Truth, Understanding, Insight

N.T. Satan

27th March 2011, hej


1) Introduction

Satan is a transliterated Hebrew word which developed a small range of meaning over the 1,000 or so year period the Old Testament was written, from 'obstacle' to 'adversary', to 'enemy'. It is used only in 18 instances in the Old Testament over that 1,000 year history.

The development of the word use in the New Testament, begins with the words of Y'shua recorded by his disciples and ends less than 70 years later with the letters by those same disciples, but they use the word in all the senses of the Old Testament and develop its use further..

Satan: Hebrew word transliterated into Greek as Σατανᾶς Satanas

A note before beginning: 'devil' is the English transliteration for a few words in Greek; the most common being diabolos which might not mean what many people think. It is used in,

An Overseer then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine,....lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the traducer/ slanderer (diabolos). Likewise must the attendants be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a attendant, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not traducers/ slanderers (diabolos), sober, faithful in all things. (1Timothy 3:2-11)

It is transliterated 'devil' in one verse and translated 'slanderer' in the other. It means slanderer, or false accuser. The word 'devil' as diabolos occurs only 38 times in 36 verses.

The Hebrew word satan transliterated into Greek in the New Testament has 37 occurrences in 34 verses in only 20 incidents/contexts.

The following will examine every incident and occurrence in context.

2) Get thee hence, Satan: Matthew 4

1. The first instance in the New Testament of the word 'satan' is where the Lord Y'shua (Jesus) is tempted in the wilderness and offered 'all the kingdoms of the world'. When this incident is placed in the historical context it shows no very high mountain was required to see all the kingdoms. To give some background. The Greek word Basileias speaks of a royal kingdom, which Rome was not at that time (approx 27 CE). But the Tetrarchs as sons of King Herod 'king of the Jews', ruled as kings in Herod's power.

But when he heard that Archelaus did reign (basileuō) in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there: (Matthew 2:22)

By contrast the rule of the Caesars (at time the Republic had become a dictatorship) is not basileuo, or royal, but hegemonia.

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign (hēgemonia) of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, (Luke 3:1)

Therefore the kingdoms of that Jewish order or 'kosmos' ca. 27CE (the physical world in Greek is oikoumenē) could all be seen from one mountain at that time.

Again, the traducer (diabolos) takes him [Y'shua] up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms (basileias) of the world (kosmos), and the glory of them; And said unto him, “All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Then said Y'shua unto him, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shall thou serve.”
Then the traducer (diabolos) leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matthew 4:8-11)

The parallel record in Luke is,

And the traducer (diabolos), taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms (basileias) of the world (oikoumenē) in a point of time. And the traducer said unto him, “All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered (betrayed, surrendered) unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If you therefore will worship me, all shall be thine.”
And Y'shua answered and said unto him, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shall thou serve.” (Luke 4:5-8)

The Meaning of satan in the context: There is nothing supernatural in the exchange, especially when the Jewish thinking of that time regarding the Jewish world and its limited scope to the Promised Land is considered. The Macabees would never have sought to conquer more than David's or Solomon's kingdom. In 66CE all those kingdoms were taken from the Romans, and it was not the only attempt. The traducer was offering the Jewish kingdoms which could only be obtained by being a traitor, and one already with power conferred by Rome. The person was an obstacle to Y'shua's thinking, by offering an attractive alternative to the path he knew he had to take. Many Christians miss it, but the implication is that he knew from early in his ministry the end was death. He says after John the Baptist was beheaded- that his fate was to be the same.

The event is summarised in Mark as

And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. (Mark 1:13)

It must be asked why John's parallel record does not mention it, when John was a witness of that part of the ministry. Also John knew, and was known by, the High Priest Caiaphas (John 18:13). Caiaphas, who at that time had significant power and might seek people to worship him, was certainly young enough and fit enough to have gone out to find out about the man John baptised. John begins his witness account,

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him [John the Baptist], Who are you? (John 1:19)

Odd also that John later records, they,

led him [Y'shua] away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. (John 18:13-14)

One can see, if it was Caiaphas, or one of the Chief Priests, why John was silent and why the general term diabolos was used. There was always respect for the rulers, especially the High Priest.

