THE OLD SERPENT, THE DEVIL AND SATAN
There is a need to distinguish between ‘devil’ and
‘satan’. Both terms in the New Testament are used exclusively of
men. ‘Devil’ is a New Testament word.
There is a very clear distinction between devil and satan.
Devil is not used in Old Testament Hebrew, nor any similar word to it. There is
no Old Testament counterpart of the devil - 4000 years of history presents no
devil. Devil and satan are therefore quite distinct.
The Bounds of Fundamental Doctrine
Every subject of fundamental doctrinal importance in Scripture
is given by God its broad definitions and strict bounds in an array of clear and
To ignore these statements of principle, or to exceed their
limits, is a mark of the “carnal mind” that is not subject to the
law of God, nor indeed can be. It is a sobering thought that the majority of
expositions of the subject of the Devil and Satan extant in the world religious
resist the plain sense of Scripture, especially the major, definitive and
clearest divine statements on the subject.
These declarations of principle are our protection from error
and will be the focal centre and touchstone of the expositions to be featured in
The Seven Declarations of Principle – The Devil and Satan
- THE SOLE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION IS THE LUSTS OF MAN - James 1:12-17
LUSTS ARE ORIGINATED BY THE WORLD - 1 John 2:15-17
- THE SOLE SOURCE OF SIN IS
THE PASSIONS OF MAN’S FLESH - Romans 7:5-25
- THE THINKING OF
MAN’S FLESH IS THE ENEMY OF GOD - Romans 8:7
- THE HEART OF MAN IS THE
SOURCE OF ALL WICKEDNESS - Mark 7:18-23
- MAN’S HEART IS THE MOST
DECEITFUL OF ALL THINGS – Jeremiah 17:5-11
- THE DEVIL HAS BEEN
CANCELLED OUT THROUGH CHRIST’S DEATH - Hebrews
As we examine these, their universality and exclusiveness will
become clear, as will their prime position as statements of fundamental
They are the first things a reverent student of the Bible
seeks in seeking to find God and to understand the Gospel He has graciously
given to save us.
To these, throughout the effort, we give paramount weight, and
use them to guide and limit our interpretations of all else said on this topic,
especially such passages as contain figurative, symbolical, parabolic or
ironical language, as many on this subject do.
Christendom has arrived at its extraordinary caricature of
Bible doctrine by ignoring the Bible’s statements of principle, by
wresting many passages out of their immediate context and the general context of
Scripture and failing to distinguish literal from figurative language.
That being the process by which the theologians have reached
their erroneous conceptions of the subject, we need to reverse the process to
arrive at a clear and Scripturally true comprehension of what God does mean by
the titles: “THE DEVIL” and “THE SATAN”, and this we
will do, if God permit.
The Human Heart – Our Real Problem
In Jeremiah 17:1, 5, 9, 10 the emphasis is on the heart
of man. V5 identifies the problem - it is not anyone other than man.
Jeremiah 17:9 the heart speaks of the innermost things.
The heart is more deceitful than anything God knows.
Isaiah 40:4 same word as “deceitful” in
Jeremiah - the heart is crooked, bent.
Hosea 6:8 mg (cunning) - same as
Jeremiah 9:4 “utterly supplant” - one who
pulls down and takes the place of another, supplanter. See Genesis 27:36
(related word) A cunning, crooked, supplanter - always supplants God. No work
left for the devil of Christendom.
Jeremiah 17:9 - who then can ever get to the bottom of
the human heart - there is nothing to match it.
“wicked” - cp. Jeremiah 15:18; 30:12,15.
“Incurable” - Micah 1:9 Job 34:6 (“incurably sick”).
“Very sick” - 2 Samuel 12:15. “Desperate or desperately
sick” - Isaiah 17:11. The human heart is incurable. The only thing that
can cure the human heart is to change its nature.
Jeremiah 17:10 - when God sees evil he goes into the
heart that produced it - to find its source and get the right culprit. The
devil then is human kind. V11 God does not as an unrightful possessor hang on
to his ill-gotten gains. The heart will be changed in immortality.
