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Answers to the Fallen Angel Devil Doctrine | The Gospel Truth

Answers to the Fallen Angel Devil Doctrine

20/11/2011

Background

A few months ago, one of our readers wrote in after having read ‘The true identity of the devil“. The article arges that the Bible does not teach that a supernatural fallen angel demon exists. It explains that the idea of a Devil with horns and a pitchfork who lives in hell to torment the damned immortal souls and who frequently travels to earth to tempt mankind to sin by possessing them and whispering into their ear, is not found anywhere in the Bible.

The email of our reader asked some relevant and important questions asking me about my thoughts on some of the usual passages a Christian might turn to to support the idea of a supernatural fallen angel devil. This blog post has been published to share some of the content of our email discussion to help any others who are considering whither or not the devil exists in the commonly expressed idea;  A fallen angel devil who is somehow responsible for all sin.

Our corespondents questions about the devil and satan:

The correspondent had a great dislike to the suggestion that there was no such thing as a supernatural fallen angel devil. They wrote as follows (this is an extract):

You can find references to the existence of the devil ie, serpent, satan, adversary, the dragon and lucifer in the following list of scriptures below:

  • Genesis 3
  • 2 Kings 1
  • 1 Chronicles 21
  • Job 1 & 2
  • Isaiah 14
  • Ezekiel 28
  • Zechariah 3
  • Revelation 12:7
  • Chronicles 21:1
  • Psalms 109:6

The word satan is mentioned in the Bible, King James Version 49 times.  The word Devil is mentioned 57 times and lucifer is mentioned once.

So my question back to you my brother was.  If Satan, the devil, the adversary, the dragon, the serpent, lucifer does no exist than why was Eve tempted into eating the forbidden fruit.  And why was (the serpent) punished for this?  Why would it even say (serpent)?  So I am sorry he does exist.

Sincerely, Corespondent.

Our answers to the devil passages

The following was sent in response to each of the verses the correspondent had brought forth to try to prove their case of the existence of a supernatural fallen angel devil:

Genesis 3 – Satan in the garden of Eden

You are right to infer that Eve was tempted by another being. However in the Genesis account it does not say that the serpent was a supernatural fallen angel. You have to read that into the text. How does Genesis describe Satan?

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” Gen 3:1. He was a beast that had some reasoning power. He was created “very Good” by God (Gen 1:25). This is the plain teaching of these verses and I believe we shouldn’t read into them traditions and ideas that are not there.

You ask a good question: why did God punish the serpent? We are not told exactly why God punishes this beast he had made with reasoning powers but it seems to me that the serpant accused God of lying (howbeit unwittingly) and therefore deserved to be punished.
And look at the description of the serpents punishment:

“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:” Genesis 3:14

So God maintains that this serpent was a beast of the field. He was not a supernatural fallen angel devil. If this is not the case then why does God say that he was a beast? God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Also do you think that to crawl on his belly is an apt punishment for the immortal fallen angel, who has the power to defy God, tempt man to sin and travel around all over the earth down through the ages? If popular theology is to be believed then this punishment had little or no effect! This was a physical snake which was punished by being placed on it’s physical belly and eating physical dust – that is what the record states and to believe otherwise is to go outside of the Bibles account.

2 Kings 1:2-6 – Baalzebub the god of Ekron

There is nothing in these verses which proves that Baalzebub is a immortal fallen angel devil. Baal-zebub means “lord of the fly” or “lord of the (heavenly) dwelling” and was a Philistine deity worshipped at Ekron (which is why it says that Baalzebub was the god of Ekron in this passage). There were hundreds of false gods worshiped by the peoples around Israel and as Hezekiah says “they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.” Isaiah 37:19. Ekron was in that category of “make believe” gods.  The idea that Baal-zebub is a fallen angel is not found in the Bible but in later mythology – and was invented by man.

1 Chronicles 21 – Satan who stood up to number Israel

Who was this Satan? Have a look at the parallel record:

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 Sam 24:1

So God was the one who moved David to number Israel. In 1 Chron 21:1 He is described as a “satan”. All this means in the original hebrew is “adversary” – he was an adversary to Israel in this instance. Note: as our Podcast “There is no supernatural Devil” prooves, the word Satan in the hebrew is an untranslated word meaning simply “adversary” – you can have a adversary, a Satan, for good (like here God is an adversary – see also Num 22:22 where the same hebrew word is used to describe an obedient angel of God – please listen to the Podcast).

Job 1 & 2 – Satan of Job

Again where is the evidence that the satan of Job was an immortal fallen angel? If you read the record carefully the satan (adversary) bares all the hallmarks of a fleshly man to whom God points out Job to him so that the satan might examine his own motives and repent. There is no evidence that the satan in Job is a fallen angel who was cast out of heaven for sinning against God. These ideas have to be read into the passage.

Isaiah 14 – Lucifer the King of Babylon

This chapter does not mention the word Satan or Devil. This is an inferred argument. If you read this prophecy carefully you will see that this is not about an angel but actually about the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4) who is described as a “man” in verse 16. See this short article for more detail: Is Lucifer an immortal fallen angel? – again there is no evidence here of the fallen angel devil you are seeking to prove to me exists.

