The Origin of the Devil
Where did the Devil come from?" This question represents one of the most only commonly raised inquiries regarding the Devil. Legends and myths abound, each addressing the question in its own unique way. Some of these fables merely seek ancillary validation from the Bible, while others purport to represent sound Bible teaching. In this article, we will examine one of the more popular and serious Bible-based myths, highlighting the assumptions and unknown elements. But, first we must discover what can be known about the Devil's origin through knowledge of the Scripture.
What Do We Know About the Devil's Origin?
Human curiosity longs for history and elaboration regarding angels, who are our divinely created "cousins" - fellow servants and children of a common Creator. However, God's Word reveals tantalizingly little about angels. Therefore, if ever we were to heed the Scriptural warning to not speculate and argue beyond the facts revealed, it should be on this subject. Self-control must restrain our desire to venture beyond the revealed word, especially considering that the topic of angels was the very point upon which many ancient saints arrogantly speculated and from which they ultimately plummeted into heresy and vanity (Colossians 2:18-19). Therefore, let us diligently search the Scriptures and gather what can be known of the Devil's origin. Conjecture will only be offered where it is consistent with the whole of Scripture and sufficiently warranted. Furthermore, such conjecture should always be marked with a proper disclaimer and provided without dogmatic assertion.
The Devil's Creation and Mission
The Scriptures contain neither clear nor direct reference to the Devil's creation or his specifically bestowed mission. Yet, that he was created, there can be no doubt. It is inconceivable to imagine that he once shared that divine relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; therefore, we must assume that he is a spiritual being like the angels (see also The Devil's Accountability and Punishment).
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)
Referring to the origin, power, and purpose of all things created for Jesus, through Jesus, and by Jesus, the above passage eliminates the possibility of any alternate deity or paganistic theology. There, is one God (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 44:6-8), and all other things, including the Devil and his angels, were created by Him.
Furthermore, although highly symbolic, in Revelation 9 as the result of sounding the fifth trumpet, a star falls from heaven to earth, and a key is given to this fifth angel, who opens the bottomless pit and unleashes a horiffic army.
And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. (Revelation 9:11 NKJ).
If this refers to the Devil, then this verse would prove his nature as being angelic. Unfortunately, the highly figurative nature of the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:1-3; 4:1-2) makes it difficult to speak with absolute certainty at this point.
Clearly, the Devil was created before his appearance in the Garden of Eden, when he tempted Eve (Genesis 3). Beyond this, we have only debatable hints dropped in other passages considered below, but generally, the timing and purposes of the Devil's creation and mission is largely unknown.
The Devil's Original Station and Rank
The Scriptures seem to indicate that various rankings of responsibility or authority exist among God's angels. The angel, Michael, is referenced as an "archangel" (Jude 9), which indicates that Michael is stationed over other angels ("Michael and his angels" - Revelation 12:7). However, please notice how Michael speaks to the Devil:
Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (Jude 1:8-9)
Michael's example is set in contrast ("Yet" or "But") to false teachers (Jude 1:4, 8-11, 14-18), who reject and speak evil of those in authority over them. Therefore, Michael is used as an extreme example of not reviling those who are in authority over us, because no one deserved rebuke more than the Devil, yet Michael would not offer it. Why? Remember the context. What is this example trying to teach, except that we should not revile and reject authority set over us? Therefore, Michael the archangel recognized that the Devil at one time had great authority, possibly even over him! Whether or not the Devil still has this authority is doubtful, because this event would have most likely transpired shortly after Moses' death. Therefore, it would have occurred before the removal of the Devil's authority and "place", which happened some time around the Lord's crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension (Revelation 12:8-9). Furthermore, John records the figurative triumph of "Michael and his angels" over the Devil. Therefore, this authority has most likely been revoked or destroyed in connection with the establishment of Christ's kingdom and the Christians' victory over the ultimate world empire, Rome (Revelation 12:7-11).
The Devil's Sin and Fall
Again, there is no direct reference to a specific transgression, by which the Devil first sinned. However, he is designated as a sinner from the beginning of our sphere:
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. (I John 3:8)
This could refer to an unspecified sin, which occurred shortly after the Devil's "beginning" or creation, or more likely, this passage refers to his nature, established since mankind's beginning ("In the beginning ..." - Genesis 1:1). Interestingly, Jesus uses the same phrase to pin another sin on the Devil:
"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)
Again, this seems to refer back to the creation and fall of man. Remember, God forewarned Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). Yet, the Devil lied and said "You will not surely die (Genesis 3:4-5). Based on his lie and seduction, Eve and Adam both ate the fruit, bringing physical death upon themselves and all their descendants (Genesis 3:5-7, 22-24). Therefore, the Devil effectively slew Adam and Eve by seducing them and turning them against God.
