The Names of the Devil

Introduction

Scriptures primarily use two different designations for the Devil: One, of course, is "the Devil", which is found only in the New Testament. "Satan" is the other most frequent reference, which is found in both the Old and New Testaments. Several other designations are found throughout Scripture, although none are nearly as common as these two. The following is a list of the most common designations for the Devil, provided with frequency of occurrence within Scripture (NKJV) and sorted according to it:

Other somewhat vague references to the Devil can be found in Scripture; however, most of these names are informal, implied, passing references, or simply descriptive. Some people consider a few other passing references to apply to the Devil, such as “man of sin” and “son of perdition” in II Thessalonians 2:3; however, many of these are dubious or refer to a human being operating on the Devil’s behalf. For the purposes of our study, we would like to limit our attention to the above list, comprising of names certainly referencing the Devil.

Some may wonder if these names refer to the same being. A few verses use these names interchangeably or directly connect them to the same being. For example, please consider this reference:

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9 NKJ)

In this one verse, the most common references are all tied together in application to the same being, thereby unifying the identity of their bearer. The other names are linked to this sinister being based on context and definition, as we will see later.

Consider Names in General

Interestingly, none of the above references are what we would commonly call a proper "name". To elaborate, please consider that the names of people in Scripture were generally related to his or her origin:

In each of the above cases, a person's name, or even an angel's name, is in some way a reference to his origin, whether it be his Creator, ancestors, circumstances at birth, or purpose for life. However, this is not the case for the Devil. If he ever wore a name given by God, it is unknown to us. This may be significant. He is manifested to us as a being cut off from his origin, both in creation and purpose. The only designation given to us for this malevolent being are working descriptions of the activities he has chosen. Later, we will examine the work of the Devil in more detail, but for now, we want to introduce the designations given to us for the Devil, and identify each designation with its related work.

Satan

The word, Satan, is transliterated from the Hebrew, exchanging Hebrew letters and sounds for their Greek or English equivalents. (It is used in the Greek New Testament as well, although its origin is Hebrew.) In other words, the word, Satan, is not translated at all, which adds an element of mystery. However, this word should not be mysterious. In fact, it is often used in application to other beings, and in those cases, it is simply translated as "adversary" or "enemy", as seen in these Hebrew-English lexicons:

9406 [9407] שָׂטָן (Hebrew) (page 966) (Strong 7854) - † שָׂטָן n.m.:Psalm 109:6 1. adversary. 2. Satan (NH שָׂטָן, סָטָן; Aram. שָׂטָנָא, סָטָנָא, Syr. sotÍonoÀ (Hehr.); NH vb. סָטַן, Aram. סְטַן; Ar. šatÍana is be remote, esp. fr. the truth, and fr. the mercy of God; šaytÍaÀnun Satan, Eth. sayt’än::);—1. adversary, in gen., personal or national; (ל) הָיָה לְשׂ׳: Nu 22:22 (JE), 1 S 29:4 (cf. Nes:Marg. 15), 2 S 19:23, יָצָא לְשׂ׳: Nu 22:32 (JE); שׂ׳: 1 K 5:18, 11:25; שׂ׳ ל הֵקִים:, subj. God 1 K 11:14, 11:23, cf. Psalm 109:6 (|| רָשָׁע). 2. superhuman adversary, הַשּׂ׳:: a. of Job, one of בְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים Jb 1:6, 1:7, 1:7, 1:8, 1:9, 1:12, 1:12, 2:1, 2:2, 2:2, 2:3, 2:4, 2:4, 2:6, 2:7. b. of h. p. of Isr. bef. י׳:, Zc 3:1, 3:2, 3:2; LXX. ὁ διάβολος. c. as n.pr. שׂ׳: Satan 1 Ch 21:1 (interpr. 2 S 24:1), LXX διάβολος (LXX σατάν † 1 K 11:14, 11:23; Σατανᾶς Mt 4:10, Mk 1:13, Lk 10:18 + 33 t. NT). (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon (Unabridged))

8167 שָׂטָן - שָׂטָן: — 1. accuser, adversary: a) human: 1K 5:18; b) mal°ak yhwh † Nu 22:22-32; — 2. spec. supernatural figure: ha´satan, the Satan † Zc 3:1f Jb 1:6–2:7 (14 ×); > satan (proper name) † 1C 21:1. (Holladay, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, pg 350).