Mark 7:2 - the subject is the source of defilement.
V15 nothing external to a man can defile him. Vvl8-23 he chides the disciples
for not understanding how true defilement occurs. V21 there is only one
place of origin of all sin.
Mark 7 speaks of the evil of the human heart. Matthew
6:13 “the evil” or “the evil one” speaks of the
James 1:12 “temptation” = trial;
“tried” = Proven. Vvl3-14 it not God but you (v16 make no mistake
I’ve told you the whole story) - it’s not God, but us. V17 excludes
all other possibilities of a tempter’s origin. Sin doesn’t come
from heaven. God only fathers light. Maybe now he’s Father of lights,
but what of the past - v17 answers - there has been no change with the
The Devil is a title, which means: “The
Transgressor”, which God has chosen to describe the source of all
transgression against Him, that is, mankind’s own innate propensity to
sin, “the passions of sins”, Romans 7:5. This same title is then
used to describe people and human governments, which are dominated by that
propensity to sin, John 6:70; 1 Peter 5:8.
God charges all the World with being His enemy, 1 John 2:16.
He identifies the “passions”, Romans 7: 5-25, and
“lusts”, James 1:13-17, which are in men, as the force that
generates all the sins men commit, Mark 7:20-23.
It is this “thinking of the flesh” which He
condemns as the source of the World’s enmity to Him, Romans 8:7.
It is these innate propensities to sin which God identifies as
“The Devil”, Hebrews 2:14, which it was Christ’s work to
destroy. This he did in his own case two thousand years ago, and will do for us
who believe in his Truth when, very soon now, he returns from heaven, Hebrews
9:24-28; Matthew 25:31.
“The Devil invented by Catholic and Protestant theology
is a perversion of this doctrine, which misuses unrelated Bible passages,
regardless of their general or particular context.
To speak of a Devil who is a rebel angel is to deny the
supremacy of God and invalidate the Lord’s prayer: “Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven”, Matthew 6:10.
To speak of a Devil who is immortal is to deny the justice and
truthfulness of God, who says; “The wages of sin is death” Romans
6:23; Ezekiel 18:4, 20.
To speak of a Devil who is a rebel, sinful angel; who is
spirit, and yet can die; is to deny both the worth of our own hope of salvation
and the express teaching of Scripture that angels cannot die, Luke
What Christadelphians Believe on the Devil
We believe that a correct understanding of the devil as
outlined in God’s word is very important, in helping us to understand
clearly God’s plan of salvation.
In Hebrews 2:14-15 it shows us the object of Christ’s
mission - to destroy the devil which had the power of death. Christ partook of
human nature and died in order to do this, and in so doing deliver others from
the power of the devil and of death.
When we look at some other scripture we see that Christ came
to destroy SIN :-
“He put away SIN by the sacrifice of
1 Corinthians 15:3
“Christ died for our SINS.”
1 Peter 2:24
“His own self bare our SINS on the
1 John 3:5
“He was manifested to take away our
We also see that SIN was the original cause of DEATH
“The wages of SIN is DEATH.”
“By one man SIN entered the world and DEATH by
1 Corinthians 15:56
“The sting of DEATH is SIN.”
From this it is obvious that Christ came to DESTROY SIN and
also that the power of DEATH is in SIN. The Devil is therefore a synonym (or a
word with the same meaning) for SIN. What then is SIN? From Romans 7 we see
that sin and human nature are closely related.
“SIN which dwelleth in me”
“the law of SIN which is in my members”
“I know that in me dwelleth no good thing, I will what
is right but how to perform it I find not.”
Paul found himself constantly exposed to a mental conflict, he
wanted to do the will of God, but HIS OWN desires were so strong that he found
himself succumbing to them.
He blames him failings on the weakness of human
In Mark 7:15-23 we see that sin is from internal thoughts and
not from external influences.
