Devil in Christianity

In mainstream Christianity, the Devil, Satan or Lucifer is a fallen angel who rebelled against God in an attempt to become equal to God himself.[1][need quotation to verify] The devil was expelled from Heaven at the beginning of time, before God created the material world and is in constant opposition to God.[2][3]

A depiction of Lucifer by Gustave Doré from Canto XXXIV of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy

The Devil is often identified as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. He also has been identified as the accuser of Job, the tempter of the Gospels, Leviathan and the dragon in the Book of Revelation.

Old TestamentEdit

The serpent (Genesis 3)Edit

In the view of many Christians, the Devil's first appearance in the Old Testament is as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent tempts Adam and Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden them to eat, thus causing their expulsion from the Garden and indirectly causing sin to enter the world. In God's rebuke to the serpent, he tells it "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel."[4]

Christian scriptures are often interpreted to identify the serpent with the Devil. The deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom says, "But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world and they who are in his possession experience it." (Wisdom 2:24) Satan is implicitly identified, in the New Testament, with the serpent in Eden, in Revelation 12:9: "This great dragon — the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world — was thrown down to the earth with all his angels."

Job's adversary (Job 1–2)Edit

Christian teaching about the Satan (Hebrew שָׂטָן, Adversary), to whom God proposes his servant Job is that he appears in the heavenly court to challenge Job, with God's permission. This is one of two Old Testament passages, along with Zechariah 3, where Hebrew ha-Satan (the Adversary) becomes Greek ho diabolos (the Slanderer) in the Greek Septuagint used by the early Christian church. Originally, only the epithet of "the satan" ("the adversary") was used to denote the character in the Hebrew deity's court that later became known as "the Devil" (the term "satan" was also used to designate human enemies of the Hebrews that Yahweh raised against them[citation needed]). The article was lost and this title became a proper name: Satan. There is no unambiguous reference to the Devil in the Torah, the Prophets, or the Writings.

David's SatanEdit

Christian teaching about the involvement of Satan in David's census varies, just as the pre-exilic account of 2 Samuel and the later account of 1 Chronicles present differing perspectives:

  • 2 Samuel 24:1 And the anger of the LORD was again kindled against Israel, and stirred up David against them, saying: Go, number Israel and Judah.
  • 1 Chronicles 21:1 However, Satan rose up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.

Zechariah 3Edit

Zechariah's vision of recently deceased Joshua the High Priest depicts a dispute in the heavenly throne room between Satan and the Angel of the Lord (Zechariah 3:1–2). Goulder (1998) views the vision as related to opposition from Sanballat the Horonite.[5]

Isaiah's Lucifer (Isaiah 14)Edit

Since the time of Origen and Jerome,[6] some Christian concepts of the Devil have included the Morning Star in Isaiah 14:12, which is translated Lucifer ("Morning Star" as a noun, "light-bringing" as an adjective)[7] in the Latin Vulgate, and transferred directly from Latin into the King James Version as a name "Lucifer"[a] When the Bible was translated into Latin (the Vulgate), the name Lucifer appeared as a translation of "Morning Star", or the planet Venus, in Isaiah 14:12. Isaiah 14:1–23 is a passage concerned with the plight of Babylon, and its king is referred to as "morning star, son of the dawn". This is because the Babylonian king was considered to be of godly status and of symbolic divine parentage (Bel and Ishtar, associated with the planet Venus).[citation needed]

While this information is available to scholars today via translated Babylonian cuneiform text taken from clay tablets,[citation needed] it was not as readily available at the time of the Latin translation of the Bible. At some point[when?] the reference to "Lucifer" was interpreted as a reference to the moment Satan was thrown from Heaven. And despite the clarity of the chapter as a whole, the 12th verse continues to be put forth as proof that Lucifer was the name of Satan before the fall. Thus Lucifer became another name for Satan and has remained so, owing to popular tradition.

The Hebrew Bible word for the morning star, which was later translated to "Lucifer" in English, is הילל (transliterated HYLL), meaning "morning star".[8]

Later, for unknown reasons, Christian demonologists appeared to designate "Satan", "Lucifer", and "Beelzebub" as different entities, each with a different rank in the demonic hierarchy. One hypothesis is that this might have been an attempt to establish a demonic trinity with the same person, akin to the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, but most demonologists do not carry this view.[citation needed]

Cherub in Eden (Ezekiel 28)Edit

The cherub in Eden is a figure mentioned in Ezekiel 28:13-14, identified with the King of Tyre, specifically Ithobaal III (reigned 591–573 BCE) who according to Josephus' list of kings of Tyre was reigning contemporary with Ezekiel at the time of the first fall of Jerusalem.[9][10] Christianity has traditionally linked the reference to the fall of Satan.[11]

New TestamentEdit


The Devil depicted in The Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854.