Then said Paul, I knew not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shall not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. (Acts 23:5)

If it was the High Priest, or one of that priestly power bloc of that time led by Annas, it explains why the incident shows Y'shua had respect, for he follows the person and listens and answers courteously. It is clear that Y'shua was tempted, as he later responds the same way to Peter, and he could not be tempted if no tangible thing was being offered. Power of that sort was tempting, and in the political climate of that time it was possible they could have taken power. An energetic and powerful High Priest and the powerbroker Annas with a young man, endorsed by the popular John the Baptist, in whom was embodied two hereditary lines of king David and whose birth was marked by wonder and disaster were certain to obtain popular support for an independent Jewish kingdom. Or it may have been one of the Herods. But Y'shua rejected the temptation, and at the end offended the tempter. And it is likely whoever it was, John knew. And he was, remarkably, silent.

3) How can Satan cast out Satan? Mark 3

2. The second context is an illustration or parable by Y'shua in an argument about how Y'shua healed.

But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if satan cast out satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. (Matthew 12:24-27)

Same incident:

And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.
Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:” Because they said, He has an unclean spirit. (Mark 3:22-30)

Same incident in Luke's record

But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he takes from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divides his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathers not with me scatters. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, I will return unto my house where I came out. And when he comes, he finds it swept and garnished. Then goes he, and takes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. (Luke 11:17-26)

Meaning: The term satan is used as an incidental example in a parable to defeat the logic (was the phrase 'can Satan cast out Satan?' a saying? The idea of 'an enemy casting an enemy' is a curious play of ideas). Christians with preconceived ideas read much into it. As the audience were Jews and it's a Jewish parable, satan might not have a literal kingdom.. ..

4) Peter was called satan

3. Peter, the well known apostle, was called satan.

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: you are an offence unto me: for thou savour not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:21-23)

Mark's parallel record,

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly.
And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savour not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. (Mark 8:31-33)

Meaning: The context gives the meaning, as Y'shua says that Peter is an “offence. Therefore this term is used because Peter at that time was an “obstacle” or “offence”, to Y'shua's path. The word 'obstacle' in Greek implies 'trap, stumbling block, barrier'. Which is how the word satan was first used in the Hebrew scriptures.

4. In a parable of a man sowing seed in a field and the difference in yield, in the explanation

he [Y'shua] said unto them, Know you not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower sows the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. (Mark 4:13-15)

Meaning: an adversary. In a parallel record in Matthew 13:19 the one who takes the word away is not 'satan' but “the wicked”. By contrast Luke writes he said “diabolos”, 'the traducer'. Here we may see how they are equated, but they are different. Allegedly Matthew also wrote a record in Hebrew, and his translation as 'the wicked' is important as he was definitely a witness and he knew what Y'shua meant when he used that Hebrew word. Luke was a Greek proselyte recording events later and translated into Greek for a Greek audience.

5. Y'shua to his disciples in a moment of joy:

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
And he said unto them, “I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Luke 10:17-21)

Meaning: Satan seems equated to 'the enemy', as he says in the next sentence they have 'power over the enemy.'

6. A woman bowed together so she could not lift herself or rise up, which means she was not sick but had been 18 years afflicted by a “spirit of infirmity” is described.

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou are loosed from thine infirmity (weakness).
And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? (Luke 13:12, 16)

Meaning: The weakness that had prevented her from doing anything, had been an obstacle and adversary to her, and would have prevented any form of service.

5) Then entered Satan into Judas: Luke 22

7. The record of the betrayal and Judas

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. (Luke 22:3-4)

Other records explain what upset Judas-

And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she has wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She has done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. (Mark 14:3-10) See also Matthew 26.

