A Trace of “Satan” Through the Bible
by: Tonia Jordan
Throughout the Bible, the name of Satan may represent one being, but the characteristics of this being change several times. The one characteristic that remains the same throughout the Bible is that Satan likes to cause trouble. In Genesis 3, Satan tempts Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which causes the fall of man. Although the name of Satan is not used, the passage suggests an evil being taking the form of a serpent, which many believe was Satan.
Next, which may be the first mention of the name of Satan in the Bible, is in 1Chronicles 21:1, “Now Satan, setting himself against Israel, incited David to make a census of the people.” This passage introduces the thought of Satan in opposition of humans.
Then, in Job 1:6, “. . . the members of the court of heaven took their places in the presence of the Lord, and the Adversary, Satan, was there among them.” In a footnote to this verse, in The Oxford Study Bible, it is stated that “the Adversary is the enemy of human beings, not of God” (511). At this meeting in heaven, Satan questions God repeatedly about Job, a very faithful and honorable follower of God. God grants Satan permission to harm Job, suggesting a lack of power in Satan. The Student Bible mentions in a side note that “he has supernatural power to oppress people, but is restrained by God” (465).
In Zechariah 3:1, at the right side of the angel of the Lord, Satan is there to accuse Joshua, further implementing the role of Satan to be just an accuser.
Satan is only mentioned a few times in the Old Testament, and the name refers to an evil being that sets himself against the people. It seems also that his power is very limited, as he can do very little without the permission of God. Also, it seems suggested that Satan resided in heaven and was allowed to be in the presence of God.
In the New Testament, the image of Satan changes drastically. In Matthew 4:9, Satan is referred to as “the devil,” where he tempts Jesus, which may be the first time Satan interferes, without the permission of God, with a person’s life. Satan interferes with not just any person, but the son of God. This suggests that Satan’s evil power is now directed at God, and not people.
In Matthew 4:3, Satan is called “the tempter,” and he tempts many people throughout the New Testament. For example, in Thessalonians 2:18, Satan “thwarted” Paul and his companions on their way to Thessalonica.
Another suggestion of Satan’s independent power over people is, in Luke 13:16, a woman was “bound by Satan for eighteen long years.” Yet another is, in Luke 22:3, when “Satan entered into Judas,” where Satan not only interferes but enters the body of a person.
Satan asks Jesus, in Matthew 4:9, to “. . . fall down and do me homage,” wanting Jesus to worship him and not God, further suggesting his opposition and this the first mention of the worship of Satan. Then in 1Timothy 5:15, it is stated, “For there have in fact been some who have taken the wrong turning and have gone over to Satan.” This proves that people had begun viewing Satan as a type of god, and some had even begun worshipping him.
In Luke 10:18, “[Jesus] said to them ‘ . . . And if it is Satan who drives out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then can his kingdom stand?’” This verse states that Satan has his own kingdom, which suggests the great power of Satan, much more at least than when he needed God’s permission to interfere with Job’s life.
In Acts 26:18, there is another mention of a kingdom of Satan: “You are to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God.” Then in Revelation 2:13, the phrase, “where Satan is enthroned” is written.
Throughout the Bible, the name of Satan transforms from a name meaning simply “accuser” into the name of an evil force in his own kingdom outside the kingdom of God; a being that interferes with and tempts the lives of people of his own free will.
Whether this transformation is an accurate development of the being, or whether man’s understanding of Satan changed is up for debate. One thing is clear – the symbol of evil that is Satan is a complex one.
About The Author
- Satan…He’s someone we should know about. Controversial yes, but you need to know the enemy. (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- Satan Never Looks Like Satan (deaconjohnspace.wordpress.com)
- Spiritual Warfare (wordservewatercooler.com)
- Satan (respiratorytherapycave.blogspot.com)
- Christianity’s Unwarranted Focus on the Being Satan (hendriekusr.wordpress.com)
- 5 Subtle Ways Satan Sneaks into the Pulput (stocktonbiblechapel.wordpress.com)