What does the Bible say about Satan?

A man reading the Bible.
A man reading the Bible. | Getty Images

so that we should not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

When discerning the work of the devil, people shouldn't be looking for a horned creature in red tights holding a pitchfork.

In fact, the Old Testament calls him by the name of helel, or Lucifer, which means "morning star." As Pastor David Jeremiah has noted, Ezekiel 28:12-15 calls him the "anointed cherub who covers," an angel who was "perfect in his ways from the day [he was] created" — until, that is, he "became filled with violence and sinned."

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Isaiah 14 tells us five statements this angel made describing his ambition to take the throne of God and bring the entire universe under his rule:

"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit." Isaiah 14:12-15

While God rightly dominates the majority of Scripture, a not-insignificant amount of the Bible involves the devil, who is also referred to as Satan, which in Hebrew simply means "accuser" or "adversary."

It's also used 18 times as a proper name in the Old Testament, while in the New Testament, the word satanas in Greek is also used for the name of the devil.

In the Old Testament, the name Satan refers to both human and non-human enemies of mankind with the terms accuser and adversary.

With the use of the definite article, Satan becomes ha-satan, or "the accuser," such as in Zechariah 3:1: "Then the angel showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him."

That moniker is echoed in the New Testament, where the Apostle John describes Satan as "the accuser of the brethren." (Revelation 12:10)

But perhaps a less-known title for the accuser is one of "heavenly prosecutor," which, according to the book of Job, involves Satan "roaming about on the earth and walking around on it" (Job 1:7) before he challenges God's own description of Job as "blameless and upright."

"Satan answered the LORD, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not placed a hedge on every side around him and his household and all that he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face.' (Job 1:9-11)

At some point, the accuser morphs into the adversary, one who is granted lofty titles of rank in the New Testament, including the "ruler/prince of demons" in the Gospels, the "god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the "prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians 2:2.

Jesus Himself calls Satan "a liar and the father of lies" in John 8:44 and, echoing Paul's description in Ephesians, the "ruler of this world." (John 12:31)

With titles like "ruler," "prince," and "god of this world," Satan is granted some degree of authority by God over a world that is broken by sin and destined to pass away at the end of the age (Matthew. 24:35). 

Dr. Richard Land, the executive editor of The Christian Post, says it's important to understand who Satan is so we are better equipped for spiritual warfare.

"He is informing all worldly philosophies erroneously, and when we are in spiritual combat with the devil, which we will be if we're doing God's will, we are in the presence of a superior being," said Land.

"If we do combat with the devil in our own power, we will lose. But the greater glory is, 'greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world,' and when we confront the devil in the power of Christ, Christ is the victor."

The Lord Jesus, upon being tempted in the wilderness, does not rebuke Satan when he claims to have the authority to grant Jesus all the kingdoms of this world if only he would bow down and worship him (Luke 4:6-7). 

Jesus never indicates that Satan was lying when he claimed to have some temporary degree of authority to grant Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Rather, Jesus rebukes him for violating the commandment of God: "And Jesus answering, said to him, "It has been written: 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve Him only.'" (Luke 4:8)

Yet despite the seriousness with which the devil is treated throughout Scripture, it's clear from the writings of the New Testament that any worldly authority he might have previously enjoyed was doomed and forever destroyed at the Cross.

In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus predicting His sacrificial death and what it means specifically for the devil: "Jesus said, 'This voice was not for My benefit, but yours. Now judgment is upon this world; now the prince of this world will be cast out." (John 12:31)

After Jesus began demonstrating His authority over both the heavenly and earthly realms by casting out demons, the Pharisees — in a de facto admission of His power — instead assigned the work to Beelzebub, another name for Satan.

It was an act of blasphemy that Jesus promptly rebuked: "Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?" (Matthew 12:25-26)

But it isn't until the book of Revelation, the final act in the drama of history, that we see Satan consigned to the ash heap of history, as he joins the satanic duo of the Beast and the false prophet in eternal torment: "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)

Only then, finally, will the "accuser of the brethren" no longer have the authority or the ability to wreak havoc on God's people. Instead, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,' and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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