The Devil figures much more prominently in the New Testament and in Christian theology than in the Old Testament and Judaism. The New Testament records numerous accounts of the Devil working against God and his plan. The Temptation of Christ features the Devil, and is described in all three synoptic gospels, (Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–13), although in Mark's gospel he is called Satan. In all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 9:22–29, Mark 3:22–30, and Luke 11:14–20), Jesus' critics accuse him of gaining his power to cast out demons from Beelzebub, the chief Demon (often identified with Satan in mainstream Christendom). In response, Jesus says that a house divided against itself will fall, so, logically speaking, why would the Devil allow one to defeat the Devil's works with his own power?

In Matthew 4:8–9 and Luke 4:6–7 the devil offers all kingdoms of the earth to Jesus, implying they belong to him.[12] Since Jesus does not dispute this offer, it indicates that the authors of those gospels believed this to be true.[12] This interpretation is, however, not shared by all, as Ireaeus argues, since the devil was a liar since the beginning, he also lied here and that all kingdoms in fact belong to God, referring to Proverbs 21.[13]

The New Testament includes numerous instances of demonic possession. Satan himself is said to have entered Judas Iscariot before Judas' betrayal. (Luke 22:3) Jesus encounters those who are possessed and casts out the evil spirit(s). A person may have one demon or multiple demons inhabiting their body. Jesus encountered a man filled with numerous demons in Mark 5:1–20.[14]

Acts and epistlesEdit

The Epistle of Jude makes reference to an incident where the Archangel Michael argued with the Devil over the body of Moses.[15] According to the First Epistle of Peter, "Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour."[16]


Depiction of the Devil in the Codex Gigas.

According to most Christian eschatology, Satan will wage a final war against Jesus, before being cast into Hell for aeonios.[b] A few early Church Fathers are known to have prayed for Satan's eventual repentance[17] but it was not generally believed that this would happen. On the other hand, Dispensationalists teach that Jesus returns to Earth before the Great Tribulation to reclaim the righteous, dead and living, to meet him in the air (known as the Rapture).[18] Many Fundamentalists believe that immediately following this, the Tribulational period will occur as prophesied in the book of Daniel, while others (especially Seventh-day Adventists) believe that immediately following Jesus' Second Coming, Satan will be bound on this Earth for 1,000 years, after which he will be "loosed for a little season"[19] – this is when the battle of Armageddon (the final confrontation between good and evil) will be waged – and Satan and his followers will be destroyed once and for all, the Earth will be cleansed of all evil and there will be "a new Heaven and a new Earth" where sin will reign no more.[20]


The Ethiopian Church accepts 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees as part of their biblical canon.[21] As a result, narratives about fallen angels, demons and the devil, rejected by Western churches, are still accepted. According to 1 Enoch 7.2, the Watchers become "enamoured" with human women[22] and have intercourse with them. The offspring of these unions, and the knowledge they were giving, corrupt human beings and the earth (1 Enoch 10.11–12).[22] Eminent among these angels are Shemyaza, their leader, and Azazel. Like many other fallen angels mentioned in 1 Enoch 8.1–9, Azazel introduces men to "forbidden arts", and it is Azazel who is rebuked by Enoch himself for illicit instructions, as stated in 1 Enoch 13.1.[23] According to 1 Enoch 10.6, God sends the archangel Raphael to chain Azazel in the desert Dudael as punishment. Accordingly, the Church does not teach that sin originates in Adam's transgression and Satan's revolt alone, but that other angels might still cause further corruption after humans have been created.[24]

Christian teachingsEdit

Christian tradition and theology identified the myth about a rising star, thrown into the underworld, told about a Babylonian king in the Bible (Isaiah 14:12) with a fallen angel. The concept of fallen angels is of pre-Christian origin. They appear in writings like the Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees and arguably in the Pentateuch.

As personification of evil, Christians have understood the Devil to be the author of lies and promoter of evil. However, the Devil can go no further than God allows, resulting in the problem of evil. Christian scholars had different opinions on the reason behind evil in the world, and often explained evil in relation to the devil.

