The Problem Of Evil
The Fall Of Satan
THE fall of Satan is a fundamental factor in human and satanic
theology. Like many another false notion, such as natural immortality, it is so vital to
the spirit of error which pervades theology that no one seems to notice its absence from
the pages of holy writ. It is blasphemy to deny it, though God has not spoken. But once we
have our eyes opened to examine Gods revelation on this point, we see that the
blasphemy is against the god of this world, who has blinded the minds of men lest the
illumination of the glory of God should shine into their hearts.
Satans fall is only
another and coarser form of Gnosticism, the science, falsely so-called,
against which the spirit of God has warned the saints. It is the old, old, attempt to
relieve God of the responsibility of the creation as we know it, and to shift its shadows
to the shoulders of His creatures. The Gnostics divided this responsibility among many,
and thus dissipated the blame. Today it is concentrated on Satan, the Slanderer, who
deceived our parents in Eden. It did not seem to suggest itself to the Gnostic that his
scheme was not only unscriptural but unscientific as well; that is, contrary to reason as
well as revelation. It shelved the problem rather than solved it. It does not occur to the
defenders of this satanic falsehood that it is not only absent from Gods Word, but
no real relief in answering the question which it covers. If Satan fell, we must account
for his fall. If the impulse was from within, or if it came from without, it is this which
is responsible. Where did it come from?
In speaking of Satan, or
the Slanderer, it will be of considerable advantage if we drop the common term
devil. Satan is the Hebrew word for an adversary, and has not been
corrupted by misuse. Devil is derived from the Greek diabolos, but it
has been incurably corrupted by being applied to demons. Diabolos means slanderer.
It is a common noun, and is applied to others besides the one who has it for a title. It
has a definite and instructive significance, but devil has acquired a very
different, though indefinite, meaning.
That ancient serpent,
the Slanderer and Satan (Rev.20:2) is not known by name, but by descriptive, terms
and titles. He is not the only adversary or the only slanderer, but he is the chief
adversary of God and Christ, and the supreme Slanderer of God and man. He is the leader of
the opposition in the divine government. It is his function to test and call in question,
to thwart and to destroy every move made by God in His administration of the universe.
Let us suppose that Adam
had been named Sinner instead of Adam. How would that have suited his
circumstances before he fell? If we had no account of his transgression at the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil, would we not have the strongest kind of suspicion that his
name was an index of his true character? Adam became entitled to the name sinner just as
soon as he became what the name describes.
So with Satan, the
Slanderer, the ancient serpent and the dragon of the end time. He has many appellations,
but is there one which redeems his character? Is there one that intimates that he ever was
anything but an adversary and a slanderer? The statement that the Slanderer is sinning
from the beginning is self evident because he would not be a slanderer if he was not a
sinner. He must have been called by some other title if he was once righteous. Such is not
There is a strong tendency
to ignore the plain revelations concerning Satan and to form a blurred, composite picture
by confusing him with every other evil spirit, as our translators have done in the case of
demons. The motive that prompts this is palpably the desire to prove that he is an
excrescence on Gods creation, which has intruded contrary to Gods purpose and
will and in spite of every precaution. The first step in this propaganda is to prove that
Satan was originally perfect, so that God is not at all responsible for his subsequent
The various attempts to
explain the entrance of sin into the universe are all essentially the same. The modern
systems, though indignantly repudiating any connection with Gnosticism because it is
denounced in the Scriptures, are really only a fragment of it. The Gnostics introduced
evil by gradations. They invented a series of angelic castes, the highest created nearly
perfect, and each lower level less so, until sin reached man. In this way they attempted
to exonerate God from the charge of committing a great sin, but fastened on Him the
responsibility of the primeval peccadillo. Of course, they did not look at it in
this way. They thought they were clearing Him of all implication with sin.
Modern systems are not so
elaborate. Pointing to Gen.1:2, they assure us that Adams fall was not the first. If
we look back of Adam we find another fall. Modern minds being more easily
muddled than the acute thinkers of the early centuries, it does not seem necessary to
invent still another, fall before that, and so on ad infinitum.
