ORIGIN AND SIGNIFICANCE OF SATAN AND DEMONS: PART ONE
In the book of Genesis, we have the account of Eve being deceived by a talking serpent. The New Testament (NT) book of Revelation speaks of a great dragon which is further identified as an ancient serpent called the devil or Satan. While the serpent in the Garden is believed to be the vehicle through which Satan deceived Eve, Satan or devil is not mentioned in the Garden event. Only in the book of Revelation is the serpent identified with the devil and Satan. This is the only place in Scripture were such correlation between the serpent and the devil/Satan is made.
Revelation 12:9: The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him),
Revelation 20:2: He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
In a letter to the Corinthian Christians, Apostle Paul references the incident in the Garden of Eden involving the serpent and Eve but does not identify the serpent as the devil or Satan.
2 Corinthians 11:3: But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
The serpent is introduced in the Garden as one of the animals God had created. This animal is seen as being craftier than other of the animals God created and also having the ability to communicate with humans.
Genesis 3:1: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
After the serpent successfully deceived Eve, it was cursed by God in so much that it was condemned to crawl on the ground and eat the dust of the ground.
Genesis 3:14-15: So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity (Hebrew: eybah which means hostility or hatred) between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
Enmity between the offspring of the serpent and the women is generally interpreted to mean that Satan would strike the heel of the women’s offspring through the crucifixion of Jesus and Jesus would crush the head of Satan though His resurrection. While Scripture does reveal Satan’s involvement in the death of Christ and that God would crush Satan’s head (Romans 16:20), there is no explicit teaching in Scripture that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is a fulfillment of the enmity passage found in Genesis 3:15.
What are we to understand about the offspring of the women being in a state of hostility with offspring of the serpent? While we can identify offspring of the women as the women having children, who or what is to be identified as offspring of the serpent? Some theologians teach Satan appeared to Eve through the Serpent. Other theologians teach the serpent is only figurative or symbolic of Satan and that it was Satan appearing as himself in the garden. Most theologians believe the offspring of Eve points to Christ and the offspring of the serpent (Satan) figuratively represent those who were responsible for the death of Christ and by extension all those who oppose Christ.
One theologian, the late Arnold Murray of Sheppard’s Chapel, taught there are literal offspring of Satan. Murray believed that Satan had sexual relations with Eve which resulted in the birth of Cain as a fraternal twin to Abel. Since there is evidence the offspring of Cain became the Kenites mentioned in OT Scripture, Murray taught Kenites are the progeny of Satan. Since Scriptural history indicates the Kenites integrated into ancient Israel's society and culture, Murray believes it was these Kenites, and not ethnic Jews, who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. Murray taught that Kenite descendants are still active in the world today and are doing Satan’s work. I address this perspective in detail in Part Three of this series.
As already noted, Paul speaks of the serpent deceiving Eve. The Revelation speaks of the serpent leading the whole world astray. Therefore, it is evident the "serpent" is an entity of power and authority with great skill at influencing the behavior of humans. Yet the Genesis account describes the serpent as one of the animals God created. After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, this animal is cursed above all the livestock and animals God had created. It is made to crawl on its belly and eat dust. If the serpent was only figurative of Satan and it was Satan himself who stood before Eve, what are we to understand about the makeup of Satan? Is Satan an actual serpent/dragon like creature? What is the meaning of the punishment placed upon the serpent if the serpent is actually Satan himself. If the serpent isn’t Satan Himself, why is this animal punished for something Satan is responsible for?
As already discussed, we only know of a direct association between the serpent and an entity called Satan from the two passages in Revelation. Nowhere in the Old Testament (OT) is the serpent explicitly associated with an entity called the devil or Satan. The English word Satan is a transliteration of the Hebrew sawtawn. A transliteration is a taking of the letters of a word in one language and matching them as closely as possible to letters in another language to produce a word that sounds much like the word of the first language. A transliteration does not provide meaning in and of itself. It only provides a sound alike word.
Satan in the Old Testament:
The meaning of sawtawn is adversary or opponent. This is how the Hebrew Lexicons define this word and this is how it is seen being used in Scripture. This word appears ten times in the Hebrew text with the Hebrew indefinite article translated into English as “a” or “an.” With the indefinite article, sawtawn is seen as describing someone who is an adversary. Here are several examples.
