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Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Liberty University

THE THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF SATAN

Submitted to

Dr. Fred Smith

in partial completion of course requirements for

THEO 525 – Systematic Theology I

Elke Speliopoulos

Downingtown, PA

December 17, 2009


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THESIS STATEMENT

This paper will show that while the theological development of Satan is much stronger in the
New Testament than in the Old Testament, a consistency can be uncovered by studying the Old
Testament intently that gives a clear understanding that Satan as a malevolent entity is under the
control of a sovereign omnipotent God from ages past to a yet unfulfilled future.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................................1

THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT...............................................2

FROM “THE SATAN” TO “SATAN”.......................................................................................3

EARLY ENCOUNTERS.............................................................................................................5

WHO DO ISAIAH AND EZEKIEL REFER TO?......................................................................6

SATAN IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD IN OLD TESTAMENT..............................................7

INTERTESTAMENTAL PHASE...................................................................................................7

THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT..............................................9

NAMES OF SATAN.....................................................................................................................10

THE DEVIL...............................................................................................................................10

THE SERPENT.........................................................................................................................10

BE-ELZEBUL...........................................................................................................................11

RULER OF THE WORLD........................................................................................................11

THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR........................................................................12

THE EVIL ONE........................................................................................................................12

THE CHURCH FATHERS AND OTHERS ON SATAN............................................................12

CONNECTING THE TESTAMENTS..........................................................................................13

CONCLUSION..............................................................................................................................14
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APPENDIX A – TAXONOMY OF SPIRIT BEINGS..................................................................17

APPENDIX B – DISPOSITION OF SPIRIT BEINGS................................................................18

BIBLIOGRAPHY..........................................................................................................................19

BIBLIOGRAPHY
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INTRODUCTION

From one of the very first chapters of the Bible, where we are introduced to Satan’s

disruptive role, to the very last book, where he meets his end, Satan plays a prominent role

throughout Scripture. He has also occupied the minds of Christians throughout the centuries,

starting with the apostles and the church fathers. To the 21st century believer, it is clear who

Satan is – or is it? Christians, of course, are well aware of the spiritual battle, which Paul has

helped them understand in passages such as Romans 8:38-391 and Ephesians 6:122.

However, this image of Satan and his cohorts, the demons, has taken on a theological life

of its own in popular literature, such as Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, published in 1986,

and the follow-up Piercing the Darkness, published in 1989, by no longer reflecting the image of

Satan as presented in the pages of the Bible. Rather, Wells calls this view of the powers of good

and evil in the form of angels and demons “Zoroastrianism in modern garb”, as all activities in

life are presented in the books as either angelic or demonic.3 To quote Lightner, “God and Satan

are not similar to the good side and the dark side of the ‘force’ portrayed in Star Wars. Such a

dualistic concept is foreign to God’s Word.”4

As this paper will show, the theological development of Satan is decidedly more complex

and decidedly less dualistic in the scriptural references. Much information about Satan’s

relationship to God can be gleaned from the pages of the Old Testament that teach us about
1 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will
be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, ESV)

2 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the
cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians
6:12, ESV)

3. David F. Wells, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (Grand
Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1994), 178-79.

4. Robert Lightner, Angels, Satan and Demons: Invisible Beings that Inhabit the Spiritual World, ed.
Charles R. Swindoll (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1998), 66.
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God’s sovereignty over all his creation, including Satan. A correct understanding is of utmost

importance as the ultimate picture of Satan makes it clear that, while a powerful and personal

force, he is ultimately subjected to God’s direction and control.

THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Unlike the New Testament, the Old Testament does not provide a well developed concept

of Satan.5 In the passages where the Old Testament speaks of Satan, the term speaks of a role or

function more so than a personal name. This warrants investigation to clarify how the Old

Testament authors understood the role of HaSatan, or the Satan. Furthermore, as Walton recently

pointed out at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, a comparison of the

taxonomy and disposition of spirit beings is warranted. This would include both benevolent and

malevolent beings, especially in light of Ancient Near East (ANE) writings, as it helps in the

understanding of how Satan was understood by the writers of the Old Testament.6 As will be

seen in the section on the theological development of Satan in the New Testament, Walton’s

explanation will also help understand the shift in how Satan is presented by the New Testament

writers.

FROM “THE SATAN” TO “SATAN”

ָּׂ (śā-ṭān) in three places in the Old


Satan is encountered by the specific Hebrew term ‫שָטן‬

Testament: in the prologue of Job, in Zechariah 3:1-2, and in 1 Chronicles 21:1. The Hebrew

term ‫שָטן‬
ָּׂ in its occurrences in the Old Testament is translated “as ‘Satan’ 19 times, ‘adversary’

seven times, and ‘withstand’ once”7. A closer look at the occurrences of ‫שָטן‬
ָּׂ in the first two
5. Sidney H. T. Page, “Satan: God's Servant,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol 50, no. 3
(The Evangelical Theological Society, 2007; 2008), 449.

6. John H. Walton, “Demons in the Ancient Near East, Israel and the Bible”, (New Orleans, Louisiana:
Paper presented at the ETS National Meeting, November 18, 2009).

7. James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Showing Every Word of the Text of the
Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order.,
electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996).
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examples in Job and Zechariah shows that ‫שָטן‬


ָּׂ is not a proper name, but rather appears to be a

role or function. Interestingly, there are no cognates to the Hebrew term ‫שָטן‬
ָּׂ in other Semitic

languages.8

In Hebrew, several other interpretations are possible. Among them are a “supernatural

‘adversary’, including one who attempted to block the way in a determined fashion…, an enemy

one faced in battle…, an opponent to royal policy…, a rival for the throne…, an adversary in

international relations…, or an ‘accuser’ in a court.”9 Page confirms this interpretation and

elaborates on the role of Satan in this context. In his view, it is critical to understand that the

Hebrew word ‫שָטן‬


ָּׂ is a rather common noun, indicating an opponent or adversary, even in a

military context. As already mentioned, only in three passages in the Old Testament is this

adversary depicted as a supernatural being in opposition to God: in the prologue of Job,

Zechariah 3:1-2 and 1 Chronicles 21:1.10 The first two list Satan with the definite article ‫( ה‬hă),

while 1 Chronicles uses the term for the first time as a personal name, however this has recently

been questioned and may represent a common noun after all, as in an unnamed adversary.11

Page makes it clear that especially in the Job passage, the Satan is depicted as a

“prosecuting attorney who has the unenviable task of bringing charges against human beings but

is nonetheless a loyal member of Yahweh’s retinue” 12, yet always in a subordinate role, pointing

out to God inconsistencies in meetings of the heavenly council, and only able to do what

Yahweh allows him to do. However, there is some ambivalence as to who does the actual

afflicting of Job. In Job 1:11 and 2:5, it is Yahweh who stretches out His hand. In other

8. Dictionary of the Old Testament Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings, eds. Tremper Longman III and Peter
Enns (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2008), 714.

9. Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 914.

10. Page, “Satan: God's Servant,” 449.

11. Ibid., 454.

12. Ibid., 449.


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examples, it is the Satan doing the work of afflicting Yahweh’s loyal servant Job.13 Page writes,

“Seeing Yahweh behind the harmful actions of otherworldly forces is not foreign to the biblical

world of thought.”14 In Zechariah, Page sees a bit of a shift in the Satan to someone who is

actually bringing accusations, in this case against Joshua. However, the setting again appears to

be a meeting of the heavenly council. Zechariah, like the writer of Job, depicts Satan in a

functionary role that is subordinate to Yahweh.15

Routledge is not as optimistic as Page about the role of the Satan in Job and Zechariah.

