Doctrine of Creation (Part 24)

March 17, 2013     Time: 00:41:21

We have been talking about angels and demons and last time we began by looking at various names given to the chief adversary of God in the demonic world: Satan or the Devil. We saw that the name Satan, which is used in both the Old and New Testaments, means adversary. Also, the word diabolos, or devil, is used synonymously in the New Testament. Someone asked if this couldn’t also mean slanderer and that is correct; I found that that is another way to translate diabolos. That gives us some clue or indication of the character of this person, the adversary, the slanderer. We saw various other names that are applied to this evil, spiritual person who is opposed to God and his work.

Origin of Satan

We come, then, to the question of the origin of Satan or the Devil. I emphasized last week that Christianity and Judaism are not dualistic in their worldview. There is not a sort of dualism between an ultimate evil principal and an ultimate good principal – Satan and God. Rather, we saw from Colossians 1:15-16 that all of these various principalities and powers, these spiritual realms, are created by God. So he is the source of their reality. They are contingent beings. They are part of the created world. They are not co-equal and co-eternal with God. Just to underline the point, Isaiah 44:24 says, “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth – Who was with me?’” The question is purely rhetorical; the answer is, of course, no one. “I, the LORD, alone, am the one who made all things, including Satan and the demons.” That raises, then, this very puzzling question – how is it that there could be this realm of evil, spiritual creatures made by God? God is not the source of evil. He creates good so how is it that there exists these evil minions? Unfortunately, this is not an issue which is addressed explicitly in the Bible. We have to simply put together various clues and intimations and try to draw some conclusion about this. Some people have said that Isaiah 14:12-17 are a reference to the origin of Satan. Let’s read that together; here Isaiah says,

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit. Those who see you will stare at you, and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’

Some have said that this language could not be used to describe any human person – this is a description of Satan as he was an angelic being who, through pride and ambition, opposed himself to God and so fell away.[1] While I think that that suggestion is probably very close to the truth – that indeed this probably is something by way of the origin of Satan – I don’t think that is what this passage is about. I think that is reading into this passage. As you can see from the beginning of this chapter, this is a taunt against the king of Babylon. It is directed against the king of Babylon. That is why in verses 16 and thereafter it says, “Is this the man . . . who shook kingdoms, who . . . overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?” It is clearly talking about an earthly king. It is using a hyperbolic language to describe his vaunting ambition and pride where he sets himself against God. So while I do think that the suggestion here about the origin of Satan might be correct, I am very skeptical that that is what this passage is about.

Similarly, Ezekiel 28 has a similar sort of condemnation. Ezekiel 28:12-19 says,

. . . You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, topaz, and jasper, chrysolite, beryl, and onyx, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald; and wrought in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. With an anointed guardian cherub I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.

There, again, the suggestion is that this is a description of Satan and how he was originally created good but then fell away and became evil. But the context, once again, doesn’t support this. If you look at verse 11, it says, “Moreover the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD’” and then the passage follows. This is a lamentation over the city of Tyre, an earthly city. So, similarly, in verse 16 it goes on to say, “In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out from the midst of the stones of fire.” It goes on to condemn the other things this king did wrong. So here it is condemning him for unfair trade practices in the commerce that was conducted by the king of Tyre, which wouldn’t be applicable to Satan. So while, again, the suggestion may be theologically correct, I think it is eisegesis. It is not reading out of the passage this interpretation; it is reading it into it. It finds these passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel and in effect says these would be very nicely interpreted if we interpret them in terms of Satan and the devil’s fall. But there is nothing in the context to suggest that that is in fact the case.

What other indications in Scripture would there be about the origin of Satan from which we might make some intelligent conjectures? Look at the book of Job chapter 1 for example. This is one of the places in the Old Testament where Satan is mentioned. Job 1:6 says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” Then it goes on to tell the rest of the story. Here it seems to be talking about these angelic beings who are presenting themselves before God. This is in heaven evidently because when God asks Satan “Where have you come from?” he says “I’ve come from going to and fro upon the earth.” This is not something that takes place on the earth, this is in the heavenly throne room and here Satan seems to be included among the Sons of God who are there. So he seems to be a sort of angelic being who has now set himself against God in opposition to God.[2]

Turn over to the New Testament to Luke 10:17-18. This is when the disciples go out on their mission of preaching the Gospel that Jesus has sent them on. And when they return, verse 17 says, “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.’” Is he talking here about an angelic fall that he saw perhaps in a pre-creation state? That he saw Satan fall from heaven? Or is he merely talking here about the way in which the demons were cast out by the disciples and Jesus is reflecting on the triumph of their mission in saying “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven in what you did.” It is unclear; we don’t know the interpretation. But at least we do have here this idea of a satanic fall from heaven which is mentioned by Jesus.

