About HaSatan

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Developing a Systematic Messianic Theology
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About HaSatan

He is the prince of evil spirits and the inveterate adversary (one who opposes another in purpose or act) of HaShem and HaMashiach and all of mankind the adversary, and:

• he incites apostasy from HaShem and to sin

• he circumvents men by his wiles

• the worshippers of idols are said to be under his control

• by his demons he is able to take possession of men and inflict them with diseases

• by HaShem’s assistance he is overcome

• on Messiah’s return from heaven he will be bound with chains for a thousand years, but when the thousand years are finished he will walk the earth in yet greater power, but shortly after will be given over to eternal punishment

The prophet Yechezk'el (Ezekiel 28:11-19) speaks the word of HaShem to “the king of Tyre” but the context demands that he is speaking not directly to the king, but rather to the power behind the king, HaSatan, for when was the king of Tyre ever in Eden, and when was he ever the “anointed cherub who covers … on the holy mountain of God”?

Again the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, In the unrighteousness of your trade You profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, And I have turned you to ashes on the earth In the eyes of all who see you. All who know you among the peoples Are appalled at you; You have become terrified And you will cease to be forever.”’”

Likewise, the prophet Yesha‘yahu speaks to the king of Babylon, but here also he clearly is addressing the power behind the king, rather than addressing the king directly. (Isaiah 14:12-17)

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’”

There are only two other references in the entire Bible to anyone “fallen from heaven.” Yeshua said, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18); and “Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.” (Revelation 9:1)

Adapted from the article “Satan” in
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

The Hebrew word satan [f'f] means “an adversary, one who resists.” It is translated as “Satan” eighteen times in the Tanakh, fourteen of those occurrences being in Job 1-2, the others in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and Zechariah 3:1-2. There is some dispute as to whether it should be taken as a proper name or a title. In Job and Zechariah the definite article (“the”) precedes the noun (lit., “the satan” or “the accuser”). Thus some argue it should be a title, while in 1 Chronicles (without the article) it should be considered a proper name. The word is used also of various persons in the Tanakh as “adversaries,” including David (1 Sam 29:4), Rezon of Damascus (1 Kings 11:23,25), and the Angel of the Lord (Num 22:22,32).

Baker holds that in Job “the Satan” is not directly HaShem’s adversary, but Job’s, and says that he acts as one of HaShem’s subordinates/courtiers to follow His directives. However, a more careful reading of the text would suggest that HaSatan is, in fact, working against the purposes of HaShem by bringing accusations against innocent Job. It would appear that HaSatan still has direct access to HaShem's throne room after being cast out, as HaShem asks what he has been doing and HaSatan replies that he has been “roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” it seems as if he may be trying to appeal his conviction for treason by accusing HaShem of being unjust and by bringing accusations against others (“Why are You being unjustly hard on me? Just look at how bad some others are, and you aren't doing anything to them!”)

HaSatan claims that Job is, after all, not being righteous out of love for, and trust in, HaShem, but rather that Job’s righteousness is a reaction only to his prosperity, and is based on self-interest.

Baker (and others) believe that within the Job narrative, Satan Acts at HaShem’s directive. They claim that 1:12 and 2:6-7 point to Satan's causal role in Job’s life, but later texts like 6:4; 7:14; 9:17 appear to lay blame on HaShem. Thus, they say, Satan carries out divine directives.

Again, however, a closer reading of the text reveals that HaShem intends to use righteous Job as an example to turn HaSatan’s argument back against himself. The tests that HaShem allowed were meant to demonstrate what Job’s true motivation was. He does not direct HaSatan to inflict Job, but rather gives him permission to do so, and in 6:4; 7:14; 9:17 Job, not understanding what HaShem is doing, says that even if HaShem is doing these things to him, he still will not curse HaShem, but will continue to trust Him.

“Satan” occurs thirty-six times in the Apostolic Writings, eighteen of that number in the Gospels and Acts. The Greek term satanas [Satana'"] is a “loan word” from the Hebrew Tanakh, and twenty-eight of the total occurrences are accompanied by the definite article. Often in the Gospel accounts Yeshua is in contact with Satan directly or indirectly. He was tempted by Satan (Mark 1:13). In the famous “Beelzebub controversy” Yeshua made clear His intention to drive Satan out of people’s lives and to destroy his sovereignty (Matt 12:26; Mark 3:23, 26; Luke 11:18). He liberated a woman “whom Satan (had) kept bound for eighteen long years” (Luke 13:16). Rav Sha'ul (Paul) spoke of his being sent to turn people “from the power of Satan to HaShem” (Acts 26:18), and that the works of the “lawless one (were) in accordance with the work of Satan,” in doing sham miracles, signs, and wonders (2Thess 2:9). HaMashiach will come, he wrote, to overthrow that agent of Satan.