The apostle John was observant,

Then said one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying has she kept this. (John 12:4-7)

John gives the reason why Judas became an adversary. Judas knew it was all over. The New Testament record confirms there were only two people who believed Y'shua at this point - Mary and Judas. The apostle John confesses he believed after the events when he stood by the empty tomb.

Meaning of satan in context: An evil thought to betray a person for reward.

8. The term is used by John of Judas' actions

When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. (John 13:21-30)

Meaning: According to Luke it had entered before, by which we may understand it may enter a person at any time. They are using the term satan as a way of thinking as an adversary/enemy; that moment when a person says to himself, “ok, I'll betray that guy, now”.

6) Peter and the term 'satan'

9. The term is used again in relation to (Simon) Peter,

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.” And he said unto him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you, both into prison, and to death.” And he said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that you shall thrice deny that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34)

Background: Peter wilfully lacked understanding of Y'shua's intent and as a result did not trust his words. Peter saw things differently to Y'shua. To Peter, Y'shua was the king, but Y'shua saw himself as the suffering 'son of man'.

'Satan sifting' is equated to the events that led to Peter denying he knew Y'shua, which presents two options: 1. Satan was the authorities, who were keen to identify him. 2 Satan was personification of Peter's own incorrect thinking in opposition to Y'shua's thinking.

10. Luke's record of the acts of the Apostles. Peter uses the term satan in rebuke,

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled thine heart to lie to the holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:1-4)

Meaning: Whatever satan did it was paralleled with what Ananias thought in his heart. All responsibility is given to Ananias. But the satan was Ananias' wife. Peter knew this, but he did not name her. See the next event, when she comes in.

Peter answered unto her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
And she said, “Yea, for so much.”
Then Peter said unto her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” (Acts 5:8-9)

Who was the prime mover: Ananais or his wife? Peter knows it's Ananais who conceived the idea. But who filled Ananias' heart? How did they agree? It was his wife who filled his heart and encouraged him. Therefore the wife's thinking was the satan Peter was referring to.

7) Paul: from the power of satan, Acts 26

11. Paul to king Agrippa quoting Y'shua in a vision. Background: Paul had been persecuting those at that time called 'the way', later called Christians and had seen a vision. When Paul is arrested himself many years later for being a christian who converted gentiles, this is his defence,

At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecute thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
And I said, Who art thou, Lord?
And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecute. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Act 26:13-20)

The incident is recorded in the early part of Acts which appears to be abbreviated,

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecute thou me?
And he said, Who art thou, Lord?
And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecute: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:3-6)

Saul heard the Lord speaking in Hebrew using the term satan. He did not say turn from 'satan to God' but from 'the power of satan to God'. Which is a peculiar distinction not often appreciated by Christians.

It makes sense if it is written “turn from the power of the enemy/adversary to God”

12. Paul greeting to the Christian Jews and Gentiles at Rome in his letter to them,

the God of peace shall bruise (rub/crush completely) Satan under your feet shortly (brief space of time). (Romans 16:20)

Background: The letter is thought most likely to have been written somewhere between late 55CE and early 58CE with some debate supporting 51/52, 54/55 and 56/57 being accepted as likely. Very shortly after that time satan was to be rubbed out completely under their feet. Roman Jews were expelled by Claudius in the year 49 or at the latest January 50CE,

Orosius, who quotes from Suetonius' text, states the expulsion took place in Claudius' ninth regnal year (Jan. 25, 49 to Jan 24, 50) (Hist. adv. pag. 7.6.15-16). (Orosius claims Josephus as his source, but Josephus nowhere mentions the expulsion.) What is interesting is the reason that Suetonius provides for this extreme official action. He writes, "He expelled the Jews at Rome because they caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestos (impulsore Chresto)" (Claudius, 25.4). (This expulsion of the Jews from Rome is referred to in Acts 18:1-3.)

