The Devil and his Angels

The Bible Description.

The Bible is not silent on how it depicts the devil or Satan. In fact, the devil is seen to take on a variety of forms, just as in the past the devil has been sketched in a variety of forms. Some of these sketches are shown alongside the Bible quotes, but are there purely to illustrate how they parallel past thought.

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be set free for a short time.” Revelation 20:2, 3

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Peter 5:8

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. ‘ ” Matthew 16:23

In these three instances, the descriptions have been diverse from each other. Admittedly each sketch used above is a person’s interpretation of what the Bible was describing, but a serpent (or snake) is as diverse from a lion as is a man! What then did the Bible expect us to understand from its visual imagery?

When we look again at the quotes from the New Testament of the Bible, we see that the description that the Bible is providing is not intending to be a literal one. For example, we know that the devil is not a lion, and probably doesn’t even remotely resemble one physically. But it may well resemble a lion in its nature — frightening, aggressive, and dangerous. The devil may not physically look like a snake, but it may have similar attributes – stealth, and capable of inflicting death. Peter was accused of being Satan, not because he was Satan, but because he represented the works of Satan.

So what message is the Bible telling us with respect to the devil and Satan?

To obtain the answer, we must open our vision to new horizons that are unshackled from centuries of tradition and beliefs, and look candidly with fresh vision at what the Bible actually says about the devil.

The Devil Destroyed!

It might seem incredible to you, but the Bible claims that the devil was destroyed when Jesus died on the cross.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2: 14, 15

If we limit our view to that of tradition, we cannot make sense of this quotation, for isn’t the devil as active as ever today, and isn’t he to be held in the Abyss for a thousand years sometime yet in the future? How then could the New Testament writer to the Hebrews claim that Jesus’ death destroyed the devil? Since Jesus was only to die once, his death must have achieved its goal at that time. How did he destroy the devil if it is indeed true that the devil exists today? To understand the situation it is necessary to go back to the beginning of mankind as narrated in the opening chapters of the Bible.

The Genesis Record.

The first chapters of the book of Genesis narrate the creation of the earth and the establishment of plants, animals, and mankind. The first human pair, Adam and Eve, were placed in park-like surroundings in the garden of Eden. But all was not destined to remain as paradise:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?‘ Genesis 3:1

The narrative goes on to relate how Eve listened to the serpent, and then did as the serpent had suggested – she ate from the tree that God had specifically forbidden.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3: 6, 7

God reacted to this by pronouncing a sentence on each of the players:

Serpent:
Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the animals!
You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Eve:
I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

Adam:
Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it’, Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 3: 14–17, 19, 23

This is the Bible record of how sin entered the world, and the Bible reflection on how sin subsequently affected the world. When we look at this record, simple as it is, we see that there are three parties involved in both the incident itself, and the subsequent curse by God: The serpent, Eve, and Adam. There is no mention of either the devil or Satan. If a devil called Satan was involved, then it would appear that he escaped any judgement on his action, and let the serpent take the blame, and to be punished for ever for something that it was not guilty of doing. This would not have been a fair result from an all-knowing God!

The serpent in Eden had been created as the wisest of the animals, apart from man himself. It had obviously been given powers of reasoning and of speech. Following the ‘fall’ of Adam and Eve, it became the serpent, or snake, that we are familiar with today. It also became, in Bible terms, the symbol for everything that the original serpent did to introduce the ‘fall’ of mankind, namely sin. This is demonstrated some thousands of years later when the children of Israel were in the wilderness journey between Egypt and the Promised Land. They encountered there some venomous snakes, and called on God to help.

The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.
“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” Numbers 21: 7-9

This pole, which saved the people at that time, itself became an object of idol worship, as recorded in a later narrative:

He [King Hezekiah] removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)” 2 Kings 18:4

So we begin to appreciate how the serpent, or snake, began to be worshipped as a symbol associated with sin.