In this name, Satan, we learn the primary work or activity of the Devil. He is the opponent or adversary. He is the one who withstands. In the Scriptures, he first appears as an apparent adversary to man:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6 NKJ)

The Lord said that eating of this tree of the knowledge of good and evil would result in man's death (Genesis 2:15-17). Yet, Satan contradicted the Lord's clear wording and convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. This brought both physical and spiritual condemnation, ultimately resulting in a separation of soul from the body (physical death, Genesis 3:22-24; James 2:26) and man from God (spiritual death, Revelation 20:10-15). As instigator of our death, Satan became recognized as a murderer from at least the dawn of our history and knowledge:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44 NKJ)

Although Satan is first revealed in Scriptures as the adversary of man - and no doubt, he is - we later learn that man is not Satan's primary target or opponent. It is God Himself that Satan seeks to resist, thwart, and withstand. Please notice in Satan's attack against Job that He is evasive in answering God, and he even accuses God of prejudicial protection:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" (Job 1:6-11 NKJ)

Jesus clearly designates Satan's true enemy in His introduction to the parable of the tares:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. ..." Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. (Matthew 13:24-39 NKJ)

Although Satan's work is clearly, eternally destructive to us, such cruelty appears to be a means to his end to oppose God. God appears to be Satan's ultimate target. It seems that we are secondary targets, chosen for collateral damage and if possible, even to assist Satan as fellow enemies, converted to Satan's will:

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:21-23 NKJ)

It is hard to imagine why Peter thought he was equipped to rebuke Jesus Christ, but regardless of his surface intentions, Jesus recognized Peter as Satan! Peter had become an enemy, an opponent, an adversary to the Lord's plan for redemption. And, what was the reason? Peter was concerned as a man for carnal things. He was not sufficiently aware of God's spiritual plan and intentions. Consequently, the apostle Peter unwittingly played the role and fulfilled the desires of the Devil. Obviously, Peter failed, and no doubt he was shocked by the Lord's stern response. However, if an apostle of Jesus Christ could so fall, who had walked with Jesus, heard Him teach, watched His miracles, and conversed with Him privately for almost three years, then how more careful should you and I be that we do not carelessly satisfy and serve the Enemy's will?

The Devil

The second most common name for Satan in the Bible is the Devil. It is found only in the New Testament, and it is translated from the Greek word, diabolos. (You may recognize our English word, diabolical, which ultimately comes from this same Greek word.) Like the name, Satan, this name also describes his work and activity, slandering and accusing, as opposed to his origin or original purpose:

1228 διάβολος diabolos {dee-ab'-ol-os} - Meaning: 1) prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely 1a) a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer, 2) metaph. applied to a man who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him(Strong's Greek Dictionary, #1228)

6183 διάβολος, ον slanderous (2T 3.3); substantivally ὁ δ. the slanderer; predominately, as a specific name for Satan as the accuser the devil (MT 4.1) (Friberg Greek Lexicon, #6183).

1292 διάβολος - διάβολος, διάβολον (διαβάλλω which see), prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely, (Aristophanes, Andocides (405 B. C.), Plutarch, others): 1 Tim. 3:11; 2 Tim. 3:3; Titus 2:3; as a substantive, ὁ διάβολος, a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer, (see κατηγορέω, at the end) (Xenophon, Ages. 11, 5; (Aristotle, others)): the Septuagint Esth. 7:4; 8:1. In the Bible and in ecclesiastical writings ὁ διάβολος (also διάβολος without the article; cf. Winer's Grammar, 124 (118); Buttmann, 89 (78)) is applied κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν to the one called in Hebrew הַשָּׂטָן, ὁ σατανᾶς (which see), viz., Satan, the prince of demons, the author of evil, persecuting good men (Job 1; ; Zech. 3:1ff, cf. Rev. 12:10), estranging mankind from God and enticing them to sin, and afflicting them with diseases by means of demons who take possession of their bodies at his bidding; the malignant enemy of God and the Messiah: Matt. 4:1,5,(8,11); 13:39; 25:41; Luke 4:2,(3,5 R L, 6,13); 8:12; John 13:2; Acts 10:38; Eph. 4:27; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:6f; 2 Tim. 2:26; Heb. 2:14; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8; Jude 1:9; Rev. 2:10; 12:9,12; 20:2,10; (Sap. 2:24; (cf. Ps. 108:6 (Ps. 109:6); 1 Chr. 21:1)). Men who resemble the devil in mind and will are said εἶναι ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου to be of the devil, properly, to derive their origin from the devil, tropically, to depend upon the devil in thought and action, to be prompted and governed by him: John 8:44; 1 John 3:8; the same are called τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου, children of the devil, 1 John 3:10; υἱοί τοῦ διαβόλου, sons of the devil, Acts 13:10, cf. Matt. 13:38; John 8:38; 1 John 3:10. The name διάβολος is figuratively applied to a man who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him: John 6:70, cf. Matt. 16:23; Mark 8:33. (Cf. σαταν at the end.)* (Thayer's Greek Lexicon)

