The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
Dualism in the Synoptics
The paucity of pre-Christian witness to the satanological terminology in the Synoptic temptation accounts, together with the absence from the Synoptics of established Second Temple terms for supernatural Satan figures (Satanael, Mastema, Belial, Shemihazah, Azâzêl, etc), gives reason to doubt the Synoptic writers held the cosmological dualistic views of their contemporaries. An examination of dualism in the Synoptics, within their Second Temple Period context, leads in a very different direction.
Identifying the Adversary
Matthew and Luke’s temptation accounts both consistently refer to Jesus’ adversary as ‘the devil’, whereas Mark’s account only refers to Jesus’ adversary once, as ‘Satan’ (Mark 1:13).
Literary Genre of the Wilderness Temptation
Despite its superficial appearance as a simple historical record, the Synoptic account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness¹ has often been interpreted as symbolic or parabolic of Jesus’ experiences, since the early Christian era.² The popularity of this interpretation waxed and waned throughout history; Origen understood the account as a dramatized parable,³ and although Aquinas opposed those who interpreted the temptations as visionary,⁴ the view was common among early Reformers, finding its way into the marginal commentary of early printed Bibles.⁵ Current scholarly commentary typically treats the wilderness temptation account as a visionary experience,⁶ symbolic description,⁷ or dramatization of events throughout Jesus’ ministry,⁸ and commentaries advise against reading the account as literally historical.⁹
Satan & Demons In the Apostolic Fathers
The “Apostolic Fathers” (a group of Christian texts written from the late first century to the early second century),¹ are recognized as unusual in their era for their paucity of references to demons, demon possession, exorcism, and illness caused by demons;² additionally, rejection of supernatural evil beliefs has also been noted in texts such as the Didache.³ The fact that a number of texts in the Apostolic fathers contain explicit reference to supernatural evil, typically a figure identified as Satan,⁴ makes it more remarkable that other texts in the same corpus do not contain any such references.
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: Summary
The following list summarizes the lexical evidence for the Synoptics’ satanological terminology in Second Temple pre-Christian texts.
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: The Evil One
The term ‘the evil one’ (ton ponērou), has no Second Temple pre-Christian witness as a reference to a supernatural evil being. It is found in one fifteenth century Ethiopian manuscript of 1 Enoch (manuscript A, 1 Enoch 69:15), but not the other two main recensions (manuscripts B and C).¹
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: The Tempter
The term ‘the tempter’ (ho peirazwn), has no pre-Christian witness in the intertestamental or Qumran literature at all.
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: Satan
Three terms are used to describe Christ’s adversary in the Synoptic temptation accounts; ‘satan’ (ho satanas in Mark 1:12, with the vocative satana without the definite article only in Matthew 4:10), ‘the tempter’ (ho peirazwn, only in Matthew 4:3), and ‘the devil’ (ho diabolos). Elsewhere in Matthew (and only Matthew), the term ‘the evil one’ (ho ponēros), may also be used (Matthew 5:37; 6:13; 13:19, 38), though this is debated in the literature.¹
Satanology of the Apostolic Fathers: The Didache
Scholarly consensus dates the Didache at the end of the first century.¹ Although the Didache shares a Jewish ‘Two Ways’ textual source with the Epistle of Barnabas² (represented in Qumran texts such as the ‘Community Rule’ or ‘Manual of Discipline’ 1QS, 4QSa-j, 5Q11, 5Q13), it has treated this source very differently to Barnabas. Whereas Barnabas adopted and amplified the supernatural evil found in the Two Ways text, the Didache has eliminated it. This is immediately apparent from a comparison of the opening of the Didache to its parallels in 1QS and Barnabas.
When Demonology Fails: Strategies of Denial
It is significant that many Christians who profess a belief in demons, act as if they do not. They usually treat illnesses as if they were natural in origin (rather than supernatural), including those illnesses which the New Testament writers apparently attributed to demonic possession. Additionally, they interpret certain New Testament passages which appear to be speaking of illness caused by demonic possession, as if the passages are speaking of mental illness. This method of interpreting the text is known as ‘demythologization’, and it is ironic that Christians who believe in demons typically denounce such a method as invalid, whilst employing it themselves and denying this undermines their case.
Judas and His Satan
One of the most intriguing backstories that takes place in the days leading up to Jesus’ death can be found in the relationship between Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, and “Satan”:
Satanas in the Septuagint
The word “Satan” (Σατανᾶς, Satanás) in Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 21:27 (it occurs nowhere else in the Apocrypha) denotes one’s own wicked heart, as the parallelism shows:
The lexica agree on the point that the noun שָׂטָן in general means “adversary”, or “opponent.”⁶ The [word] can have this role in a number of arenas, including jurisprudence, military, and political. The lexica begin to diverge slightly only on the issue of whether or not שָׂטָן can be used as a proper name.
English Etymology of Satan
Satan (n.) Old English Satan, from Late Latin Satan (in Vulgate in Old Testament only), from Greek Satanas, from Hebrew satan “adversary, one who plots against another,” from satan “to show enmity to, oppose, plot against,” from root s-t-n “one who opposes, obstructs, or acts as an adversary.”
Satan in the Dead Sea Scrolls
As a term, śātān means “accuser” or “one who brings charges against.” In the Dead Sea Scrolls and related literature, it occurs five times. In three, perhaps four of these instances, the word is preceded by a term such as “all,” “any” (after a negative), or “no” (1QHa XXII [frag. 4], 6; XXIV [frag. 45], 3; 1 Q28b I, 8; 4Q50 41-2 IV, 12) and therefore simply refers to someone—anyone, whether angelic or human—who engages in destructive activity. The word also occurs twice in the Jubilees, found among fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and composed during the middle of the second century BCE. Jubilees states that at the end of days “there will be neither satan nor any evil who [or better: “which”] will destroy” (23:29). Here Satan refers to someone—anyone—who destroys by cutting a human being’s life short. In Jubilees 10:11, however, the word “satan” describes the activity of a figure called Mastema, whose power over a host of evil spirits is considered the cause of human suffering and idolatry afrer the time of the flood.