Claudius, it appears, felt he could control the state religion. He died October 54 allegedly poisoned. If the letter was written in 54 then very 'shortly' the man who expelled the Christian Jews from Rome was 'rubbed out'. It is possible he was the satan as he had prevented preaching. If it was written late 55-58 the satan may have been Nero, in which case the 'shortly' was at least 10 years until 68CE. It may have been a group of people hostile to the Congregation, or the term may have applied to false Christians, and their power may have been crushed in Nero's persecution from 64-68, though it also crushed this congregation. In any case that satan was crushed completely long ago.

13. Paul's advice to the Corinthians is estimated as likely to have been written between 53 and 57CE, to mostly non-Jews. Paul speaks of delivering people to satan for fornication,

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Corinthians 5:1-5)

Meaning: Delivering to satan is equated to having those who do the deed 'taken away'. This was in Corinth and at that time there were a raft of Roman marriage laws dealing with adultery... delivering them to the authority might have resulted in banishment or death (destruction of flesh), but Paul says it would save their soul (in repentance?). It seems likely, based on Roman law, see that they were to be handed over to secular judgement. If this is the case satan is Roman authority.

Paul's advice to the Corinthians to mostly non-Jews continues,

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt (test, try, examine) you not for your incontinency (lack of self restraint). But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. (1Corithians 7:2-6)

Meaning: Paul wasn't married. It appears advice he had based on Roman law. In view of the Roman marriage rules, and their crackdown in this era on adultery (presumably excepting pagan religious rites) it was good advice, as Christians, so that they are not caught by Roman authorities at it – where they would be put on a very public trial by Roman authority, which seems to be an adversary who sends trial, which indicates 'satan' is used in its O.T. Hebrew sense in this context.

14. Paul still on the subject of the man accused of fornication. It appears he is punished by harsh treatment of the group, and Paul in his second letter backpedals and now is worried about the influence of the thinking of the satan the fornicator was to be handed over to.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he has not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his mind/thought. (2Corinthians 2:4-11)

15. In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians there was clearly an issue between Paul and some others claiming glory,

As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knows. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel (messenger) of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the congregations. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. (2Corinthians 11:10-30)

Meaning: Paul is moved greatly, and upset. Here Paul is not making a doctrinal statement but an emotional point. Paul's satan is made to seem as the messenger of light. As light is used for 'enlightenment' satan might also in that context be poetic language. Paul says that there are false teachers appearing as true. He does not call them satan – but he extends his poetic language and calls the false teachers the 'ministers of satan'. We know who they are at least- they are Hebrews and they are followers of Christ, who Paul thinks are no longer teaching the gospel, or rather are doing so to glorify themselves.

This was and is rather a serious issue and the multitude of Christian sects, most of whom are ready to hate each other, testify to the mess that many teachers in raising up themselves in glory have made of the original gospel. Even Paul at the start could not stop it.

Paul goes on to say in the same context

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or that he hears of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn (disability) in the flesh, the angel (messenger) of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (feebleness), that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Corithians 12:1-9)

There is much speculation that Paul had a physical weakness. As before this time he had been stoned and left for dead, it may relate to an injury. In this instance satan means 'barrier/ obstacle /disability'. We see satan as an obstacle transformed into messenger of light used in the same way but in a different context with Paul being given a 'messenger of satan' or an obstacle/ disability to buffet him. The problem then that most affected Paul were false teachers carrying an aura of authority. But also he had, added to that, physical obstacles.

16. Paul in greeting in a letter to those at Thessalonica,

Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. (1Thessalonians 2:18)


Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason has received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. (Acts 17:1-10)

Meaning of satan: Paul could never go back to Thessalonica as Jason and another were taken as security that Paul would not again enter the city. Satan was this obstacle of law that, at that time, Paul could not overcome without harming Jason and the unnamed “other” of the “certain brethren”.

17. Paul in a letter warning of false doctrine,

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now hinders will hinder, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (2Thessalonians 2:3-11)

Meaning: Most protestants recognise the man of sin as the pope. Or they used to. It does not say he is satan but has 'the working of satan' having power. The point to note is that it was prophesied and “sent by God”.