Galatians 5:17-21 describes the works of the flesh, they can
be aligned in 1 John 3:8-10 with the works of the Devil.
James 1:14-15 “Every man is tempted when he is drawn
away of HIS OWN lusts.”
If we look at the word “Devil” itself from the
Greek, it is the word “Diabolos” which signifies a false accuser, or
a slanderer. In 1 Timothy 3:11 we see it correctly translated as slanderer. 2
Timothy 3:3 translated false accusers and Titus 2:3 also false
We see from this that the word Devil basically relates to
human nature. Human nature can be shown forth in various forms e.g. a government
can become a political manifestation of the flesh if it stands in opposition to
the ways of God. Look at 1 Peter 5:8. In this verse the Christians were being
persecuted by civil authorities who likened to a roaring lion because of their
ferociousness (cp. with Paul in 2 Timothy 4:17 he was delivered out of the mouth
of the lion when he escaped imprisonment). Christ also referred to civil
authorities as the devil in Revelation 2:10.
In 1 John 3:8 we see that right from the beginning of time it
has been the lusts of the flesh that have driven men to sin – Christ came
to destroy the works of the devil (he came to destroy sin and did so by opening
a way for forgiveness and salvation).
So how do we overcome the devil – By following
Christ’s example and conquering the flesh of the Glory of God. (Acts 2:38
Baptism, 1 John 1:9 Forgiveness).
“The Satan” and “The Devil” are not
identical. New Testament use of the word “Satan” is grounded
historically in Old Testament precedent, and must be viewed in this light in
order to be understood.
“The Satan” is a title: which means “The
Opponent”, “The Adversary”; which God has chosen to describe
people or bodies of people who, posing as worshippers of God, have abandoned His
truth and turned to opposing it and those who espouse it, Matthew 12:26;
Revelation 2:9; 20:2. It is particular, in its reference to religious opposition
to God, His truth, or His faithful worshippers, not general, like
“diabolos”, which by contrast refers broadly to sin and
In the expositions that will, God willing, comprise the
Effort, the distinct themes to be found discriminating these two subjects in
Bible teaching will be pointed out, and the great illumination that they cast on
the meaning of individual contexts will be given rightful prominence.
Satan is a Hebrew word, meaning an adversary, or
The New Testament use of SATAN is special in two clear
- Transferring into Greek letters, but untranslated, the Hebrew OLD TESTAMENT
noun “Satan”, to stand out as an intruder into the Greek context, to
direct us to apply its OLD TESTAMENT meaning in every NEW TESTAMENT context
where Satan appears.
- Quoting directly from Job chapters 1 and 2 and
Zechariah chapter 3 (with its background of Ezra chapters 4 to 6) the definite
form “THE SATAN”, which is unique to those passages, to compel us to
bring them to bear on every NEW TESTAMENT context where also the expression
Two Key Old Testament Passages
Zechariah 3:1 - Satan, noun; “to resist” -
verb; both in same verse (note mg references). Why did they put satan there
rather than adversary? (1) A theological reason and (2) because THE SATAN -
definite article is used. “The satan” - a particular adversary that
the Jews of Zechariah’s time were suffering. The historical background is
found in Ezra 4:1-3 adversaries (tzar - another word), v3 they were
refused, vv4-5 their response, v6 accusation (sitnah - an abstract noun formed
Zechariah 3:2 refers very clearly to Ezra 4. The issue
was Jerusalem. Jesus takes this use of satan and makes it New Testament use,
cp. Matthew 12:22-26. Beelzebub - 2 Kings 1:2. The god of Ekron -
Philistine city. Lord of the flies - because they believed flies were good for
healing. Jews changed it to Baalzebul - Lord of shame or the dung heap. He
firstly proves that it is impossible for Beelzebub to be the source of power if
he did make them sick he wouldn’t give another power to heal. V26
the definite article “If the Satan cast out the Satan”. If you wish
to know what is meant by “the Satan” you will have to go to a Hebrew
scripture to find it out. If I am not the one opposing God, he is the Joshua
therefore those opposing him were the Satan of Zechariah 3. Cp. 1 Thessalonians
2:14-18 - he had sought to return but the Jews prevented him (the
There is an equivalent Greek idea for a religious opponent,
cp. 1 Peter 5:8 adversary = ANTIKIEMENOS - one who lies down in front as
an adversary. Another occurrence is in Jude v9 (devil = diabolos). Here
there is some common ground between Satan and devil. Matthew 5:25
adversary (Antidikos - an opponent at law) - cp. Psalm 109:6,20,29;
Zechariah 3:4. A wicked judge and an accuser they will be judged with the same
basis used against me.
