This series of lessons was adapted, with permission, to a classroom presentation format from two articles written by Bro. Bert Thompson and published in Reason and Revelation in October and November, 1998. These articles, and much more material on this subject may be found at www.apologeticspress.org.
SATAN - HIS ORIGIN AND
THE REALITY OF SATAN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Within the pages of the New Testament the existence of Satan is reaffirmed, and more of his cunning, deceit and hypocrisy is revealed. Of paramount importance is the record of his temptation of the Son of God. Read Matthew 4:1-11: Erich Sauer has noted:
The whole story of the temptation of Jesus proves beyond all doubt that we are here concerned with a factual and personal conflict between two protagonists. The accounts of the evangelists and the behaviour and words of Jesus show clearly that we are not here concerned with a mere “principle” of evil, but with a real factually present, speaking and active person, not “the evil” but “the evil one” (1962, p. 64)
A few chapters later, we find Jesus referring to Satan as “Beelzebub”
Matthew “AND IF I BY BEELZEBUB CAST OUT DEVILS, BY WHOM DO YOUR CHILDREN CAST them OUT? THEREFORE THEY SHALL BE YOUR JUDGES.”
a term that originally meant “lord
of refuse,” “lord of the flies,” or “lord of dung” (
As the serpent seduced Eve (Gen. 3:6) through the manifold channels of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and the vainglory of life (I John ), so he sought to solicit Christ to sin similarly (Matt. 4:1-11). Interestingly, he is denominated “the tempter” in that narrative. The Greek term is peirazon, a present tense participle, literally expanded, “the always tempting one” – which suggests his characteristic activity. Had the devil succeeded in causing Christ to sin, the Lord could not have served as the blemishless sin-offering (I Peter ; II Cor. ), and the entire human race would have been forever lost! (1980, p. 76)
Christ’s apostles also addressed the fact of Satan’s existence. And certainly they knew of which they spoke, for Satan is depicted within the pages of the New Testament as their ardent enemy. For example, the Lord informed Peter:
Luke “AND THE LORD SAID SIMON, SIMON, BEHOLD, SATAN HATH, DESIRED to have YOU, THAT HE MAY SIFT you AS WHEAT:”
A fact often overlooked within this text is that the pronoun
“you” in the Greek is plural, indicating that Satan wanted all of the apostles
Ephesians 2:2 “WHEREIN IN TIME PAST YE WALKED ACCORDING TO THE COURSE OF THIS WORLD, ACCORDING TO THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, THE SPIRIT THAT NOW WORKETH IN THE CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE:”
II Corinthians “LEST SATAN SHOULD GET AN ADVANTAGE OF US: FOR WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES.”
II Corinthians 11:15 “THEREFORE it is NO GREAT THING IF HIS MINISTERS ALSO BE TRANSFORMED AS THE MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; WHOSE END SHALL BE ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS.”
I John 3:8 “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.”
I John “WE KNOW THAT WE ARE OF GOD, AND THE WHOLE WORLD LIETH IN THE EVIL ONE.” (ASV) The RSV and CONF say “… THE WHOLE WORLD IS IN THE POWER OF THE EVIL ONE.”
Paul’s thorn in the flesh:
II Corinthians 12:7 “AND 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.”
But perhaps the most sinister is the fact that it was Satan who “…PUT INTO THE HEART OF JUDAS ISCARIOT…” the idea to betray his Lord (John 13:2)
In addition, various New Testament writers referred to Satan as the author or originator of sin:
I John 3:8 “HE THAT COMMITTETH SIN IS OF THE DEVIL; FOR THE DEVIL SINNETH FROM THE BEGINNING….”
Acts 10:38 “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.”
Hebrews “FORASMUCH THEN AS THE CHILDREN ARE PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, HE 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;”
The one who leads men astray:
II Thessalonians 2:9-10 “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.”
The authors of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words make an important observation when they state that:
“Satan” is not simply the personification of evil influence in the heart, for he tempted Christ, in whose heart no evil thought could ever have arisen (John 14:30; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15); moreover his personality is asserted in both the OT and NT, and especially in the latter, whereas if the OT language was intended to be figurative, the NT would have made this evident (1985, p. 547).
