another parable which is parallel to the one discussed above. It specifically describes the man who receives the word with joy but has no root, or depth, within himself, and when the least trouble or persecution arises he turns away from the Lord.
This parable said the wicked one snatches it away. Is this the devil, or is this the weakness of a personís own convictions? Others turn away because of the cares of the world, and the desire for riches. But the one who understands is the good soil and produces a bountiful harvest. So, is it satan, or is it the lust of the flesh that causes the problem?
Matthew 16:23 says,
"But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Please read Matthew 16:23 carefully. Did Jesus really mean that Peter was satan? He certainly did, and it is very clear what Jesus considers to be satan. Satan is composed of all of those whose thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men. This is certainly a very clear example of personification.
Jesus referred to Peter as satan because, consciously or unconsciously, he was thwarting the purposes of God in the life and suffering of Jesus. Peter could not, in the flesh, perceive of anything good coming from the suffering and death of his beloved Lord. He was speaking as a satan, or opposer, because he saw things from manís view, not from Godís view.
The Adamic nature of man will always oppose the things of God, and thereby is satan. If we wish to avoid Peterís error, we must immerse ourselves in the word of God to discover his desires and his will. It is very easy to forget that Godís ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts.
What is not so clear, is whether Jesus spoke of satan in the light of the peopleís understanding, or whether the people understood his use of satan as a personification. Some say that Jesus spoke of satan as a person because the people of his day believed that to be true. But, either way, this scripture is purely personification. Mark 8:33 contains a repetition of this rebuke by Jesus.
Matthew 25, beginning with verse 31, comments on one element of the judgment which will take place when the son of man comes again in his glory. All the nations will be gathered and separated as one separates the sheep from the goats.
Sheep are not destructive animals; if given the chance, they will graze and then move on to new pastures, returning after new growth has sprung up. Goats, by nature, are destructive animals, and will completely devastate the land. In desert areas, goats are raised where sheep cannot survive. Goats will eat the shrubs until they die, and they will eat the grass until none grows. In fact, they are responsible for much of the expanding desert area in the world today.
Therefore, nations destructive to the cause of God will be separated from the nations which follow the cause of God. "Goat nations" are not a blessing and are consigned to
"everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (messengers)."
Fire, or pur, comes from pu, which means to purify. In the resurrection, the sheep, or the obedient servants of the Lord will come forth with bodies like his, a body fitted for the spirit. The goats, or the destructive ones, will come forth with a body like those we have now, one fitted for the soul. At the end of the 1,000 years, those who are still recalcitrant will be thrown into the lake of fire.
Lakes, seas, and large bodies of water refer to large groups of people, especially in Revelation. The lake of fire and brimstone is usually associated with the everlasting fire in Matthew 25:42, but the lake is actually composed of those with bodies like that of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 21:8 tells who the devil and his angels of Matthew are:
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
These will be cast into the lake of resurrected people with bodies like Jesus Christ, and there will be no provision for the pleasures of the flesh, which brings on the weeping and gnashing of teeth. This will be hell for them!
In Luke 10:18, Jesus said,
"I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
This comment was made in response to the disciples saying that even the daimonia, demons, were subject to them. Jesus was simply telling them that someone, or something, had fallen from a place of power. Satan, that old dragon with seven heads and ten crowns, that half goat and half man, that old snake of Genesis, had fallen from power.
Jesus was saying that through his life and coming sacrifice, nothing could any longer accuse them before the Father. That power of accusation, that old slanderer, that old accuser, the dragon, the half goat and half man, that old snake, the devil, or satan, had lost power in heaven.
In other words, the sins of the whole world which had been accumulating ever since Adam and Eve would be covered by his blood and would no longer be there before God to accuse men of their accumulative shortcomings. They, or satan, had fallen from heaven, or lost their power of accusation.
When Jesus said he saw satan fall from heaven, he used the word satan in a figurative sense to say that he was stronger than anything which stood between God and man. To be cast from heaven was a phrase long used to indicate total downfall.
For example, Cicero said to Mark Antony: "You have hurled your colleagues down from heaven" (from Fallows). Paul could have been referring to this in Romans 8:35, when he asked who could separate us from the love of God.