Diabolos, or the New Testament Devil
“A bishop must be… not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of those which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6, 7)
A History of the Devil and Satan in Old Testament Times
To begin at the beginning. The words Satan, Devil, demon, Lucifer, fallen angel, etc. simply don’t occur in the whole of the book of Genesis. Throughout the Old Testament, the one and only God is presented as all powerful, without equal and in no competition with any other cosmic force. The Old Testament makes it clear that any ‘adversary’ to God’s people was ultimately under the control of God Himself. All Angels are spoken of as being righteous and the servants of God, even “Angels of evil/disaster”, who may bring destruction upon sinners, are still God’s Angels carrying out His will and judgments. God’s people Israel initially held this view; but as has so often happened to God’s people, they mixed their true beliefs with those of the world around them. Earlier Judaism spoke of the human tendency to evil [yetser ha-ra] and the tendency to good [yetser ha-tob]. This tendency to evil they understood as being at times personified or symbolized by “the devil”: “Satan and the yetser ha-ra are one”¹. But earlier Judaism rejected the idea that angels had rebelled, and they specifically rejected the idea that the serpent in Genesis was Satan. At that time, “the Jewish devil was little more than an allegory of the evil inclination among humans”². It is noted by the editor of Dent’s edition of the Talmud that neither the Talmud nor the Midrash (the Jewish interpretations of the Law of Moses) even mention Satan as being a fallen angel.³ Even in the Zohar—a second century A.D. Jewish book that became the basis of the Kabbalah—the sitra ahra, the “dark side” is presented as an aspect of God, not independent of Him, which operates on earth as a result of human sin. The Zohar uses the ideas of the Shekhinta b’galuta [God’s glory in exile] and sitra ahra in order to speak of God’s struggle with evil and to explain its very existence. The Zohar doesn’t teach dualism, a universe split between God and Satan, but rather teaches that the struggle between good and evil occurs within God’s own self.
An Angel of Light
2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 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 submit that the Bible teaches that angels are:
Canaanite Theology Smashed
An analysis of the surrounding religious beliefs of the early Canaanite tribes at the time of the Exodus indicates that the one true God chose to reveal Himself in language which clearly alluded to the surrounding theological ideas. It has been shown that ‘El’ was the name of the most powerful Canaanite god in the plurality of deities which the Canaanites worshipped¹. The characteristics of Yahweh God of Israel are almost identical to the language of the day used to describe the Canaanite deity ‘El’². For example, ‘El’ married the prostitute Asarte, as Yahweh married the prostitute Israel (Hosea 3:1); and most noteworthy of all ‘El’ sacrificed his own son³. Significantly, ‘El’ is one of the titles which God uses for Himself in His word. Arthur Gibson points out that the name ‘Yahweh’ has similarities with the Amorite god Ya-Wi, and the Ugarit god Yahaninu⁴. So here is clear evidence that God reveals Himself in the language of the day in order to demonstrate, by the very fact of His evident superiority, that these other deities to whom He alludes did not exist; Yahweh was the true ‘El’. Those gods with similar names were nothing compared to the true Yahweh El.
Common Satans and Devils in the Septuagint
The Hebrew Scriptures were gradually translated by the Greek-speaking Jews of Egypt over a period of time ranging from the century before to the century after 200 BC. The Greek text is called the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), and is invaluable in demonstrating how the original Hebrew passages were interpreted at the time of translation. It is also important as the version of the Old Testament that was used and cited by the authors of the New Testament. In addition, we must always be aware of the possibility that it preserves an older or original version of given passages, because the Hebrew text that we now have was fixed much later, around AD 200, by the Masoretic editors.
Devil and Satan Bound
Revelation 20:2, 7 & 10: “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years”. “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison”. “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”.
A Greek Influenced Devil
The final Old Testament-era influence upon Jewish thinking about the Devil was that of the Greeks. Their idea that there was Tartarus [a place of darkness under the earth for the wicked], the Asphodel Fields [a kind of purgatory] and the Elysian Fields [a kind of heaven for the righteous] was picked up by Judaism—despite the fact that it contradicted plain Biblical revelation about the grave [“hell”] and the state of the dead, as we outline in section 2-5. And the Greeks had multiple legends of cosmic combat between the gods, some of them like Ophioneus taking the form of a serpent; and often with the sequence of rebellion and being cast out [as with Prometheus and Zeus, Phaethon etc.]. This all intermeshed with the other ideas the Jews were picking up of a personal Satan. The horns and hairy features of the Greek god Pan, the trident of Poseidon and the wings of Hermes all became incorporated in the common Jewish idea of this ‘Satan’ being, and this in turn influenced Christian misunderstandings and images of this legendary being. No wonder Origen and the early [apostate] Christian ‘fathers’ were accused by their critics such as Celsus of merely adapting pagan legends in this area of the Devil. Origen and many others tried to parry this [perfectly correct] accusation by trying to read back into Old Testament passages the pagan ideas which they had picked up. But as we show throughout Chapter 5, the results of this lack integrity and often involve quite pathetic interpretation and twisting of the Biblical texts.