If there are Greek equivalents why transliterate into New
Testament? There is no Greek word that can draw the basis of the Hebrew, in
particular the context of Zechariah 3, into the New Testament.
So applied, the expression “The SATAN” always
Apostate Religionists, Who Oppose the Truth of God
The Satan is identified in the NEW TESTAMENT with three main
bodies of apostates:
- The Leaders of the Jews who opposed Christ - Matthew 12:26
brethren who oppose Christ’s true saints Revelation 2:9
- The Apostate
Churches of Christendom, which oppose Christ’s true Ecclesia - Revelation
The second of these, especially, has a solemn warning for us:
there have been in the past, brethren of Christ who have fallen so far into
apostasy that they have been counted to be “The SATAN”, so can we!
This calls for humility, reverence and care in study of the Scriptures, to
ensure we do not follow in such footsteps.
Each New Testament instance of THE SATAN draws on the Old
Testament precedents in Job 1 and 2 and Zechariah 3 to invest the expression THE
SATAN with the meaning:
APOSTATE RELIGIONISTS, WHO OPPOSE THE-TRUTH OF
The historical features of THE SATAN establish this:
FEATURES OF ‘THE SATAN’
4 to 6
FALSE WORSHIPPERS OF GOD
2 Kings 17:24
OPPONENTS OF GOD’S WORK
FALSE ACCUSERS OF GOD’S SERVANTS
VIOLENTLY STOP THE WORK OF THE TRUTH
BUT GOD REVIVES HIS WORK AND VINDICATES HIS SAINTS
This historical origin of THE SATAN imported into the NEW
TESTAMENT by quotation, designates the NEW TESTAMENT SATAN to be:
DEVOTEES OF FALSE RELIGION, WHO ARE ADVERSARIES OF THE
Other Important Old Testament Passages
Numbers 22:22 - adversary = satan This angel is called
Satan, but he is doing good for God as an adversary towards an evil man. (See
v32 also “withstand”).
1 Kings 5:4 - no satan (adversary) at this time - i.e.
no political opponent, plague, famine or sickness.
1 Kings 11:14,23,25 (all references to Satan) –
political opponents who arose after Solomon turned to idolatry.
Outside of these normal type Hebrew occurrences there are
special references, such as:-
A Brief Consideration of Some Difficult Passages
Isaiah 14:1-4 - the subject outlined, v6 a ruler of the
nations, vv10-11 he is brought to the grave, v12 on is therefore quite clear.
“A fall from heaven” - cp. ch.34:2-6 judgments on earthly nation
called Edom (here the government of Idumea) i.e. a fall from government (cp.
14:5-6); vv13-14 a nation that set itself to rule Israel, vv15-16 a man
Ezekiel 28:2 “thou art a man not God”, v3
onwards generates great sarcasm, vv11-12 great exaggeration, v13 Tyre as a city
was on the west coast of geographical Eden. All of Eden was fruitful, v14 the
Cherub was a word used to describe the nation in whom God was manifest. The
High Priest’s breastplate is referred to as the “stones of
fire”. Tyre was a proselyte nation in the days of Solomon (Hiram).
Cherub = a nation with whom God is prepared to dwell. V15 from the time of
their embracing the Truth.