Until the sacrifice of Christ, the accumulated sins of mankind had kept man from being reconciled to God. This accumulation stood as a barrier and accusation before God. Satan, or this accumulation of sin, has been destroyed. This accumulated sin has been forgiven, but the effects are still with us. Paul stated this when he said the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Keep in mind that death came by man, not satan.
Four scriptures pertain to Judas: Luke 22:3, John 6:70, John 13:2, and John 13:27. These scriptures, if they were intended as literal truth rather than allegory, can never be reconciled. They are all different versions of the same event, except for John 6:70, where Jesus said,
"Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
The word devil comes from diabolos, the same word used for satan. Here Jesus was speaking of Judas, just as he did earlier of Peter. Why? Because both of them were opposing the work of God in the life of Jesus. If his work was thwarted, the cost to mankind would have been incalculable.
When the old Adamic nature reared its ugly head of resistance to God and His plan, Jesus invariably referred to the person demonstrating such resistance as satan. This opposition was often based on a concern for the physical welfare of Jesus, as was the case with Peter. Of course, with Judas, the issue was greed, another one of the resultant sins from Adamís error. As the scripture say in another place, the love of money is the root of all evil.
Luke 22:3 says,
"Then entered Satan into Judas."
It may have been a little crowded for that old dragon with seven heads and ten crowns to get inside Judas, but if you take everything literally, he must have done it somehow. Again, these remarks are made on purpose to illustrate the fallacy of taking one scriptural description of satan and making a general application of it while disregarding other descriptions of satan. Taken together, the descriptions of satan are allegorical depictions of a formidable power, which it is!
Instead of saying that satan entered into Judas, John 13:2 says,
"And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simonís son, to betray him (Jesus)."
What was the satan which entered into Judas? Was it as simple a thing as greed, born out of a misunderstanding of the purpose of Jesusí life? Was Judas expecting the Messiah to build an earthly kingdom and, therefore, disappointed and discouraged when this wasnít happening?
This is simply another illustration of satan being the evils which so easily beset the Adamic nature of man when it is not subject to the spirit of God. In these two versions from Luke and John, there is not an identical expression of Judasí sin, but there is a parallel description of it. One says satan entered Judas, and the other says satan put the idea in his heart. Both describe the mental attitude of Judas. As James said, he was tempted when he was drawn away by the lust of his own fleshly nature.
In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus said to Peter,
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Jesus was referring to the Old Testament version of the testing of self-righteous Job. Peter had some of the same characteristics as Job, illustrated by his remark to this comment from Jesus. In essence, he said he could handle anything, even death. But Jesus, knowing better, said Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed that morning, which he did.
The purpose of Peterís sifting was to bring to light the unwillingness of the disciples, especially Peter, to faithfully follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This would allow satan the opportunity to accuse them. But Jesus told them he had interceded for them. How? By his own sacrifice on the cross which would cover this sin of failure to acknowledge him. Even this sin would not be seen by God and held against Peter, or any of the other disciples who might do the same.
John 8:44 is the last of the Gospel references to the devil or satan.
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do."
This is definitely not saying that the devil sires actual children, which some maintain. It refers to those who follow after evil; those who lie, and murder, who care not for others, who wish to be their own god. They follow their own will without regard to the will of God.
The devil they follow after is their own Adamic nature which opposes Godís desires for their lives. They are followers of that satan which originated with the disobedience of Adam and Eve. This scripture provides a summary of many which show that the satan, or the devil, can easily be identified as the fleshly desires of man.
Diseases and deformities were, in most instances, considered to be of the devil. In a sense, that is true, if one considers the devil to represent the accumulated sin of mankind. Weakness, disease, and handicaps of all kind were not in Godís plan, but are the result of Adam and Eveís sin of unbelief. The sin of unbelief destroyed what God intended for mankind.
Unbelief, given a personification called satan, devil, dragon, or satyr, has this power through the seduction of self-aggrandizement, pride, greed, and all the other besetting sins. It is not another created being which causes this, but menís own desires and actions. All the sins of mankind, according to James, are brought about through the lust of our own fleshly, Adamic nature.