The Devil is often identified with Satan, the accuser in the Book of Job.[25] Only rarely, Satan and the Devil are depicted as separate entities.[26]

Liberal Christianity often views the Devil metaphorically. This is true of some Conservative Christian groups too, such as the Christadelphians[27] and the Church of the Blessed Hope. Much of the popular lore of the Devil is not biblical; instead, it is a post-medieval Christian reading of the scriptures influenced by medieval and pre-medieval Christian popular mythology.


Origen was probably the first author, using Lucifer as a proper name for the devil. In his work "De principiis Proemium" and in a homily on Book XII, he compared the morning star Eosphorus-Lucifer - probably based on the life of Adam and Eve - with the devil or Satan. Origen took the view that Helal-Eosphorus-Lucifer, originally mistaken for Phaeton, fell into the abyss as a heavenly spirit after he tried to equate himself with God. Cyprian (around 400), Ambrosius (around 340–397) and a few other church fathers essentially subscribed to this view, which was borrowed from this Hellenistic myth.[28]

According to Origen, God created rational creatures first, then the material world. The rational creatures are divided into angels and humans, both endowed with free-will,[29] and the existence of the material world a result of their choices.[30][31] The world, also inhabitat by the devil and his angels, manifests all kinds of destruction and suffering, too. Origen refutes the Valentinian view that suffering in the world is beyond God's grasp and the devil an independent actor. Therefore, the devil is only abble to persue evil, as long as God allows. Evil has no ontological reality, but is defined by deficits or a lack of existence, in Origen's cosmology. Therefore, the devil is considered the far most remote from the presence of God, followed by whose, who adhere to his will.[32]

Origen has been accused by Christians of teaching salvation for the devil. However, in defense of Origen, scholars argued apocatastasis for the devil is based on a misinterpretation of his universalism. Accordingly, it is not the devil, as the principle of evil, the personification of death and sin, but the angel, who introduced them in the first place, who will be restored, after this angel abandoned his evil will.[33]


Augustine of Hippo's work Civitas Dei (5th century) became the major opinion of Western demonology and for the Catholic Church.[34] For Augustine the rebellion of Satan was the first and final cause of evil, whereby rejecting earlier teachings, about Satan having fallen when the world was already created.[35][36] In his Civitas Dei, he describes two cities (Civitates) distinct from each other and opposed to each other like light and darkness.[37] The earthly city is caused by the sin of the devil and is inhabited by wicked men and demons (fallen angels) led by the devil. On the other hand, the heavenly city is inhabited by righteous men and the angels led by God.[37] Although, his ontological division into two different kingdoms shows resemblance of Manichean dualism, Augustine differs in regard of the origin and power of evil. He argues, what evil came first into existence by the free will of the devil,[38] and has no independent ontoligical existence. Augustine always emphasized the sovereignty of God over the devil,[39] who can only operate within their God-given framework.[36]

Unlike humans, the devil along with his demons only have one choice and can not repent their sin, since their sin does not root in temptation, but in their very own choice, which would define their nature.[40][41] Since the sin of the devil is intrinsic in his nature, Augustine argues what the devil must have turned evil immediately after his creation.[42] Thus, the devil's attempt to take God's throne is not an assault on the gates of heaven, but a turn to solipsism in which the devil becames God in his world.[43] Further, Augustine rejects the idea, what envy could have been the first sin (as some early Christians believed, evident from sources like Cave of Treasures in which Satan has fallen, because he envies humans and refused to prostrate himself before Adam), since pride ("loving yourself more than others and God" ) is required to be envious ("hatred for the happiness of others").[44] Such sins are described as removal from God's presence. The devil's sin does not give evil a positive value, since evil is, according to Augustine, merely a byproduct of creation. The spirits have all been created in the love of God, but the devil valued himself more, therefore abandoning his position for a lower good. Less clear is Augustine about the reason for the devil choosing to abandon God's love. While in some works he argued, it is God's grace giving the angels a deeper understanding of God's nature and the order of the cosmos. Illuminated by God-given grace, they became incapable of feeling any desire for sin. The other angels, however, are not blessed with grace, and acted upon sin.[45]



The notion of fallen angels already existed in Pre-Christian times, but had no unified narrative. In 1 Enoch, Azazel and his host of angels came to earth in human shape and taught forbidden arts resulting in sin. In the Apocalypse of Abraham Azazel is described with his own Kavod (Magnificence); a term usually used for the Divine in apocalyptic literature, already indicating the devil as anti-thesis of God, with the devil's kingdom on earth and God's kingdom in heaven.[46] In the Life of Adam and Eve Satan was cast out of heaven for his refusal to prostrate himself before man, likely the most common explanation for Satan's fall in Proto-orthodox Christianity.[47]

