Doctrine of Creation (Part 23)

March 12, 2013     Time: 00:41:38

We have been talking about the Doctrine of Angels and we are about to bring this section of the lesson to an end. We want to look in our final section at two angels that are specifically named in Scripture – namely, Michael and Gabriel. Out of all of the myriads of angelic hosts that exist, only these two are actually named – Michael and Gabriel. They are named several times in Scripture, both in the Old Testament and again in the New Testament.

Let’s take a look first at the angel Michael who is mentioned first in the book of Daniel – Daniel 10:13, 21. In Daniel 10:13, Daniel receives this revelation from the angel that comes to him and he says, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” Here this angel was contending with this apparently evil spirit associated with Persia and Michael is identified as one of the chief of these angels – one of the chief of the princes – who is extremely powerful and therefore able to do battle with the prince of Persia. Then in Daniel 10:21, “But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.” There Michael is mentioned for a second time as the prince who is associated with Daniel and presumably his people, the people of Israel. In Daniel 12:1-2, Michael reappears:

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

There it speaks again of Michael associated with the kingdom of Israel and the final resurrection of the dead. So Michael is already known in the Old Testament as one of the chief of the angelic beings and he is mentioned again, as we’ve read in previous lessons, in Jude 9 in the New Testament. It says, “But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’” Remember in the book of Daniel he is referred to as one of the chief princes of the angels and here he is referred to as an archangel indicating his higher rank and he is contending with Satan himself in the ninth verse of Jude. Those are the passages that refer specifically to Michael in the Bible.

The other angel that is mentioned specifically is the angel named Gabriel. He also appears in the book of Daniel. Daniel 8:16-17:

And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”

So here he has an angelic vision of this person that is identified as Gabriel.[1] This angel also appears again in the next chapter in Daniel 9:20-22 where he says,

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God; while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and he said to me, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding.”

Here, Gabriel appears to him in some sort of a human form although “in flight” indicating that we are talking about an angelic being.

This same angel named Gabriel pops up again in the New Testament in the Gospel of Luke in the story of the Enunciation, both announcing the birth of John the Baptist and then also of Jesus himself in his appearance to Mary. Luke 1:19 is the first of these. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, has this vision and he said to the angel in verse 18, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” How can we have a child he asks? Then in Luke 1:19-20:

And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

Here again we see, as in the case of Michael, the very exalted stature of this angel. Gabriel is described here as one who stands in the very presence of God. So evidently both Michael, an archangel and one of the chief princes, and Gabriel are angels who are of enormous stature and rank before God.

Then in Luke 1:26-27, it says in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist, “the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.” Then you have the story of the Enunciation of the birth of Christ.

So I think it is quite remarkable that we have these two angels both mentioned in the book of Daniel carrying out various functions and then they reappear in the New Testament. These are the only references to them, or to any other angel, by name. But at least the identity of these two extremely powerful, exalted angels is made known to us in the Scripture.


Question: In Revelation 12:7, I think you referenced that before, I like that because it kind of speaks to that Jude passage.

Answer: You are correct – I left out one of the verses that refer to Michael. Revelation 12:7-8 says, “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” So, you are right, I forgot to mention that passage that also refers to the archangel Michael, in this case, as a warrior warring against Satan and Satan being cast out of heaven.[2]

Followup: When we look back at Jude and 2 Peter[3], Michael backs off from reviling and leaves that to the Lord, but here we see he is in total control and it’s like Satan gets his comeuppance from Michael!

Answer: Right, here Satan is finally cast down and thrown down from heaven down to Earth.

Question: Until that happens, Satan is the prince of the power of the air. God gave him permission to touch Job and the archangels didn’t get involved with that. Then when he comes back in Revelation, he has Jesus doing this as well. They have all this empowerment, but Satan is very strong and he is not to be underestimated. He, right now, is the prince of the power of the air.

Answer: Yes, we will say more about that in just a moment when we begin to look at Satan and the demons. But in the very passage that we were just talking about in Revelation 12:7 – yes, they are cast down out of heaven but where are they cast? Down to the Earth where they wreak havoc and cause all sorts of misery and pain and suffering as we will see!

Question: I want to back up a little bit to the end of the last lecture where we were talking about the works of angels. I noticed that I didn’t see you make any mention of one of the works that they did and that was they were givers of the law in the Old Testament. There are four references that I found in the Bible to that: Galatians 3:19, Deuteronomy 33:2, Acts 7:53 and Hebrews 2:2.

Answer: Yes, let’s look at a couple of those. In Acts 7:53, with respect to the angels being involved in the giving of the law, Stephen says to the Jews who were about the stone him, “You who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” So angelic beings were involved in giving the law to Moses on Sinai. Then Hebrews 2:2-3 also mentions this, “For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” So you are right in pointing out that another of the works attributed to angels in the Scripture is the giving of the Old Testament law.