To him, it is difficult to see Satan as a loyal servant in Job and even more difficult to see him as

simply doing his duty in Zechariah.16 He provides a cultural comparison for the role of the Satan

when he writes that his task, “like the roving secret police of the Persian Empire, was to spy on

the disaffected and report disloyalty to the king.” 17 Chisholm agrees that there is a shift in

Zechariah to the Jobian passage, in that while the nature of the Satan is not fully revealed as

being evil, the accuser here appears to have malevolent intentions.18

The development of “the Satan” to “Satan” becomes apparent in 1 Chronicles 21:1,

where Satan now seems to become a personal name, however, as mentioned, this is debated. The

understanding of Satan appears to have developed to the existence of a “supernatural being

opposed to God, to whom evil could be attributed.”19 Page adds an interesting observation to the

1 Chronicles passage’s shift from laying the blame for the census taking by David on the

incitement by God (in 2 Samuel 24:1, a parallel passage) to one caused by Satan: he believes
13. Ibid., 451.

14. Ibid., 452.

15. Ibid., 451. .

16. Robin Routledge, Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity
Press, 2008), 123.

17. Ibid., 122.

18. Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Handbook on the Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 460.

19. Routledge, Old Testament Theology.


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“this may be due in part to a growing reluctance to attribute evil directly to God” and that this

introduces the same uncertainty as in the divine versus satanic causing of Job’s suffering.20

EARLY ENCOUNTERS

As far back as Genesis 3, Christians have been taught to see the first encounter with

Satan. However, as Routledge reminds his readers, the presentation of temptation is in the form

of a snake and has analogies to ANE mythology, where “chaos monsters are sometimes depicted

as serpents.”21 The association of the serpent to Satan does not occur until later in Judaic writings

(the earliest text here is Wisdom of Solomon, dating from the time of the start of Christianity) and

is further developed in New Testament times.22

WHO DO ISAIAH AND EZEKIEL REFER TO?

Isaiah 14:12-17 has been the depiction of Satan’s fall to many Christians through the

centuries, while another passage in Ezekiel 28 has given them additional insights into Satan,

which will be discussed further on. However, these passages have raised the rightful critical

observation that these poetic lines may not be depicting Satan after all.

ׁ‫( ֶּבן־‬hê-lēl běn šā-ḥăr), which Jerome translated in the


Isaiah 14:12 speaks of ‫שַָחר ֵהיֵלל‬

Latin Vulgate as Lucifer. The original term translates to “Helel son of Shachar”, according to the

NET Bible’s translation note on the passage, assumed to be a name for either the morning star,

Venus, or a crescent moon.23 Buksbazen adds here that “Helel” means “the shining one” and

“ben shachar” “the son of the dawn”. 24 The translators of the NET Bible do not see this passage

20. Ibid., 454-55.

21. Ibid., 148.

22. Ibid.

23. NET Bible (n.p.: Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., 1996-2007), 1292 tn + sn 23.

24. Victor Buksbazen, The Prophet Isaiah: A Commentary (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel
Ministry, Inc, 1971; 2008), 198.
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as an allusion to Satan as this is “contextually unwarranted”, as the broader context speaks of the

king of Babylon. 25 Baker shares the opinion that this passage, which according to some English

interpreters refers to Satan, is better understood to be referring to the king of Babylon. 26 This

king is an amalgamation of the pride and despotism of all kings across the earth.27

The other passage often referenced as well in Christian circles as pertaining to the fall of

Satan is found in Ezekiel 28:12-19. The translators of the NET Bible here see an imagery, which

is “drawn upon an extrabiblical Eden tradition about the expulsion of the first man…from the

garden due to his pride.”28 In one example regarding Ezekiel 28:14, Bodi shows the parallels to

examples of Phoenician ivories, which are part of an increasing collection of objects depicting

cherub motifs in Phoenician art. He especially highlights the carved depiction of a king-cherub

with the face of the king.29 As such, the conclusion that the passage in Ezekiel has to depict Satan

cannot be automatically reached. Chisholm adds that some Mesopotamian and Canaanite

mythical elements seem to have found a reflection, especially in Ezekiel 28:12-17.30