Turn back to 2 Peter 2:4. Here we have something a little more specific. The author says, “For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment . . .” – if he did not do that then how will he spare you, he goes on to say. What is indicated clearly here is that there are angels who have sinned. There was evidently some sort of an angelic fall – angels sin. And it says that these have been incarcerated in the underworld in some kind of nether darkness. But at least we have here some indication of this idea of an angelic fall that could be relevant to the origin of demons.

Also in Jude 6 this is mentioned. He says, “And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day.” Here, again, is an indication that there are angels who have sinned and fallen away and God has now imprisoned them in this underworld until the judgment of the great day. These fallen angels seem to be incarcerated. They seem to be quarantined. They are not let out. But the speculation is perhaps there are others that are free to roam upon the earth and that Satan and his minions are part of these. Satan also appears to be one of the company of angels – we saw that in Jude. Jesus talks about Satan falling from heaven like lightning. So it could be that the origin of Satan and the demons lies in this angelic fall and that some of them are still free within limits to work their wrath upon the earth even though there are these others that are kept in this underworld.

Also, another verse that might be relevant is 1 Timothy 3:6 which might tell us something about the sin of Satan. This is giving the qualifications for someone who wants to be a bishop in the church.[3] Paul is warning against pride here; he says that the candidate “must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil;” The question is how you interpret that phrase “the condemnation of the devil.” Does it mean that this recent convert who gets puffed up with pride would then be condemned by the devil? That the devil’s condemnation would fall on him? Or does it mean that he would fall into the condemnation that the devil fell into, namely from being puffed up with pride and arrogance setting himself up against God? So if you interpret the phrase in that way, this would suggest that the devil’s sin was indeed a sort of pride or arrogance whereby he raised his heal against his creator, against God, and so fell away.

Also 1 John 3:8 is relevant. It says, “He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” So here, again, we have indication of sins that have been committed by Satan, by the devil, which would result in a sort of fall obviously if he has sinned. So we have evidence in Scripture of an angelic fall and then of sin on the part of Satan as well which would bring him into condemnation.

Finally, 1 Timothy 5:21 says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without favor, doing nothing from partiality.” The phrase we want to notice here is that of “the elect” angels. There are certain angels who are elect to salvation or to glorification just as we are. We are among the elect, the chosen ones, here on this planet among human beings. But there are also elect angels which implies that there are other angels that are not elect and that would be fallen away and would be condemned and be under God’s condemnation.

So all in all I think there are Scriptural hints, or indications, that the traditional understanding of the origin of Satan and the demons is very plausible, namely that originally God created a realm of angelic beings who are created good – there is no evil, they are not created evil – but through an exercise of free will, they rebel against God and so fall away and are condemned. And the earth now lies under the power and sway of these demonic angels. The fallen angels, some of them at least, become what we would call demons. We will talk in a moment about some of the work that demons do and their nature here in this world.


Question: To go along with that Scripture you were quoting about Satan sins from the beginning – we know that God did not create anybody to sin; therefore, it sounds like there is a name change when the fall occurs and you see he is, from the beginning, of Satan.

Answer: I don’t think that there has to be a name change. I think what we need to avoid thinking is that Satan was created sinful because what we have in the rest of Scripture is that there is no co-eternal being with God. Satan has not always been there. He was originally created by God and then he sinned. Whether the beginning here means the beginning of the universe or what is not clear but it would seem to me that what John is saying is that Satan had this kind of sin, has fallen away and from then on now he has been the source of sin and evil in the world.[4]

Followup: From the beginning if you reference that to the universe then, correct, the fall occurred prior. Or you can just view it from the beginning of Satan is sin.

Answer: Yeah, and I don’t think we want to say the latter in the sense that he was created evil. I would say that it would mean from, say, the beginning of the universe or something of that sort that Genesis 1:1 talks about.

Followup: That’s why I say he got a new name when he sinned.

Answer: Yeah, I don’t see that.

Question: The first two Old Testament verses, I think, are a parody for Satan although they are talking about an earthly ruler in context. God is using that as a parody because there are some qualities and situations that can’t possibly apply to a man – like “you were in Eden.”

Answer: That is what is usually said by those who interpret those as being references to Satan. But I think that underestimates the degree to which some Jewish literature uses really hyperbolic language to describe things. Certainly you are right in no literal sense could these things be applied to a human being but I think in using poetic or hyperbolic language it is applied to these people like the king of Tyre. So I think we just have to be very cautious about reading things in without justification.