Question: I was thinking that this whole discussion of whether Satan or Michael has more power is almost a moot point. Either one is going to have as much power as God allots to them. So if Michael retreated from Satan and allowed God to take over is because God said this is how much power Michael has. If Michael defeats Satan at the end of time it is because God is behind him and giving him the power to do it. So saying which one has more absolute power is almost a non-question.

Answer: Well, I think that it isn’t a matter of these beings being just channels of God’s power. It is not as though they don’t have any intrinsic powers themselves. But just as one person, say who is a weightlifter, has more inherent strength than somebody else who isn’t, it seems to me that these angels have rank as we’ve seen and that they don’t pull rank on each other. They recognize that some have a higher rank and authority than each other. But in the end, ultimately Satan is defeated. We’ll see when we come to Satan, which we are going to do now, that he is called the prince of the demons. He is the chief of these evil, angelic beings. So I think there is grounds for saying what I said before that Satan had a higher rank than Michael even as great as Michael was. Michael wouldn’t revile someone in authority like these foolish people to whom 2 Peter and Jude were written who were reviling these glorious beings, these angelic beings. Michael wouldn’t presume to do that. But in the end, the angelic forces led by Michael and others eventually do win out.[4]

Question: I think it is interesting to see what they are fighting for. What they are fighting for is the worth defined by God. Angels are trying to uphold the worth that God defines even including authority and Satan in his rebellion is trying to destroy the worth so he is trying to bring people into an artificial system that is against everything that God established of higher worth. That is the thing that they are fighting for.

Answer: Yes, I think that is right. The whole satanic modus operandi is anti-authoritarian in that it is destructive; it is trying to tear down the kingdom of God and God’s reign and rule in the hearts of people and over his creation. It is a part of creation in rebellion against God.

Satan and the Demons

We have been talking around this over and over again – when you talk about angels you can’t help but to start talking about demons and Satan as well. So let’s now move to that section of the lesson and to that part of the outline dealing with Satan and the demons. We have been talking about angels but not all angels are good. You also have this spiritual being referred to as Satan and these demonic hordes that serve his destructive purposes. So let’s talk first about the names of this person or beings.

Names of Satan

The principal name given to this spiritual force that opposes God is Satan. This is a transliteration of a word both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Both in Hebrew and in Greek you have this name Satan which is applied to this spiritual being that is opposing God. The word “Satan” is the word for “adversary.” So sometimes you will see in the Bible the word translated with the definite article “the Satan” meaning “the Adversary” who is opposed to God. So, for example, look at 1 Peter 5:8 in the New Testament for an illustration of this usage. “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.” There the devil, or Satan, is described as someone who is opposing God and his work.

The word for “devil” in the Greek is diabolos. Sometimes Satan is given another name in the Scripture – Beelzebub or variants thereof like Beelzebul. For example, Matthew 10:25 says, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” And this word Beelzebul (or Beelzebub) comes from a name for the Philistine God “Baal.” Baal-Zebub meant “the Lord Prince.” So the people of Israel regarded the Philistines as worshipping, not the same God that they did, but they were in effect worshipping Satan.[5] So much for religious pluralism! Similarly, just as in the New Testament, Paul thought of the Greco-Roman religions, not as worshipping God, but he said what these pagans worship are in fact demons rather than God. So these Old Testament believers and people at the time of Christ thought that the Philistine God, which was worshipped by these Canaanite people, was in fact Satan. So one of the names for Satan is also Beelzebub or Beelzebul. Here is an example of that – Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.’” So they thought that Jesus was acting in casting out demons under the authority of Beelzebul, whom they identify as the prince of demons. So the chief authority over this realm of demons was thought to be this figure Satan – the Adversary, the devil, diabolos or Beelzebul.

He is called a liar and the devil in John 8:44. Jesus says,

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

So here he is referred to as a liar and as the devil. Revelation 20:2-3a gives a whole series of titles to Satan: “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more.” Here he is referred to as the dragon, that ancient serpent (perhaps a reference back to the serpent in the Garden of Eden deceiving Adam and Eve), the devil and Satan; so quite a number of names are mentioned here in Revelation 20:2.

In Ephesians 2:2, he is called the prince of the power of the air. Ephesians 2:1b-2 says, “When you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” So here you have him referred to as a prince much like the angels are sometimes referred to as princes.

He is called the ruler of this world in John 14:30-31; Jesus says, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” Here Satan is described by Jesus as the ruler of this world, which is a very sobering title for Satan. We often think of God as the ruler of this world, but at least in a sort of immediate sense it is really Satan who is the ruler of this world and who has the authority over this world in which we live.