That people in those days, as well as our own time, thought any disease came from the devil, illustrates the depths of superstition about satan, demons, and devils.
Forty-four verses in the gospels use the word devil or devils when referring to sickness, disease or deformities (Matthew 4:24, 7:22, 8:16, 8:28, 8:31, 8:33, 9:32, 9:33, 10:8, 12:22, 15:22, 17:18; Mark 1:32, 1:34, 1:39, 3:15, 5:12, 5:15, 5:16, 5:18, 6:13, 7:26, 7:29, 7:30, 9:38, 16:9, 16:17; Luke 4:33, 4:35, 4:41, 8:2, 8:27, 8:29, 8:30, 8:33, 8:35, 8:36, 8:38, 9:1, 9:42, 9:49, 10:17, 11:14, 13:32).
When Jesus faced those superstitions, rather than arguing about them, he spoke within the context of what people believed to show that he had the power of overcoming even disease and handicaps.
All of the people healed by Jesus were delivered from the force which had enfeebled them. For example, Luke 13:11-16 refers to a woman healed by Jesus.
"And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God...And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?"
The word bond is desmos, which means the woman was bound together as though tied. Mark said she was bowed and could not lift herself; she had a spirit of infirmity, astheneias, which means,
"want of strength, weakness, infirmity; a) of body; its native weakness and frailty. b) feebleness of health; sickness: Luke 13:11-12" (Thayerís p. 80).
Thayerís mentions nothing about this being an affliction of the devil. However, this is a perfect description of arthritis. This same word, desmos, was used in Mark 7:35 to describe a speech impediment being removed, which was clearly a disease, or an affliction of speech.
Eight scriptures in the gospels report that people listening to Jesus said he had a devil (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33; John 7:20, 8:48, 8:49, 8:52, 10:20, 10:21). They thought what he said was so incredulous that he must be mad. His words were so contrary to what they had been taught that they believed he must be mentally unbalanced.
In other words, the people could not even recognize the word of God, did not believe what Jesus said, and thought he must be mad. People today still have this same problem recognizing the word of God.
Before going to the rest of the scriptures in the New Testament, it would be good to note the paucity of scriptures in the letters of Paul and the apostles which deal with satan, or the devil. This seems strange since there has been so much preaching about satan as a real person, and since so many people believe he is a real person. The basis for such beliefs is slim indeed.
No origin is ever mentioned in the scriptures concerning satan, except when it stated that he was one of the created animals of the field. How did this animal of the field become an angel of such great power that he could even challenge God? In case after case, the scriptures relating to this subject show that when satan, or the devil, is mentioned, it is in relationship to the common sins which so easily beset mankind.
There are 28 chapters in the book of Acts, but only four verses contain any reference to the devil, or satan. The first is Acts 5:3.
"But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?"
This is very similar to the scriptures which said the devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray the Lord. Greed was the culprit for both Judas and Ananias. Just another of the sins which so easily captivate mankind.
Next, Acts 10:38 says,
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."
According to Kittel (Vol.7, p. 159),
"A sickness which does not have the features of possession can also be attributed to satan, Luke 13:16. It is worth noting, however, that not every sickness is hereby regarded as due to satanic influence. But no balance or clear-cut distinction is attempted between natural and satanic ailments: the Ďmurderer from the very beginningí is secretly behind the phenomenon of sickness. Hence Acts 10:38."
This is a reference to the sin of Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve disobeyed the command of the Lord and let loose the power of sin in the world. This was the beginning of the accumulation of such power. As more men have failed to follow after God, this accumulation of power has assumed frightful dimensions, and now even rivals the power of God in the world. This power will establish its own world rule and require that men accept it as their master instead of God.
As men continue to reject God, it becomes easier and easier for this power, or satan, or devil, or the old serpent, or the dragon, to assume mastery of the world. God will allow this to happen, but will show his own power is not diminished when he sends his son to destroy this accumulated power by locking it up in the bottomless pit during the 1,000 year reign. Jesus will rule over the earth with a rod of iron for 1,000 years. Afterward, for a little while, God will allow this power to arise again before it is totally and finally destroyed, and the ages of ages begins.