Although murder was clearly a violent sin appended to his resume from "the beginning", we are still totally ignorant of the Devil's actions and potential sins before our beginning. Whether or not this deception, temptation, and murder of man constitutes the Devil's first sin, or whether it perpetuates a well-established pattern, we cannot say, because the Scriptures do not reveal any specifics, except for the following incidental reference made during the listing of elder's qualifications:
A bishop then must be ... not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. (I Timothy 3:2-6)
Notice that the sin of pride is declared to be the source of "the condemnation", not "a condemnation", but "the condemnation" of the Devil. Therefore, pride must have somehow motivated the Devil's primary, if not first sin. Beyond that we have no details.
The Devil's Original Nature
Again, no passage specifically declares the nature given to the Devil before his first sin. However, it seems reasonable to infer his original nature based on the above (I John 3:8) and following passages:
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; ... (II Peter 2:4)
And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; ... (Jude 1:6)
Recall, we learned from I John 3:8 also that "the devil has sinned from the beginning". Sin is synonymous with "falling short" or "missing the mark" (Romans 3:23; II John 1:9). The Scriptures define sin as "transgression of the law" (I John 3:4 - KJV). Yet, one cannot err by walking after their created nature, unless we are willing charge the Creator with error. Therefore, if the Devil and his angels sinned against God, he must have originally been good and possessed free moral will! Otherwise, he was created evil and the "transgression" arose from his created nature, which would mean the Creator was evil. Otherwise, the Devil never actually sinned. But again, since the above verses clearly charge the Devil and his angels with sin, and there is no darkness in God (I John 1:5-6), we must conclude that the Devil and his angels were originally created good and with free will.
The Devil's Accountability and Punishment
In one of the oldest books of the Bible, we are given a rare glimpse into the fantastic heavenly and spiritual occurrences, to which we are otherwise oblivious and ignorant:
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." (Job 1:6-7)
There are two reasonable ways to literally interpret the inclusion of the Devil among "the sons of God", or angels: One, the Devil is an angel and was required to attend this reckoning of their stewardship. Or, two, the Devil was capable of ignoring this command, but he came for his own purposes. Although the second interpretation may seem plausible, even likely, given that the Devil has long since rebelled against the Lord "from the beginning", the context does not support it. A second "day of presentation" is recorded further in the book:
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. 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." (Job 2:1-2)
From this we learn that the Devil's appearance was not to satisfy his curiosity or observe God's dealings, but rather it was to "present himself before the Lord". Therefore, from this passage, we gather that the Devil, even in his rebellion, is still subject to the Lord's edicts for giving an account, although his answers are clearly evasive (Job 1:7; 2:2) and accusatory (Job 1:9-10; 2:4-5).
Whatever the Devil's sin, we know that the Devil was accountable for it, because we are told that he will ultimately be judged in punishment:
"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels ... And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:41, 46)
Although this passage was intended to serve as warning to us, we incidentally learn that hell was originally created as punishment for the Devil and his angels, yet we may also find eternal torment there, if we do not repent.
Summary Of What We Know
In closing this first half of the article, let us enumerate the Bible-based facts we know about the Devil's origin, including necessary inferences based upon those facts:
- Created being (Colossians 1:16-17; Job 2:1-2), most likely of the angelic class (Revelation 9:11)
- Created prior to man (Genesis 3:1)
- Originally held significant rank among angels (Jude 1:8-9)
- Sinned from at least the creation of man (I John 3:8; John 8:44)
- Original sin likely motivated by pride (I Timothy 3:2, 6)
- Infer that he was created good and with free will, because he sinned and our knowledge of God's nature (I John 3:8; II Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; Romans 3:23; II John 1:9; I John 3:4;1:5-6)
- Accountable for his sins (Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2; Matthew 25:41, 46)
Beyond this, it is difficult to emphatically state much regarding the Devil's origin. Elsewhere, we will examine more about his current state, names, and work, but in regards to his origin, we must cease here, where revelation has ceased.