Ezekiel 28 – King of Tyrus

This is a prophecy of the “king of Tyrus” (see verse 1 and verse 12) not a prophecy against a supernatural angel. Tyre was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast. This is a condemnation upon the King of Tyre (Tyrus) after he had broken the covenant made in previous generations between Tyre and Israel (See 1 Kings 5:12 and Amos 1:9). All the language in this prophecy relates to this amazing position this King had in Gods eyes and how that now he was disobedient that had been lost.

In verse 19 it tells us that this King of Tyre would be destroyed and the punishment was “never shalt thou be any more“. This is a companion prophecy of Ezekeil 26 which is also against Tyrus and was fulfilled in 332 BC when Alexander the Great destroyed Tyre. Jeremiah also mentions the King of Tyrus as being a literal King on the earth at that time (see Jeremiah 27:3).

Zechariah 3 – Satan resisting Joshua

Again there is no evidence that this satan (hebrew “adversary“, “one who withstands”) was a fallen angel and was superhuman. This concept is only there if you read it into the passage with a preconceived idea.
Zechariah prophesied at the time of the regathering of Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah. In this vision Zechariah see’s three parties: Joshua the High priest of the time, an angel of the Lord and an adversary (the satan). As we have seen “satans” are simply “adversaries” as that is what the Hebrew word means. There is no mention of any superhuman powers being held by this satan and you have to read into it to argue otherwise. Therefore it is ore reasonable to assume that this adversary was a man, like Joshua who stood in Joshua’s way.

Revelation 12:7 – War in heaven

In Revelation 1:1 we read of the  rules to interpreting Revelation:

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John”

We can see then three rules:

  • 1. It is written to Christ’s servants – if they are servants of his already then we will not find basic proofs in Revelation which enable an individual to believe.
  • 2. It will reveal events after Johns time – therefore if you beleive that chapter 12 records the story of Satan being cast out of heaven then you would have to accept that this happens after the time the book of Revelation was written (approx AD90). This would be a strange conclusion as you seem to argue that Satan was cast out a long time before that and was in the Garen of Eden (approx BC6000). For further evidence of this see Revelation 4:1 where it tells us that John was to see events “hereafter” – e.g. after his time.
  • 3. The book is “signified” or encoded – therefore everything in the book fo Revelation is in sign or symbol. This is very clear, especielay when we come to the chapter you quote from. Take a look at verse 1 for example – a literal women cannot be clothed with the listeral sun and stand on the moon! All of these things are a symbol and so is the “war in heaven“, Michael and the dragon – they are all symbols of various things but are NOT literal.

Psalms 109:6 – Satan is mentioned

This Psalm does not prove Satan is a immortal fallen angel.

The Hebrew word “satan” is inconsistently translated in the this Psalm. The word actually occurs in v4, v20 and verse 29 as well as in verse 6. In every verse apart from verse 6 the word has been translated “adversaries“. The translators, for some reason, decided not to translate it at all in verse 6 but to keep the original Hebrew “satan“. This is misleading because if they had been consistent they should have either left the word as “Satans” in verses 4 20 and 29 or translated the word in verse 6 “adversary“. I wonder if the reason for this discrepancy was because the translators of the Bible could not understand how the Psalmist could refer to multiple “Satans” in the plural as they had a preconceived idea of a fallen angel. Reading the text as it stands in the hebrew though it is clear the Psalmist is not talking of an immortal fallen angel but his personal adversaries and in verse 6 a specific adversary. There is no evidence that these were supernatural.

The existence of the word Satan and Devil in the Bible

You have stated the following as if it proves your case: “The word satan is mentioned in the Bible, King James Version 49 times.  The word Devil is mentioned 57 times and lucifer is mentioned once.”

It is true the words are in the Bible – there is no dispute in that (in fact if you look at the original hebrew and greek these words appear more frequently but are not translated consistently). The question is not if the words appear but if they mean what you are proposing they mean – e.g. that they are the title of a supernatural fallen angel. That idea I do not find evidence of.
So after going through all the verses you have brought up to prove the existence of the Devil and Satan as a supernatural fallen angel, I still can’t see it in the Bible.

However I do have a question for you which I hope you will be able to look at for me. Have a look at this verse:

“Forasmuch then as the children (mankind) are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” Hebrews 2:14

Do you believe this verse? It clearly states that Jesus has destroyed the devil and that he did this by being a partaker of flesh and blood. Please could you explain how this fits in with your belief in the Devil?

Conclusion

So after going through all of the verses our correspondent brought forth form the Bible to prove their case we find them lacking of any evidence of a fallen angel demon who runs around causing sin. The fact of the matter is as the Bible states – the problem with the world is not a supernatural angel devil but man himself and his rebelious nature which causes him to sin. As James states:

 “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:14-15

The problem is with us, not an immortal fallen angel devil. We sin and are related to sin and therefore we die as a righteous outcome of that. It is only through Jesus Christ (via belief and baptism into the gospel) that we can have opportunity to be saved and have eternal life in Gods Kingdom which is to be restored on earth very shortly. For more information on what the Bible teaches about salvation please read “What do you need to believe to be saved” which is an introduction to the Bible’s teaching about salvation.

For those who were interested our correspondent couldn’t answer our question about Hebrews 2:14 and didn’t accept our reasoning on the above scriptures – choosing instead to sadly continue to believe in a supernatural being even though the evidence of such a being is lacking from the Bible.

However we hope that the answers to the above scriptures might help you, dear reader, to make a wiser more sound decision on the subject of whither a fallen angel, called the Devil and Satan, does actually exists. The Bible, the only authority on this subject, says he doesn’t.

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20