Death began weakening the human body through disease and other afflictions when Adam and Eve sinned. If you eat of the tree of good and evil, you shall surely (begin) to die. Therefore, to go along with this legend of temptation, the devil is spoken of as the cause of disease.
The next scripture is Acts 13:9-10, which says,
"Then Saul, (who also is called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?"
This verse itself defines a child of the devil as someone who is opposed to righteousness, or who attempts to pervert the ways of God. This is very similar to when Jesus said Peter was a satan because he opposed Godís purpose.
Acts 26:18 is the last verse in Acts that speaks of satan. Paul was repeating the story of his call on the Damascus road and said that God called him and sent him,
"To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge of God), and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
Notice that darkness is equated with serving satan and knowledge brings the ability to serve God. Mankind will naturally follow the old Adamic nature, or satan, as long as they are ignorant of the light, or the goodness and love of God. Paul was sent to remove such darkness and its mastery over the Gentiles. God does not want people to be enslaved by the power of darkness let loose by the sin of Adam and Eve. It engulfs all who are ignorant of the goodness of God and the gift of his son for sin.
There is only one mention of satan in Romans. Verses 16:17-20 say,
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."
Paul equated satan with those who serve their own belly and serve not the Lord. That power will soon be ended by God. Paul was looking forward to the coming of the Lord and the rule of the 1,000 year reign, or the kingdom of God.
The combined Corinthian letters combined contain the word devils twice and the word satan five times. This reference to the number of times the words for devil and satan are used shows how seldom Paul makes any comment about satan in any one letter.
In I Corinthians 5:5, Paul was admonishing the Corinthians about one in their midst who was having sexual relationships with his fatherís wife. He told them,
"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
He was to be delivered to satan by being set outside the assembly of the believers and thereby given over to the power of the unbelieving world.
In I Timothy 1:20, Paul also referred to delivering someone to satan.
"Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."
Without the strength of the believing community such a man would probably delve deeper and deeper into things of the flesh and eventually destroy himself by such dissipation. The accumulated power of sin, which grows as the power of God given to men for good is perverted and changed into doing evil, is the satan which will destroy those who are delivered to its power.
But, in II Corinthians 2:8-11, Paul said they should not to be too hard on this person.
"Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
This is a good example of church discipline for those who overtly practice sin before the unbelieving community. Such a practice is an open admission to the unbelieving observers that God does not have the power to deliver one from besetting sin. This is a travesty because it reflects poorly on the power of God in the believing community.
If one of the believers openly practices a serious sin, the assembly to which he is attached should, as a unit, unanimously set him apart as a testimony to observing unbelievers. But, after some time, they should approach the person in question and reaffirm their love to him, again as a group, so that the worldly sin to which he was delivered does not get the victory in his life. The first action of the assembly would testify of their commitment to the power of God to deliver from sin. The second action, reaffirming their love, would testify of their love for one another.
Most groups of believers are so ignorant about what the word teaches on this subject, that they cannot reach the unanimity of action Paul recommended to the Corinthians. Therefore, any who do wish to take action are usually accused of being vindictive or intolerant or failing to show love, and the discipline of the wayward person becomes individualized rather than being a group decision. At that point, personalities become the focus of the discussion, rather than the central issue being the shame brought upon the name of God and his christ.
Another instance of how the flesh can detract from the service of God is found in I Corinthians 7:4-5 where Paul warned the people about sex within the marriage context.
"The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency."
This clearly states that, with the exception of time for fasting and prayer, neither the man nor the woman is to refuse sexual union if the mate so desires. He said this was so satan, or the flesh, would not cause either to commit adultery, and thereby sin.
In I Corinthians 10:20-21, in discussing issues surrounding the Lordís table, Paul said,
"But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."
Sacrificing to devils is a reference to idol worship. The cup of devils refers to those who partook of the Lordís table unworthily. In other words, Paul said we canít worship God and idols both.
II Corinthians 11:14 says,
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
Taken in context, Paul was talking about false apostles, deceitful workers, and phony ministers who were all masquerading as righteous people. Satan is Paulís personification of all these people who oppose God and his purposes.
In II Corinthians 12:7, Paul spoke of something given him to keep him humble. God had shown him great truths when he was caught up to paradise; therefore,
"lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure."