“Perfect” does not convey the idea that the
English word does upright or unsullied. Both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 find
themselves in the midst of historical chapters.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 transforming themselves shows
they are false - “for the Satan himself is transformed into an angel of
light” a problem people have is because of the use of angel – a
messenger of light - the Pharisees claimed to be proclaiming the truth of
What are they? The churches have developed a doctrine of
demons that bears no resemblance either to the original pagan ideas or to the
prevailing public view at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“DEMONS” ARE OF GREEK ORIGIN (Liddell &
Scott, pp 270-271).
God, Goddess; specially, the gods as a power, the
deity. Whereas theos = a particular god, in person.
one’s demon or genius, i.e. attendant tutelary spirit
allotted to each at birth, hence ‘fortune’.
DAIMON, in Hesiod OP.121 (800 BC) = souls
of men of golden age*, acting as tutelary deities; connecting link between gods
and man. So also of deified Darius (Aeschulus) (480 BC).
the divine essence or power, the divinity in plural form =
inferior race of divine beings, demons.
So Liddell & Scott clearly point out the pagan Greek view
as to the origin of demons.
-         The Golden Age in Greek mythology referred to
the time when there were no ills or death, i.e. before Pandora opened the box
given her by the gods. It is the pagan myth to explain death that came by Adam
(Genesis 3). These demons (the souls of those who died in that golden age)
became the connecting link between the gods and men - Olympus and men. Hence
Aeschulus uses a demon to describe the deified
DAIMON is rarely, if ever, used in an evil sense in Classical
Greek of early times, but by New Testament times this predominated.
Distinguish from DIABOLOS and DAIMON:-
the noun DAIMONION and the verb
DAIMONION means THE DIVINE ESSENCE or POWER. Like Daimon it is
a Pagan Greek mythological idea, merely a product of superstition.
In Greek usage Daimonia were:-
- An inferior race Of Divine beings, or demons
- The “Genius” or
spirit that dwells within man (Socrates).
In Greek usage Daimonizomai meant:-
- To appoint one’s fate
- To be deified
In Classical Greek the bad sense developed
Immortality of the Soul - It was an idea of Egypt and
Babylon that the Greeks adopted. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:14, 19-22, context
idolatry. In this passage idol and demon are parallel thoughts. V19 Is
an idol real? No - but the Gentiles think that it is a real deity. Not to
confuse word with DIABOLOS, not related to DAIMON. Use of DIABOLOS 34x devil,
also liar, slander, e.g., see Titus 2:3, false accusers.
V20 of 1 Corinthians 10 is a quote from Deuteronomy
32:17, see vv 15-18. V17 devils Hebrew “shedim” = destroyers and is
translated 300 B.C. in the Septuagint as “daimonion”, i.e. demons =
false gods as opposed to Deos the true God.
As to what idols are, see Psalm 96:5; 106:37-38 (the demons of
Canaan) & Psalm 115:3-8.
Therefore Acts 17:18 Paul charged with teaching about false
demons (AV gods) because he teached Jesus (to them a male demon) and Anastasus
(resurrection - to them a female demon).
V22 to Paul the Greeks were “very
religious” (AV too superstitious) because v23 they believed in
Wherever one goes in the NEW TESTAMENT the prevailing view was
the Greek idea - not the Bible idea since nowhere in the OLD TESTAMENT is
there any doctrine of demon possession.
Matthew 12:22 - clear evidence of the Greek idea among the
Jews – “possessed with a devil” = Gk demonised V24
Beelzebub compare 2 Kings 1:2 - a Philistine view mingled now with Greek
superstition. The god of Ekron was an idol associated with flies - the lord of
the dung heap. The Pharisees therefore had imposed heathen superstition on
their view of the OLD TESTAMENT Casting out sickness to them equalled casting
out a demon. In their view Jesus was in cahoots with a heathen deity
V22 to Jesus it was healing; to them it was casting out
demons (who in their mind were the gods of the heathen) Psalm 106:35-37 - idols
of the nations are demons. Cp. Also Jeremiah 19:4-5 - Hebrew
“bosheth” - shame substituted for pagan view of Molech
1 Timothy 4:1-3 - the Bible gives a special warning for our
days that “doctrines of devils (demons)” constitutes a departure
from the faith; i.e. to believe that demons are real is astray from the faith,
cp. also Revelation 9:20.