Dispelling the Fallen Angel Myth
Although the most common legend has some roots in Bible texts, which we have studied above here, it is the embellishment and misapplication of these passages, popularized by apocryphal and romantic writings, that have introduced unsubstantiated claims and misleading fables regarding the Devil's origin, which are summarized as follows:
The Devil was originally a powerful and good angel named, Lucifer. He was a glorious being, immensely wise and beautiful. At some point, Lucifer began to think too highly of himself, and lifted up by his pride, he began to secretly conspire to overthrow God Himself. Having prompted the defection of one-third of the Lord's angels, Lucifer led an open revolt against God. A dramatic battle ensued with God's armies led by Michael the archangel. Lucifer and his forces were ultimately defeated and cast down to earth. From that time, a twisted, burned, and distorted Lucifer began to roam the earth, seeking to tempt, seduce, and destroy God's new creation - man, although it is uncertain whether he seeks to enlist man's help or simply spite God's purposes.
Like all effective false doctrines, some element of truth is contained within its teaching. This is generally deadly, because people recognize the truth they already know, and assume the additions are similarly true. Of course, our desire is to double-check all assertions and ensure that they represent God's revealed mind by comparing the claims with Scripture, as did those ancient Bereans (Acts 17:11). In this case, the added elements romanticize the fall of the Devil, which can entrap us in two ways: First, the additional knowledge may feed our curiosity and pride, causing us to obsess about that which is less than important, thereby dissipating our energies and focus. (Do you recall the warning of Colossians 2:18-19?) Second, the romanticized tales regarding the Devil's fall or struggle with God may ultimately entice us to sympathize with the Devil and even question God's judgment. Therefore, we need to dispel the false elements of this myth by examining the proof texts for it.
Survey of the Biblical Basis for the Myth
The Old Testament basis for the myths and legends associated with the Devil are captured in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, which are quoted here and analyzed further below:
"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15)
You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you. (Ezekiel 28:13-17)
Look at the passages again. ... Do you see an reference or application made to the Devil? No, there is no reference to the Devil in these passages. Yes, you will find a reference to Lucifer, but this is the only reference to Lucifer in the entire Bible, so unless we assume the objection we are trying to prove, the above reference to Lucifer does not help support the myth.
Lucifer, King of Babylon?
Let us examine Isaiah 14, and as we read the greater text, look for specific references that will help us solidify the application:
3 It shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, 4 that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: "How the oppressor has ceased, The golden city ceased! 5 The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, The scepter of the rulers; 6 He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, He who ruled the nations in anger, Is persecuted and no one hinders. 7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet; They break forth into singing. 8 Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, And the cedars of Lebanon, Saying, 'Since you were cut down, No woodsman has come up against us.' 9 "Hell from beneath is excited about you, To meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones All the kings of the nations. 10 They all shall speak and say to you: 'Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us? 11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, And the sound of your stringed instruments; The maggot is spread under you, And worms cover you.' 12 " How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. 16 "Those who see you will gaze at you, And consider you, saying: 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17 Who made the world as a wilderness And destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?' 18 "All the kings of the nations, All of them, sleep in glory, Everyone in his own house; 19 But you are cast out of your grave Like an abominable branch, Like the garment of those who are slain, Thrust through with a sword, Who go down to the stones of the pit, Like a corpse trodden underfoot. 20 You will not be joined with them in burial, Because you have destroyed your land And slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named. 21 Prepare slaughter for his children Because of the iniquity of their fathers, Lest they rise up and possess the land, And fill the face of the world with cities." 22 " For I will rise up against them," says the LORD of hosts, "And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity," says the LORD. 23 "I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," says the LORD of hosts. 24 The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in My land, And on My mountains tread him underfoot. Then his yoke shall be removed from them, And his burden removed from their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:3-27)
First notice that the writer calls this a "proverb", which relegates the description to the figurative language of parables and similitudes. Therefore, the text should not be taken literally as referring to an angel being cast down from heaven. Furthermore, the proverb is to be spoken "against the king of Babylon"! Yet, if the myth were true, it would have us understand the passage literally as being against the Devil. Finally, the passage clearly refers to the king being a "man", whose corpse will suffer rot and decay, yet it will not receive a proper burial (Isaiah 28:11, 15-16, 18-20). The Devil is nowhere described in the Bible as having a mortal body, much less one that will suffer rot and decay.