It reminds me of a label I
once saw, which puzzled my youthful, inquiring, but stubborn mind for some time. On the
label was a picture of the label itself. Of course, on the picture of the label there must
be a picture of the label, and on the picture of the picture there must be . So I
got a microscope and found that the artist had settled my difficulties very easily. He
just made a little blot for the picture of the picture. That is the way theology tries to
settle the origin of sin! It first seeks to reduce it so that our perceptions are unable
to follow and then if any one insists on using a microscope it makes a blot on Gods
The principle is precisely
the same as the scientific philosophy of evolution. First reduce everything to
a mere speck of protoplasm and then nothing! Men of God say rightly that it is
foolish to reduce everything to a form for which there is no reason or evidence, merely to
bludgeon our minds into the acceptance of a theory which it rejects when things are kept
within the range of human perception. It is far more foolish for those whose minds have
been enlightened by Gods spirit to use a similar course in connection with evil and
sin. The problem is not changed though we invent ever so many falls, for which
the Scriptures give no warrant.
Another point we must
insist on if we are to be clear concerning these things. Not only do we read of no
fall before Adam, we never read of the fall of Adam. Let no
one mistake my meaning. That Adam sinned, transgressed, offended and became a dying
creature with a variety of consequences is all too true. But God has never seen fit to use
the term fall to denote the fact. Ordinarily we might overlook the use of a
convenient term, but in this connection it is made the vehicle of obscure and unscriptural
thoughts. Let any one try to transfer the facts and consequences of Adams
fall to Satan, and he will soon be convinced that it is merely a blanket to
cover ignorance. A return to Scriptural language will shed light.
The real usefulness of the
term fall lies in the unproven assumption that sin has always come from
without, as in Adams case, to a creature originally sinless. This would recoil on
itself if it were carried to its logical conclusion. How many creatures in the chain
suffered a fall and passed on the burden of sin makes no difference.
There was a first one. And
we are driven to the horrible conclusion that God Himself must have played the role of
serpent in the first instance! Should not this make us beware of embarking on this
unscriptural and unreasonable philosophy?
If Satan fell, where is the
evidence? The word fall is not used. The desperate need for some evidence is
all that is proven by the appeal to passages which no sober student would have pressed
into service otherwise.
The favorite passage for
proving the original perfection and subsequent fall of Satan is found in the twenty-eighth
chapter of Ezekiel. The king of Tyrus, we are told, is another name for the
devil. His presence in Eden is perhaps the only fact which points that way. But this does
not establish the identity of the serpent with the king of Tyre. We are never told that
Satan was the only spirit who had access to the garden. Moreover, the creature in Ezekiel
was perfect at that time, for surely it was not one of the glories of the king of Tyre to
have been in that scene as the serpent, the adversary of God! This would put his
fall subsequent to the great cataclysm of the second verse of Genesis, which,
we are told, was a result of it.
The prince of Tyre is
emphatically described as a man, a human being (Ezek.28:2,9). The king of Tyre was
known among the people and his destruction was a matter of public astonishment. How can
this apply to Satan? Those who have seen the ruins of Tyre and have some idea of its
ancient magnificence will find nothing in this passage too wonderful to be accounted for.
There is not the slightest hint that it concerns any one but the ruler of Tyre. If it
involves the spiritual king of Tyre, corresponding with the prince of Persia,
the prince of Grecia, or Michael, the prince of Israel (Dan.10:20,21) it is
most unlikely that Satan should be assigned to a small kingdom like Tyre, or, indeed, any
single kingdom, for he claims all kingdoms as his. Why should we give him such a
subordinate place, simply to get a passage to prove that he once was perfect?
Moreover, it is always well
to inquire what is intended by perfect in the Scriptures. The Greek has three
words for perfect, and the Hebrew uses it for about six. It is questionable
whether it ever denotes sinlessness. Any other meaning would be of little value in this
discussion. The word used in Ezekiel 28:15 is tahmeem, meaning flawless. The
A. V. renders it without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerely,
sincerity, sound, without spot, undefiled, upright, uprightly,
whole. It is most often found of the animals used in sacrifice. Noah was
perfect (Gen.6:9) in his generations. This certainly does not mean that he was
sinless. David said, I was also upright perfect before Him. Does this
prove that David escaped the lot of all of Adams descendants up to this time? It is
evident that the meaning is limited to apparent flaws, not to innate tendencies. It is not
a question of sinlessness.