What the New Testament makes evident, however, is exactly the opposite—i.e., that Satan is not figurative, but very real.
The Bible does not address specifically the origin of Satan, yet there is adequate information to draw a logical, well-reasoned conclusion as to how he came into existence. Consider the following:
IS SATAN DIETY?
Although allowed to be quite powerful at various times in man’s history, Satan does not enjoy the status of being Deity. Confirmation of this fact can be established from the Word of God:
Deity is eternal:
Deuteronomy 33:27 “THE ETERNAL GOD is thy REFUGE, AND UNDERNEATH are THE EVERLASTING ARMS: AND HE SHALL THRUST OUT THE ENEMY FROM BEFORE THEE; AND SHALL SAY, DESTROY them.”
Psalms102:27 “BUT THOU art THE SAME, AND THY YEARS SHALL HAVE NO END.”
Revelation 1:8 “I AM ALPHA AND OMEGA, THE BEGINNING AND THE ENDING, SAITH THE LORD, WHICH IS, AND WHICH WAS, AND WHICH IS TO COME, THE ALMIGHTY.”
Satan had a beginning, more about that in the next lesson but when God finished His creation all things were very good. Satan, at that time did not yet exist.
Deity is omnipotent:
Genesis 17:1 “AND WHEN ABRAM WAS NINETY YEARS OLD AND NINE, THE LORD APPEARED TO ABRAM, AND SAID UNTO HIM, I am THE ALMIGHTY GOD; WALK BEFORE ME, AND BE THOU PERFECT.”
Job 42:2 “I KNOW THAT THOU CANST DO EVERY thing, AND that NO THOUGHT CAN BE WITHHOLDEN FROM THEE.”
Job 26:13-14 “BY HIS SPIRIT HE HATH GARNISHED THE HEAVENS; HIS HAND HATH FORMED THE CROOKED SERPENT. LO, THESE are PARTS OF HIS WAYS: BUT HOW LITTLE A PORTION IS HEARD OF HIM? BUT THE THUNDER OF HIS POWER WHO CAN UNDERSTAND?”
Genesis 1:1 “IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH.”
Isaiah 45:12 “I HAVE MADE THE EARTH, AND CREATED MAN UPON IT: I, even MY HANDS, HAVE STRETCHED OUT THE HEAVENS, AND ALL THEIR HOST HAVE I COMMANDED.”
II Peter 3:10 “BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT; IN THE WHICH THE HEAVENS SHALL PASS AWAY WITH A GREAT NOISE, AND THE ELEMENTS SHALL MELT WITH FERVENT HEAT, THE EARTH ALSO AND THE WORKS THAT ARE THEREIN SHALL BE BURNED UP.”
Genesis 2:7 “AND THE LORD GOD FORMED MAN of THE DUST OF THE GROUND, AND BREATHED INTO HIS NOSTRILS THE BREATH OF LIFE; AND MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL.”
Ephesians 1:20 “WHICH HE WROUGHT IN CHRIST, WHEN HE RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, AND SET him AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY places,”
Though Satan has been allowed certain powers at certain times he is not all powerful as God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus, the Son of God, are all powerful.
Deity is omnipresent:
Hebrews ‘NEITHER IS THERE ANY CREATURE THAT IS NOT MANIFEST IN HIS SIGHT: BUT ALL THINGS are NAKED AND OPENED UNTO THE EYES OF HIM WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO.”
Jeremiah 23:23-24 “Am I A GOD AT HAND, SAITH THE LORD, AND NOT A GOD AFAR OFF? CAN ANY HIDE HIMSELF IN SECRET PLACES THAT I SHALL NOT SEE HIM? SAITH THE LORD. DO NOT I FILL HEAVEN AND EARTH? SAITH THE LORD.”
Ecclesiastes “FOR GOD SHALL BRING EVERY WORK INTO JUDGMENT, WITH EVERY SECRET THING, WHETHER it be GOOD, OR WHETHER it be EVIL.”
