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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2003

Where Did Satan Come From?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

The Bible presents Satan as humanity's enemy. He is introduced in Genesis 3 as he arrives in the form of a snake to tempt Eve to sin. In the New Testament, we read where Satan even tempted Jesus. And it was Satan who "put into the heart of Judas Iscariot" the idea to betray his Lord (John 13:2)-an act that caused Christ's death on the cross.

But where did Satan come from? Unlike God, the devil has not always existed. He had a beginning, just like everything else that has been created (read Colossians 1:16). Genesis 1:31 states that, at the end of the creation week, "God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good." Whatever else Satan may have been originally, he was good. God did not create Satan as evil; rather, Satan became evil.

The New Testament seems to confirm that a revolt took place in heaven. Peter said: "God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell" (2 Peter 2:4). Jude wrote: ''And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day'' (Jude 6). Since the Bible also refers to Satan as "the prince of demons," and speaks of "the devil and his angels," it appears that the devil is the leader of some angels who rebelled against God and who were expelled from heaven. These angels will one day spend eternity in hell.

Satan, however, is not like deity ("deity'' refers to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit). Deity is eternal. Scripture speaks of "the eternal God" (Deuteronomy 33:27). Deity is all-powerful. God, for example, is referred to as "God Almighty'' (Genesis 17:1) Who cannot "be restrained" (Job 42:2). Deity knows everything (read Psalm 139:1-6). God not only knows the past and the present, but the future as well.

Satan is not eternal. Angels-even angels that became evil and chose to sin-are created beings. And something created cannot be eternal. Satan is not all-powerful. John wrote: "Greater is he [God] that is in you than he [Satan] that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Satan doesn't know everything. If we know the Word of God well, and carefully use that knowledge to resist him, the devil cannot overcome us, but will "flee" from us (James 4:7).

Fortunately, Satan is not powerful enough to "snatch" us from the Lord's hand (John 10:28). We should not give up, but instead must be "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10). With the Lord's help, we can do just that.

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