We have previously seen the Devil's slanderous accusations in examining his confrontation with God regarding Job. ("Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him?", Job 1:9-10.) However, this is not a one-time event, neither should we assume this represents an infrequent effort. Rather, the Devil had apparently undertaken the task of accusing "night and day":

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. (Revelation 12:9-10 NKJ)

Given such insistent, consistent, and malicious attack against God's people, it is no wonder that he would have become known as the Accuser, the Slanderer, or the Devil!

Again, similar to the word, Satan, this title, devil or slanderer, has been applied to mortals as well, who have also shown the same characteristics:

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70-71 NKJ)

Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, ... Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers (Greek, diabolos), temperate, faithful in all things. (I Timothy 3:8-11 NKJ)

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: ... the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers (Greek, diabolos), not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- (Titus 2:1-3 NKJ)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers (Greek, diabolos), without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (II Timothy 3:1-5 NKJ)

The English word for "slanderer" is the same Greek word as for devil, diabolos. The deacons' wives and older women are forbidden to exhibit this characteristic, while dangerous men will be recognized by it. Furthermore, just as Peter and others have been recognized as serving in Satan's stead, so others have been rebuked and condemned for serving the Devil's will:

... who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? (Acts 13:7-10 NKJ)

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. ... In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (I John 3:8-10 NKJ)

Although we may not blatantly, directly, and obstinately oppose the clear teaching of God's Word, thereby avoiding a needed rebuke like Elymas received, we may however still serve the will and ways of the Devil by propagating his work of slander and accusation. Moreover, whenever we sin, we grant credence to the Devil's charge against the Lord and His work among us (Job 1:6-11; Zechariah 3:1-7). Furthermore, whenever we sin, we are walking in the ways of the Devil, which demonstrates to our own eyes and other's that we are "not of God" (I John 3:10). With the such a horrendous, complicatory association looming over our heads, how can we tolerate even a single sin in our own lives? How can we grieve our Father, who gave His Son for us, and satisfy the sinister suspicions of the slandering Devil? The Devil hopes for our failure, while the Lord has hoped and planned for our success through His mercy (Romans 8:20-39)? Whom will you prove right? Whom are you serving?

Other References

The titles of Satan and Devil are the most common references found to this malicious being. However, there are several other fleeting references, which are worthy of our brief consideration. Many of these references are similar and are therefore grouped together here.

Ruler of This World

Moral Reprobate

Ruler of Demons

Symbolic References

There may be other names used to refer to the Devil, but these are the most common. Feel free to contact us and submit other Bible based names for consideration and explanation here.

Conclusion

It is striking that we know very little of the Devil's origin or even his original name. Instead, he is revealed to us according to his work. Ironically, although he seeks to destroy us, it is his own existence, purpose, and reason that he has destroyed. Whatever glory he originally enjoyed or could have enjoyed is completely lost to him, because he has no hope for mercy (Hebrews 2:14-16). Although one may be tempted to feel pity for him, as we have seen and will see, there is nothing good left in him to pity.

In cataloging and examining these names for the Devil, we can see that he is an entirely corrupt being, bent on destroying God and His children through any means possible. He is a liar, a slanderer, a tempter, a deceiver, a predator, and a murderer! He is wholly wicked and evil. There is absolutely no good or truth in him. However, he maintains a position of incredible power and influence as this world's god and ruler. Therefore, some measure of fear and respect must be observed, lest we become arrogant, prideful, and vulnerable to falling just as he did (I Corinthians 10:12; I Timothy 3:6).

Satan is the ultimate source of opposition to God and Christ; however, whenever we disobey God, we become complicit with Satan's plans and supportive of his rule, even if unintentionally. Many of the Devil's strongest names, including Satan, Devil, and Antichrist, are also applied to humans. It should be fearful to us that we could so align ourselves with him to be recognized by him to the point of sharing in his fate (Matthew 25:41-46). But, it should be even more reprehensible that we might turn on the One, Who loved us and gave Himself so wondrously for us (Romans 8:31-39). Let us never be His enemy, opponent, or accuser!

To study and understand the names of the Devil is to - in many ways - to introduce his work. Eventually, we will examine the work of the Devil in more detail, so we can better appreciate and prepare for our adversary, who seeks to devour us; however, these notes should help prepare our minds for that study, which we will do next.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are from the New King James Version, copyright © 1994 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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