Numbers 22:21-22: And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary (sawtawn) against him (KJV).
1 Samuel 29:4: And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him (Achish); and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow (David) return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary (sawtawn) to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men? (KJV).
1 Kings 11:14: Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary (sawtawn), Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.
1 Chronicles 21:1: An adversary (sawtawn) opposed Israel, inciting David to count how many warriors Israel had (NET).
As can be seen in these examples, the Hebrew sawtawn is used as an adjective describing someone’s behavior. The word is not being used as the actual name of someone. In the case of the sawtawn God raised up against Solomon, the sawtawn’s actual name is Hadad. In the case of David being viewed as a sawtawn, we know David’s name is David, not sawtawn. All ten appearances of sawtawn with the indefinite article “a” or “an” preceding the word, can be seen as describing someone behaving as an adversary or opponent and not as what that someone is called by name.
The word sawtawn is also found in the Hebrew Scriptures with the definite article (Hebrew: “ha”) preceding it. In this form, sawtawn appears thirteen times in the Hebrew text. It appears ten times in the first two chapters of Job and three times in Zechariah 3:1-2. Here are the first three occurrences of sawtawn in Job.
Job 1:6-7: Now the day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord – and Satan (ha sawtawn) also arrived among them. The Lord said to Satan (ha sawtawn), “Where have you come from?” And Satan (ha sawtawn) answered the Lord, “From roving about on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it” (NET).
Only in Job and in Zachariah do we find the Hebrew definite article “ha” preceding sawtawn. In English, ha sawtawn means “the adversary.” Let’s look at the three occurrences of “ha sawtawn” in Zechariah.
Zechariah 3:1-2: Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan (ha sawtawn) standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan (ha Sawtawn), "The LORD rebuke you, Satan (ha sawtaun)! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man (Joshua) a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
In the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, the Hebrew ha-Sawtawn, in both Job and Zechariah, is translated by the Greek word diabolos. The basic meaning of diabolos in the Greek language is slanderer. Apparently the Hebrew/Greek scholars who translated the Hebrew into Greek felt the Greek diabolos best represented the Hebrew sawtawn in Job and Zachariah where sawtawn appears with the definite article and appears to describe the behavior of a specific individual.
The Greek diabolos appears 38 times in the NT. Four times it is used to define a type of behavior. In John 6 Jesus calls Judas a devil (diabolos). In 1 Timothy 3, Paul instructs wives not to be slanderers (diabolos). In 2 Timothy 3, Paul speaks of people being slanderers (diabolos) in the last days. In Titus 2, Paul speaks of teaching women not to be slanderers (diabolos).
John 6:70: Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (diabolos). (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
1 Timothy 3:11: Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers (diabolos), sober, faithful in all things (KJV).
2 Timothy 3:3: …without love, unforgiving, slanderous (diabolos), without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good (NKJV).
Titus 2:3: Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers (diabolos) or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good (NIV).
In the 34 other occurrences of diabolos in the NT, this word appears with the definite article “the” and, like the Hebrew sawtawn with the definite article, is used to identify a specific individual. It appears to refer to a specific individual who is seen as having a certain level of power and authority to influence the course of human events. In the NT this individual is called a murderer; liar, enemy and sinner. Here are just a few examples.
John 8:44: You belong to your father, the devil (diabolos), and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
1 Peter 5:6: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil (diabolos) prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 John 3:8: He who does what is sinful is of the devil (diabolos), because the devil (diabolos) has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.
It appears that when sawtawn/diabolos is used with the definite article, these words not only describe the behavior of a specific individual but actually become his name. He is called what he is.
Satan In The Greek:
The Greek for the English word Satan is satanas and it appears 36 times in the NT narrative. The English word Satan is a transliteration of the Greek satanas and satanas is a transliteration of the Hebrew sawtawn. The Greek Lexicons define satanas as adversary which coordinates with the definition of the Hebrew sawtawn. As already discussed, the word sawtawn in Job and Zechariah is preceded by the definite article which points to a specific individual as adversary. In the NT Greel text where satanas is preceded by the Greek definite article “o” or “tov” (English “the”), it points to the adversary being the specific adversary called Satan the devil.
