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
Was Satan Created “Evil”?
But what was Satan originally? When was he created? And was he created “evil”? The biblical evidence may be summarized as follows. The Scripture categorically states that all things, as they had been created originally, were good.
Genesis “AND GOD SAW EVERY THING THAT HE HAD MADE, AND, BEHOLD, it was VERY GOOD. AND THE EVENING AND THE MORNING WERE THE SIXTH DAY.”
In their Old Testament commentary on the Pentateuch, Keil and Delitzsch have observed:
By the application of the term “good” to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis “very” at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied, and the hypothesis entirely refuted, that the six days’ work merely subdued and fettered an ungodly, evil principle, which had already forced its way into it. (1968, 1:67)
Thus, whatever else Satan may have been originally, he was good. God did not create Satan as an evil adversary; rather, Satan became evil. Some, however, have suggested that God’s statement in:
Isaiah 45:7 “I FORM THE LIGHT, AND CREATE DARKNESS; I MAKE PEACE, AND CREATE EVIL; I THE LORD DO ALL THESE things.”
indicates that God does, in fact, create things that are evil. This view results from a misunderstanding of the use of the word “evil” within the context of that passage. The statement obviously can have no reference to moral evil, since such is contrary to God’s holy nature:
Isaiah 6:3 “AND ONE CRIED UNTO ANOTHER, AND SAID, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, is THE LORD OF HOSTS: THE WHOLE EARTH is FULL OF HIS GLORY.”
Jehovah is described as follows in:
Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is THE ROCK, HIS WORK is PERFECT: FOR ALL HIS WAYS are JUDGMENT: A GOD OF TRUTH AND WITHOUT INIQUITY, JUST AND RIGHT is HE.”
An in-depth examination of the passage in Isaiah reveals
that God, through the prophet, was announcing to the (as yet unborn) Cyrus,
within the same chapter, there is a commentary that further explains how the
word “evil” is used in verse seven. In
verse 11, as he described the coming judgment upon
Isaiah 47:11 “THEREFORE SHALL EVIL COME UPON THEE; THOU SHALT NOT KNOW FROM WHENCE IT RISETH: AND MISCHIEF SHALL FALL UPON THEE; THOU SHALT NOT BE ABLE TO PUT IT OFF: AND DESOLATION SHALL COME UPON THEE SUDDENLY, which THOU SHALT NOT KNOW.”
The “evil” that God “created” was the desolation of other
nations due to the absolute wickedness of the Babylonian empire. In Isaiah
31:1-2, God similarly warned
Jeremiah 39:12 “TAKE HIM, AND LOOK WELL TO HIM, AND DO HIM NO HARM (evil); BUT DO UNTO HIM EVEN AS HE SHALL SAY UNTO THEE.”
or times of distress
Amos 6:3 “YE THAT PUT FAR AWAY THE EVIL DAY, AND CAUSE THE SEAT OF VIOLENCE TO COME NEAR;”
and that is its significance in:
Isaiah 45:7 “I FORM THE LIGHT, AND CREATE DARKNESS: I MAKE PEACE, AND CREATE EVIL: I THE LORD DO ALL THESE things.”
When Job’s wife proposed that he curse God and die, his response to her was:
Job “BUT HE SAID UNTO HER, THOU SPEAKEST AS ONE OF THE FOOLISH WOMEN SPEAKETH. WHAT? SHALL WE RECEIVE GOOD AT THE HAND OF GOD, AND SHALL WE NOT RECEIVE EVIL? IN ALL THIS DID NOT JOB SIN WITH LIPS.”