SATAN IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD IN OLD TESTAMENT

As Page already expressed, Satan can only act when God allows him to act. Speaking of

God, Oswalt adds to our understanding here that “there is no sense in which he is threatened by

Satan. In fact, he does not even address Satan as the cause of the event….Satan is not the equal

25. NET Bible, 1292 tn + sn 23.

26. David W. Baker, “Isaiah,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Isaiah, Jeremiah,
Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, ed. John H. Walton, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 4:72-73.

27. John N. Oswalt, The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 210.

28. NET Bible, 1617 sn 10.

29. Baker DW.

30. Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets, 270.


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of God and is no threat to God, and conflict with him has nothing to do with the creative activity

of God.” 31

INTERTESTAMENTAL PHASE

Routledge adds that it was later Jewish traditions who attributed to Satan the role of

leader of a rebellion against God in heaven and was cast out of heaven as a consequence. Some

of these writings depict Satan as being one of the seraphim, and therefore the greatest created

being. In these writings he is called Sammael and has ambitions to take over the place of God.32

Some theologians have placed Satan’s rebellious act in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2;

however, the biggest critique of this view is that God declared His creation “very good”, which

certainly would not have been called such if the fall of Satan and the other angels siding with

him had already occurred.33

As already discussed, ‫שָטן‬


ָּׂ is not notably used as a personal name in the Old Testament.

The earliest mention of the term as a proper name is found in Jubilees 23:29 and Apocalypsis

Mosis 10:1, which date to about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes IV in 168 B.C. It appears that

in light of the persecutions the Jews suffered, the earlier use of evil demons and corrupt angels in

deuterocanonical texts prior to 168 B.C. is substituted here with the naming of Satan.34

One reason for this could be that there was an increased interest in demonology, which

developed during the intertestamental period. This is most likely attributable to the destitute

circumstances the Jewish people found themselves in. While they had experienced exile and

occupation before, nothing quite compared to what they were experiencing under Antiochus

31. John N. Oswalt, The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? (Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 67.

32. Routledge, Old Testament Theology, 123.

33. Ibid., 133-34 (footnote 22).

34. Dictionary of the Old Testament Wisdom, 715.


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Ephipanus. This led to a reflection on and even preoccupation with suprahuman forces, which

will help explain the shift in the New Testament’s depiction of Satan.35

In this context, the work of Walton and his son will become more interesting in the next

few years. They investigated the taxonomy and disposition of spirit beings from Mesopotamian

sources all the way to the Patristic Period. Of note here is that they find only disinterested

malevolence in Class II beings, described as functionaries by Walton and Walton, such as angels

or the Satan, whereas Yahweh, classified as a Class I being, is described as a disinterested

benevolent being. It is only under the influence of Hellenistic Judaism that the concept of both

malevolent and benevolent Class II beings, demons (daimon) and angels (aggelos), develops.36

THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

In Luke 10:18, Jesus refers to seeing Satan fall, but beyond this, there is little additional

information as to the origin of Satan in the New Testament.37 One proposal that has been brought

forward is that Jesus saw Satan fall in his preincarnate state, but this may simply indicate Jesus

using the tradition of Satan’s fall in discussing the disciples’ exorcisms in the larger context of

the passage.38 However, what is clearly developed by the New Testament writers is a much richer

understanding of a person Satan versus the concept of the Satan as the adversary or accuser,

which was developed in the Old Testament. The depiction of the conflict between the forces of a

benevolent God and a malevolent Satan are visible throughout the New Testament and are not

limited to one or even several writers, but are rather pervasive throughout.39 An interesting
35. Sydney H. T. Page, Powers of Evil: A Biblical Study of Satan & Demons (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Books, 1995), 87.