18. Paul at the end of a letter to Timothy (who had a Jewish mother and a Greek father) and became like a son to Paul

This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them might war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1Timothy 1:18-20)

We don't know how Paul did this, but delivering them to satan didn't end their influence as more is said of them,

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he has greatly withstood our words. (2Timothy 4:14-15)
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2Timothy 2:16-18)

Meaning: Presumably removing the two men out of the congregation, to Paul's mind equalled “delivering them to satan”. Paul must have removed them despite the influence they had.

To the same Timothy, those who Paul delivers to Satan – by removing them from the congregation, are added those who voluntarily leave, also described as tuning aside after satan

And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. (1Timothy 5:13-15)

8) Satan's Seat: Revelation

19. Vision of John from Y'shua. From the letters to specific congregations

"And to the angel (messenger) of the congregation in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. "'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the diabolos is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:8-10)

Meaning: There were Christians claiming to be Jews but were not and caused problems, Contemporary ecclesiastical writing from Ignatius shows that those of Smyrna rejected the false doctrine that came from Ephesus. Even now Jews face great issues with those Christians who claim to replace the Jews. The diabolos was different as they were Pagans who made false accusations to the authorities (so many that it is recorded that Roman authority began to reject accusations). Ten days is ten years from latter part of Trajan's rule 107-117CE.

To the location of Satan's seat..... which was Pergamos

And to the messenger/angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which has the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwell, even where Satan's seat is: and thou hold fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (Revelation 2:12-15)

Meaning: A seat is a place of rule, and Pergamos was at that time the centre of Christian apostasy, with Christians already compromising with paganism (denying the faith). Pliny notes that in Pergamos “temples once almost desolate, begin to be frequented.” (letter to Trajan 106CE) . Pergamos from 29 BC was a centre of the imperial or Roman state religion. This eventually combined with Christianity, but the compromise with Paganism was begun in John's day.

To those of the city of Thyatira

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searches the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. (Rev 2:19-25)

Possible Meaning in context: Jezebel forced Jews to worship a pagan god. Those in Thyatira who accept pagan ideas are equated with knowing 'the depths of satan', or 'the depths of the adversary'.

The final reference in the letters,

And to the messenger/angel of the congregation in Philadelphia write; .. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:7-10)

Possible Meaning in Context: This repeats the message to Smyrna. Not denying the name of Y'shua, is to not deny the teaching. Those of the assembly of satan say they are Jews and are not. Many Christians say they are Jews (having replaced them) and deny Jews are Jews. This was begun when John said 'they went out from us, but they were not of us” (I John 2:19) They formed their own 'synagogues' on the most rigid of Jewish models, having their own leaders who they equated to Rabbis or aping the Jewish preisthood. They made their own 'Sabbath', and holy days and replaced the Jewish ones, moving Passover and giving it the name of a pagan deity.

All five references equate satan to those with doctrinal impurity and practice, specifically of those calling themselves Christians (or pretending to be the 'true' inheritor of the Jewish hope). Satan was used in all 5 instances to refer to false Christians. These had a few characteristics: they were predicted in Daniel, loving their own glory God made them believe a lie and they are an enemy to true believers, more of an adversary than paganism as they say they are Christian. Lastly satan in this context is not an individual being but a group as it is written, “But many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of the satan, as they speak.” (Revelation 2:24)

20. In the symbolic language of Revelation

Background: There are two sections of scripture which are arguably most misunderstood, they are the letters of Paul and Revelation.

Revelation has a structure. First the letters, which are just that, letters. Then prophecy of events shortly to begin to occur (from when the book was written) within events heralded by symbols of “7”; the 7 seals, thunders, vials etc. Then interspersed there are visions 'in heaven' which show the state of the hope of the servants. In addition there is a long vision of the fate of a symbolic woman who has a child and a dragon.