Matthew 12:26: If Satan drives out Satan (tov satanas), he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?
Luke 10:18: He replied, "I saw Satan (tov satanas) fall like lightning from heaven.
Luke 22:31: "Simon, Simon, Satan (tov satanas) has asked to sift you as wheat.
Devil In The Greek And Hebrew Scriptures:
As already covered, the Greek word translated into the English word devil is diabolos. Like satanas, diabolos is used in the NT to identify an adversary. While both diabolos and satanas are used in the NT to describe the nature of a person as a slanderer or adversary, in most cases these words virtually become the name for a specific individual. In the NT, the chief slanderer and adversary to God and the human race is virtually named what he is, a slanderer and adversary. We see this throughout the NT narrative where diabolos and satanas is what this adversary is called. We see this in Matthew 4:8-11.
Matthew 4:8-11: Again, the devil (diabolos) took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan (satanas)! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into English largely translate the Hebrew sawtawn, when it appears with the indefinite article, as adversary. You do not find the Hebrew sawtawn translated as “devil” in English translations of the OT. However, you will find in the King James translation of the OT the word “devils” appearing four times. Twice the Hebrew word sa'yir (pronounced saw-eer) is rendered "devils" (Leviticus 17:7 and 2 Chronicles 11:15). Saw-eer has the basic meaning of shaggy. As a noun it refers to a male goat. Twice the Hebrew word shed/shedim (pronounced shade) is rendered "devils" (Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37). Shade appears only twice in the Hebrew Scriptures and appears to relate to the worship of idols. Its definition in Hebrew Lexicons shows it to mean “to rule” and by extension can mean lord or master.
Where the KJV renders these two words as “devils,” it can be seen that these words refer to the worship of false gods. Other translations render saw-eer in these passages as “goat gods” or “goat demons.” In the two passages where the Hebrew shade appears in the OT, It is rendered "demons" in most English translations. However, as will be seen in a more extensive discussion of these words in Part Two of this series, there is nothing in the definition or Scriptural usage of these words to suggest fallen angels or a supernatural entity of some kind.
Who Is Satan/Devil?
So what can we know about this individual called the devil and Satan who, in the Revelation is associated with the serpent? It is apparent that Satan, devil, the serpent and the dragon all refer to the same individual who is primarily called Satan and devil in Scripture.
In Job he is seen as being given power and authority to facilitate a great deal of destruction in the life of Job. In the NT he is also seen as having power and authority over the physical creation. He is seen as having the power of death which Christ came to destroy.
Hebrews 2:14: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--
In the temptation of Jesus, Satan offers Jesus the kingdoms of this world if Jesus will bow down and worship him. Jesus does not dispute the validity of his offer to give him the kingdoms of this world but simply dismisses his offer by saying "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Does or did Satan have procession of the kingdoms of this world?
Luke 4:5-8: The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: `Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.' "
Is Satan lying about having been given the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of this world? How would this be a temptation for Christ if both Satan and Christ knew that Satan didn’t really have such authority and splendor to give? It would be a bogus temptation. It would have no significance. Therefore, it appears Satan actually has or had at some point this authority and splendor. Satan says such authority and power had been given to him. Who gave it to him and when did this happen?
If Satan wasn’t lying, when in the historical past was he given such authority? Some believe Satan is a high ranking spirit Being who along with other spirit Beings called angels, inhabited the earth prior to the six day creation. The earth is believed to have once been a paradise but this paradise was lost when Satan and a number of angels ascended into the heavenly realm to make war with God in an attempt to take over rulership of the universe. It is believed Satan and his warring associates were cast down to the earth in defeat and were on the earth at the time of the creation.
Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:
Some interpreters believe Satan is alluded to in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 where the downfall of the king of Babylon and the king of Tyre are discussed. It is believed these prophets are using historical events associated with the fall of Satan to describe the fall of the kings of Babylon and Tyre. It is believed these passages show that at some point in the historical past Satan tried to ascend to heaven and become like God but was cast back down to earth where he was at the time of the six day creation.