He is called the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Speaking of unbelievers, Paul says, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.” Here Satan is called the god of this world. So we have seen he is called the ruler of this world; here he is actually referred to as the god of this world who blinds the minds of unbelievers to prevent them from receiving the Gospel of Christ.[6]

In 1 Thessalonians 3:5, he is called the tempter. Paul says, “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent that I might know your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor would be in vain.” So Satan is also one who tempts Christians with a view toward destroying them and bringing about their lapse.

So I think you can see that this adversary, or Satan, is referred to in Scripture by quite a number of names. He is called Beelzebub, the devil, the liar, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, the god of this world, your adversary, the dragon, the ancient serpent, Satan and the tempter. All of these go to describe the person that is this spiritual being that is bent upon the destruction of God’s work in his kingdom in this world.


Question: The devil – is that also translated “slanderer?”

Answer: Not to my knowledge. I don’t think diabolos means “slanderer.”[7]

Followup: And Beelzebub – is that “Lord of the Flies?”

Answer: Yeah, this is interesting. Beelzebub, as I said, comes from this word for Baal – Baal-Zebub meaning “Lord Prince.” But in 2 Kings 1:2, it gives a variant of the word Beelzebub as Beelzebul, which means “Lord of the Flies.”[8] It is probably an attempt to ridicule Baal-Zebub – he is not the “Lord Prince,” he is just the “Lord of the Flies” and so not really a significant person at all. So probably that is an attempt by the writer to ridicule this foreign deity. And of course, William Golding named his incredible novel The Lord of the Flies after this title which describes so poignantly the inherent sinfulness and wickedness of man where even these little English schoolchildren marooned on that island degenerate into savagery and chaos in the absence of the accoutrements of civilization which restrain human nature. It is a very, very powerful novel and film based upon this title, “The Lord of the Flies.”

Question: What about Lucifer?

Answer: Yes, we will say something about Lucifer in a moment. That comes from one of these passages in the Old Testament, Ezekiel I believe.[9] Some people think this applies to Satan. However, I am skeptical about that. We will look at that in a minute.

Question: In 1 John 5:19, it says the whole world is in the sway of the wicked one – so he is called the wicked one. But then 1 John 3:8, it says the reason Jesus came was to defeat the works of the devil. So that gives the whole answer of why Christ came – it was to defeat his works.

Answer: I just want to underline the verse you mention – 1 John 5:19 where he says, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.” This goes right along with what Paul had said about being the god of this world and what Jesus said about Satan being the ruler of this world. 1 John says the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. So we live in enemy territory in effect – we are behind enemy lines being here in this world.

Question: The question on slanderer – the verse is 2 Timothy 3:2; it uses the word “slanderous.” So it translates the Greek for “the devil” to “slanderer.”[10]

Answer: Are you sure? I think a previous questioner was quite right that Satan is referred to as the Slanderer in Scripture but I didn’t think the word is diabolos. I’ll have to check, but I thought it was a different word that was translated Slanderer.[11]

Question: Also, the title of Satan is Accuser. In Revelation 12:10, it relates back to Zechariah 3:1. It doesn’t necessarily call him that there but Zechariah says, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.” So it is not necessarily a title but it explains what he is doing.

Answer: Would you want to read Revelation 12:10 as well?

Followup: “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.’”

Answer: And that is right after the passage about Michael and the angels casting Satan out of heaven. So the accuser of the brethren could be listed as another one of the titles of Satan.

Question: In 1 Chronicles 21:1 – is that Satan this Satan? Is it the same Satan who stood against Israel and then incited David to number Israel? In another book, it says God incited David to take a census and that seems strange. What is your opinion?

Answer: Let’s look at 1 Chronicles 21:1 where it says, “The Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to number Israel.” Here it would suggest that it is Satan. This is one of the few references in the Old Testament to Satan. There are a couple of others, but this is one of the few. From what I read in preparation for this lesson, this was taken to be a genuine reference to this spiritual adversary or spiritual being that has moved David to conduct this census. The difficulty is in the parallel passage, it says that God moved David to conduct the census.

Followup: That is in 2 Samuel 24:1 where it says, “Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” Is “he” God or is that implying Satan?