Christianity, however, depicted the fall of angels as an event prior to the creation of humans. The devil becomes considered a rebel against God, by claiming divinity forhimself, who is allowed to have temporary power over the world. Thus in prior depictions of the fallen angels, the evil angel's misdemeanor is directed downwards (to man on earth), while with Christianity, the devil's sin is directed upwards (to God).[48] Although the Devil is considered to be inherently evil, most Christian scholars agree that the Devil had, at some point, freely chosen evil, resulting in his fall.

In early Christianity, some movements postulated a distinction between the God of Law, creator of the world and the God of Jesus Christ. Such positions have been hold by Marcion, Valentinus, the Basilides and Ophites, who denied the Old Testamental deity to be the true God, arguing, the descriptions of the Jewish deity are blasphemous for God. They have been opposed by whose who argued that the deity presented by Jesus and the God of Jews are the same, like Irenaeus, Tertullian and Origen, who in turn accused such movements as blaspheming against God by asserting a power higher than the Creator. As evident from Origen's On the First Principles, whose who denied the Old Testamental deity to be the true God argued, that God can only be good and not be subject to inferior emotions like anger and jealousy. Instead, they accused him of self-deification, thus identifying him with Lucifer (Helel), the opponent of Jesus and ruler of the world.[49] However, not all dualistic movements equated the Creator with the devil. In Valentinism, the Creator is merely ignorant, but not evil, trying to fashion the world as good as he can, but lacking the proper power maintain its goodness.[50] Irenaeus writes Against Heresies that according to the Valentinian cosmological system, Satan was the left-hand ruler,[51] but actually superior to the Creator, because he would consist of spirit, while the Creator of inferior matter.[52][53]

Anglo-Saxon periodEdit

The Devil on horseback. Nuremberg Chronicle (1493).

Although the teachings of Augustine are usually considered the fundamental depictions of the devil in Medieval Christianity by rejecting the Enochian writings and associating the devil with pride instead of envy, some concepts, like regarding evil as the mere absence of good, was far too sophisticated to be represented by most theologicans during the Anglo-Saxon period. They sought for a more concrete image of evil to represent spiritual struggle and pain and the devil became more of a concrete entity. Further, Lucifer, the fallen angel and the more mobile devil, although thought to be the same in both Genesis and Revelation has been fairly consistently be distinguished in Anglo-Saxon demonology.[54] Accordingly, while Lucifer is fixed and bound in hell, the lesser devils, including Satan are his mobile instigators. Especially Satan appears as the right hand and vassal of Lucifer.[55]

In Peter Binsfield's later classification of demons, Lucifer represents pride, the major characteristic for the devil during Medieval Age, while Satan is classified as the representative of wrath.

Cathars and BogomilesEdit

What is known of the Cathars largely comes in what is preserved by the critics in the Catholic Church which later destroyed them in the Albigensian Crusade. Alain de Lille, c.1195, accused the Cathars of believing in two gods - one of light, one of darkness.[56] Durand de Huesca, responding to a Cathar tract c.1220 indicates that they regarded the physical world as the creation of Satan.[57] A former Italian Cathar turned Dominican, Sacchoni in 1250 testified to the Inquisition that his former co-religionists believed that the Devil made the world and everything in it.[58]

Catharism probably roots in Bogomilism, founded by Theophilos in the tenth-century, who in turn owed many ideas to the earlier Paulicians in Armenia and the Neat East and had strong impact on the history of Balkan. Their true origin probably lies within earlier sects such as Nestorianism, Marcionism and Borborites, who all share the notion of a docetic Jesus. Like these earlier movements, Bogomilites agree upon a dualism between body and soul and a struggle between good and evil. Rejecting most of the Old Testament, they opposed the established Catholic Church whose deity they considered to be the devil. Among the Cathars, there have been both an absolute Dualism (shared with Bogomilites and early Christian Gnosticism) and mitigated dualism as part of their own interpretation. Mitigated dualists are closer to Christianity, regarding Lucifer as an angel created (although through emanation, since by rejecting the Old Testament, they rejected creation ex nihilo) by God, who fell because of his own will. On the other hand, absolute dualists regard Lucifer as the eternal principle of evil, not part of God's creation. Lucifer forced the good souls into bodily shape, and imprisoned them in his kingdom. Following the absolute dualism, neither the souls of the heavenly realm nor the devil and his demons have free-will, their merely follow their nature, thus rejecting the Christian notion of sin.[59]