While the activity of Satan is carried out in “the world” (i.e., among those who do not acknowledge Yeshua as HaShem), he also works against the followers of HaMashiach. He influenced Kefa’s (Peter’s) thinking about Yeshua to the extent that Yeshua said to his disciple, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt 16:23). He asked for all the disciples in order to severely test them (Luke 22:31). He “entered” Y'hudah the Sicarius (Judas Iscariot, Luke 22:3), and “filled the heart” of Ananias (Acts 5:3). Believers can be tempted by Satan due to a lack of self-control in sexual matters (1Cor 7:5), and he can even masquerade as “an angle of light” (Lucifer) to accomplish his purposes (2Cor 11:14). He tormented Rav Sha'ul by means of “a thorn in [his] flesh” (2Cor 12:7). Some people even turn away from their faith to follow Satan (1Tim 5:15).

Satan opposes the proclamation of the gospel, snatching away the seed (the word) that was sown in people’s hearts (Mark 4:15; Luke 8:12). He also “stopped” Rav Sha'ul from traveling to Thessalonica (1Thess 2:18).

Satan is regarded (by some) in the Apostolic Writings as the “master of death and destruction,” who carries out HaShem’s wrath against sinners. Twice we read of persons “handed over to Satan” for spiritual discipline by the local Beit Din (1Cor 5:1-5; 1Tim 1:19-20). This appears to suggest that perhaps “excommunication” from synagogue fellowship puts people out into Satan’s realm, a sovereignty from which believers have been rescued (Col 1:13; cf. Heb 2:14-15). In other cases, Satan attacked the disciples of Yeshua by “sifting” them (Luke 22:31), a figure that is enigmatic. It may have meant to test their faith (with HaSatan’s intent of destroying it, but HaShem’s intent of confirming it), or, it may have meant “to separate off the rubbish” (I. H. Marshall). In any case, Satan was up to no good. He was able to “enter” Y'hudah the Sicarius (Luke 22:3; cf. John 13:27), resulting in that disciple becoming a betrayer of his Master. Kefa’s “sifting” may possibly have brought about his threefold denial of Yeshua.

The Holy Community in Jerusalem felt the brunt of Satan’s attacks. He “filled” Ananias’ heart causing him to lie to Ruach HaKodesh (Acts 5:3), resulting in his sudden demise. The believers in Smyrna felt the sting of persecution (Rev 2:9-10). The nations of earth in Yochanan’s (John’s) vision were deceived by him (Rev 20:7-8).

Yeshua spoke of seeing HaSatan “fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18), a fall not specifically identified in the Apostolic Writings, but a likely reference to Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 14:12-17, and within the context of demons being cast out—a sign of Satan’s loss of authority. In the Revelation, amid a war in heaven, Satan was “hurled to the earth” along with his angels/demons (12:9). He, the Accuser, was overcome by One stronger than he. Finally, he is bound, imprisoned in the abyss for one thousand years, then ultimately banished in the fiery lake to suffer eternal torment (20:1-3, 10; cf. Matt 25:41).

The other common appellation for Satan in the Apostolic Writings is “the devil” (diabolos [diavbolo"]), not found in the Tanakh, but thirty-four times in the Apostolic Writings, meaning one who is traducer, a slanderer. The word often translates satan [Sata'n] in the Septuagint (either as “the satan” or an “adversary”).

In the Apostolic Writings the word appears to be used interchangeably with “Satan,” although in the KJV the word for “demon” is often erroneously translated as “devil.” Mark refers to “Satan” five times, but never uses “devil.” Matthew has three of the former, but six of the latter. The Fourth Gospel has one instance of “Satan” (with none in the Epistles of John), while the “devil” (as Satan) occurs twice in the Gospel and three times in the Epistles.

Yeshua would drive out “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); HaSatan would have no hold on Mashiach, for he was without sin (14:30); and HaSatan stood condemned at the bar of HaShem’s judgment (16:11). While the devil has had a career of sinning “from the beginning,” the Son of G-d came to destroy his wicked works (1John 3:8). Those unable to hear and receive Yeshua’ words “belong to the devil,” who is their “father” (John 8:44)—they share a family likeness to him.

Believers need to exercise care about anger, so as “not to give the devil a foothold” (Eph 4:26). They are to don G-d’s full armor so as to stand against the devil’s schemes. With the shield of faith they are to thwart his “flaming arrows” (Eph 6:11,16). Ultimate victory comes by “the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,” as the devil is cast down from heaven to the earth (Rev 12:11).

Walter M. Dunnett

See also Demon; Evil; Sin

Bibliography. H. Bietenhard, NIDNTT, 3:468-72; O. Bocher, EDNT, 1:297-98; D. J. A. Clines, Job 1-20; W. Foerster, TDNT, 2:1-20; E. Lanyton, Satan, A Portrait; D. W. Pentecost, Your Adversary, The Devil; G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology.


C. Arnold, Powers of Darkness
W. Carr, Angels and Principalities (1981)
C. F. Dickason, Angels: Elect and Evil
_____, Demon Possession and the Christian
Billy Graham, Angels: God’s Secret Agents (1975)
J. W. Montgomery, ed: Demon Possession
H. Schier, Principalities and Powers in the New Testament (1961)
M. Unger, Biblical Demonology;
_____, What Demons Can Do to Saints
M. Wink, Naming the Powers
_____, Unmasking the Powers
_____, Engaging the Power
























Page last updated on Saturday, 27 August 2016 04:32 PM
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