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    Lea
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    Lea

    Hi Jason, thank you for this information, it clears lots of things up for me. However I was wondering the same question Lisa had back in June. Who is Lucifer?

    Jason
    Guest
    Jason

    Hi Lea, The origin of Lucifer was from the Latin word “lucifer” which meant “light-bringing” and was the word used in the Latin Vulgate translation of Isaiah 14:12. In the Latin language it referred to such things as the moon and the brightest stars. In this instance, the translators of the KJV chose to transfer the word from the Vulgate to their English translation without translating it into English. All modern versions translate it correctly as “Day star” or “morning star”. The Latin Vulgate also used the word “lucifer” in Job 11:17 (the meaning there being “the light of the… Read more »

    Robert
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    Robert

    In regard to whom the Serpent is in Genesis, and alluded to in God’s taunt against the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:1ff (v.13) is described in full within John’s Revelation (12:9), in revealing the Dragon. The Serpent of old was a created “”beast of the field”” endowed with special beauty, abilities and status “”until iniquity was found in him.”” The Serpent of old (i.e., the devil, the Satan) was not created as an angel, but was allowed to appear before the “”sons of God”” regarding Job, and tempted Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4. The Evil One has… Read more »

    Taught
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    Taught

    The reason Satan isnt responsible for introducing sin is simply because Adam ate the forbidden fruit- or more importantly- disobeyed God. Sin and Death would not have entered the world if he had refused his wife’s invitation to eat. However, the REAL personage of Satan has been denounced and is reserved for judgement. Satan is in many of the O;d Testament scriptures: Gen (obvious); Job (Jehovah spoke right to him and he responded as a person talking boldly about his strolls in the earth and being up to no-good); Psalms (refers many times to the “”wicked one””); Ezekiel (Takes care… Read more »

    Mia
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    Mia

    That is absolutely correct..

    Lisa
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    Lisa

    Hi Jason. Thanks for your detail explanations. but there’s one more thing i still need to know and understand.. If Satan is a formed of human dark thoughts because we are on the low level of existences..So who is the Lucifer that is being called as the Fallen Angel and what is the relation between him and sin. Jesus died and resurrected and then destroyed death. and who is the AntiChrist who’ll come to the world and will be destroyed killed by Jesus in His 2nd Coming? is Lucifer the AntiChrist, what makes him dangerous towards human, if human himself… Read more »

    KB
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    KB

    Oh Yeah, I almost forgot…Who is the God of this world if Satan is just a word that describes adversary? Certainly not our thoughts…please explain..

    KB
    Guest
    KB

    Also, back to Eden. Who or what was the reptile who seduced Eve into trangressing the law? If it was only Eve’s thoughts that tempted her, then why give a reptilian being credit by way of analogy at all? Why not just say SHE had an epiphany and decided to eat the fruit to prove to Adam that nothing would happen to them? Thank you in advance for your consideration.I will post more questions as they come to me.

    KB
    Guest
    KB

    “And also, just to be clear, you are saying that there is nor has there ever been an evil being who tempts mankind into sin…there is only God and our minds at war here. when I say mind, I mean our thoughts and nature. Please explain the scripture that states, Woe unto the inhabitants of the earth for the devil has come down among you..Im terrible with quoting scriptures by chapter and verse as well as verbatim, Im paraphrasing here, but I know that’s scriptural. Who is HE? And why is time of the essence to him as he “”knows… Read more »

    KB
    Guest
    KB

    Hi Jason. Thank you for the article..I have a question or two and would appreciate your thoughts or understanding regarding the matter of Noah and the flood. I think I may already know the answer to this, but just for clarification, please explain to me the PURPOSE of the flood. Then explain to me How could Noah (a known sinner in the form of a drunkard) be spared from destruction when Jesus Christ had not yet been born or sacrificed as the ultimate atonement for the sins of all Mankind. In other words, If Noah and his offspring were sinful,… Read more »