Isaac Newton followed Joseph Mede, who followed the Polish Brethren and the understanding was well known, despite persecution, and is still understood today, that 'heaven' stood for political rule on earth, 'the woman' because pregnant symbolises a corrupted congregation of Christians and her son was the most corrupt of all -Constantine who acted as if a god.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his messengers/angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the diabolos is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:5-17)

This passage has done most to mis-inform people that the serpent is the diabolos and satan. But Firstly the subject is not the serpent – but the symbolic dragon which is a point many people miss. The dragon is part of a complete vision about complex events to occur with an interval and then 1260 years was to pass. The dragon (labelled a diabolos and satan) is cast out at the beginning of that time – from 'rule' in 'heaven” to be with the people “in the earth”. This was fulfilled with the rise of Constantine, when paganism was cast out and briefly there was celebration as the resistance to the death of a minority of true Christians to paganism had opened a way. But paganism 'the dragon' had a nasty comeback and so 'the woman', the minority of christians, who held to the original faith, had to flee and hide from both the false Christians (satans) and neo-pagans (diabolos). They were all cast from rule with the man child – Constantine who ruled all the Roman world taking absolute rule.

Revelation is a book full of symbols of the sort found in the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. If we were to ask “who is symbolised by the dragon?”, we might ask what was a dragon in the Hebrew scriptures

speak, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, 'My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.' (Ezekiel 29:3)

This is the same word 'drakon' used in the LXX as in Revelation. But if we are in doubt as who the dragon is after the power of Egypt is lost, we may identify it by asking what characterised that 'old serpent' greek opis. The LXX uses the same word of the serpent in Eden who lied, saying they would not die. This may not be enough to identify who was the dragon, so we are told that it is called 'the false accuser' of the servants (as the servants knew who and what it was that falsely accused them ) and 'the adversary' which in its Christian form, persecuted the true Christians. The dragon is any form of pagan religion, and it represented a body of ideas rather than individual people.

More symbols, the binding of the dragon,

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Y'shua, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the diabolos that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:1-15)

It is to be noted that in this passage satan is not destroyed only diabolos the false accuser. But satan as the adversary is bound for 1,000 years.

(Aside: This one passage plus the “one day as 1,000 years” equating the days of creation is the basis for Christian Millennial thinking.)

In any case people are judged according to their own works, so dragon, beast and false prophet are not individuals, but systems of thought or institutions.

9) Summary:

Of the twenty contexts in two, satan is used as a rebuke for an obstacle, one of whom was Peter. It is used clearly as meaning 'an obstacle', 'weakness' and 'an enemy'. These are consistent with meanings in the Hebrew scriptures.

Twice it is used in relation to a parable which is meant to obscure rather than reveal (Matthew 13:13 Mark 4:2).

Three times it is used to describe a thought that comes into a person to betray or lie.

Three times Paul seems to use it to refer to Roman authority, and two other times it is unclear who the enemy/adversary might be.

By Paul and Y'shua it is used seven times in letters to the servants to describe false Christians. Twice satan is a characteristic of a symbolic entity called 'the dragon' which is clearly in the symbolic 'picture' an enemy and an adversary of true believers who suffered persecution, and hid from its face in the wilderness.

[As an aside the persecuted congregation was forced in 'the wilderness' by the dragon the same length of time Daniel predicted the Jews would suffer (1260 years) at the hands of the beast:

Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:23-25)

Zechariah speaks of two olive trees from one lampstand. Revelation speaks of two witnesses.]

Some conclusions

The term 'the satan' has a specific range of meanings. It was used of an angel of God in the Hebrew scriptures. It is used of Peter and the God-given affliction of Paul in the New Testament. Also God caused the delusion of those adversaries associated with the use of 'satan', which was false belief (a lie), because they loved not the truth. Due to the narrow range of the incidents, and knowing the role of God, a Christian may wish to be wary of using the term 'satan', other than precisely how it is used in the scriptures.

Satan seems a special Hebrew word, and must not be separated from its Old Testament meaning.

As 'satan' was transliterated into Greek and not translated, there must have been no translation that fully captured the ideas. 'Satan' is therefore not interchangeable with 'diabolis' which can be easily translated into English or Hebrew, and always indicates an evil 'slanderer'.

For more, an investigation of Anti Christ