36 John Walton, and Jonathan Walton, “Demons in the Ancient Near East, Israel and the Bible”, Paper
presented at the ETS National Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 18, 2009.

37. Oswalt, The NIV Application Commentary, 208.

38. Mark L. Strauss, “Luke,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Matthew, Mark,
Luke, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 1:412.

39. D. R. Wood, and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers
Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 1065.
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parallel is drawn by Pao and Schnabel: the phrase “ek tou ouranou pesonta (“fall from heaven”)

closely resembles the expression “exepesen ek tou ouranou (“has fallen from heaven”) of Isaiah

14:12. They add a perspective of eschatogical hope through this parallel phraseology, “As in the

Qumran documents where the fall of the evil one is accompanied by the exultation of the

righteous in cosmic battles…, this fall of Satan may also point forward to the exaltation of

Jesus.”40

NAMES OF SATAN

Satan occurs in the Scriptures under multiple names. While the Old Testament uses ‫שָטן‬
ָּׂ

consistently when it refers to the function of the adversary or accuser, only in the New Testament

is Satan called “the devil” in passages such as Matthew 4:1; 13:39; 25:41 and Revelation 12:9;

20:2 and several other passages (71 times in the ESV). Satan is called “the serpent” in Genesis

3:1, 14; 2 Corinthians 11:3; and Revelation 12:9; 20:2. In Matthew 10:25; 12:24, 27 and Luke

11:15, another name is used: “Be-elzebul”. John cites Jesus as calling Satan “the ruler of this

world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Paul describes him in Ephesians 2:2 as “the prince of the

power of the air”. The final name Satan can be seen under is “the evil one” as in Matthew 13:19

and 1 John 2:13.41 The following section will provide a brief look at where and in which context

these names are used.

THE DEVIL

In Matthew 4:1; 13:39; 25:41 and Revelation 12:9; 20:2, the Greek term used is διάβολος

(diabolos), bearing a similar meaning of “adversary” as in the Hebrew usage, however here the

meaning can also include “false accuser”.

40. David W. Pao, and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old
Testament, ed. G. K. Beale, and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 318.

41. Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Leicester, England ed.
(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994), 414.
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THE SERPENT

ׁ ‫( ָנָח‬nā-ḥāš), depicting a serpent. 14; In 2 Corinthians 11:3 and


Genesis 3:1 uses the term ‫ש‬

Revelation 12:9; 20:2, the Greek term is ὄφις (ophis). The term bears a connection to the ‫ש‬
ׁ ‫ ָנָח‬of

Job 26:3, where a serpent is depicted and ANE mythology is assumed.42 In addition, this is the

same word used for the brazen serpent of John 3:14. (Heiser has done an interesting study on the

ׁ ‫ ָנָח‬that exceeds the scope of this paper.43)


term and meaning of ‫ש‬

BE-ELZEBUL

In Matthew 10:25; 12:24, 27 and Luke 11:15, the term used is Βεελζεβοὺλ (Beelzeboul)

The meaning here is “lord of the flies” or “lord of the manure pile,” and refers to Satan.44

RULER OF THE WORLD

Jesus uses this title for Satan three times; each occurrence is in the Gospel of John (John

12:31; 14:30; 16:11).45 In John 12:31, some Greeks had arrived who wanted to speak with Jesus.

However, Jesus was ready to declare what was coming to His disciples and the crowd that had

gathered in Jerusalem as it was near Passover. As part of His speech, a voice from heaven

confirms His message. Regarding “the ruler of this world” (ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου),

Jesus declares that he would be cast out now as the judgment of the world (κόσμου, kosmou) had

come.

In John 14:30, Jesus is speaking to His disciples at the last supper and after Judas Iscariot

has left. Here, however, he announces that “the ruler of the world” (τοῦ κόσμου ἄρχων) will
42. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga,
TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

43. Michael S. Heiser, “The Nachash and His Seed,” The Divine Council, Retrieved from
http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/nachashnotes.pdf (accessed December 17, 2009).

