Is The Devil Real? Satan and His Attributes

There are many passages in the Bible associated with the Devil (Satan):

  • The serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4 & Genesis 3:14)
  • Satan (1 Chronicles 21:1)
  • The adversary playing the role of prosecuting attorney in a heavenly court with God and the angels (Job 1:6 & Zechariah 3:1-2 & 1 Peter 5:8)
  • As the devil (from the Greek “diabolos” which means “slanderer“), the tempter of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-3, Luke 4:2)
  • The prince of the demonsBeelzebub (Matthew 12:24, Mark 3:22, Luke 11:15)
  • Unclean spirit (Matthew 12:43)
  • The evil one (Matthew 13:19 & 1 John 2:13)
  • The author of all evil (Luke 10:19)
  • murderer and the father of lies (John 8:44)
  • The prince of this world (John 12:31 & 14:30 & 16:11)
  • demon able to enter into a human body (John 13:27)
  • God of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15)
  • Prince of the powers of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2)
  • Power of darkness (Colossians 1:13)
  • An adversary, like a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)
  • The angel of the abyss, named Abaddon in Hebrew, Apollyon in Greek (Revelation 9:11)
  • A great red dragon (Revelation 12:3 & 12:9 & 20:2)
  • The accuser of our brethren who accuses Christians before God day and night (Revelation 12:10)
  • The dragon, the old serpent (Revelation 20:2)

In addition, there are three passages that are considered by some Christians as descriptions of Satan. They are often quoted in isolation as references to the devil:

2 Kings 1:2-4 contains a reference to Baal-zebub. This passage describes how King Ahaziah of Samaria had an accident. He fell through a latticed window in his roof-chamber and injured himself. He decided to send messengers to Ekron, a nearby Phoenician city to inquire of their god Baal-zebub whether he would recover from the accident. Baal was the principal god of the Phoenicians; his name might have meant “Master of the Heavenly House.” The ancient Israelites followed Baal’s name with “zebul” which means “dung;” this produced the insulting term “Baal-zebul” which was later corrupted to “Baal-zebub.” “Baal-zebub” was simply a religiously intolerant, insulting term for “Baal,” the main deity of a neighboring tribe. The name had no connection to Satan. (Conservative Christians would disagree with this assessment; to many of them, all gods and goddesses other than Jehovah are in fact demons.) By the time of Jesus’ ministry, the related name “Beelzebul” had apparently become a nickname for Satan. It remains so today.

Isaiah 14:12-24 is interpreted by some as referring to Satan by the name “helel” in Hebrew. This is often translated as “Lucifer” or “Morning Star.” The passage describes how he had fallen from heaven, was thrown to earth, expressed a desire to sit “on the mountains where the Gods assemble“, wished to be like God, and had attacked many cities, leaving them in ruins. At first glance, this looks like a description of some of the activities of Satan. However, verse 4 clearly states that the passage refers to the King of Babylon, not to Satan. Isaiah was simply showing “sarcastic contempt for the mighty Babylonian monarch that had recently fallen, vanished as does [the morning star] Venus from the daytime sky.”

Ezekiel 28:13-17 is similar. It describes an individual as full of wisdom and flawless in beauty, dwelling in an Eden. But “iniquity came to light” in him, and “lawlessness filled his heart.” God flung him to the ground. Again, this sounds a bit like Satan. But verse 11 links the passage to the King of Tyre. Note that verse 19 describes how God killed the king and reduced him to ashes so that he “will be no more.” Satan is recording in subsequent passages of the Bible as being very much alive and kicking.

Attributes of the Devil (Satan)

Descriptions of the powers, activity and personality of Satan are scattered throughout the Bible:

  • He is a created being, a former Archangel, and thus is inferior to God.
  • He can be only in one place at one time.
  • He has limits to his knowledge and power.
  • Satan cannot perform any acts unless God approves (Job 1:6 to 2:10).
  • He is a trickster and an unreliable source of information. John 8:44 speaks of him as a liar, the father of all lies.
  • He is the ruler of the earth (John 12:31, Ephesians 6:12 and 2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • He leads a personal army of demons (Matthew 12:24)
  • He can adopt a spirit form, reside inside a person and influence their thoughts and behavior:
    • Ephesians 2:2 describes him as a spirit who works within “the children of disobedience.”
    • John 13:2 describes how Satan “put into” Judas Iscariot’s mind the decision to betray Jesus.
    • Acts 5:3 describes how Satan filled Ananias’ heart with the decision to lie to the Holy Ghost about the proceeds of a real estate sale
  • His existence places humans in extreme peril.. 1 Peter 5:8 describes him as a dangerous entity, a roaring lion, who roams all over the earth “seeking whom he may devour.”

The Bible describes Satan as having a personal army of demons  (from “daimon” meaning “intelligent” in Greek) to assist him. 

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