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, there is still remaining parts of Bogomil Dualism in Balkan folklore. Before God created the world, he meets a goose on the eternal ocean. The name of the Goose is reportedly named Satanael and claims to be a god. When God asks Satanael, who he himself is, the devil answers "the god of gods". God requests the devil to dive to the bottom of the sea to carry some mud then. From this mud, they fashioned the world; God created his angels and the devil his demons. Later, the devil tries to assault god but is thrown into the abyss, lurking on the creation of God and planning another attack on heaven.[60] This myth shares same resemblance with Pre-Islamic Turkic creation myths, as well as Bogomilite thoughts.[61]

The ReformationEdit

Luther taught the traditional personal Devil. Among his teachings was a recommendation of music since "the Devil cannot stand gaiety."[62]

The Devil being fought by Christian using a gold sword, Norwich Cathedral cloisters ceiling detail.

Calvin taught the traditional view of the Devil as a fallen angel. Calvin repeats the simile of Saint Augustine: "Man is like a horse, with either God or the Devil as rider."[63] In interrogation of Servetus who had said that all creation was part of God, Calvin asked what of the Devil? Servetus responded "all things are a part and portion of God".[64]

Anabaptists and DissentersEdit

David Joris was the first of the Anabaptists to venture that the Devil was only an allegory (c.1540), his view found a small but persistent following in the Netherlands.[65] The view was transmitted to England and Joris's booklet was reprinted anonymously in English in 1616, prefiguring a spate of non-literal Devil interpretations in the 1640s-1660s: Mede, Bauthumley, Hobbes, Muggleton and the private writings of Isaac Newton.[66] In Germany such ideas surfaced later, c.1700, among writers such as Balthasar Bekker and Christian Thomasius.

However the above views remained very much a minority. Daniel Defoe in his The Political History of the Devil (1726) describes such views as a form of "practical atheism". Defoe wrote "that to believe the existence of a God is a debt to nature, and to believe the existence of the Devil is a like debt to reason".

John Milton in Paradise LostEdit

Until John Milton created the character of Satan for his Paradise Lost, the different attributes of Satan were usually ascribed to different entities. The angel who rebelled in Heaven was not the same as the ruler in Hell. The ruler of Hell was often seen as a sort of jailer who never fell from grace. The tempting serpent of Genesis was just a serpent. Milton combined the different parts of the character to show his fall from near-divine beauty and grace to his eventual skulking role as a jealous tempter. He was so successful in his characterization of Satan as a romantic hero who "would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven" that his version of Satan has displaced all others.

Rudolf Bultmann and modernistsEdit

Rudolf Bultmann taught that Christians need to reject belief in a literal Devil as part of first century culture.[67] This line is developed by Walter Wink.[68]

Against this come the works of writers like Jeffrey Burton Russell, a believer in a literal personal fallen being of some kind. In Lucifer: the Devil in the Middle Ages, the third volume of his five-volume history of the Devil,[69] Russell argues that such theologians [as Bultmann, unnamed] are missing that the Devil is part and parcel of the New Testament from its origins.

Modern Christian doctrinesEdit

Catholic viewsEdit

A number of prayers and practices against the Devil exist within Catholic Church tradition.[70][71] The Lord's Prayer includes a petition for being delivered "from the evil one", but a number of other specific prayers also exist.

The Prayer to Saint Michael specifically asks for Catholics to be defended "against the wickedness and snares of the Devil." Given that some of the messages from Our Lady of Fatima have been linked by the Holy See to the "end times",[72] some Catholic authors have concluded that the angel referred to within the Fatima messages is St. Michael the Archangel who defeats the Devil in the War in Heaven.[73][74] Author Timothy Robertson takes the position that the Consecration of Russia was a step in the eventual defeat of Satan by the Archangel Michael.[75]

The process of exorcism is used within the Catholic Church against the Devil and demonic possession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that: "Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing".[76]

The Catholic Church views the battle against the Devil as ongoing. During a 24 May 1987 visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, Pope John Paul II said:[77]

"The battle against the Devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the archangel, is still being fought today, because the Devil is still alive and active in the world. The evil that surrounds us today, the disorders that plague our society, man's inconsistency and brokenness, are not only the results of original sin, but also the result of Satan's pervasive and dark action.