44. Walter A. Elwell, and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker
Book House, 1988), 273.

45. Ronald F. Youngblood et al., “Ruler of This World,” in Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995).
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come, but reassures the disciples that he has no power over Jesus. Finally in John 16:11, Jesus is

still in the same setting, but now explains to His disciples about the role of the Holy Spirit, the

Helper, who will achieve three things, one of them the conviction of the world (κόσμον, kosmon)

concerning their impending judgment as “the ruler of this world” (ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου

τούτου) is judged:

8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and
judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning
righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning
judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11, ESV)

THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR

The term used in Ephesians 2:2 is used only this once: ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ

ἀέρος (archonta tēs exousias tou aeros). Zodiathes adds an interesting note

here regarding the use of ἀέρος:

In 1 Thess. 4:17 Christ at His parousía…, coming, meets the believers in the air,
designated to be the area immediately above the earth. The air is not designated by the
Jews as the dwelling place of angels, but of Satan and his demons. It is in this context that
Paul designates Satan as being the ruler of the power of the air.46

THE EVIL ONE

The evil one is πονηρὸς (ponēros) in Matthew 13:19 and 1 John 2:13. This term can

describe “evil in a moral or spiritual sense, wicked, malicious, mischievous.”47

THE CHURCH FATHERS AND OTHERS ON SATAN

The concept of Lucifer in Isaiah 14: 12 equaling Satan found support in Tertullian’s

writing Against Marcion. Likewise, Origen and Augustine make the same association in their

46. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga,
TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

47. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga,
TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
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writings.48 Schultz adds Gregory the Great, but also lists systematic theologians, such as Henry

Thiessen, as those who have made this connection49, which, as has already been discussed, is not

easily a natural or logical one. As Youngblood writes, not only did the church fathers equal

Lucifer to Satan, but so did Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, and John Milton in

Paradise Lost.50

Likewise, the passage in Ezekiel 28 has found what appears to have been creative

adoption by the church fathers. Duguid calls it “imaginative exegesis”, but also reminds readers

that this line of thinking has found adoption again in more modern expositions. Citing the

example of the merchant ship not literally representing Tyre in the prior verses, Duguid

continues that the association with the king of Tyre with Satan leads to an interpretation that

“ignores the metaphysical context of both passages”. 51

CONNECTING THE TESTAMENTS

As already seen, the New Testament depicts Satan as a malevolent moral agent, unlike

the somewhat more benign view of the Old Testament. While a malicious intent cannot be

completely suppressed (an example is the Satan’s continued incitement against Job), it is not as

clearly developed as in the New Testament. Yet also here, it is apparent that God is ultimately in

control. Satan can only do what God permits him to do.

48. Ronald Youngblood, “The Fall of Lucifer (In More Ways Than One),” in The Way of Wisdom: Essays
in Honor of Bruce K. Waltke, eds. J. I. Packer and Sven T. Soderlund (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 169.

49. Richard L. Schultz, “Isaiah,” in Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Book-by-Book
Survey, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Craig G. Bartholomew, and Daniel J. Treier (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic,
2005, 2008), 206.

50. Youngblood, The Way of Wisdom, 169-70.

51. Iain M. Duguid, “Ezekiel,” in NIV Application Commentary: Ezekiel (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Publishing Company, 1999), 344-349.
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Oswalt underlines what was stated before that while everywhere else in the world good

and evil are two distinct and equally powerful forces, depicting a dualism, this is nowhere found

in the pages of the Bible and is even “expressly denied.”52 Oswalt adds:

