I had not intended to write about Satan any time soon because I don’t think it is among the seven most significant and damaging items of Christian baggage. However, recently several readers have asked about this issue, so I decided to address it now.
Although it is not among the top seven, it is important because false belief about Satan often leads to fear, superstition, and a focus on misguided behaviors in believers.
Let me say that I don’t know for sure whether a being called Satan even exists, and I think it very unlikely. But we will delay that discussion for another time.
The Myth of the Fall of Satan
However, if Satan does exist we know almost nothing about him because the things we traditionally understand about Satan are myths not supported by the Bible, and perhaps the biggest myth of all is the story of Satan leading a group of angels in a rebellion against God only to be defeated and cast down from heaven.
The Bible does not support the fall of Satan myth—even if one considers the Bible inerrant! It is simply a story compiled from a patch-work of unrelated passages separated from their biblical contexts.
The Myth Defined
The fall of Satan is a popular view and has been around for a very long time. But we must ask whether it is supported by any educated Christian leaders—it is. We find an example of this support in The Moody Handbook of Theology (Moody, 1989). This is not a marginal work, but represents the perspective of a significant body of believers.
Here is a section about Satan from page 294:
Satan’s original state. Ezekiel 28:12-15 describes Satan prior to his fall. He enjoyed an exalted position in the presence of God; the brilliance of heaven was his surrounding (28:13). He was called the “anointed…covering cherub” who enjoyed the position of highest honor before God (28:14, 16). Isaiah refers to this supreme angel as “star of the morning (KJV Lucifer; NIV morning star), son of the dawn” (14:12). After he became God’s chief adversary (Heb. Satan) he is never again called by any of these honorable titles. But in his prefall splendor he was filled with wisdom and beauty, and he was blameless (Ezek. 28:12, 15).
Satan’s fall. Satan’s fall is described in both Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. Because of his sin Satan was cast down from the presence of God (Ezek. 28:16). The reason for Satan’s downfall was his pride; his heart was lifted up because of his beauty, and his wisdom became corrupt (28:17). The statement indicates Satan must have had extraordinarily high rank that led to his pride. Isaiah 14:12-14 further describes the sin that led to his downfall. Five “I will’s” emphasize his sin (14:13-14). He desired to enter the very presence of God and establish his throne on God’s throne above the other angels. He wanted to be like the “Most High.” For that reason God thrust him down out of heaven.
Satan fell from his original exalted position. As the anointed cherub, Satan led a host of angels, possibly one-third of all the angels, from heaven in his fall (Ezek. 28:16-17; Rev. 12:4).
The Four Biblical Fragments Used to Support the Myth
This is precisely what I was taught to believe and, in fact, did believe for many years. But it is all a fabrication pieced together from unrelated scraps of text from the Bible to form a history that never occurred.
Note that this view of the casting out of Satan is supported almost exclusively by three Bible passages: Ezekiel 28:12-17, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Revelation 12:3-9. We will add to them the words of Jesus from Luke 10:18:
I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
They seem quite convincing, don’t they? Together, these four passages seem to tell a powerful, cosmic story. This story is assumed by many believers, taught in Sunday schools and popular writings, and preached from many pulpits.
However, I will demonstrate in the next few posts that none of these passages have anything to do with a failed angelic rebellion. Each is about something else entirely.
Next time we will examine the Isaiah passage.
Articles in this series:
Is the Fall of Satan a Myth?
The Fall of Satan in Isaiah 14
The Fall of Satan in Ezekiel 28
The Fall of Satan in Revelation 12
The Fall of Satan in the Book of Enoch
Satan in the Old Testament
Was Satan the Serpent in Eden?
Was Satan in the Desert with Jesus?
Does Satan Exist?
Do Demons Exist?