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

47 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 comments, Tina. For an alternative view of "rapture" theology, see the following IBC articles:
      https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/paul-really-report-rapture/
      https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/meeting-lord-rapture-return/
      https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/left-behind-days-noah/
    • 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).

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  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.

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  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...
    • Thanks for your questions, Joy. On the equation of the Eden serpent with Satan, see the following articles: https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/snake-garden-serpent-satan/
      https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/which-serpent-is-satan/
  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.
    • Jarlene, there's no biblical evidence for the traditional story of "Lucifer" being kicked out of heaven and becoming Satan. See the following IBC articles: https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/does-isaiah-tell-the-story-of-satan/ ; https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/is-the-prince-of-tyre-satan/
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