Pope Paul VI expressed concern about the influence of the Devil and in 1972 stated that: "Satan's smoke has made its way into the Temple of God through some crack".[78] However, John Paul II viewed the defeat of Satan as inevitable.[79]

Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, warned about ignoring Satan, saying, "Whoever denies Satan also denies sin and no longer understands the actions of Christ".[77]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church regards the Devil as being created as a good angel by God, and by his and his fellow fallen angels' free will, fell out of God's grace.[80][81]

Satan is not an infinitely powerful being. Although he is an angel, and thus pure spirit, he is considered a creature nonetheless. Satan's actions are permitted by divine providence.[81]

During a morning homily in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, in 2013, Pope Francis said:[82]

The Devil is not a myth, but a real person. One must react to the Devil, as did Jesus, who replied with the word of God. With the prince of this world one cannot dialogue. Dialogue is necessary among us, it is necessary for peace [...]. Dialogue is born from charity, from love. But with that prince one cannot dialogue; one can only respond with the word of God that defends us.

Thomas Rosica and journalist Cindy Wooden commented on the pervasiveness of the devil in Pope Francis' teachings, and both say that Francis believes that the devil is real.[83][84]

In 2019, Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus, said that Satan is a symbol, the personification of evil, but not a person and not a "personal reality"; four months later, he said that the Devil is real, and his power is a malevolent force.[85]

Eastern Orthodox viewsEdit

In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Satan was created as Lucifer, an angel (messenger) of great light. He was the greatest angel and therefore created to inspire (carry messages of truth and righteousness). Lucifer, however, taking his eyes off of the Creator, turned them toward himself and became filled with pride. [86] Now turned from God, the Source of truth and light, he became dark and fell from his former glory.

When God created humanity, trouble ensued. Humanity had became the pinnacle of Creation, for in the Garden of Eden humanity did not simply possess a noetic sense (an intuitional link with God, as the angels) but also a physical form. The angel formerly called Lucifer became filled with jealousy. Far from being in awe of his Creator, he wanted to destroy humanity and considered the Creator his nemesis. He used his messaging capacity to spread lies/unrighteousness to humanity, leading it contrary to both the Creator and creation. Like all creation, humanity’s life is from God and is thereby sustained only by its connection to Him.[87] Therefore turning from God and his righteous ways (sinning/missing the target) results in death.

The fallen messenger is known by the names "Devil" (slanderer) and "Satan" (accuser) because he lies about God and accuses God of wrongdoing. The Orthodox consider him the "prince of darkness" (from Eph. 6:12) and depict him in images as having been the ruler of Hades (the place of the dead).

The Eastern Orthodox are quick to point out that God did not create death/Hades, but that it was forged by the devil through deviance from the righteous way (a love of God and gratitude).[88] In a sense, it was a place where God was not, for He could not die, yet it was an inescapable prison for all humanity until the Christ. Before Christ's Resurrection, it could be said humanity had a reason to fear Satan. He was a creature could separate us from the Creator and source of life — for God could not enter Hades, and humanity could not escape it.

However, when the "Author of Life" was incarnated, that changed. To the Eastern Orthodox the Christ/Messiah is the perfect merger of God and humanity. He is both fully God and fully man.[89] This allowed Him to accomplish a unique job: Now God — yoked to humanity — could enter death, and on Holy Friday He did just that. To Christ, the cross became "death's door" or "the gates to Hades," for Jesus as man could die, even though as God death could not imprison Him.

Once in Hades, the Orthodox hold that Christ — being good and just — granted life/resurrection to all who wanted to follow him. As a result, Satan has been overthrown and is no longer able to hold humanity. With the prison despoiled, the only power Satan has is the power each individual gives him. With free will, if one wants to follow Satan, one may. This is what led St. Jerome to say, "Only rebels remain in graves."[90]

The belief is epitomized in the main Paschal/Easter hymn:

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And to those in the tombs,
Bestowing life. [91]

Eastern Orthodox Christians depict Christ in images entering Hades (as here), breaking down its gates (often shaped as a cross under His feet), and freeing a humanity who had been inescapably bound in sin and death. In addition, since all people have sinned, these depictions show Him raising Adam and Eve (and often "the good thief") while the devil is bound in chains for all eternity, as Christ's salvific work "is finished."[92]

Evangelical ProtestantsEdit

Evangelicals agree with the Protestant orthodox of theology that Satan is a real, created being given entirely over to evil and that evil is whatever opposes God or is not willed by God. Evangelicals emphasize the power and involvement of Satan in history in varying degrees; some virtually ignore Satan and others revel in speculation about spiritual warfare against that personal power of darkness. [93]

Jesus commands Satan to go away in this 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld depicting the Temptation of Christ.