Israel In Exile: The Babylonian/Persian Influence on Good and Evil
Of especially significant influence upon Judaism were the Persian views of Zoroastrianism. This was a philosophy which began in Persia about 600 B.C., and was growing in popularity when Judah went to Babylon/Persia in captivity. This philosophy posited that there was a good god of light (Mazda) and an evil god of darkness (Ahriman). The well known passage in Isaiah 45:5-7 is a clear warning to the Jews in captivity not to buy into this—Israel’s God alone made the light and the darkness, the good and the “evil”. He alone had the power to give “the treasures of darkness” to a man (Isaiah 45:3), even though such “treasures” were thought to be under the control of the supposed ‘Lord of darkness’. But Isaiah is in fact full of other allusions to Zoroastrian ideas, seeking to teach Judah the true position on these things. Thus it was taught that “Saviours will come from the seed of Zoroaster, and in the end, the great Saviour”, who would be born of a virgin, resurrect the dead and give immortality¹. These ideas are picked up in Isaiah 9:6 and applied prophetically to the ultimate Saviour, Jesus—as if to warn the Jews not to accept the prevalent Persian ideas in this area. Indeed, it appears that [under Divine inspiration] much of the Hebrew Bible was rewritten in Babylon, in order to deconstruct the ideas which Israel were meeting in Babylon². Hence we find Persian-era phrases in books like Job, which on one level were clearly very old Hebrew writings, and yet have been edited under a Persian-era hand. The Jews were also influenced by the Zoroastrian idea that somehow God Himself would never cause evil in our lives—and therefore, God is to be seen as somehow distanced from all good or evil actions, as these are under the control of the good and evil gods. Zephaniah 1:12 warns against this Persian view: “I will search Jerusalem with lamps; and I will punish the men that are settled on their lees, that say in their heart, Jehovah will not do good, neither will he do evil”. The fact is, God personally is passionately involved with this world and with our lives; and so it is He who brings about the dark and the light, good and evil.
Jesus in the Wilderness: A Study in the Language and Nature of Temptation
It may well be argued that the language of the wilderness temptations implies there was physical movement going on, e.g. the tempter came to Jesus and led Him away. We now consider how such language is relevant to our evil desires inside our mind.
Job 1:6: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them”.
Job’s Satan: An Angel-Satan?
There is a quite different interpretation possible, which also has the ring of truth to it, just as much as the suggestion that the satan was a fellow worshipper, possibly Eliphaz, who infiltrated Job’s [assembly] through the weakness of his children. There is nothing in itself wrong with an angel being called a satan—we have examples of this in Numbers 22:22 and 1 Chronicles 21:1. We know that angels can’t sin: and yet they are limited in knowledge (e.g. Matthew 24:36). An angel commented that now he knew that Abraham feared God, after he had seen his willingness to offer Isaac (Genesis 22:12); Israel’s guardian angel lead them through the wilderness in order to learn about Israel’s spirituality (Deuteronomy 8:2,3). God Himself, of course, already knew the hearts of men. The “sons of God”, in the context of the book of Job, refer to the angels (38:7). The sons of God coming before Yahweh suggests a scene in the court of Heaven, similar to that of 2 Chronicles 18:19-21, where the angels appear before Yahweh to discuss the case of Ahab, and then one angel is empowered by God to carry out his suggestion. Satan going out from the presence of Yahweh, empowered by Him to afflict Job, would correspond with other references to angels ‘going out’ from God’s presence to execute what had been agreed in the heavenly assembly (Psalms 37:36; 81:5; Zechariah 2:3; 5:5; Luke 22:22; Hebrews 1:14). Satan describes himself as going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it (1:7)—using exactly the language of Zechariah 1:11 concerning the angels. The way that the satan smote Job with a skin disease (2:7) would suggest that he was not only a mere man; accepting an angel-satan solves this problem. No unaided man could have brought a skin disease upon Job. If the satan refers to a righteous angel, it is likewise easier to understand why all the problems which the satan brought are described as God bringing them (especially as Job may have conceived of God in terms of an angel). It is also understandable why there is no rebuke of the satan at the end.
Lucifer King of Babylon
Isaiah 14:12-14: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High”.
The Orthodox Devil’s Time Line: It Doesn’t Add Up
We have explained at length in earlier chapters that ‘Satan’ and ‘Devil’ in the Bible are renderings of Hebrew and Greek words which basically mean ‘adversary’, ‘false accuser’, ‘opponent’. They can refer to persons, good or bad, who play that role. But sometimes in the New Testament, they are used more metaphorically to refer to sin, in various forms, and to systems which oppose the Gospel. Sin must be manifested through something; one cannot have abstract diabolism, it must always be manifested in a person or system of things. It is for this reason that the Devil is personified; because sin (the Devil) cannot exist in the abstract, it can only be found within the human heart and person.
Resist the Devil
James 4:7 — “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you”.
Untranslated: Satan and the Devil
Sometimes the original words of the Bible text are left untranslated (“Mammon”, in Matthew 6:24, is an Aramaic example of this). ‘Satan’ is an untranslated Hebrew word which means ‘adversary’, while ‘Devil’ is a translation of the Greek word ‘diabolos’, meaning a liar, an enemy or false accuser. ‘Satan’ has been transferred from the Hebrew untranslated, just like ‘Sabaoth’ (James 5:4), ‘Armageddon’ (Revelation 16:16) and ‘Hallelujah’ (Revelation 19:1-6). If we are to believe that Satan and the Devil are some being outside of us which is responsible for sin, then whenever we come across these words in the Bible, we have to make them refer to this evil person. The Biblical usage of these words shows that they can be used as ordinary nouns, describing ordinary people. This fact makes it impossible to reason that the words Devil and Satan as used in the Bible do in themselves refer to a great wicked person or being outside of us.