However, if we take Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 at face value, it appears that these prophets are using metaphor and hyperbole to describe the downfall of the kings of Babylon and Tyre and these passages have nothing to do with Satan. Satan is not mentioned in either of these passages. In Isaiah 14:4 we see it is the King of Babylon who is being addressed. While there is language in verses 12-14 that sounds supernatural in nature, when verses 15-17 are read in the context of the entire chapter, it is clearly shown that a human king is being discussed here and not some supernatural Being. The context of Isaiah 14 is all about the fall of the King of Babylon.
Isaiah 14:12-14: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
Isaiah 14:15-17:But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: "Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?"
The King James translation renders Isaiah 14:12 as."How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" The Hebrew word translated "Lucifer" in the KJV is heylel. The Hebrew Lexicons define heylel as brightness or morning star. Most English translations render heylel in a way reflective of this definition. Lucifer is a Latin word which means "light bringer." The King James translators simply appropriated this word from the Latin Vulgate translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is nowhere else found in Scripture. Its popular usage as a proper name for Satan is based on its appearance in the Isaiah passage in the KJV and the belief that Isaiah is alluding to the downfall of Satan. However, as already discussed, Satan is not mentioned in this passage. This passage is all about the downfall of the king of Babylon. The following footnote to this Isaiah passage in the NET Bible is instructive.
"Apparently these verses allude to a mythological story about a minor god (Helel son of Shachar) who tried to take over Zaphon, the mountain of the gods. His attempted coup failed and he was hurled down to the underworld. The king of Babylon is taunted for having similar unrealized delusions of grandeur. Some Christians have seen an allusion to the fall of Satan here, but this seems contextually unwarranted (see J. Martin, “Isaiah,” BKCOT, 1061)."
Ezekiel 28 begins by showing the ruler of Tyre is being addressed.as a man who through wisdom and understanding and skill in trading has amassed great wealth. Because of his wealth he is seen as becoming proud. Because this king is seen to think he is as wise as God, he is told that foreign nations will attack him and he will die. It is recorded in verse 10 that this ruler will die at the hands of foreigners. Ezekiel then takes up a lament against the king of Tyre and, like is true with Isaiah's lament against the king of Babylon, there is a good deal of supernatural sounding language used to characterize this king.
Ezekiel tells the king that he was the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. He is said to have been in Eden, the garden of God. He is seen as being adorned by precious stones on the day he was created. The king is said to have been
anointed as a guardian cherub and was on the holy mount of God where he walked among the fiery stones. He is said to have been blameless in his ways from the day he was created until wickedness was found in him (Ezekiel 28:12-15). In verse 17 this personage is seen as being thrown to earth.
Because of being seen as having been in Eden, the garden of God, being anointed as a guardian cherub, walking on the holy mount of God, and being thrown to earth, it is believed by many that Ezekiel is describing a high ranking angelic Being who was created by God who at some point sinned and was consequently removed from his lofty position and ended up as the deceiving serpent seen in the Garden of Eden.
However, beginning in verse 16, the person being addressed is seen as being driven out by God because of sinning in association with being involved in widespread trade and violence. In verse 17 he is seen as being punished because of dishonest trade. He is seen as being reduced to ashes in the sight of other kings. While there is language directed to the king of Tyre that could be taken to refer to some sort of supernatural Being, much of the language directed to the king is in the context of the king being a physical Being engaging in earthly pursuits. Because of this, it appears more prudent to view the supernatural language of these passages as the writers using metaphor and hyperbole to describe the downfall of these two kings. Metaphor and hyperbole is used a lot in Scripture to get a point across (See Part Six of my series on the Reliability of the Biblical Scriptures for a discussion of Scriptural Hyperbole and discussion of the destruction of Tyre).
Since the the narrative in Isaiah and Ezekiel appears to be all about the downfall of two human kings, why do some theologians and many Christians associate these passages with the downfall of Satan?
It is believed certain events recorded in Scripture picture other events either past or future. Even though there may be no obvious relationship between two events, various events in the OT are seen as foreshadowing future events or reflecting on past events. For example, there are events recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures that NT writers (Matthew in particular) interpret as being fulfilled in Christ. Yet if you read about these events in their OT context, they have no apparent association with the Christ event. We see this in Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ.
