According to the letters of 2 Peter and Jude, angels sinned in heaven and wound up in chains (cf. 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6). Some read these verses as recollections of Satan’s supposed rebellion and fall, but this understanding is unsound. First, as we have already seen, Israel’s Scriptures do not mention the devil’s primordial descent; Isaiah and Ezekiel refer to egotistical earthly kings, rather than Satan. Second, the New Testament language does not align with the traditional tale of the devil being cast down to hell. Third, the contexts of 2 Peter and Jude refer to the divine beings in Genesis 6, not to a single angel who became “Satan.” While these passages are not etiologies about the Evil One, they do recall divine mastery over spiritual rebels, and underscore God’s continued sovereignty in both heaven and earth.

Second Peter 2:4 states, “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them to Tartarus (ταρταρώσας; tartarósas) and confined them to chains of gloom (ζόφως; zóphos) to be kept until the judgment.” This verse differs from the traditional Satan story in several ways. First, Peter does not mention the “devil” or “Satan”; instead, the text describes multiple angels who sinned, rather than one archangel named Lucifer. Second, God does not put these angels in “hell” (γέεννα; gehenna), but into Tartarus—the place where, according to ancient Greek theology, Zeus imprisoned the primordial Titans. The Greek poet Hesiod states, “It is just as far [from heaven to earth as it is] from the earth to murky Tartarus (τάρταρον; tártaron)…. That is where the Titan gods are hidden in gloom (ζόφω; zópho)” (Theogony 721-29). 2 Peter echoes Hesiod’s description of gloomy Tartarus, not as a hellish place where Satan reigns, but as a kind of otherworldly cave for imprisoned divinities.

Indeed, the biblical insistence that these rebellious angels are imprisoned—confined in “chains” (σειραῖς; seirais)—shows that 2 Peter cannot be speaking of Satan. In First Peter, readers are told, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil walks around (περιπατέω; peripatéo) like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (5:8). This description of an itinerant adversary echoes Satan’s words in Job. When God asks Satan where he’s been, he says, “Going to and fro on the earth… walking around (התהלך; hithalekh) on it” (Job 1:7; cf. 2:2). If, as both Job and Peter note, Satan spends his time walking around on the earth, then the devil is not chained up in Tartarus (or in hell, for that matter). Thus, 2 Peter 2:4 does not refer to Satan’s fall from heaven and subsequent imprisonment; while certain angels are bound in chains, Satan is not.

The contexts of the New Testament’s “angels” recall the episode just before the flood, as well as the subsequent narratives of Genesis. The start of Genesis 6 says that the heavenly “sons of God (בני האלהים; benei ha’elohim) saw the daughters of humanity… and took as their wives any they chose” (6:2). Following this divine-human encounter, Noah enters the narrative (6:8). After the flood, the next act of major divine destruction is at Sodom and Gomorrah (19:23-29). 2 Peter refers to this precise sequence of events, referring to the divine “sons of God” in Genesis 6 as “angels”: “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them to Tartarus… he did not spare the ancient world [in the flood], but preserved Noah [and God] turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes” (2 Pet 2:4-6). Jude 1:6-7 mentions the gloomy consequences of the angelic sin in the same terms as 2 Peter, and also places the story alongside a reference to Sodom: “The angels who… left their proper dwelling, [God] has kept in eternal chains under gloom until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrahunderwent a punishment of eternal fire.” The New Testament does not retell a primordial fall of Satan from heaven; instead, both 2 Peter and Jude recall the events of Genesis, and remind readers of God’s ongoing ability to subdue rebellious divine forces.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting. What about Luke 10:1-22, focused on verse 18. When the enemy fell from Heaven, he is not in anyway contained. This is very interesting. This explains to what degree this earth is the enemy’s kingdom.

  2. Thank you for this article. Very interesting. But the question arises: What is Satan’s “genesis”? How and when was he created? Is there any relevant information?