Satan as Lightning
Luke 10:18 — “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”.
Satan Entered Judas
Luke 22:3 — “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve”.
Satan from the Reformation Onwards
The Reformation led to the divide between Protestant and Catholic Christianity. This divide was bitter, and both sides eagerly demonized the other as in league with a superhuman Devil, because they were convinced that God was on their side, and their enemies therefore were of the Devil. This justified all manner of war, persecution and demonization. Protestants insisted that the Pope was Antichrist, whilst Catholics spoke of exorcising the demons of Protestantism. Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation, was obsessed with the theme of the Devil, throwing ink at him, breaking wind [passing gas] to scare him away, and ever eager to vent his obsession about the Devil in terms of his demonization of the Catholics¹. Significantly, even Luther recognized that the passage about “war in heaven” in Revelation 12 didn’t refer to anything that happened in Eden, but rather was a description of Christian persecution at the hands of their enemies. Luther believed the common idea about Satan being hurled out of Heaven in Eden, but he recognized that Revelation 12 couldn’t be used to support the idea². We discuss Revelation 12 in more detail in section 5-32. Catholic response was no less obsessive; the catechism of Canisius, a Catholic response to Luther’s Greater Catechism of 1529, mentions Satan more often than it does Jesus (67 times compared to 63 times)³. The Council of Trent blamed Protestantism on the Devil.
Satan in Paradise Lost
John Milton’s Paradise Lost, with its graphic depictions of a rebellious satan being hurled from Heaven to earth, greatly popularized the image of a personal satan. The visual images conjured up by Milton’s poem remain significant in the minds of many to this day, even if they themselves haven’t read his epic poem. But its influence has been such over the last few hundred years that many have come to assume that this actually is a reflection of Bible teaching. Let’s face it—people adopt their religious ideas more from popular culture, what they see in art, what they hear on the street, how others talk… rather than by reading books by theologians and Bible students. There’s no doubt that art played a highly significant role in fixing the idea of a personal satan in peoples’ minds—and Paradise Lost played a huge part in this¹. Milton himself admitted that he wrote the poem [among other reasons] in order to “justifie the wayes of God to men” (1.26). And this is a repeated theme we find throughout the whole history of the personal satan idea. It’s as if men feel they have to apologize for God, as well as seeking to somehow avoid the difficult fact that the Bible teaches that it is God alone who ultimately allows evil in human life.
Satan in the Middle Ages
As Christianity met with Paganism over the centuries, it picked up some of the local paganic ideas. J.B. Russell summarizes the situation in this period: “The Christian concept of the Devil was influenced by folklore elements, some from the older, Mediterranean cultures and others from the Celtic, Teutonic and Slavic religions of the north. Pagan ideas penetrated Christianity while Christian ideas penetrated paganism”¹. Thus the Celtic god of the underworld, Cernunnos, “the horned god”, was easily assimilated into Christianity, just as the pagan feast of December 25th was adopted as ‘Christmas’. The horned gods of the Scandinavians were easily compared to the Devil—and hence the idea that the Devil has horns became more popular in Christian art [although there is absolutely no Biblical association of the Devil with horns]. Hilda Davidson carefully researched Scandinavian views of the Devil figure and showed at great length how these ideas were accommodated into Christianity—rather that the radical call of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God being presented as it is, a fundamentally different worldview². Once the Devil was associated with Pan, he became presented as having hooves, goat hair and a large nose³. No longer was Satan pictured with long dark hair, but rather spikey hair like the Northern European gods of evil. Thus ‘converts’ to Christianity were allowed to keep some of their existing ideas, and these soon became part of the core fabric of popular ‘Christianity’. For example, the northern European fear of demons entering a person led them to cover their mouths when they yawned, and to fear sneezing as the intake of air could allow demons to rush in to the person. Christianity adopted these practices, adding the phrase “God bless you” whenever someone sneezed, in an attempt to Christianize the practice.
Satan in the Thought of Augustine
The great adversary/Satan to the early Christians was the Roman and Jewish systems. The Jewish system passed away in A.D. 70, and Roman opposition ceased once the empire converted to Christianity under Constantine. Visible persecution of Christians ceased, for the most part. The lack of visible adversaries perhaps encouraged mainstream Christianity to conclude that the adversary/Satan was therefore invisible and cosmic. It was against this background that Augustine came onto the scene.
Satan in the Thought of Clement and Origen
One of the most gaping problems for those who believe in a personal Devil relates to what actually happened when Christ died. Hebrews 2:14 clearly states that in His death, Christ “destroyed him that has the power of death, that is the devil”. As I’ll explain later, I find the only meaningful and Biblically consistent approach here is to understand that the Devil is used here as a personification for sin—for it is sin which brings death (Romans 6:23). The entire curse on earth as a result of human sin is described in Genesis as being brought by God and not by any personal Satan. Sin and death are very frequently connected together in the Bible (Romans 5:12, 21; 6:16,23; 7:13; 8:2; 1 Corinthians 15:56; James 1:15). In none of those passages is there the slightest hint that it is a personal Satan who brings about our death; the cause of death is ultimately human sin. Yet Origen insisted that “the Devil controls the ultimate evil, death” (Against Celsus 4.92,93). The early “fathers”, having committed themselves to belief in a personal Satan, had to face the music from the Gnostics and other critics over these issues—seeing sin and evil continued and even increase daily in the world, how can it be that Christ destroyed the Devil? A purely Biblical position would’ve had no problem answering that objection—Christ destroyed the power of sin, in that we can now be forgiven and be counted as “in Christ” by baptism. He as our representative has enabled us to become in a position whereby all that is true of Him now stands true for us; and thereby our resurrection from the dead and receipt of eternal life is assured by His grace.