Some might ask, "What about the personal reference to the Devil's name, 'Lucifer'?" As mentioned previously, "Lucifer" is not found anywhere else in Scripture, so unless we assume the passage is about the Devil, we have no way to connect the name, "Lucifer", to the Devil. Furthermore, the word, "Lucifer", literally means "light-bearer", or day-star, morning-star, or shining one (Strong's 019666). The translators of the King James Version simply borrowed Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation for "light-bearer", which was "Lucifer". Not surprisingly, the New King James Version (NKJ) follows the KJV. However, most other English translations have used "morning star" (NAS, NIV), "day star" (ASV, CJB, ERV, ESV, NRS, RSV), "shining one" (BBE, YLT), or "shining morning star" (CSB). Finally, it is hard to conceive as the Devil ever being named "light-bearer", since he was the one who cast the world in darkness!
King of Tyre?
Now, let us revisit the passage from Ezekiel 28:
1 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 "Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,' Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god 3 (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! 4 With your wisdom and your understanding You have gained riches for yourself, And gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; 5 By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, And your heart is lifted up because of your riches)," 6 'Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, 7 Behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, The most terrible of the nations; And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, And defile your splendor. 8 They shall throw you down into the Pit, And you shall die the death of the slain In the midst of the seas. 9 "Will you still say before him who slays you, 'I am a god'? But you shall be a man, and not a god, In the hand of him who slays you. 10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised By the hand of aliens; For I have spoken," says the Lord GOD.' " 11 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 12 "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. 16 "By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. 17 "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you. 18 "You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever." ' " (Ezekiel 28:2-19)
Again, we can make similar points: First, the references to the subject being a "cherub" in the garden of Eden are contained in the prophet's "lamentation", so we can easily account for the grandeur of the language as being figurative. Secondly, the passage is clearly addressed to the "king of Tyre". Thirdly, the literal portions of the text, clearly refer to him being a "man", not an angel, and he suffers a man's fate, not an angel's fate (Ezekiel 28:2, 8-10).
Admittedly, many proponents of the traditional myth, who use these passages, will admit that the passages are primarily addressed to earthly kings; however, they believe these earthly kings serve as an allegory for the Devil's origin and fall.
It is true that inspired Bible writers did draw upon past Bible events and use them as allegories, parables, or symbolic illustrations of greater Bible truths. For example, Paul used the two sons of Abraham and their mothers as an allegory to represent the differences between the Old and New Testaments (Galatians 4:21-31). However, like parables, just because one can draw an analogy or make an illustration, that does not make the point being illustrated necessarily true. In other words, unless one has the benefit of inspiration, like Paul had (I Corinthians 2:10-16; Ephesians 3:3-5), he or she cannot make an allegorical interpretation of a passage and assert its truthfulness. Anything can be illustrated or compared to something else, maybe even something found in the Bible, but we cannot assume the thing being illustrated is true, just because the illustration has roots in Scripture; otherwise, we could prove anything and everything, just by focusing our creative efforts. Therefore, let us ask: Outside of so-called "Christian tradition", where is the authority for interpreting these passages as allegorical references to the Devil's origin? We can find references to these interpretations in Jerome's works, Milton's Paradise Lost, or Dante's Inferno, but that hardly counts as divine testimony.
Finally, one last point on the context of these two passages. Both in the works of Isaiah and Ezekiel, we find the verses under question surrounded by prophetical and symbolic condemnations of other kings, and the earthly kingdoms, whom they represented:
- Isaiah 8:1-10 - Judah overrun by Assyria
- Isaiah 10:5-19 - Fall of Assyria
- Isaiah 13:1-22 - Babylon destroyed by Medes
- Isaiah 14:1-21 - Disgraced king of Babylon, or the Devil?
- Isaiah 14:22-23 - Nation of Babylon judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 14:24-27 - Nation of Assyria judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 14:28-32 - Nation of Philistia judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 15:1-16:14 - Nation of Moab judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 17:1-14 - Nations of Syria (Damascus) and Israel judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 18:1-7 - Nation of Ethiopia judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 19:1-17 - Nation of Egypt judged and destroyed
- Isaiah 21:1-10 - Fall of Babylon
- Isaiah 21:11-17 - Fall of Edom
- Isaiah 23:1-18 - Fall of Tyre
- Isaiah 24:1-23 - God's power and judgment over all earthly nations
- Ezekiel 25:1-7 - Judgment against the nation of Ammon
- Ezekiel 25:8-11 - Judgment against the nation of Moab
- Ezekiel 25:12-14 - Judgment against the nation of Edom
- Ezekiel 25:15-17 - Judgment against the nation of Philistia
- Ezekiel 26:1-28:19 - Judgment against the nation of Tyre, or the Devil?