    • Thanks for reading, Martin. There’s no biblical information about Satan’s origins. Since Satan is among the divine beings, we can assume that God created him along with the rest of the divine “children of God” (Gen 6:2-4; Deut 32:8; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; cf. Lk 20:36), but assumptions without clear biblical data are problematic. Still, it’s important to note that Satan is not an equal and opposite power to God; instead, Satan is part of the divine council and under God’s control.

      • Thank you for the content. I have a follow up question. If Satan is not in opposition to God, then who is? I am thinking about when Paul says in Ephesians, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places.” Does God allow evil beings to co-exist with his goodness as members of the divine council?

        • Thanks for your wonderful questions, Darlene. Satan is in opposition to God, but such opposition is not always fully diametric. Sometimes, Satan does things that lead to beneficial outcomes for wayward believers (e.g., 1 Cor 5:5; 1 Tim 1:20), but Satan also needs to be destroyed in the end (e.g., Rom 16:20; Rev 20:7-10). When Ephesians speaks of the “principalities” and “powers” and “spirit-wickedness,” the references are (usually) to lesser, rebellious gods who govern nations other than Israel (e.g., Psalm 82; Dan 10:13-20). The God of Israel has to deal with several oppositional entities, including gods (called “demons” in the NT), Satan, and sin. God allows “bad” spiritual beings to interact in the divine council (e.g., the Adversary in Job 1-2) and even sends deleterious spirit beings from the heavenly council to earth (e.g., Judges 9:23; 1 Sam 16:14-15).

    • What about this passage from Isaiah 14:12? Does this not refer to the genesis of Lucifer? “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.”

  3. That was an epiphany, thank you for that, and praise JESUS. I’ve been given so many messages about Revelation 12-13, when the dragon is cast to the earth and goes after the Saints. This just solidifies some of the revelations, and brings more clarity to it all. JESUS loves you!

  4. The law prophets and testimony of the God of Israel is the faith called Judaism. But many make their own rules that defy the law prophets and testimony calling it Judaism also

  5. In the book of Jasher 2Samuel. 1:18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.).” Of Torah describes Satan coming toAbraham and Isaac in differing forms to stop him from bringing Isaac before YHVH..

    • There is no ancient manuscript extant for the book of Jasher. There is an 18th century forgery that scholars call Pseudo-Jasher, but that has no bearing on the Bible.

    • 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!

  6. 1Chronicles 21:1 – And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”. Go to blueletterbible type in Satan .don’t go.by their studies because they aren’t the faith of Torah . The law True months (New Moons) ,Sabbaths. Were banned by Rome til Y:shua returns to restore all.

  7. The scriptures are the only confirmation not mens words ..Job 1:6 – Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them..

    • Lisa, the words in Scripture (as with all words) only have meaning in context. We appreciate your interaction with our materials, and if you have a specific point to make, feel free to do so. However, please refrain from posting verses without any supporting biblical context or personal commentary.

  8. In regard to Gen 6 do you rely upon, or base your views on 1 Enoch? If so, why do you believe 1 Enoch is a trustworthy resource for commentary on the Gen 6 account?

    • 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. thanks for this Dr. Nicholas. One question. Some taught that Gen 6 “sons of God” didn’t mean fallen angelic beings but the godly line of Seth (Gen 5) and the “children of man” is the wicked line of Cain of Gen 4. They argue that how come that angels became part of the Gen narrative in chap 6? they cross reference Luke 3:38…of Adam the son of God. How can I be sure that I’m not just learning and believing a certain framework from them or you bec this is what the Heb Bible says?

    • Thanks for your question, Neil. As you already know, there can be a number of ways to read a given biblical passage, and scholars don’t always agree. Thus, sometimes, we can’t be absolutely sure what the “100% right” answer is with respect to interpretation. While reading the “sons of God” as human beings is one possibility (and there is other ancient Near Eastern text that might support such a reading), “sons of God” appear as divine beings elsewhere in the Bible, so it seems more appropriate to understand them as “lesser gods” or “divine beings” in Genesis 6 as well (cf. Deut 32:8; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).

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