Satan in the Thought of Irenaeus and Tertullian
Wrestling yet further with the problem they’d created, the “fathers” then had to deal with the issue of how the death of Christ could destroy or damage Satan. Origen, Irenaeus and Tertullian created the idea that was developed and popularized later in novels and art—that God somehow tricked Satan. The reasoning went that Satan demanded the blood of Jesus, and so he made Jesus die—but unknown to Satan, Jesus was [supposedly] God, and He rose from the grave. Not only is Jesus never defined as ‘God’ in a trinitarian sense in the Bible; but the whole suggestion is purely fictional. The blood of Jesus was not “paid” to anyone. And an almighty God doesn’t need to trick Satan in order to win a game. Again we see that our view of God affects our view of Satan, and vice versa. And we see too that a forced, unnatural and unBiblical view of the atonement affects our view of Satan too. Gnostic and other criticism of ‘Christianity’ focused easily and powerfully on these contradictions and begged questions; and the “fathers” had to dig themselves yet deeper into a tortuous and contradictory theology. They were pushed on the point of whether Satan and his angels sinned at the same time and got thrown out of Heaven together; and whether in fact Satan and his angels committed the same sin, or different ones. Tertullian’s answer was that Satan sinned by envy, and was thrown out of Heaven for this. He then adjusted his view to say that Satan was given some period of grace between his sin and his expulsion, during which he corrupted some of the angels, and then they were thrown out after him. Clement, by contrast, insisted Satan and the angels fell together, at the same time. The answers of the “fathers” were totally fictional and not tied in at all to any actual Biblical statements. And yet these desperate men insisted they were guided to their views by God, and many generations of Christendom has blindly followed them. Tertullian likewise was pushed on the issue of whether Satan was an angel, or another kind of being—as the earlier church fathers had claimed. Tertullian amended the party line to claim that actually, Satan was an angel after all. He was then pushed on the issue of how exactly Satan and the angels got down to earth from Heaven. Seeing they had to travel through the air, Tertullian claimed [Apol. 22] that the Devil and his angels had wings.
Satan in the Thought of Justin Martyr
The response of the “Church fathers” was to claim that whilst indeed the world is in the hands of Satan, baptism frees a person from the power of the Devil. Hence baptism formulae started to speak of how demons were being expelled from a person¹. This contrasted sharply with the repeated New Testament evidence that baptism is for the forgiveness of personal sins, a becoming “in Christ”, covered against sin by His sacrifice (Acts 2:37,38; Colossians 2:12-14). None of the New Testament baptism passages, notably the exposition of baptism in Romans 6 and the institution of baptism in the great commission, ever mentioned it as being in order to exorcise demons or free us from the power of a personal being called the Devil. Produced around 180 A.D., the Apocryphal “Acts of Peter” consciously attempted to blend Gnosticism and Christianity by claiming that the negative aspects of this world are the fault of a personal Satan who snared Adam and “bound him… by the chain of the [human, sinful] body”. The Genesis record remains silent—and it’s a deafening silence—about any ‘Satan’ tempting Adam. The New Testament likewise states simply that sin entered the world by Adam—not by anyone or anything else (Romans 5:12).
Satan in the Thought of Lactantius and Athanasius
In the third and fourth centuries, Lactantius and Athanasius appeared as the leading Christian thinkers about the Devil. They continued the struggle to justify belief in a personal, fallen angel Devil against the obvious holes in the argument. In doing so they succeeded in accreting [expanding] yet more to the Devil idea, at times backtracking to or contradicting the arguments of previous “fathers”, as well as adding their own variations on the theme.
Satan in Zechariah 3
According to Deuteronomy 32:8,9 LXX, humanity has been divided up “according to the number of the angels of God”; each nation has its angelic representative in Heaven. These angels are spoken of as being ‘punished’ in the sense that their charges on earth are punished. Note the parallelism in Isaiah 24:21,22:
Satan Takes Away the Word
Mark 4:15 — “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts”.
Practical Implications of an Inner Devil: Battle for the Mind, Not Blaming Others
We’re going to now take a break from the theology, and look at where all this leads in practice. We have spoken of history, of ideas, of theology, of Biblical interpretation. But if we leave all this at the level of mere ideas, lodged merely within some complex brain chemistry beneath our skulls—we will have totally missed the point. These ‘ideas’ must have real encounter with our whole personalities. I mean that reading the Bible, or this book or that book about the Bible as we ride to work or a few pages each night before sleep takes us… really should and can have a gripping effect upon human personality, upon our entire world-view, taking us far beyond our safe, sleepy little bedtime studies, out into the most fundamental issues of the cosmos, and into the real issues of the dirty lives we humans live out on the face of this spectacularly beautiful planet. The fruit of correct understanding of these issues will in the end be love, and walking humbly with our God. We now want to reflect on what these ideas mean for us in these intensely practical terms. I urge you to take these reflections especially seriously; for I believe there is a huge danger in purely academic study of God’s word which doesn’t lead to any praxis. For all that he was a Roman Catholic priest, Raimundo Panikkar put it well: “If intellectual activity divorces itself from life, it becomes not only barren and alienating, but also harmful and even criminal [because]… I am convinced that we live in a state of human emergency that does not allow us to entertain ourselves with bagatelles”¹.
Sons of God and Daughters of Men
Genesis 6:2-4: “…the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown”.