Question: I guess in defense of the “it is Satan” position, which is my position, I would say in Ezekiel 28, the context begins with a prophesy against the prince of Tyre. And all of the wording used, for example, “You are a man and no God”, it all applies to humans. It is very much human terms. But as soon as we get to verse 11, the whole literature changes. It is like we go from human terms to these terms that just seem bizarre to apply to any sort of human. For example, “You were in Eden” or “You were anointed as a guardian cherub” or “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created.” Was a pagan king blameless in all of his ways from the day he was created? That doesn’t seem proper to apply to any human, especially a non-Israelite king. And yet this is supposed to be the villain. It looks more like this: the prince of Tyre is the human king, but the true king is Satan. He is the actual king who regulates trade. So that is just what I have to say in defense.

Answer: In verse 11, the one you mentioned, it says, “raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre” and then verse 16 also where it condemns the unfair trade practices of Tyre and in the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence and you sinned. It is certainly hyperbolic – we all agree that this kind of language couldn’t literally be true of a human being. But is there anything else, other than just the extremeness of the language, that would suggest that Ezekiel is thinking here about Satan?

Followup: Is there any contrary reason to balance out the scales? I don’t think there is.

Answer: Alright, well, I have already said my peace.

Question: Right from the beginning in the garden Satan wanted dominion over the earth. That is what he was after. If he could kill Adam and Eve then he could have dominion. That has always been his major purpose. So if you get to the sixth chapter, when you see the Sons of God going in making women their wives and giants resulting, angels have permeated the whole with the purpose of trying to take over the earth. When you see the king of Tyre, you also see the prince of Persia, the prince of Greece; these are demonic strongholds that are trying to take over every area of the earth. I may be wrong on that but I really believe it all started in the Garden with Satan trying to destroy Adam and Eve to take dominion.

Answer: We did talk about the angels that seem to be assigned to various nations when we looked at angelic beings. We talked about the battle between Michael and the prince of Persia and then he is going to do battle with the prince of Greece. If we had a passage like that in Ezekiel where it says, “Say of the prince of Tyre” or something like that . . .

Followup: I was just thinking that the king of Tyre may be the head stronghold even over these princes because it is satanic; there are layers of satanic rulership.[5]

Answer: Yeah, I understand you there but I don’t see anything in the context to make us think that the king of Tyre is an angelic being rather than this human king who engages in these unfair trade practices and other things.

Question: It seems to me like a lot of times prophesy has a short term fulfillment and then a long term promise. I see it as being kind of both because, yes, it is talking of the king of Tyre but then there is this longer term fulfillment. So we have the short term history that gives us confidence that the long term view will come true.

Answer: Yes, and that would be what those who take these passages to be about Satan would say – yes, of course it is about the king of Tyre and it is about these earthly rulers, but there is this deeper meaning to it as well as a kind of second layer of significance that they would see in these passages.

Question: I would like your thoughts on this: if Satan is the ruler or Satan is the highest of this order, is there Scriptural defense to say that Satan, prior to his fall, was of a higher order like an archangel like Michael and therefore being of a higher realm everyone that went with him was subject to him or he was just the first and others followed? Was he of a higher or more powerful being than the demons and so forth that then followed?

Answer: There are hints. He is called the prince of demons which would be that he is over them, right? It is not as though he is just one of them or the first. He is the head of them. Then also when it describes him as the ruler of this world, the prince of this world, again that could suggest that just as though there is a prince of Persia, there is a prince of Greece, there is prince assigned to Israel, there is this angelic beings assigned to each of these nations – the whole earth is assigned to this one.

Followup: So he was of the highest order, shall we say, of angels and prior to his decision to leave God’s realm and enter into his own evil position?

Answer: That would be a plausible inference, I think, especially from Michael’s deference to him in not rebuking him. Jude says that in contrast to Michael’s behavior, these foolish people revile the glorious ones – they dispute authority and Michael wouldn’t do that. This suggests to me that we have here not just some humdrum angel but perhaps the most powerful of all of them.

Followup: Yes, and maybe being in that position is how he got puffed up – he saw himself in such high esteem that he would try to counter and step away from God and therefore setup his own kingdom.

Answer: Yes, the more gifted a person is, the more tempting I think it is to have pride and arrogance. One could imagine a being like this falling into that kind of sin.

Question: Who do you think the Sons of God were?