The incipient dualism of a good deal of popular Christian teaching is a witness to the
power of this way of thinking. In such teaching Satan assumes the role of the negative
entity, while Jesus takes on the role of the positive entity, and the world is the shadowy
battleground reflecting their ongoing struggle in the real, heavenly realm. We, the “pawns
on the board,” as it were, must do our best to enable Jesus to continually defeat Satan.
Any Egyptian or Babylonian would have felt perfectly at home with such a view of
things.53

Page here adds a few other thoughts on how the Old Testament and New Testament

depictions of Satan join. He cites the examples of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, which is

clearly allowed by God (Mark even writes that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness)54;

Jesus’ use of “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s Prayer, again

giving a somewhat ambivalent view of God’s hand in the temptation (problematic, as Page says

due to James 1:13)55; the sifting of the disciples in Luke 22:31-32, where Satan gets permission

to test the disciples56; the passion, where Satan is very actively at work in Judas Iscariot, yet

clearly by doing so accomplishing God’s work57; church discipline such as in 1 Corinthians 5:5

and 1 Timothy 1:20, leading to remedial discipline, while allowing Satan to do his work58; and

Paul’s thorn in the flesh, which he considers both from Satan to inflict pain and from God as a

gift with “a salutary purpose”.59

52. Oswalt, The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?, 130.

53. Ibid.

54. Page, “Satan: God's Servant,” 456-57.

55. Ibid., 458-59.

56. Ibid., 459-60.

57. Ibid., 460-61.

58. Ibid., 459-60. .

59. Ibid., 464.


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CONCLUSION

As has been shown, the theological development of Satan, while much less developed in

the Old Testament than the New Testament, nevertheless shows a consistency in that it

highlights that Satan is a powerful force, yet never outside the control of his Creator God. Three

perspectives are important to remember: Primarily, belief in spiritual forces is a virtually global

experience; secondly, belief in an all-good and omnipotent God is no more difficult than the

belief in the powers He created, and the belief in evil spirits may actually preserve the belief in a

good God; thirdly, the biblical evidence of a world of spirits is pervasive, and as such we should

not disregard teaching about this topic.60

At the same time, believers need to be careful to avoid allowing the exaggeration of a

fear of the power of Satan and evil spirits, while not permitting Satan to serve as an excuse for

personal failings. It is furthermore important to clearly delineate what is biblical from what is

superstition and to refuse beliefs which are outside of the teaching of the Bible. This also

includes avoiding any sort of speculation over that which is not provided to us by God. Lastly, a

real danger lurks in allowing oneself to become imbalanced. While Satan, according to the

Scriptures, is a reality, God has given believers the full armor of God, which will allow them to

withstand, according to Ephesians 6:11.61

Ultimately for the Christian, while much of the development of the theology of Satan is

important to understand, at the same time it should not be cause for concern. God has made it

very clear to believers what the answer to Satan is: it is the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Galeotti summarizes this very well: “The Bible has little to say directly about Satan intentionally.

The focus of the Bible is God and not Satan.”62

60. Page, “Powers of Evil,”268-69.

61. Ibid., 269-270.

62. Galeotti, “Satan's Identity Reconsidered,” 83.


3

As this paper has shown, while Satan is acting against the interests of God, none of this is

unknown to God or outside of His control. Through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, His

burial and resurrection, Satan’s malevolent intent toward God’s creation, mankind, is forever

defeated. Youngblood sums it up quite well, when he writes, “The devil fell, falls, and will fall

again.”63 Believers can thus live in great confidence that the outcome is clear and that their God

wins.

63. Youngblood, The Way of Wisdom, 175.


5

APPENDIX A – TAXONOMY OF SPIRIT BEINGS

John Walton, and Jonathan Walton, “Demons in the Ancient Near East, Israel and the
Bible”, Paper presented at the ETS National Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana,
November 18, 2009.
3

APPENDIX B – DISPOSITION OF SPIRIT BEINGS

John Walton, and Jonathan Walton, “Demons in the Ancient Near East, Israel and the
Bible”, Paper presented at the ETS National Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana,
November 18, 2009.
2

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