What are the spirits of 1 Timothy 4? Spirits are doctrines or
teachings and speak of false prophets as a convertible term, compare 1 John
Matthew 8:16-17 establishes the modern medical view that
“demon possessed” = “sick”.
Matthew 8:28-32 incident on Legion. V29 “to
torment us” – classical view as put by Hesiod that while demons were
without a body they could be in pain or torment; and so, according to classical
theory, they would not want to be disembodied. But look at what happened -
if they were really demons they would not cause the swine to be destroyed
because according to popular views this would have caused them great pain. So
Jesus shows but what happened that demons were not real.
Why the didn’t Jesus just say that to the men? The
reason he made them sane first before straightening them out on doctrine. There
is no point in reasoning with one who is “not in his right
Cp. Luke 8:26-31, 35 (abyss = “deep”) AV again
elements of classical view in this parallel passage. But we notice Luke says
that the man cured was restored to “his right mind”.
In Matthew 17:14-18 we have a boy with severe epilepsy. Jesus
rebuked the “demon”. Does this mean that it was a real personal
entity? No more the wind that he rebuked, Luke 8:24-25. Why? So that his
authority may be known. V15 “Lunatick” = lit. struck
by the moon, Gk. seleni metal selenium) for moon. Even in Jesus’ day they
used lunacy as we do today as a figure of speech.
Hence, although in the New Testament one finds that
Hellenistic views had influenced Judaism, in no way does the Bible support these
pagan views, but simply it shows that they had affected the public and religious
So far as the Bible is concerned, Demons as idols are
AND Unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down
before him, and cried, saying Thou art the son of God.
- Did the spirits fall down? No! the sick person
- And believed this was the Son of God
and he could be healed Isaiah 61:1; 35:5-6.
LORD, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and
sore vexed for oftentimes he falleth into the fire and oft into the
- “MOONSTRUCK” still used today but
not as a literal meaning, it simply refers “diseases” of the mind
- Cp. Mark 9:14-27, Luke 9:37-49
EPILEPSY caused by brain disorder and not a demon or devil as it can be
controlled by drugs.
And Jesus rebuked the devil: and he departed out of
him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
- Other versions – rebuked HIM (i.e. the
boy) and (he was cured).
Reincarnation: The Bible Denies it!
The Suppositions underlying belief in Reincarnation:
- Life is inherent in man and continues independent of the body after
- Man’s personality survives death
- Man receives successive
opportunities (by successive incarnations) to achieve
- Resurrection is not essential as the only means bu which man may
- The sacrifice of Christ was not necessary to secure life for
- The sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient to bring man to
THE BIBLE DENIES EACH OF THESE ERRORS AND WARNS OF THE
MORTALITY OF MAN, THE BREVITY OF LIFE AND BOTH THE NEED AND
SUFFICENTLY OF CHRIST’S SACRIFICE AND RESURRECTION.
- Man is mortal – Psalm 49:12, 19-20,
his life brief and irrecoverable when lost – Isaiah 26:14; James
4:14; Psalm 103:14-16, his personality then non-existent –
Ecclesiasties 9:4-6; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18; Psalm
- God gives but one lifetime to each of us
– Psalm 78:39, and one death, and after this our judgment – Hebrews
9:27, meanwhile the dead in Christ “sleep” 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1
- Resurrection is the
only way to life for the dead – 1 Cortinthians 15:16-18; Isaiah 26:19;
- Only by Cjrist’s
sacrificial death can men regain life – John 3:16; Hebrews 10:12; Acts
- Christ’s death was sufficient to
cleanse us from all sins – Titus 2:14; Romans 5:15-21; and to be the sole
and sufficient sacrifice to perfect us for ever – Hebrews 7:24-25;