Answer: This is what one would call a biblical difficulty – we appear to have a contradiction! My own view of this would be to take a middle knowledge perspective. There is a difference if God has middle knowledge between strong actualization of a state of affairs and weak actualization of a state of affairs. God would strongly actualize a state of affairs if he brings it about through a direct exercise of his causal power. For example, he parted the Red Sea. He raised Jesus from the dead. These would be an example of God’s strongly actualizing a state of affairs. But weak actualization can occur by God creating a free agent in circumstances in which he knew that agent would freely do something. Therefore, God is the one who, in one sense, ultimately brings it about but he does it through the free agency of some created being. He knew how that person would freely act in that circumstance. I think this would be the case, for example, with Pharaoh hardening his heart where Scripture says that God hardened his heart[12] but other Scripture says Pharaoh hardened his heart.[13] I think we can understand that by saying that God knew that Pharaoh would freely harden his heart if confronted with these ten plagues upon Egypt. Another prime example would be the suicide of King Saul.[14] In the version that is described in both Samuel and Chronicles, Saul sees the Philistines are about to take him and so rather than be taken by the enemy, he falls on his sword and commits suicide.[15] But in the passage in Chronicles, the author comments “thus, the LORD slew Saul and delivered the kingdom to David.”[16] Now, Saul’s suicide was his own free act. He fell on the sword himself. But in the mind of the Chronicler, he could see this as the means by which God brought about the deliverance of the kingdom to David. I think in exactly the same way we could say that God knew what Satan would freely do in these circumstances – he would incite David to conduct this census and thus the census is brought about. So, in an ultimate sense, God is the one that is sovereign – he is in control – but he is working through free agents to weakly actualize certain states of affairs without bringing them about directly. So I think if we have this kind of middle knowledge perspective, it can help to understand passages like this.

Question: This is analogous to Job. God allowed certain things to happen to Job and still allows today. There are many things that God doesn’t bring an immediately halt to, although he could, in accomplishing his purposes. But that is not an endorsement of that. It was in David’s heart and arrogance to want to number Israel and Satan took advantage of that and God allowed it.

Answer: Yes, I think that is right. And that is, by the way, one of the other passages in the Old Testament where Satan appears – in the trials of Job where God gives him reign to torment Job to a certain degree but then no farther.[17]

[Q&A: a comment about how God leaves people alone to make their own choices but still sustains the world in being.]

Clearly, Satan is presented as this tremendous adversary of the work and kingdom of God with whom we have to contend. This raises the question as to the origin of this being. Since God is not evil and does not create evil, how is it that there could be such a creature as this? How could there be such a being as Satan? When God created in Genesis 1, it says he looked at the creation and saw that it was very good; everything was good. So how do you explain the origin of someone like Satan and these demons?

One thing that is very clear that we need to insist upon is that Scripture does not teach a sort of dualism. It does not teach that there is God and anti-God who is equally opposed to God; that there is light and there is darkness and these are equally opposed to each other. The dualistic view is completely foreign to both Judaism and Christianity which think of God as the source of all reality outside of himself. Anything that exists other than God is due to God’s creation. There isn’t any reality that exists apart from God that is uncreated. So dualism is simply out of the question.[18] To give a Scripture on this, look at Colossians 1:15-16. Speaking of Christ, it says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth.” And now he begins to mention specifically some of these realms, “visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” Now Paul will talk elsewhere about these principalities and powers – these authorities – in reference to these demonic realms that exist as well as the angelic realms. He is quite clear in Colossians that these things do not exist independently of Christ; they are all created through him. So dualism is simply out of the question. If there is such a being, such a person, as Satan and his demons then these are part of the created order. They are part of creation. They were made by God. That is the clear implication. But then we have this very difficult question – how could God create something which seems to be so intrinsically evil and opposed to God. That will be the question that we will explore next time.[19]

[1] 5:28

[2] 10:00

[3] This is referring to Jude 9 and 2 Peter 2:10-12.

[4] 15:10

[5] 19:57

[6] 25:06

[7] Strong’s Concordance #1228 diabolos is “(adj. used often as a noun), slanderous; with the article: the Slanderer (par excellence), the Devil.” See and

[8] See Manfred Lurker, The Routledge Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons (London: Routledge, 2004) p. 31 where it says “Rabbinical texts interpreted the name [Baal-zebub] as meaning ‘Lord of the dunghill’; the word zabal = to dung, is used in rabbinical literature as a synonym for idolatry.” Thus, it is thought zabal could be the origin of this alternate name “Beelzebul” that Dr. Craig mentions. Since flies are normally found on dunghills, hence “Lord of the Flies.”

[9] cf. Ezekiel 28

[10] 29:59

[11] The verse is actually 2 Timothy 3:3, which says, “heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good.” The word “slanderous” was translated from a form of the word diabolos; specifically, the word in the Greek is diaboloi (διάβολοι).

[12] “But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them; as the LORD had spoken to Moses” (Exodus 9:12).

[13] “But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and would not listen to them; as the LORD had said” (Exodus 8:15).

[14] 35:01

[15] 1 Samuel 31:3-4; 1 Chronicles 10:3-5

[16] 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

[17] Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7

[18] 39:43

[19] Total Running Time: 41:37 (Copyright © 2013 William Lane Craig)