Matthew 1:22-23: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."
In this passage Matthew is apparently alluding to what Isaiah recorded in Isaiah, chapter seven. Ahaz was king of Judah. King Rezin of Aram and Pekah, king of Israel, were in alliance and came up to fight against Ahaz and Judah. The Lord, through Isaiah, told Ahaz that this alliance would not succeed against Ahaz and Judah. It’s recorded that the Lord then gave a sign to Ahaz to show him that the alliance would not succeed.
Isaiah 7:14-16: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste
Isaiah 8:3: Then I (Isaiah) went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son.
I (Isaiah) then had sexual relations with the prophetess; she conceived and gave birth to a son (NET Bible).
The name “Immanuel” in the Hebrew means “God is with us” or God with us.” The sign given to Ahaz is of a son being born as a result of an apparent sexual union between Isaiah and a prophetess. The son born would be called Immanuel to signify to Ahaz and Judah that God would be with them in their battle against the alliance. There is nothing in this birth account that remotely suggests that 700 years later a virgin named Mary would give birth to the Christ child. Yet because Isaiah refers to a virgin being with child and named Immanuel, Matthew sees this event during Isaiah’s time as a type or virtual prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ (See Part Eight in my series entitled “The reliability of the Biblical Scriptures” for a detailed discussion of this issue).
What does this have to do with Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28? The context of Isaiah 7 makes no mention of the dynamics associated with the birth of Christ and yet it is believed by Matthew to foreshadow or predict Christ’s birth. Likewise, the contexts of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 make no direct mention of the fall of Satan. Yet the events discussed in these two passages are believed by some to reflect on the fall of Satan. This conclusion is reached because there is language in these accounts that is applied to the kings of Babylon and Tyre which is also believed to characterize Satan. Therefore, it is believed the downfall of the kings of Babylon and Tyre is reflective of the downfall of Satan at some point in the historical past.
As already mentioned, there are phrases used by Ezekiel in his description of the King of Tyre that many believe describes Satan before his presumed fall. Here are just a few.
Ezekiel 28:12-14: You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.You were anointed as a guardian cherub....
It is instructive is that these same characteristics are applied in other ways in Scripture. In a personification of Tyre, Ezekiel describes the city of Tyre as perfect in beautify (Ezekiel 27:3). Ezekiel goes on to describe the wealth of Tyre and how its beauty was brought to perfection. The whole narrative of Ezekiel 27 is a describing a physical city in hyperbolic language. In Psalm 50:2, Zion is described as perfect in beauty. No one would conclude this is reflective of Satan.
The person Ezekiel describes in chapter 28 is said to have been adorned with a number of precious stones. It is believed this must be referring to a Being of great glory who is then assumed to be Satan. However, these same kind of stones were placed on the garments of Aaron and his sons to distinguish them as priests of God (Exodus 28). No one would conclude this is reflective of Satan's attire.
It is assumed that the "you" in the phrase "You were in Eden, the garden of God" must refer to Satan. After all, wasn't Satan in the Garden of Eden? However, it must be pointed out that in listing the many merchants the city of Tyre traded with, some of those merchants were from a place called Eden (Ezekiel 27:23). Is it not possible that the Eden that existed contemporaneously with the city of Tyre was the same land area where the "Garden of Eden" had been located and because of its history was being referred to by Ezekiel as "the garden of God"?
The statement "You were anointed as a guardian cherub" is believed to be identifying Satan as at one time being a guardian angel over/at the throne of God in heaven. While there is Scriptural reason to believe Satan was of the angelic realm, there is nothing in Scripture identifying him as a cherub. In fact cherubs may not be angels at all. Angels are generally seen as messengers in Scripture. Cherubs are seen as four faced creatures full of eyes and having wheels (See Ezekiel chapter ten and chapter one). Cherub are seen in Scripture as agents of protection. After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, Cherubim were placed there to guard the way to the tree of life. It would appear more logical to view the statement about the king of Tyre being anointed as a guardian cherub as a figurative way of saying he was given the responsibility to protect those under his rule. At any rate, there is no reason to believe this statement applies to Satan when there is no Scriptural identification of Satan as ever having been a cherub.
