What The Bible Actually Says About the Devil

Satan. Lucifer. T-mobile. The Devil takes many names, but even if you’re a devout Christian you may just be surprised about what the bible does- and doesn’t- say about Satan. The traditional biography of Satan as accepted by most Christians is that he was once amongst

One of God’s most beautiful angels, but in his vanity, rebelled against God and inspired a third of the heavenly host to wage war against their creator. For this, Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven and condemned to hell, where they will spend eternity.

Satan however has occasion to leave his hellish prison. His most famous appearance is perhaps his arrival in the garden of Eden, where he transforms himself into a snake. Once he finds Eve, he tempts her to eat from the one tree in all of the garden that God

Had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat from- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Having succeeded in inspiring mankind’s first rebellion against God, Satan then makes numerous smaller appearances throughout the books of the Old Testament. His grandest appearance by far however is in the Book of Job.

Job is a good, honest man who dutifully worships and obeys God. He is one of the richest men in the land of Uz, blessed with vast flocks, a large family, and great wealth. Job is kind to his workers, and generous with those in need, and God is well pleased with him.

Then one day Satan arrives at God’s court along with a group of angels, and God asks him where he’s been. Satan tells God that he’s been roaming the earth, and much like a proud father, God asks Satan if he’s considered his servant Job.

Satan challenges God, and tells him that the only reason Job is so righteous is because of his vast blessings- if God removed his favor from Job’s life, then surely he would rebel against him. God agrees to allow Satan to strike down Job, but forbids him from actually killing him.

Satan then descends to the land of Uz and in one day causes a catastrophe that kills most of Job’s family, inspires raiders to steal his flocks away, and strikes Job down with painful boils. Job, though showing frustration towards God, refuses to curse him, and for his reward God

Restores twice as much as what was taken away from him and gives him supernaturally long life. Satan’s next major appearance is nearly two thousand years later. Jesus, at the very start of his ministry, retreats to the desert for forty days.

While there, Satan appears to tempt Jesus, seeking to corrupt God’s son and doom his ministry on earth. Fasting for the duration of his desert trip, Jesus has not eaten much if anything in those forty days, and Satan first tempts Jesus by telling him to turn a stone into bread so

He can eat it. Jesus rebukes Satan, telling him, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” While Satan is trying to tempt Jesus to fulfill his earthly desires of food, Jesus rebukes

Him, making it clear that spiritual matters are more important than earthly matters, even if they require sacrifice. Next, Satan transports Jesus to Jerusalem, to the very top of the holy temple. Then he tells Jesus, If you are really the son of God, cast yourself down: for it is

Written, “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus once more rebukes Satan, telling Satan that you should never tempt the Lord your God.

In this rebuke, Jesus is rejecting the idea that he should use his supernatural powers for his own personal edification or gain. Next, Satan takes Jesus to a very high mountain, from where the duo can see all the kingdoms of the world and the riches they contain.

Satan promises Jesus that if he commits but just one act of worship to him, he’ll give him dominion over every kingdom. Jesus promptly rebukes Satan a third time, telling him “It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and only him.”

In this final rebuke, Jesus rejects the idea of gaining material wealth and political power at the cost of his service to the people of the land- the poor, the needy, and the spiritually lost. Rejected three times by Jesus, Satan retreats as Jesus is then attended to by angels.

Satan doesn’t reappear during Jesus’s time on earth, except in parables and when the Jewish religious authorities claimed that Jesus was casting out demons because he was in league with the devil. However, Jesus corrects them, saying that if one is to rob a strong man’s house, then

First he must tie up the strong man. In essence, Jesus couldn’t possibly be exorcising demons unless he had already overpowered Satan. Satan makes his big comeback however in the Book of Revelation. Here we get some glimpses of the end of the world, when Satan appears- described as a

Great red dragon with seven heads adorned with seven crowns, ten horns, and one massive tail. Satan knocks a third of the stars out of the sky, and then pursues a pregnant woman who is about to give birth. God however saves the child and helps the woman escape from Satan.

This woman is widely believed to symbolize the virgin Mary, who faced rejection by her own family after becoming pregnant out of wedlock, and was terrified that her husband-to-be, Joseph, would also reject her. God however sends an angel to explain the situation to Joseph, who agrees to take her

As his wife despite her pregnancy, thus enduring great shame from their local community. After giving birth to Jesus however, Herod- the Roman-approved king of Judea- orders all male children two years old and under to be killed. He has heard of the arrival of the Jewish messiah, and like most Jews expected that

The messiah would be a conquering figure which would restore the ancient Jewish kingdom. That would inevitably mean that Herod himself would be removed from power, and thus he ordered his troops to kill all children under 2 years of age. Satan is widely believed to have been the fearful influence driving Herod’s actions.

However, an angel comes to Mary and Joseph, and instructs them to flee until it is safe to return. Satan is once more foiled in his attempt to derail the arrival of the messiah. Next, the war in heaven is described, with the arch-angel Michael leading God’s armies against the rebellious host led by Satan.

Defeated, Michael throws Satan out of heaven and down to the earth. In hindsight, maybe Michael should’ve thrown them into space and not here on earth amongst us. Satan is imprisoned for one thousand years, and then is at last set free.