Anglican ChurchEdit

The Thirty-Nine Articles makes one mention, "...whereby the Devil doth thrust them..."[94]

Unitarians and ChristadelphiansEdit

Some Christian groups and individuals view the Devil in Christianity figuratively. They see the Devil in the Bible as representing human sin and temptation, and any human system in opposition to God. Early Bible fundamentalist Unitarians and Dissenters like Nathaniel Lardner, Richard Mead, Hugh Farmer, William Ashdowne and John Simpson, and John Epps taught that the miraculous healings of the Bible were real, but that the Devil was an allegory, and demons just the medical language of the day. Such views today are taught today by Christadelphians[95] and the Church of the Blessed Hope. Simpson went so far, in his Sermons (publ. posthumously 1816), as to comment that the Devil was "really not that bad", a view essentially echoed as recently as 2001 by Gregory Boyd in Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy.

Jehovah's WitnessesEdit

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Satan was originally a perfect angel who developed feelings of self-importance and craved worship that belonged to God. Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to obey him rather than God, raising the issue—often referred to as a "controversy"—of whether people, having been granted free will, would obey God under both temptation and persecution. The issue is said to be whether God can rightfully claim to be sovereign of the universe.[96][97] Instead of destroying Satan, God decided to test the loyalty of the rest of humankind and to prove to the rest of creation that Satan was a liar.[98][99] Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Satan is God's chief adversary[99] and the invisible ruler of the world.[96][97] They believe that demons were originally angels who rebelled against God and took Satan's side in the controversy.[100]

Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Satan lives in Hell or that he has been given responsibility to punish the wicked. Satan and his demons are said to have been cast down from Heaven to Earth in 1914, marking the beginning of the "last days".[96][101] Witnesses believe that Satan and his demons influence individuals, organizations and nations, and that they are the cause of human suffering. At Armageddon, Satan is to be bound for 1,000 years, and then given a brief opportunity to mislead perfect humanity before being destroyed.[102]

Latter Day SaintsEdit

In Mormonism, the Devil is a real being, a literal spirit son of God who once had angelic authority, but rebelled and fell prior to the creation of the Earth in a premortal life. At that time, he persuaded a third part of the spirit children of God to rebel with him. This was in opposition to the plan of salvation championed by Jehovah (Jesus Christ). Now the Devil tries to persuade mankind into doing evil.[103] Mankind can overcome this through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the Gospel.[104]

Latter Day Saints traditionally regard Lucifer as the pre-mortal name of the Devil. Mormon theology teaches that in a heavenly council, Lucifer rebelled against the plan of God the Father and was subsequently cast out.[105] Mormon scripture reads:

And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision; for we beheld Satan, that Old Serpent, even the Devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about.[106]

After becoming Satan by his fall, Lucifer "goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men".[107] Mormons consider Isaiah 14:12 to be referring to both the king of the Babylonians and the Devil.[108][109]

Unification ChurchEdit

The Unification Church teaches that Satan will be restored in the last days and become a good angel again.[110]

Theological disputesEdit


Dante, Milton, and several other writers have depicted the Devil as resident in Hell. This contrasts with Job 1:6–7 and 1 Peter 5:8, discussed above, which depict the Devil as traveling about on the earth. The only point in the Bible where Satan is in a fiery place is at Revelation 20:10 where, at some future time, the Devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire and Sulfur to be tormented forever.

Sinfulness of angelsEdit

Some theologians believe that angels cannot sin because sin brings death and angels cannot die.[111]

Supporting the idea that an angel may sin, Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae, wrote:

"An angel or any other rational creature considered in his own nature, can sin; and to whatever creature it belongs not to sin, such creature has it as a gift of grace, and not from the condition of nature. The reason of this is, because sinning is nothing else than a deviation from that rectitude which an act ought to have; whether we speak of sin in nature, art, or morals. That act alone, the rule of which is the very virtue of the agent, can never fall short of rectitude. Were the craftsman's hand the rule itself engraving, he could not engrave the wood otherwise than rightly; but if the rightness of engraving be judged by another rule, then the engraving may be right or faulty."