Tertullian and the Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s prayer “deliver us from evil” began to be quite arbitrarily translated by Tertullian as “deliver us from the evil one”, as if referring to a personal Satan. But the Greek text certainly doesn’t require this translation. In Greek, the phrase “from evil” can be understood as either neuter (“the [abstract] evil”) or masculine, “the evil one”, personifying the evil. God does lead men and women to the time of evil/testing—Abraham commanded to offer Isaac, and the testing of Israel by God in the desert are obvious examples. It’s observable that the Lord Jesus Himself prayed most parts of His model prayer in His own life situations. “Your will be done… Deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4) were repeated by Him in Gethsemane, when He asked for God’s will to be done and not His, and yet He prayed that the disciples would be delivered from evil (John 17:15, [AV, Young’s]). Paul’s letters are full of allusion to the Gospel records, and those allusions enable us to correctly interpret the passages alluded to. He uses the same Greek words for “deliver” and “evil” when he expresses his confidence that “the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). Paul likewise had his inspired mind on this phrase of the Lord’s prayer when he commented that the Lord Jesus died in order “that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God” (Galatians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:3). Clearly enough, Paul didn’t understand “the evil” to be a personal Satan, but rather the “evil” of this world and those who seek to persecute believers. Perhaps the Lord Jesus Himself based this part of His prayer on Old Testament passages like 1 Chronicles 4:10; Psalms 25:22; 26:11; 31:8; 34:22; 69:18; 78:35,42; 140:1 and Proverbs 2:12; 6:24, which ask for ‘deliverance’ from evil people, sin, distress, tribulation etc. here on earth. Not one of those passages speaks of deliverance from a personal, superhuman Satan. Esther’s prayer in Esther 4:19 LXX is very similar—“Deliver us from the hand of the evildoer”, but that ‘evildoer’ was Haman, not any personal, superhuman Satan. Even if we insist upon reading ‘the evil one’, “the evil one” in the Old Testament was always “the evil man in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:12; 19:19; 22:21-24 cp. 1 Corinthians 5:13)—never a superhuman being. And there may be another allusion by the Lord to Genesis 48:16, where God is called the One “who has redeemed me from all evil”. As the Old Testament ‘word made flesh’, the thinking of the Lord Jesus was constantly reflective of Old Testament passages; but in every case here, the passages He alluded to were not concerning a superhuman Devil figure. God ‘delivers from’ “every trouble” (Psalms 54:7), persecutors and enemies (Psalms 142:6; 69:14)—but as Ernst Lohmeyer notes, “There is no instance of the [orthodox understanding of the] devil being called ‘the evil one’ in the Old Testament or in the Jewish writings”⁵.
The Anointed Cherub
Ezekiel 28:13-15 — “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold; the workmanship of they tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou are the anointed cherub that covereth and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee”.
The Deconstruction of the ‘Satan’ Myth in Job
It strikes me as ironic that the mention of ‘Satan’ in the early chapters of Job has been speed-read as evidence for the orthodox concept of Satan as an evil being in opposition to God. For on closer reading of Job, especially against its background of Canaanite and Babylonian myths about Satan, it becomes apparent that one purpose of the book is to deconstruct the myth of an evil ‘Satan’ figure. The epic poem demonstrates that God is all powerful, the ultimate source of calamity, and yet He works through this to the ultimate happy blessing of His children.
The Devil After the New Testament
The New Testament reveals the same God as in the Old Testament. God is still presented as the source of our trials, of judgment, and the origin of sin is even more repeatedly located in the human mind. God’s supremacy is emphasized just as it was in the Old Testament. Even the beast of Revelation 17:17 ‘fulfills His will’. Those persecuted by it “suffer according to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:19). But the history we’re now going to consider reflects yet once again how God’s people have an endless desire to add to and change the most basic teachings of God’s word.
The Devil and Satan in Recent Thought
Even with my back to the world, I hope I’d stand for Bible truth regardless of what anyone else thought. We must do and believe what is right before God, rather than what is smart and trendy before our surrounding society. But I realize that for many, the rejection of the idea of a superhuman Satan is a major issue, and for some this may be their first encounter with any alternative idea. To provide somewhat of a human cushion for the changeover of thinking, a slightly softer landing, I’ve referenced throughout this book the views of many who have made this rejection of pagan superstition in favour of Bible truth. And in this section I wish to give some more recent examples. But name dropping of supporting voices is irrelevant in the final analysis—for we must each unflinchingly set our face to understand the problem of sin and evil in accordance with God’s truth, as revealed in the Bible.
The Devil and Satan: The Hard Questions
The common understanding of the Devil as a fallen angel and personal being throws up a huge number of unanswerable questions—unanswerable, at least, within Scripture. This led Shelley to point out that popular Christianity’s view of the Devil was its weakest point: “The devil… is the weak place of the popular religion—the vulnerable belly of the crocodile… Christians invented or adopted the Devil to extricate them from this difficulty [of trying to understand the existence of a good God and the reality of evil]”¹. J.B. Russell thought likewise: “This has always been the weakest seam in Christian theology”². The sheer volume of contradictory mainstream Christian explanations of Satan and the mass of unanswered questions they generate is all confirmation of this observation. Within the context of speaking about practical consequences of our beliefs in this area, I wish to list these questions. I do so because any basis for belief, any framework for understanding the Gospel, which has so many gaping contradictions and difficulties is hardly going to inspire a solid, dynamic, stable relationship with God. The issues of sin and evil are ever present in our daily lives; and I sincerely believe that without a sound way of understanding the issue, a hermeneutic if you like, these contradictions and apparently ‘theoretical’ difficulties will come to term in a disordered and insecure life. So very often, it is a struggle with these issues [‘How could God do this or allow that?’] which leads to even a total loss of faith; and conversely, it is being able to make sense of sin and evil which allows God to confirm our faith through those negative experiences. So here are some of the questions thrown up by the mistaken ideas imported into Christendom on the devil issue—I catalogue them as part of my unashamed appeal for you to turn away from the common but false understanding of Satan which exists:
The Devil’s Own Heart
The translation of the Greek text in John 13:2 has been problematic. “The devil having put into the heart of Judas” doesn’t quite do justice to what the Greek is really saying. The respected expositor and Greek student C.K. Barratt insists that strictly, the Greek means ‘the devil had put into his own [i.e. the devil’s] heart, that Judas should betray Jesus’¹. This translation is almost impossible to make any sense of given the orthodox understanding of the ‘devil’. And so most popular translations ignore the obvious difficulty by glossing over the strict meaning of the Greek. Understanding the ‘devil’ as the innate source of temptation within the human heart, the picture becomes clearer.