- Ezekiel 28:20-24 - Judgment against Sidon
- Ezekiel 29:1-32:16 - Judgment against Egypt - very similar in form and length to Tyre
- Ezekiel 32:17-32 - All evil nations ultimately destroyed (Egypt, Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, Sidonians, etc.)
Therefore, unless we are willing to interpret all of these prophecies as being allegorical depictions of the Devil or other spiritual beings, a plea for consistency will dishonor any attempt to single out Isaiah 14:1-27 and Ezekiel 28:1-19 as alone being interpreted allegorically in the midst of numerous other condemnations of evil world powers.
The Fallen Dragon?
The three other prominent passages, which are used to explain the fall of the Devil, are found in Luke 10:17-20, Revelation 9, and Revelation 12. Although these passages clearly speak of the Devil falling from heaven, to be properly understood these passages need to be considered in their broader context, which we will do now. Admittedly, other New Testament passages clearly speak of the Devil sinning (I John 3:8; John 8:44), and from that we infer that he did indeed fall from his good state. However, Luke 10:17-20 and Revelation 12:9-12 do not refer to the Devil's original sin. Instead, their context indicates a loss of power and effectiveness that occurred during Christ's ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Please consider the following:
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20)
First, please notice the context: The disciples are rejoicing that they had been given power to cast out demons, the forces of the Devil. Jesus' response validates their observation and indicates that the Devil's power had been dramatically diminished. Second, please notice that Jesus envisioned the Devil falling "like lightening from heaven". The word "like" indicates that Jesus is invoking a simile, a figure of comparative speech. The Devil's fall from power was as sudden and dramatic as lightening falling from the sky, but that does not necessarily mean he is lightening or that he fell from heaven - not according to this passage. Finally, given the disciples' comments before Jesus observation, and given Jesus' additional comments following, the context would demand this statement refer to the Devil's loss of power, not his origin. Please recall that before this time, demons could possess people and control them (for example, Luke 4:33-41). This was a measure of power that the Devil wielded, and it was the cessation of this power that indicated the Devil's fall (Luke 11:14-20). Therefore, this "fall" could not refer to his original descent into evil and rebellion because it is applied to events occurring in about 30 A.D., not 6000 B.C.!
Secondly, let us consider the anachronisms that dispel the given interpretation for Revelation 12:
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 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. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. (Revelation 12:1-13)
First, please notice that this is symbolic language. John is seeing signs that represent truth (Revelation 1:1; 12:1, 3). We should not interpret these signs as literal events, unless we are willing to accept that the Devil really is a physical dragon with a tail so humongous it can knock down one third of our universe's stars (Revelation 12:12:3-4)! Clearly, this passage refers to the Devil's general efforts to thwart the fulfillment of the prophecy about Christ, seed of a woman, who would destroy the Devil (Genesis 3:1, 14-15). However, the male child, or Jesus, was eventually born. He succeeded in His mission and ascended back to reign at God's right-hand (Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 2:30-36). And after this, we learn that the Devil makes war in heaven. How could that be, if this passage refers to the Devil's origin and events that precede the creation of man? Again, we have an anachronism, when we attempt to date the application of these verses before 6000 B.C., when the context places it after 30 A.D.!
Incidentally, it is interesting that some will use this passage to prove that the Devil seduced exactly one-third of the Lord's angels. It is a strange hermeneutic that will literally interpret the phrase "one-third", while figuratively interpreting the phrase "drew ... stars of heaven" to refer to the angels, but then again literally interpreting the phrase "threw them to the earth" to refer to their condemnation to roam the earth. Consistency, both with itself and the rest of Scripture, is an excellent test for any interpretation (or, absence of contradiction - Titus 1:2, 9). Either this passage is figurative or literal, and since it is clearly not literal, since it is clearly marked as a "sign", let us seek to understand the spiritual truths symbolized in this chapter.