Particularly in the medieval period, Satan was often shown as having horns and a goat's hindquarters (though occasionally with the legs of a chicken or a mule), and with a tail. He was also depicted as carrying a pitchfork,[112] the implement used in Hell to torment the damned, or a trident, deriving from the regalia of the sea-god Poseidon.[113] Occasionally more imaginative depictions were illustrated: sometimes the Devil was depicted as having faces all over his body, as in the painting of a Deal with the Devil. Depictions of the Devil covered in boils and scars, animal-like hair, and monstrous deformities were also common. None of these images seem to be based on biblical materials, as Satan's physical appearance is never described in the Bible or any other religious text. Rather, this image is apparently based on pagan Horned Gods, such as Pan, Cernunnos, Molek, Selene and Dionysus, common to many pagan religions.[114] Pan in particular looks very much like the images of the medieval Satan. These images later became the basis for Baphomet, which is portrayed in Eliphas Levi's 1854 Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (English translation Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual).[115] Even some Satanists use Baphomet as the image of Satan in Satanic worship. It has been alleged that this image was chosen specifically to discredit the Horned God.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ (analogous to the Greek, Phosphorus) and is also used symbolically to mean the "Morning Star", (i.e. Venus), which held some significant meanings[clarification needed] for Babylonians as mentioned[citation needed] in Isaiah 14:12.
  2. ^ Aeonios, literally translated, means "of or pertaining to an age", which is incorrectly translated[by whom?] as "all eternity".


  1. ^ Achim Geisenhanslüke, Georg Mein Monströse Ordnungen: Zur Typologie und Ästhetik des Anormalen transcript Verlag, 31.07.2015 ISBN 9783839412572 p. 217 (German)
  2. ^ McCurry, Jeffrey. “Why the Devil Fell: A Lesson in Spiritual Theology From Aquinas's ‘Summa Theologiae.’” New Blackfriars, vol. 87, no. 1010, 2006, p. 389 JSTOR, Accessed 5 May 2021.
  3. ^ Hans-Werner Goetz Gott und die Welt. Religiöse Vorstellungen des frühen und hohen Mittelalters. Teil I, Band 3: IV. Die Geschöpfe: Engel, Teufel, Menschen Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 12.09.2016 ISBN 9783847005810 p. 221
  4. ^ Genesis 3:14–15
  5. ^ M. D. Goulder The Psalms of the return (book V, Psalms 107-150) 1998 p197 "The vision of Joshua and the Accuser in Zechariah 3 seems to be a reflection of such a crisis."
  6. ^ Jerome, "To Eustochium", Letter 22.4, To Eustochium
  7. ^ Lewis and Short: lūcĭfer
  8. ^ Blue Letter Bible: Lexicon : Strong's H1966 - heylel
  9. ^ The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, John F. Walvoord, Walter L. Baker, Roy B. Zuck - 1985. Ezekiel had prophesied against the whole city; he was now singling out the city's leader for a special word from God. This ruler then was Ethbaal III, who ruled from 591-590 bc to 573-572 bc The underlying sin of Tyre's king was his ...
  10. ^ Ezekiel p. 249 Brandon Fredenburg - 2002 EZEKIEL 28 Indictment and Sentence against Tyre's Ruler (28:1-10) This oracle indicts (w. 2-5) and sentences (w. ... All that was true of the city-state has been concentrated into the description of the ruler of Tyre, Ethbaal III.
  11. ^ The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 1283 John F. Walvoord, Walter L. Baker, Roy B. Zuck - 1985 "This "king" had appeared in the Garden of Eden (v. 13), had been a guardian cherub (v. 14a), had possessed free access ... The best explanation is that Ezekiel was describing Satan who was the true "king" of Tyre, the one motivating."
  12. ^ a b Kelly 2006, p. 95.
  13. ^ Robert McQueen Grant Irenaeus of Lyons Psychology Press, 1997 ISBN 9780415118385 p. 130
  14. ^ Jessie Penn-Lewis's War On The Saints (1912) includes dates and recorded examples of alleged demon possession in recent history:
  15. ^ Jude 1:9
  16. ^ 1 Peter 5:8
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  18. ^ See 1 Thess 4:17
  19. ^ a short time, see Rev 20:1–3
  20. ^ Rev 21:1–4
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  22. ^ a b Laurence, Richard (1883). "The Book of Enoch the Prophet".
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