The Devil, Satan and Demons
It has been explained earlier that the Devil or Satan is not a personal being or monster. We’ve explained that the words simply mean ‘the adversary’, or ‘false accuser’. Sometimes these ideas are used in a metaphorical sense to refer to the sinful tendencies innate within human nature. If we accept that there is no such being as ‘Satan’, then it surely follows that demons, who are held to be the servants of the Devil, also do not exist. Many people seem to think that God gives us all the good things of life, and the Devil and his demons give us the bad things, and take away the good things which God gives us. But as we approach the specific issue of demons, let’s recap some of the basic Bible principles covered earlier.
The Origin of Sin and Evil
Many believe that there is a being or monster called the Devil or Satan who is the originator of the problems which are in the world and in our own lives, and who is responsible for the sin which we commit. The Bible clearly teaches that God is all-powerful. We have seen in Study 2-1 that the angels cannot sin. If we truly believe these things, then it is impossible that there is any supernatural being at work in this universe that is opposed to Almighty God. If we believe that such a being does exist, then surely we are questioning the supremacy of God Almighty. Hence the importance of the matter. We are told in Hebrews 2:14 that Jesus destroyed the Devil by His death; therefore unless we have a correct understanding of the Devil, we are likely to misunderstand the work and nature of Jesus.
The Power of Satan
Acts 26:18 — “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, 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”.
The Protestors: Resistance to the Popular Concept of the Devil
The Biblical conclusions of my next chapter are that the words ‘Satan’ [adversary] and ‘Devil’ [false accuser] are simply words which can be used in Scripture with no negative connotation; and that at times they essentially refer to the greatest ‘adversary’ we face, namely sin. Further, the idea of a personal Satan, a fallen angel, is simply not found in the Bible text. It is Scriptural study alone which is the basis for my conclusions, and I hope I would stand by them even with the whole world against me. For many readers these conclusions will be startling and concerning. But it should be appreciated that I am far from alone in having come to these understandings. Well known Christian writers and thinkers have come to just the same conclusions.
Some Conclusions on the Real Devil: A Network of Bible Truth
‘Satan’ in the Bible is a role, not a personal individual. It’s simply impossible to force every Bible reference to Satan to apply to a personal being of supernatural evil. There must be another approach or hermeneutic—and I suggest that this is in accepting that ‘satan’ simply means an adversary, and can refer to both good and bad adversaries of specific things at specific times.
The Satan in Job: A Fellow Worshipper?
Such a strong case can be made for the “satan” being a fellow worshipper that there simply must be some truth in it. “There was a day [a set feast] when the sons of God [the believers—1 John 3:1; Matthew 5:9] came to present themselves before Yahweh [before a priest, or other representative of Yahweh, probably at an altar, Deuteronomy 19:17; Psalms 42:2], and Satan came also among them”. Here we have a picture of an early ecclesia [assembly]; scattered believers coming together for a special meeting, the forerunner of our breaking of bread service. As we walk, drive, ride on train or bus, to our memorial meetings, we are repeating what in principle has been done by the sons of God from earliest times. The “satan” says he has been “going to and from in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7). There is good reason, linguistically and theologically, to think that the events of Job occurred early in spiritual history (compare the mentions of “Jobab” and some of the friends in 1 Chronicles 5). There are also many links with the early chapters of Genesis. We should therefore see Satan’s description of himself as being in the context of Genesis 4:12-14, where Cain is made a wanderer in the earth because of his bitter jealousy against his righteous brother. So the “satan” may have been another believer who was in some sense ‘out of fellowship’, and yet still came to the gatherings of the believers to express his envy of Job. The reference to the sons of God coming together in worship before a priest or altar comes straight after the record of Job’s children holding rather riotous birthday parties (1:4). “All the days”, each day, they did this, Job offered sacrifice for them (1:5 AV mg.); but then “there was a day” when the sons of God came to keep a feast to Yahweh. It seems that we are led to connect the keeping of days. It could be that the sons of God were in fact Job’s children. They came together to party and kill their fatted calves, and then they came together to kill their sacrifices; but the difference was, that then they allowed the “satan” to come in among them. Young preachers, take your lesson.
The Serpent in Eden
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
The Temptation of Jesus
Matthew 4:1-11: “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 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. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at anytime thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him”.
The Wilderness Temptations: A Window into the Mind of Jesus
We have shown that our Lord’s experiences were similar to those of Israel in the wilderness. The following are additional comments which give greater insight into His temptations:
The Wiles of the Devil
Ephesians 6:11-13: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”.
