Christian tradition holds that Satan started out as a beautiful angel who fell from divine grace. Yet, the core of this tradition comes not from Israel’s Scriptures, but from post-biblical interpretation of Isaiah and Ezekiel. While the Hebrew Bible may not support Satan’s traditional backstory, the New Testament mentions Satan falling from heaven. Many readers presume that the descriptions of the devil in Luke and Revelation recall the pre-Edenic expulsion of Lucifer. However, the Gospel and the Apocalypse refer to two separate satanic falls—not in the primeval past, but in Jesus’ present and his followers’ future.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells his apostles, “I saw Satan fall (πεσόντα; pesónta) like lightning from heaven” (Lk 10:18). Though it may be tempting to read this statement as a recollection of a pretty angel’s primordial plunge, Luke’s context aligns Jesus’ words with the present apostolic mission (not with a bygone satanic confrontation). At the start of Luke 10, seventy-two apostles spread the gospel of God’s coming kingdom (see 10:1-9). Afterwards, these evangelists “return with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’” (10:17). It is to this declaration of current apostolic dominion over demons that Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall light lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority… over all the power of the enemy” (10:18-19). In other words, the devil’s descent occurred because of the apostles’ exorcisms; the Messiah saw Satan fall from heaven while the apostles were out doing their anti-demonic duty.

Revelation also speaks of Satan being cast from heaven: “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer a place for them in heaven (οὐδὲ τόπος εὑρέθη αὐτῶν ἔτι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ; oudè tópos heuréthe auton epi en to ourano). And the great dragon was thrown down (ἐβλήθη; ebléthe), that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan” (Rev 12:7-9; cf. 20:2-3). While some New Testament readers cite these verses to support the story of Satan’s prehistoric fall, this heavenly vision describes a future event. The divine battle that John foresees comes immediately after a sign appears in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun gives birth to a child and avoids the dragon’s grasp while she is nourished in the wilderness (see Rev 12:1-6). This woman represents Israel, the child is the Messiah, and her escape from Satan alludes to God’s protection of Jesus’ followers. It is only after the birth of the Messiah and his movement that Satan is cast down from heaven; according to Revelation, the devil’s decisive defeat will occur at some point in the future. Thus, the New Testament does not recount Satan’s traditional past, but rather highlights the destruction of demonic forces both during and after Jesus’ earthly ministry.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

39 COMMENTS

  1. The child is the church that gets raptured and the remnant of her seed are the Jews this is backed up by Isaiah 66:6-7 where she births a child before(pre wrath) the pains start then verse 7 says she has children (more than one child)

    • Thanks for your question, Theodore. Satan can move between heaven and earth (cf. Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2), just as God can remove Satan from heaven at various times (per the above article). When Satan isn’t in heaven, he’s moving around on earth (cf. Job 1:7; 2:2; 1 Pet 5:8).

      • IN REV 21:27 IT IS WRITTEN THAT NOTHING DEFILED WILL ENTER HEAVEN BUT THOSE WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN IN THE LAMBS BOOK..
        IS SATAN BORN AGAIN TO ENTER HEAVEN?

        • Rev 21:27 says that nothing defiled will enter the New Jerusalem, not heaven. The new city comes down from heaven to earth (Rev 21:2, 10); people don’t go up to heaven.

        • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  2. Is it possible that because time does not exist in eternity that Jesus could see Satan fall (simple past tense) as the apostles were returning from their mission, but in fact Satan had already fallen at some primordial moment of eternity that Jesus also witnessed?

    • Thanks for your questions, Johanna. For something to be “eternal,” time must exist; without “time,” there’s no way to measure what is eternal and what is not — put another way, “eternity” is dependent on the continuous passage of time. We can speculate about a primordial moment of Satan’s fall, but there’s no biblical data to support such a moment.

      • So regarding ‘eternal life’, are you suggesting that a time is specified by that wording? Or, are Christians saved ‘forever’…..which by definition is not subject to time?

        • It depends on the definition of “eternal life.” In John’s Gospel, which uses the phrase most often, eternal life is “that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). That is, “eternal life” is knowledge and relationship, both of which occur in “time” and “space” (i.e., knowledge and relationships are gained at specific times/places and develop over time). More, one gains Johannine “eternal life” upon believing in Jesus, so that life starts now and continues through time until one’s death and ultimate resurrection. The notion of “eternity” being outside of “time” is more neoplatonic than it is Judaic.

        • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

      • In view of the above. When Satan tempted Adam & Eve, 1) was he in a right relationship with God or not 2) where did he come from?

  3. wow this is very interesting. of course this raises many questions. like what does that mean about the serpent in the garden of Eden? was that serpent Satan? Does this change what we know about the beginning of sin? or does is stay the same? things to think about…

  4. This is also apparent in Mark. It’s clear that, through the Messiah, God is defeating Satan; ie. sin. That’s the good news of the Kingdom, as opposed to the power over people that characterizes earthly kingdoms.

  5. In the book of Job ,Chapters one and two, shows that Satan has had access to God’s throne. God allows Satan to test Job’s faith. God tells Satan not to lay a finger on the man,Job. How it is worded ,I’ve always found to be most interesting. From the NIV :Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came with them 7.The Lord said to Satan,”Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord,”from roaming through the earth ad going back and forth in it.” Then it is stated pretty much the same way in Chapter 2 ,starting out stating “On another day the angels came to present themselves to the Lord and Satan came with them.” It would appear that evil has always been limited. But after Christ is born, his time to roam and cause chaos, becomes even shorter .Satan tries to tempt Jesus but Satan fails. Jesus has power over Him and demons.God will prevail.

  6. What about 2 Peter 2.4
    For if God did not spare the angels who sinned , but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darknesse , to be reserved for judgment :
    To day it seems the démons are acting in our world , no ??

    • An article on 2 Peter 2:4 is coming next, but this verse does not support the traditional backstory for Satan either. Per the above article, the New Testament affirms that demons are active in the world (both in Jesus’ day and beyond).

  7. I guess what is missing from this scholarly ‘opinion’ is the opposing scholarly ‘opinion(s)’ of this perspective. Question(s): did the disciples and early church followers believed Dr. Nicholas or opposing views? Or was Yeshua using the statement for both perspectives, knowing that we would do what we are doing now?

    • Thanks for your questions. It is impossible to know what Jesus’ disciples “thought,” but there’s no reference to a primordial fall of Satan in the New Testament. We can speculate about a double referent for Jesus’ statement, but since there’s no textual data on which to base such speculation, it is not constructive to wonder what might be the case apart from the text. For alternative opinions on these passages, many commentaries are available.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

    • An article on Jude 6 is coming early next week. Do keep checking back over the next few days, Dawn.

  8. Once again I appreciate your insight and straightforward approach, even though it creates many questions to the traditional narrative…so in your perspective of scripture…what is the ultimate fate of Satan and his angels (demons)…after all they are spiritual beings (eternal) not mortal like us. Rev 20:1-10 gives us an outline of future events…but figurative language is being used here…fire..a physical phenomenon cannot affect spirit…is there another dimension being discussed here? Is their ultimate fate isolation from all other life forms? How can we really know?

    • Thanks for your questions, Edward. According to Revelation, Satan is confined to the “lake of fire” and tormented; as you note, this is highly symbolic language, so it’s best not to build a systematic theology on it. At the same time, spirits have actual bodies and spirit beings can die (e.g., Ps 82:7). For more on spiritual bodies, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/can-spirit-body/

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  9. I disagree with your interpretation on this one. I think you are far off. There is no future without past. Jesus telling His disciples that you will be able to make demons fall from heaven like I made Satan falls before pre-historically.
    J. Mike …

    • Thanks for your comment. Jesus doesn’t say “I made Satan fall,” but rather, “I saw Satan fall.” The apostles have already been casting out demons before Jesus makes this statement, so it is not a promise that the apostles “will be able” to do something — they have already done it, and Jesus sees Satan fall from heaven after they do it. To posit a prehistoric satanic fall is to import into the text something that the text does not say.

  10. Read the apocrypha or the lost books of the bible. Enoch, Ezra past chapter 10, Ezra 2, book of Adam and Eve 1,2 ect. These books are to US the people of the tribulation. Yah is

  11. In the same way that Jesus claimed He was before Abraham was, John cleared up in John 1:1. Jesus could see Satan fall from heaven because He always been, always is, and always will be.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your name here
Words left: 50
Please enter your comment!