Job’s meaning is clear: shall we not receive punishment and correction from the hand of Jehovah, as well as innumerable blessings? Rex A. Turner has noted:
Solomon wrote “A PRUDENT man SEETH THE EVIL, AND HIDETH HIMSELF; BUT THE SIMPLE PASS ON, AND SUFFER FOR IT.” (ASV) (Proverbs 22:3) The meaning of this statement from Solomon is that the prudent man sees public calamity approaching, and he uses all lawful means to secure himself. Evil here is put for dangers and calamities that befall men. Thus, God creates evil only in the sense that he brings punishment or calamity upon those who do evil. In no sense, therefore, has God created criminal or moral evil. In no sense has God provoked or brought about evil in any angel or man. (1989, p. 79)
Just as the free world through the providence of God brought
great evil, that is destruction and desolation, upon the nations of
Is Satan a Fallen Angel?
There is compelling textual evidence within the Bible which indicates that originally Satan was one of the angels who inhabited the heavenly realm, and that he (along with others) departed from a righteous state and rebelled against God. There is a hint of this in the Old Testament book of Job. Eliphaz said of God:
Job “BEHOLD, HE PUT NO TRUST IN HIS SERVANTS; AND HIS ANGELS HE CHARGED WITH FOLLY.”
In discussing this wording, renowned commentator Albert Barnes wrote:
Language like this would hardly be employed unless there was a belief that even the holiness of the angels was not incorruptible, and that there had been some revolt there among a part, which rendered it possible that others might revolt also. (1949, 1:lxiii; emphasis in orig.)
Indeed, the New Testament seems to confirm that such a revolt did take place. In two separate passages, reference is made to just such a revolt. The apostle Peter said that:
II Peter 2:4 “FOR IF GOD SPARED NOT THE ANGELS THAT SINNED, BUT CAST them DOWN TO HELL, AND DELIVERED them INTO CHAINS OF DARKNESS, TO BE RESERVED UNTO JUDGMENT;”
Another inspired New Testament write wrote:
Jude 6 “AND THE ANGELS WHICH KEPT NOT THEIR FIRST ESTATE, BUT LEFT THEIR OWN HABITATION, HE HATH RESERVED IN EVERLASTING CHAINS UNDER DARKNESS UNTO THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT DAY.”
Since the Bible also refers to Satan as the “prince of demons”
Matthew “BUT WHEN THE PHARISEES HEARD it, THEY SAID, THIS fellow DOTH NOT CAST OUT DEVILS, BUT BY BEELZEBUB THE PRINCE OF THE DEVILS.”
And speaks of “the devil and his angels”
Matthew 25:41 “THEN SHALL HE SAY ALSO UNTO THEM ON THE LEFT HAND, DEPART FROM ME, YE CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS.”
His study of these passages caused brother Gary Workman to write in the April 1981 issue of the Defender in an article entitled “Is The Devil a Fallen Angel?” “…the only possible conclusion is that the devil is the leader of a group of angels who rebelled against God and were therefore expelled from heaven to eventually spend eternity in hell.”
From references such as these, it is clear that God created angels (just as He has men) with the powers of reason and free will, which made it possible for them both to think and to choose. Turner has commented:
This is to say that angels had the freedom of choice – the freedom to fear and serve God, and the freedom to refuse to fear and serve God. Without intellect and freedom of absolute choice, angels could not be holy as God is holy. In the absence of free will, coupled with responsibility, there can be no true holiness.”
But as Lloyd Ecrement has noted: “They, therefore, have the ability to choose good or evil. It is possible, but certainly not necessary, for them to sin. If they choose evil rather than good, that is no reflection upon their Creator, but simply a rebellion against Him – they abuse the powers of reason and a free will given to them by God” Apparently, certain of the angels chose wrongly, which is why Peter referred to the “angels when they sinned.” (II Peter 2:4 noted above) And what is sin:
I John 3:4 “WHOSOEVEER COMMITETH SIN TRANSGRESSETH ALSO THE LAW: FOR SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW.”
In some fashion, then, the angel’s sin consisted of breaking God’s law by not keeping their “proper habitation,” but instead departing from whatever appropriate position it was that God had established for them.