The Woman Bound by Satan
Luke 13:11-17 And a woman was there who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years; she was bent over and could in no way straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her: Woman, you are free from your infirmity. And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue, being moved with indignation because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, answered and said to the crowd: There are six days in which men ought to work. In them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day. But the Lord answered them and said: You hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath release his ox or his ass from the stall and lead him away for watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound for eighteen years, to have been freed from this bond on the Sabbath day? And as he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the crowd rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
"To be spiritually minded”: The Essence Of Christianity
The state of our hearts, what we think about, is of supreme importance. We all carry on conversations with ourselves, often involving us imagining certain situations and how we would speak or act to a person. The intended result of all our trials and experiences, of our belief in all the true Bible doctrines which comprise the good news, is that we should become spiritually minded. This is the end result of believing; membership of a denomination, Bible reading, believing the right doctrines… all these things are only means to an end, and that end is to develop the mind of Christ, to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The wicked will be rejected for the state of their hearts, rather than their specific actions; hence God’s summary of why He rejected the wilderness generation was that “It is a people that do err in their heart” (Psalms 95:10). Similarly, God could have condemned Babylon for a whole host of sinful actions; but His essential, repeated reason was because of how they spoke in their hearts (Isaiah 47:10; Zephaniah 2:15; Revelation 18:17). And He gave the same reason for His condemnation of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:2) and Edom (Obadiah 1:3). The more we come to know ourselves, the more we will perceive the importance of self-talk. I take Ecclesiastes to be Solomon’s self-examination at the end of his life. Five times in this short book he describes how “I said in my heart…” (Ecclesiastes 2:1,15 [twice]; 3:17,18). As he looked back and analyzed how and why he had lived and been as he had, he appreciated that it was all a result of his self-talk, how he had spoken to himself in his mind. His introspection reveals just how we talk to ourselves—e.g. “I said in my heart, ‘Go on now, I will prove you with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure’” (Ecclesiastes 2:1). We all talk to ourselves; and the records of the Lord’s wilderness temptations are an amazing psychological window into the self-talk of God’s very own son. As we know, He answered every temptation that arose within His self-talk with quotations from Scripture. He lived out in reality David’s words: “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin” (Psalms 119:11—cp. how God’s word was in the heart of men like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Jeremiah 20:9; Ezekiel 3:10). This, then, is the ultimate fruit of familiarity with Scripture, of the “daily reading of the Bible” which has been the catch-cry of every serious Christian community.
Your Father the Devil
John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it”.
Tempted of the Devil
The baptism of Jesus was followed immediately by his temptation: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:11). Here was the immediate inevitable clash between the two natures in the Son of God. The phrases “led of the Spirit” and “tempted of the devil” use the same preposition, as though emphasizing these two natures in him.
A Biblical Exposition of that Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan: Chapter 1
Sound thinking, that is, cultivated and well-directed common sense, applied to the discovery of truth, either natural or revealed, has followed the rule, That nothing ought to be believed as true, unless its truth can be demonstrated by an appeal to the facts recorded in the book of Creation, or to those revealed in the book of Revelation.
The God of Order versus the Devil's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence
In the preceding Chapters we have endeavoured to demonstrate that there is no such being as the Devil, and have opened up the true meaning attached to the terms “devil,” “satan,” “demon,” and have shown that these are applicable to conditions in which the primary idea represented in each has appended to it some particularity justifying the distinct appellation.
The Devil and the Falsely-accusing State of Mind of Man
Man has three departments in his constitution, an animal, selfish in its tendencies; a moral and religious, or spiritual, universal in its tendencies; and an intellectual, operative in the formation and communication of ideas. The institutions of society are, in general, appeals to man’s nature; they patronise self; they give nutriment to self; they draw forth the abundant and destructive fruits of self. The religion of Christ, on the other hand, appeals to man’s moral and religious nature; it cultivates universality of feeling and the love-neighbour principle; it draws forth the fruits of kindness, of mercy, of justice, and of true humility God-ward. The distinction between the institutions of society and the requirements of the truth is forcibly depicted by the great teacher: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, love thine enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain, On the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” Matthew 5:38-48.
A Biblical Exposition of that Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan: Chapter 3
Another term which has been referred to in the preceding examination of the devil is....
Satan and the Adverse State of Health and Mind
It was proved in the previous Chapter that the word sathan or satan is applied, in a variety of instances, to human beings, and that the particular feature constituting a human being a satan is that the being is in a state of opposition—that is, in the attitude or relation of an adversary to the individual with whom he is brought into relationship. To be in such a state of opposition is to be an adversary; and that this word is strictly expressive of the meaning of the Hebrew word satan was proved, and many instances the Common Version of the Scriptures, where the word is so translated, were given.
The Devil of the Bible
In medieval times the devil was pictured as an immortal monster with great horns and hoofs, a fiendish character who tortured unfortunate sinners condemned to “hell.” A painting depicting such a creature tending the fires of hell, suggesting unbelievable torture of the victims, is still in existence in a church in England.
Two Jots, No Tittles
In Judaism, the “yetzer hara” refers to the inclination to do evil, present at birth, which is capable of violating the will of God. The term is drawn from the phrase “the imagination of the heart of man [is] evil” which occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible, at Genesis 6:5 and 8:21. Within Judaism, stretching all the way back to the Second Temple Period, the “yetzer hara” was synonymous with “Satan.”
Satan (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning “adversary” Arabic: شيطان shaitan, meaning; “astray,” “distant,” or sometimes “devil”) is a figure of opposition appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions. Some religious groups teach that this figure originated as an angel who fell out of favor with God, seducing humanity into the ways of sin, and who has power in the fallen world. In the Hebrew Bible, however, the noun has been used to simply represent an accuser or adversary.