In view of the foregoing, I feel one should be very cautious in concluding that Ezekiel is describing the fall of an angelic Being called Satan. Ezekiel's narrative is contextually tied to the fall of the city and the king of Tyre. To associate Ezekiel's narrative with Satan is quite conjectural and lacking in corroborating evidence.
In addition to the language contained in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, there is language in several NT Scriptures that is believed to support the perspective that events described in Isaiah and Ezekiel are associated with the fall of Satan.
Luke 10:17-18: The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
For those who believe the fall of the king of Babylon is reflecting upon the fall of Satan, it is believed Jesus is referencing Isaiah 12 in Luke 10. Isaiah 12 speaks of someone being cast down to earth after saying they will ascend to heaven, raise their throne above the stars of God and make themselves like the Most High. It is believed Satan is spoken of here as having at one time been without sin but because of pride he sinned in attempting to become like God. Subsequently, God cast him down from the heavenly realm. However, this perspective is speculative in that it assumes the thing to be proved. It assumes the accounts in Isaiah and Ezekiel are describing events associated with Satan even though Satan is not mentioned. A passage in 1 Timothy that speaks to the qualifications of overseers in the church is also used to support the Isaiah/Ezekiel connection.
1 Timothy 3:6: He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited (Greek: tuphoo which means “to be proud”) and fall under the same judgment as the devil.
It is concluded from this passage that the devil at some point in the historical past sinned by behaving in a prideful way and was judged by being cast from the heavenly realm which it is believed Isaiah and Ezekiel are alluding to. However, as is the case relative to Luke 10, this perspective is speculative in that it assumes the thing to be proved. It assumes the accounts in Isaiah and Ezekiel are describing the downfall of Satan. Furthermore, Paul may not be talking about Satan being judged but about those who become proud being punished by Satan. The translators of the NET Bible render the Greek of this passage in the following manner.
He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact (NET).
This rendering of verse 6 appears to fit better with what Paul says in verse 7 and also with the overall context of Chapter 3 The focus in this chapter is on stating the requirements for becoming an overseer in the church which if properly followed will prevent falling prey to Satan.
Verse 7: He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap (NIV).
Punishment of Angels:
2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 speak of the punishment of angels who at some point in the historical past have sinned. From these passages it appears there must have been some sort of disobedience involving angels which resulted in God casting them from His presence into a place of restraint where they would await judgment.
2 Peter 2:4: For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Greek:tartarus), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
Jude 6: And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Peter writes of the sinning angels being cast into tartarus which appears to be an abode of fallen spirits. Tartarus is defined more fully in the section on demons in Part Two of this series.
Was Satan one of these angels referenced in these passages ? There is no direct reference to Satan being one of these angels. However, in Matthew 25:41 we read, “Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The indication is that the devil (AKA Satan), is a leader of angels and very likely himself a high ranking angel or even a Being of a different sort who is superior to the angels.
Scriptures instruct that we humans are made a little lower than the angels. The word angel appears hundreds of time in the OT and 186 times in the NT. In both Hebrew and Greek the basic meaning of this word is messenger. As such, this word can apply to human messengers as well as to supernatural messengers. In the OT this word, by context, can be seen to often designate a human messenger. The phrase “angel of the Lord” is often found in Scripture. Such passages could just as easily read “messenger of the Lord.” It can be difficult at times to determine whether the messenger spoken of is human or supernatural. Strict attention to context is critical in making such determinations. .
By context, it would appear that the angels (messengers) spoken of in 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6 and Matthew 25:41 are supernatural in nature and this appears to be the case in Revelation 12.
Revelation 12:7-9: And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him).
Here we have an arch angel, Michael, doing battle with the dragon which appears to be another designation for Satan. This shows the power of this Being called Satan and also shows he has or had an army of angels fighting with him. Then we have the passage in Revelation 12
Revelation 12:3-4: Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
For those who believe the dragon spoken of is Satan and the stars represent angels, there has developed over the years the idea that Satan managed to coral a third of the angels to join him in a rebellion against God. It is commonly believed these fallen angels are the demons spoken of in the NT.
We will address the issue of demons in Part Two