Deity is omniscient:
Psalms 139:1-6 “O LORD, THOU HAS SEARCHED ME, AND KNOWN me. THOU KNOWEST MY DOWNSITTING AND MINE UPRISING, THOU UNDERSTANDEST MY THOUGHT AFAR OFF. THOU COMPASSED MY PATH AND MY LYING DOWN, AND ART ACQUAINTED with ALL MY WAYS. FOR there is NOT A WORD IN MY TONGUE, but, LO, O LORD, THOU KNOWEST IT ALTOGETHER. THOU HAS BESET ME BEHIND AND BEFORE, AND LAID THINE HAND UPON ME. such KNOWLEDGE is TOO WONDERFUL FOR ME; IT IS HIGH, I CANNOT attain UNTO IT.”
God not only knows the past and present but the future as well:
Acts “KNOWN UNTO GOD ARE ALL HIS WORKS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD.”
Romans “O THE DEPTH OF THE RICHES BOTH OF THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD! HOW UNSEARCHABLE are HIS JUDGMENTS, AND HIS WAYS PAST FINDING OUT!”
Satan, by comparison, does not possess these qualities. For example, he is not omnipotent:
I John 4:4 “YE ARE OF GOD, LITTLE CHILDREN, AND HAVE OVERCOME THEM: BECAUSE GREATER IS HE (God) THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE (Satan) THAT IS IN THE WORLD.”
Luke “AND THE LORD SAID, SIMON, SIMON, BEHOLD, SATAN HATH DESIRED to have YOU, THAT HE MAY SIFT you AS WHEAT:”
Satan had to “ask” permission to “sift” the apostles as wheat.
Satan is not omnipresent:
His current position is god of this world
II Corinthians 4:4 “IN WHOM THE GOD OF THIS WORLD HATH BLINDED THE MINDS OF THEM WHICH BELIEVE NOT, LEST THE LIGHT OF THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF CHRIST, WHO IS THE IMAGE OF GOD, SHOULD SHINE UNTO THEM.”
That position; that power had to be delivered to him:
Luke 4:6-7 ‘AND THE DEVIL SAID UNTO HIM, ALL THIS POWER WILL I GIVE THEE, AND THE GLORY OF THEM: FOR THAT IS DELIVERED UNTO ME; AND TO WHOMSOEVER I WILL I GIVE IT. IF THOU THEREFORE WILT WORSHIP ME, ALL SHALL BE THINE.”
When he eventually is cast permanently into his place of eternal torment, the devil will be powerless to resist:
Revelation 20:10 “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.”
In discussing the apocalyptic literature of the book of Revelation which speaks of Satan’s being “bound” (20:2) Hardeman Nichols observed:
“The binding of Satan, we conclude, equally means that his work will be restrained in a certain realm….” (1978, p. 262)
Omnipresence, by definition, is not restrained.
Satan is not omniscient. If we are sufficiently knowledgeable of the Word of God, and use that knowledge carefully to resist him, the devil does not possess a superior knowledge sufficient to overcome us:
James 4:7 “SUBMIT YOURSELVES THEREFORE TO GOD. RESIST THE DEVIL, AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU.”
Jesus resisted him with an “It is written…”
Matthew 4:4 “BUT HE ANSWERED AND SAID, IT IS WRITTEN, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.”
He is not intelligent enough to outwit us in order to “snatch” us from the Lord’s hand.
John “AND I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE; AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH, NEITHER SHALL ANY man PLUCK THEM OUT OF MY HAND.”
The only possible conclusion regarding Satan is that he is not deity. But such a conclusion has serious implications. If Satan does not partake of the nature of deity, then he cannot be eternal. Thus, he must be a created being. That, as Wayne Jackson has explained, is exactly what he is.
“Since the devil is not of the nature of deity, it is obvious that he is a created being, for all things and beings (outside the class of deity) are the result of creation –
Colossians 1:16 “FOR BY HIM WERE ALL THINGS CREATED, THAT ARE IN HEAVEN, AND THAT ARE IN EARTH, VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE, WHETHER they be THRONES, OR DOMINIONS, OR PRINCIPALITIES, OR POWERS: ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM, AND FOR HIM.”
This would include Satan as he originally was”. (1980, p. 80)