The fall recorded here, similar to the corrected interpretation of Luke 10:17-20, refers to the Devil's loss of power or authority. It is a loss of spiritual place or right, not physical proximity. In this passage, the Devil's place is linked to his continual practice of accusing God's people. Therefore, it should be associated with God's previous toleration of the Devil's slanderous accusations, which prompted events like those recorded in Job 1-2 or Zechariah 3:1-5. At this point in time, God no longer tolerates the Devil's accusations. Why? How? Recall, that the Devil's accusations regarding Jeshuah the High Priest concerned his sinfulness (Zechariah 3:1-5). The accusations against Job pertained to his "protection" from sin (Job 1:8-11; 2:3-5). In each case, the Devil was accusing God of injustice, demanding punishment and trial. However, after Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, justice was restored, God was vindicated, and His people justified - demonstrably (Romans 3:24-26)! The Devil's accusations had been ultimately answered! There was no more place for his accusations, and therefore, God tolerated them no more. God had "overcome when judged" (Romans 3:4).
This varies from Luke 10:17-20 in application, which most likely refers to the end of the Devil's use of demon possession to afflict and torment men, as foretold in Zechariah 13:1-2. Later, in the book of Revelation, we see that the Devil is even further limited by a "great chain", which prohibits him from driving the world through a single, evil, world empire, like Rome (Revelation 20:1-3). Sadly, this prophecy also foretells that those days of imprisonment and limitation will come to an end before the great day of judgment, and the Devil will be released, plotting to deceive the nations once again (Revelation 20:3-ff).
Finally, please consider this last passage that supposedly contains some information regarding the Devil's fall from heaven:
Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. ... They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things. (Revelation 9:1-12)
Although this "angel of the bottomless pit" may indeed be the Devil, this passage most likely does not refer to his original fall, because it occurs during the sounding of the fifth trumpet. However, before even a single trumpet sounds, we read of the fifth seal that reveals martyred saints assembled before God's throne crying out for justice (Revelation 6:1-11) and prayers of the saints appearing before God's throne as incense immediately before the sounding of the first trumpet (Revelation 8:1-6). This timeline inconsistency, this anchronism prohibits us from interpreting Revelation 9 as directly relating the Devil's original fall. Furthermore, in Revelation 20:1-3, we see"an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up" (Revelation 20:1-3). If this angel is the same angel as the one given the key in Revelation 9, then we would have the Devil binding and casting himself into the bottomless pit! This absurdity leads us to believe that there are at least 2, maybe 3 different angels referenced in these 2 chapters.
Summary of What We Do NOT Know
In closing of this second half of the article, let us enumerate the elements of the myths that cannot be confirmed in Scripture:
- We do not know his original rank or mission.
- We do not know the Devil was a cherub
- We do not know his original name - definitely not Lucifer
- We do not know what was the occasion or circumstances surrounding his first sin
- We do not know how many angels rebelled with him
- We do not know the appearance of the Devil, before or after the fall - definitely neither physically beautiful nor a carnal dragon
- We do not know the Devil invented music (bad interpretation of Ezekiel 28:13)
- We do not know that the Devil invented cosmetics and other beautifying techniques
Of course, some of these things may be true; however, they are without support from the Bible. Therefore, if God's Word does not affirm it, then neither should we (I Peter 4:11).
Although we know so little about the Devil's origin, to know that he was an angel in the presence of God, and yet he rebelled against God is to know that he is profoundly powerful and hardened and therefore a fearful creature indeed. Although he is not a literal dragon, the spiritual power symbolized by a dragon is incredibly more fierce. Although we have dismantled many of the myths and misunderstood symbols regarding the Devil, we should not forget that these symbols were intended to communicate that the Devil is an awesome foe, unlike anything we have ever encountered. Let us remember the example of Michael and not dismiss the Devil's power so lightly (Jude 1:6).
Although we are given but a few passages concerning the origin of the Devil, the many fables and myths concerning his origin have prompted a thorough examination of the commonly held beliefs. In closing, we see that we do not really know as much about the Devil's origin as many claim to know. The obvious lesson being that God does not think it important; otherwise, He would have revealed it so (Deuteronomy 29:29; II Peter 1:2-3; II Timothy 3:16-17). The more important points to consider are the nature of the Devil, his work, and his defeat - how we overcome him in Jesus! That we will consider in the remaining articles of this series.
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