There has been much speculation about this "thorn in the flesh," or messenger, or angel of satan. Whatever it was, it had something to do with his carnal nature, and Paul considered it was for his benefit.
Paul used the word devil twice in Ephesians, but never used the word satan. In Ephesians 4:27 he admonished the Ephesians to
"neither give place to the devil."
Paul was speaking of both good and evil human traits: righteousness and holiness of the truth, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, putting off falsehood, speaking truth, not letting the sun go down on their anger, and working rather than stealing for their needs. In this context, giving place to the devil would be giving oneself over to the practice of sinful things.
Ephesians 6:11 says,
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Paul then went on to speak of wrestling against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This group of scriptures has often been used to establish that satan has an establishment of power almost equal to that of God. One of the fallacies of such belief is that, according to the scriptures, God is all power and there is no power which is able to challenge him.
Paul was referring to the state of this world. These were rulers of darkness, or ignorance, of this world. This mass of darkness, or ignorance, is powerful, as has already been explained. It will eventually become the antichrist government of the entire world. They will attempt to take over the world and run it to suit themselves and for their own purposes.
Indeed, these are principalities, powers or authorities, and world rulers, or those who rule the world with great power of office. These verses in Ephesians are a vivid description of the rule to come in all its glory, or decadence, which even now to some extent, is exercising itself in the world.
Nowadays, men picture the devil wearing a suit of long red underwear, with two horns on his head, and a long, pointed tail. Is this any less authentic than the ones just mentioned? Probably not. All of them are simply efforts to describe, or put a name to, something which they consider to be the acme of evil.
Our modern picture of satan could easily be set along side that of the satyr in its day, or of the dragon in its day. Except, that in times past we knew they were allegories, and now we think they are literal.
In I Thessalonians 2:18, Paul was explaining why he had not been able to visit:
"Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."
This is most likely a reference to his "thorn in the flesh" (II Corinthians 12:7) which he described as a "messenger of satan." In other words, his bodily affliction had stopped him from doing what he wanted to do.
In II Thessalonians 2:7, Paul said that,
"the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."
Was Paul talking about an apparatus of the satyr, the snake, or the dragon? Or was it an allegory of the apparatus of men opposed to God?
II Thessalonians 2:8-10 says,
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
Here again, people perish, not because of some entity apart from themselves, but because of their own lack of the love of the truth that they might be saved.
In II Timothy 3:6, Paul revealed what the devilís sin consisted of. He also described some of the characteristics a church leader should have,
"lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation (crime) of the devil."
Pride was the crime of satan. It was also the basic sin of Adam and Eve. Were they the same?
In verse 3:7, Paul said,
"Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
In context, Paul was still speaking about pride and its effects.
I Timothy 4:1-3 says,
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
Here, Paul was obviously talking about false teachers whose doctrines he calls the, "doctrines of devils." He even identified some of the false doctrines.
In I Timothy 5:15, when describing attributes of young widows, Paul said that,
"some are already turned aside after Satan."
He was referring to their lack of putting down the flesh, the old Adamic nature, and serving God.
II Timothy 2:24-26 says,
"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
Paul depicted the devil as those who need a change of mind (repentance about God) opposing themselves. In other words, they were their own devil.
To show that this concept was not a strange one to Paul, in I Timothy 3:11 he wrote,
"Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."
The word slanderers is diabolous, the plural of the word diabolos, or devil.
The writer of Hebrews used the word devil only once and never used satan. Hebrews 2:14 says,
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
Note that the devil is the power of death. How did the death of Jesus annul the power of death? It brought about Godís forgiveness of all sin! There is now nothing before God to accuse men. The accumulated sin of mankind has been erased, or annulled.
I Corinthians 15:21-22 says,
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
Was Adam the one who instituted death? Yes! When the old Adamic nature with its power is completely overcome then he who has the power of death will be overcome. Is Adam our culprit, or our satan?
I John 3:8 says,
"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
The practice of sin is nothing more or less than yielding to the old Adamic nature of man, or the devil, the satyr, the dragon, or that old serpent, or even that fellow in the long red underwear of our own day.