Answer: It depends on the passage. In Job, it sounds like it is the angels. I don’t know about this passage in Genesis where it talks about the Sons of God that mated with the human females.[6] That could be, as you say, angelic beings that came down and copulated with human females. I don’t know.

Followup: God didn’t punish his sons supposedly, but he punished mankind on the earth because he brought forth the flood because of the indiscretions of what his sons did to the earthly women.

Answer: You are talking about the Genesis passage. I would have to look at that again but certainly the angels that fell are being punished by God and will be punished by God. Remember we saw that some of them have been incarcerated in this nether world of darkness where they are being kept in chains until the judgment until the last day. So even when God allows certain evils to take place that doesn’t mean that ultimately judgment isn’t coming and that they won’t get their just desserts.[7]

Followup: But these sons are not the same sons you find in other books of the Bible is what you are saying?

Answer: I don’t know – I haven’t studied that passage in Genesis enough to have an intelligent opinion about it.

Question: We all know that humans never stay as a neutral being. We either subject to God or subject to Satan. In the beginning, Satan imposed his will through deception. That is probably how he rules the earth – through his deception. So it is not surprising to see how his will is imposed upon the king of Tyre and all those kings. That is how he subjects himself to the willing bodies to carry out his purpose.

Answer: Sure, I, of course, agree with that. Satan can deceive people, earthly powers, and rulers to do his will. Clearly, that is correct. That is a nice segue to the next point on the outline, which is the nature of these beings.

Nature of Demons

Let’s say something about the nature of these demonic beings. First of all, they clearly have intelligence. Acts 16:16-18 indicates these are intelligent and personal beings. Luke writes,

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. She followed Paul and us, crying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

Here we see that this girl had a demonic spirit of divination (able to tell the future or to tell people’s fortunes) so obviously this is an intelligent spiritual being.

Also 2 Corinthians 11:3, 13-15 – this is especially relevant to the point that someone earlier was just making.

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. . . . For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

So here, again, we see the deceitfulness and the cleverness of Satan in deceiving people and leading them astray which obviously implies that he is an intelligent being who is able to deceive people and turn them away from the truth.

Finally, Revelation 12:9: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Here, again, Satan is referred to as the deceiver of the whole world which indicates his intelligence, cunning, craftiness and so forth.

Secondly, as I have already indicated, these are spiritual beings. They are spirits; just as angels are spirits so demons are spirits as well.[8] Matthew 8:16: “That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.” Notice the synonymy of the word “demons” and “spirits” in this passage. They were possessed with demons and Jesus cast out the spirits. So these are spirits just as angels are.

Luke 10:17-20, we have already looked at this passage:

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 have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Here, again, we see the synonymy between the spirits which are subject to the disciples and the demons which they were casting out in their mission.

Finally, Revelation 16:14a, referring to the bowls of wrath, it says of the things that he saw, “for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world.” So here the demons are called demonic spirits – that is what they are.

So there are angelic spirits and then there are demonic spirits and both of them are of the same nature; namely, they are minds without bodies. They are unembodied, spiritual beings.

These beings, of course – and this is the next point – are malevolent. That hardly needs to be said but we will read a couple of Scriptures anyway. Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus says,

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation.”

Here we see that these are referred to as evil spirits who oppress and possess this man who underwent exorcism. So this shows that they are malevolent or evil spirits.

Mark 1:27: “And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’” Here they are referred to as unclean spirits. Mark 3:11 is a similar reference: “And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’” Acts 8:7: “For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.” Again, the same name given to these is unclean spirits. 1 John 3:8, again this is one we have read already, “He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” This indicates the evilness of Satan and these spirits. Two more passages – John 17:15, Jesus says, “I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.” The word here can be translated as just evil – keep them from evil – or it can mean “the evil one,” that is Satan. Jesus is praying, “keep them from the evil one.” This may be the way the Lord’s Prayer is to be understood in Matthew 6:13 as well.[9] Look at Matthew 6:13; in my translation [Revised Standard Version] it says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” That could equally be translated, “deliver us from the evil one.” Deliver us from Satan in other words. This would again indicate the nature of these demonic beings; namely, they are evil, they are unclean, they are malevolent, and they seek to destroy God’s work.

So we have these angelic spirits, we also have these demonic spirits. Next time we will say some more about their nature, there are some more points I want to make on this, before we look at their work.[10]

[1] 4:53

[2] 10:00

[3] 14:54

[4] 19:57

[5] 25:15

[6] cf. Genesis 6:1-4

[7] 30:03

[8] 34:50

[9] 40:15

[10] Total Running Time: 41:20 (Copyright © 2013 William Lane Craig)