Since scripture speaks of “the devil and his angels,” it becomes reasonable to suggest that Satan was either the instigator, or leader (or both), of this heavenly revolt. What brought about this Satanic rebellion? Nichols, in speaking about sedition against legitimately established authority, has suggested that “…rebellion is generally attempted only by the headstrong and obstinate”. (1978, p. 262). Henry M. Morris similarly observed:
The root of all sin, in both man and angels, is the twin sin of unbelief and pride – the refusal to submit to God’s will as revealed by His own Word and the accompanying assertion of self-sufficiency which enthrones the creature and his own will in the place of God. This was the original sin of Satan, rejecting God’s Word and trying to become God Himself (1971, pp. 214-215).
Victor Knowles has added:
Perhaps Satan became proud of his position as an angel and reached out, wanting more power and authority. What else could there be in heaven to battle for? It is possible that he may have harbored bitter envy and selfish ambition in his heart, for James says that such “wisdom” is “of the devil.” (1994, p. 70)
James 3:14-15 “BUT IF YE HAVE BITTER EVYING AND STRIFE IN YOUR HEARTS, GLORY NOT, AND LIE NOT AGAINST THE TRUTH. THIS WISDOM DESCENDETH NOT FROM ABOVE, BUT is EARTHLY, SENSUAL, DEVILISH.”
When Did Satan Become Evil?
But when, exactly, did all of this take place? Numerous conservative scholars have suggested that likely the creation of the angels occurred during the first day of the creation week, but prior to the creation of the Earth itself (Jackson, 1980 p. 78; Kelly, 1997, p. 93; Knowles, 1994, p. 69; Turner, 1989, p. 80; Whitcomb, 1972, p. 43). In speaking of God and His original creation, Knowles has commented: “Before creation of the world He created the angels, for they observed the process and rejoiced over it.” (1994, p. 69)
Psalms 148:2-6 “PRAISE YE HIM, ALL HIS ANGELS: PRAISE YE HIM, ALL HIS HOSTS. PRAISE YE HIM, SUN AND MOON: PRAISE HIM ALL YE STARS OF LIGHT. PRAISE HIM, YE HEAVENS OF HEAVENS, AND YE WATERS THAT be ABOVE THE HEAVENS. LET THEM PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD: FOR HE COMMANDED, AND THEY WERE CREATED.”
John C. Whitcomb concurred when he wrote that the angels “must have been created at the very beginning of the first day of creation, (1972, p. 43)
Job 38:6-7 “WHEREUPON ARE THE FOUNDATIONS THEREOF FASTENED? OR WHO LAID THE CORNER STONE THEREOF; WHEN THE MORNING STARS SANG TOGETHER, AND ALL THE SONS OF GOD SHOUTED FOR JOY.”
Douglas Kelly also advocated such a position, but stressed caution, when he wrote:
Neither Genesis, nor any other text in Scripture, states when the angelic beings were actually created. What is definite is that angels are creatures, and thus do have a beginning. They are immortal, but only the Triune God is eternal, without beginning or endings. Reserve is necessary on such a speculative subject that has not been revealed to us by God in his Word….
Perhaps the angels were brought into being on the very first day of creation. In Job 38:4-7 we are told that the angels were present when the foundations of the earth were laid, and were rejoicing over it all. Psalm 104:2-5 speaks of the shining of God’s light during the original creation process, and mentions the angels just before reference to “laying the foundations of the earth.” Thus they appear after the creation of all things and before the earth is made a solid body… These passages from Job and Psalms are certainly poetic, and are presumably not meant to be interpreted in the same precise, chronological sense required by Genesis 1 and 2. Poetic though its literary form is, it must mean something, and bear reference to a true state of affairs. Such passages may take us as far as we can go safely in consideration of the question: when were the angels first created? (1997, pp. 93, 94)
It is significant to remember, of course, that angels are finite, created spirits who were (and are) amenable to God’s law. Regardless of the exact time of their creation, the fact remains that certain of the angels, Satan among them, disobeyed that law, and as a result were cast from their spiritual abode. It is accurate to state, therefore, that Satan, and those dismissed from the heavenly realm with him, are fallen angels, and that their creation and transgression occurred sometime prior to God’s bringing the Earth into existence.