He gathers up his armies for one final battle against the righteous of the earth and Heaven’s armies, but God sends down a pillar of fire to burn up Satan’s forces. Satan himself is captured and thrown into the lake of fire, and the righteous are forever free of his influence.

There’s just one small problem with Satan’s official biography- much of it isn’t about him. The ancient Jews who wrote the Old Testament never had any inclination to believe in a figure that was ultimate evil, let alone a rival of God.

As lord and creator of all things, God could not possibly have a rival, and thus it would be foolish to assume any one being could rise to the position. In the original Hebrew, the word satan means accuser or adversary, and is used to reference humans and a celestial being.

When used to reference a celestial being, the word is accompanied by the definitive article, making it clear that the name Satan is not a name at all, but a title. Satan is not Accuser, but The Accuser- it’s his job title.

Satan is not a fallen angel opposing God from the depths of hell, but rather, Satan is actually part of God’s court, and carrying out his assigned duties. We see this best in the Book of Job. Here, Satan actually arrives with a group of angels, making it clear that he himself

Is also an angel. Satan doesn’t ‘make a bet’ with God that he can break Job, as is the common Christian narrative, but rather Satan merely points out the apparently obvious- Job is only faithful to God because he has abundantly blessed him.

In order to prove that this isn’t the case, God allows Satan to carry out his duties as the accuser, but within parameters. Further difficulties arise when the Book of Job is taken as a historical account by Christians, who then use the book to support a living biography of the deeds of Satan.

However, it is quite clear from the way that Job is written that it is a work of poetry, a text meant to explore some of the deepest and most painful theological questions such as why do bad things happen to good people- and how should they respond when they do.

Jesus’s reference to Job is not a surprise then, as Jesus himself taught exclusively through parables. The writers of the Old Testament did not believe in a literal devil, but rather understood that the temptation to do evil lived in all of us.

However, these beliefs began to gradually change, and sometime in the late BCs and early ADs, Satan became a specific being which was diametrically opposed to God. Coincidentally enough, this is also when Zoroastrianism began to exert a greater and greater influence on Jewish culture.

In Zoroastrianism, good and evil exist in equal measures and are diametrically opposed. However, evil is limited by space and time, while good is not. Thus, when the world ends and space and time run out, evil will simply cease to exist, leaving only good to triumph.

This powerful duality clearly had an influence on Jewish beliefs, who began to identify Satan as a specific figure forever in opposition to God and his people- as evidenced by Satan’s greater role in later Jewish books of the Old Testament. Satan developed many of the parallels of Zoroastrianism duality, including a near-peer opposition

To God, but an inability to outright defeat him. Satan too would eventually be defeated at the end of days, and only good would remain to rule over creation. Exactly like in Zoroastrianism. Jesus himself likely saw Satan in the same traditional sense that the ancient Jews did-

As an internal temptation and not a physical being with the power to do evil and oppose God. This is because the account of the three temptations of Christ are widely accepted as having been a symbolic representation of Jesus’s internal struggles and doubts at the start of a ministry

He knew would end in his death, and not literal events. Once more given the fact that Jesus almost exclusively taught in parables, this is a very likely conclusion. His first temptation was the temptation to use his power to fulfill his own selfish needs- or hedonism.

If Jesus could heal the sick, he could use that same power to fulfill every lust and desire in his heart. His second temptation was the temptation to glorify himself, instead of God. Often pressed in on all sides by adoring crowds, Jesus would have easily been tempted to use

His massive influence and support to take leadership of the nation for himself, or to simply develop a cult of personality. The biblical account of Jesus atop the temple was a representation of how Jesus could show off his supernatural powers in front of crowds of people and gain their support or adoration.

His third temptation was to use his power to indulge his materialism. With his god-given power, Jesus could have become a great ruler if he wished- yet he didn’t come to grow political or economic power, but to begin a spiritual revolution.

While he could have been a king, he instead chose the role of a servant. The fact that no mountain peak could actually show all the kingdoms of the earth makes it clear once more that this is a symbolic representation of Jesus’s early internal struggles.

The early Christians certainly believed that Satan was a physical being completely opposed to God- the pinnacle of all evil. That belief has continued to the present day and even influenced non-Christians. Yet the earliest biblical accounts, unadulterated by the growing influence of Zoroastrianism

And other dualistic religions, make it clear that Satan is not a devil hellbent on overcoming God, but rather merely another member of God’s angelic court. However, as God’s prosecutor, he is the closest that a Jew, Christian, or Muslim has to a

Supernatural enemy- even if The Accuser is not trying to destroy faith, but rather grow it by pointing out where it is weakest. A modern belief in Satan as the enemy of God is simply doctrinally unsound, as humanity itself only rebelled against God when they ate the fruit of the knowledge of Good and

Evil. As they were the first, and only beings to eat this fruit, no angel could have possibly rebelled against God in the way that mankind did. When you’re done yelling at us in the comments, go watch 50 things you didn’t know about Satan. Or we tempt you to click this other video instead.

#Bible #Devil

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