Who is Satan?

The word ‘Satan’ is the Hebrew transliteration of the word ‘adversary’. So who really is Satan and what is he like? Does he really look like the red suited, pitchfork-holding cartoon caricature seated on a throne in hell? Or does he roam through the earth disguised as an angel of light?


Unfortunately, far too many people do not have an accurate view of who Satan is.

Satan is:

Not the Brother of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Father (and is therefore divine) and the mortal virgin Mary. Satan, a malignant spirit, does not share this parental heritage of Jesus, and cannot be considered divine in any respect. Therefore, in the usual way that we speak of brothers and sisters, Jesus and Satan are not brothers.

The New Testament book of Hebrews draws further distinctions between Men, Angels and God/Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:4) “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 2:16) “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham”. (Hebrews 2:17) “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren”, Note that Jesus is called ‘brethren’ to men as a man in the flesh, but nowhere in the Bible is He called a brother of the angels.

After death when human believers go to heaven, it is revealed that angels and men are two categories of creatures—two distinct groups. (Hebrews 12:22) “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels”, (Hebrews 12:23) “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”, Note here in Hebrews 12 that “angels” and the “sprits of men” are two distinct groups.

In Biblical teachings, humans do not originate first as spirits in the a spiritual pre-existence – but only after earth life become spiritual creatures – (as spirits of Just men made perfect in Hebrews 12).

Not Omnipresent like God. While Christians must beware of the wiles of the devil, they must also be accountable for the decisions they make. The devil is real, but he is not omnipresent. The devil can’t (and shouldn’t) be blamed for every problem that arises. He will try to dupe people into believing that he is an omnipotent, omnipresent force, but this is to attribute him with more power than he actually has. One thing for certain is that the devil is a liar and an arrogant beast. Paul warns us that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14) and we are not to “give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:27) and Peter tells us to “be alert” with regard to the devil (1 Peter 5:8).

 There is debate among scholars regarding the time of the fall of Satan. Some say that he fell when he moved Eve to disobey God. Others state that Satan fell sometime before that and merely manifested his adversarial nature in the Garden. Still others say that there was a great battle in heaven long before the Garden of Eden and that Satan took one third of the angels with him. Of course, the first mention of the devil is found in the Garden of Eden, but it isn’t until the post-exilic period (538 B.C.) that the figure of Satan is more prominently displayed: Job 1&2, Zech. 3:1-2 and 1 Chron. 21:1.

Many underestimate him and his prowess, even going as far as to doubt his very existence. Someone once asked the great evangelist Charles Finney, “Mr. Finney, do you believe in a literal Devil?” Finney replied, “You try opposing him for a while, and you see if he’s literal or not.” You will find out how literal Satan is the moment you make a commitment to Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly shows us just how active and conniving Satan really is. At the same time, Scripture also lets us know about Satan’s limitations and ultimate demise. The more we understand the tactics of this intelligent spirit being, the better equipped we will be to ward off his attacks.

“And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.4And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth . . . ” (Rev. 12:3-4).


References (NLT)

  1. Where did Satan Come From? Satan’s pride led to his fall from heaven (see Revelation 12:7-9).
  2. What are Satan’s Abilities? Satan does have the power and access to do certain things in this world (see
    2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
  3. What are Satan’s Limitations? While we should not underestimate Satan’s power, we should realize that it is limited (see 2 Timothy 4:18).
  4. How does Satan Attack People? Satan masterfully uses manipulation and distortion to deceive people (see
    2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
  5. Who can Thwart Satan’s Agenda? Those who repent and trust in Jesus Christ will defect this evil foe (see Revelation 12:10-12).

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