James 2:19 says,
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
Luke 4:33 and Acts 16:16 indicated that some of the "demon-possessed" people acknowledged the truth of God. James is simply saying that many people know the truth, but refuse to accept or follow it. Devils are those who know the truth and choose to refuse it.
James 4:3-7 says,
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
It is clear from this passage that the devil is anyone who is a friend of the world; that automatically sets them in opposition to the will of God and his purposes in Jesus. Loving the world makes anyone an adversary, or devil; and putting the desires of the flesh before the things of God leads to religious adultery. But, anyone who resists this Adamic tendency toward pride, or worldliness, is no longer a devil and the natural desires will pass away.
I Peter 5:8-9 says,
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
This sounds somewhat similar to satanís behavior described in Job. In other words, if you arenít careful, the Adamic nature will lead you into error.
Proverbs 16:25 says,
"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Everything is not as clear-cut as we wish it were. Proverbs 28:5 says,
"Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things."
Those who earnestly seek the will of God will avoid the devil.
I John 3:8-10 says,
"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."
The phrase "the devil sinneth from the beginning" is a reference to Adam and Eve who began the downward slide into sin. The "works of the devil" refers to those things which flow from the Adamic nature, what Paul called the "flesh." Verse 10 defines children of the devil, the descendants of Adam, as those who do not do righteousness.
Jude 1:9 says,
"Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee."
In context, this verse is contained in a passage about filthy dreamers and evil speakers (verse 8). This is another case where evil men are considered the devil.
According to Deuteronomy 34:6, God hid the body of Moses so it could not be found, possibly so people would not build a shrine and worship it. Apparently there were those who also spoke evil about Moses or his body.
Revelation 2:9-10, the letter to the church at Ephesus, says,
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
The synagogue of satan refers to those who oppose the work of God as the adversaries, or devils. It also said that some followers would be thrown into prison by the devil, or those who belong to the synagogue of satan.
Revelation 2:13 says,
"I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth."
This was a reference to those in the church following the teachings of Balaam. It said that satanís seat of power was known: it was in the things people were doing. The synagogue of satan was mentioned again in Revelation 3:9.
Revelation 2:24 says,
"But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden."
Not knowing the depths of satan meant they had not gone as deeply into worldliness as had others.
Revelation 9:20 says,
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk."
This is clearly a reference to worshiping idols.
Revelation 12:9 says,
"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
This refers to the fact that Jesus paid the price for all our sins, and reconciled us to God. Our sins can no longer accuse us before God.
Revelation 12:12 says,
"Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
Although our sins were cast out of heaven, they still battle against the spirit for control of our lives.
Revelation 16:14 says,
"For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty."
This refers to the unclean messages (verse 16:13) from the antichrist government, the false christ, and the false prophet. John called these three devils, or those who oppose God.
Revelation 18:2 says,
"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
The "habitation of devils" indicates that Babylon was the home of those who oppose God, the originator of all the false doctrine and lies that had lead men astray.
Revelation 20:2 says,
"And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." And
Revelation 20:7 says,
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison."
Binding satan in the bottomless pit means that no evil, or works of the flesh, will be tolerated. When the evil of men is not allowed, then "satan is bound".
After the 1,000 years, men will be allowed to again rise against God, or satan will be loosed from the pit.
Revelation 20:10 says,
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
Finally, the power of satan, or the opposition of men, will be ended forever.
Life magazine (June, 1989, p. 51) quoted Anton LaVey, the founder of San Francisco Church of Satan:
"Satan is a symbol, nothing more. Heís a symbol of manís carnal nature...his lust, greed, vengeance, but most of all his ego. Satan signifies our love of the worldly and our rejection of the pallid, ineffectual image of Christ on the cross."
Amazing! The church of satan understands clearly what the church of God has obscured with superstition.
Why do so many cling tenaciously to the idea of a personal satan, or devil? Maybe it is so they can blame someone else for their sin, claiming "the devil made me do it." Giving up the concept of a personal devil leaves people responsible for their own behavior.
Fallows, Samuel. The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary (Howard-Severance Company, 1904).
Kittel, Gerhard and Gerhard Friedrich, translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1974).
Thayer, Joseph Henry. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1962).
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