The same word
perfect, is used in the passages which are usually adduced to prove that Satan
was created sinless, such as His work is perfect (Deut.32:4), As for
God, His way is perfect (2 Sam.22:31; Psa.18:30). It does not deny the great truth
that all is of God. There is no flaw in the creation of a creature perfectly adapted to
carry out a part of His purpose. Satan is as perfect in this sense as any of
Still further, in the case
of the Tyrian king, this perfection was in his ways, till iniquity was found in
him. The iniquity did not come from without. It was in him while his ways were perfect,
but undiscovered. This can easily be understood of a man, but cannot be applied to a
sinless creature. Iniquity could not be found in such a one, for it is sure
evidence that sin was already there.
Our ignorance of the
spiritual forces of wickedness leads us to call them all devils. Thus our
version calls the demons devils, and it is common to include Apollyon, the
king of the monstrous locusts and messenger of the abyss, and every evil power of the
unseen world, as a devil. There is only one Slanderer, and most of the minions
of evil among the celestials are his messengers, as is seen under the figure of a dragon
which drags a third of the heavenly host down with it.
Each kingdom or government
of earth doubtless has a spiritual prince or overlord, under Satans
suzerainty. We have been delivered from the authority of darkness. But Satan himself is
never limited to one land. His peculiar province seems to be the aerial jurisdiction. He
is sovereign over all, as he was the first of all to oppose the government of God. He did
not offer our Lord the kingdoms of Tyre and Babylon as a reward for worship, but all the
kingdoms of the earth, for he was over all.
Were we considering the end
of Satan instead of his beginning, the very same expositors would absolutely refuse to
accept their own identification, for, in the Authorized Version rendering, his practical
annihilation is tersely stated thus: and never shalt thou be any more. Compare
this with The devil that deceived them
shall be tormented day, and night for
ever and ever. Changing for ever to the eons does not help
the identification. There is no point in Satans career when he shall not
be. The nearest approach is the thousand-year period, when he is bound, but the fact
that he will be loosed and lead the largest host of his career in his final defection
after that, makes it impossible to apply this passage to the Slanderer. The true reading,
for the eon (LXX) would teach that Satan is not alive today! The king of Tyre was judged
in the sight of those who knew his glory.
The fact that such a
passage should be pressed altogether out of its proper place assures us that the
underlying motive is false. If Satan was sinless from the beginning a plain passage could
be found, and a false one need not be distorted. Compare the words in Ezekiel with those
of John. In one we read of the king of Tyre, Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the
day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee (Ezek.38:15). The
apostle was inspired to write, the Slanderer is sinning from the beginning.
Suppose we falsely say Adam was sinning from the beginning. No!
No! we hear our readers exclaim. He did not sin until Eve was tempted by
Satan. What shall we believe, a fanciful inference, or Gods absolute
A favorite refuge from the
plain and apparent sense, that Satan was a sinner and murderer from the beginning, is the
suggestion that this dates from the beginning of man rather than Satan himself. The
fact that such a statement could not have such a sense if applied in any other connection
shows how desperate and hopeless this argument is. Moreover, the same expositors insist
that all the evidences of sin, such as the cataclysm of Gen.1:2 are due to Satan! They
occurred long before man came on the scene. Satan was a sinner, according to their own
teaching, ages before Adams advent.
When was the
beginning? As in the opening of Johns evangel, the article the is
absent. The conception of an absolute beginning is outside the range of human
comprehension. We cannot look back to any definite point of time and say, Nothing
not even God existed before this. So, in Scripture, the word beginning
has the definite article the beginning when the context definitely
decides what is in view. When the article is absent, as here, we would probably use the
indefinite article, as a beginning, or, when used of a person, the
possessive pronoun, his beginning. The beginning is always limited
by the immediate context. Here this is finally fixed by the title used. So long as the
Slanderer was a slanderer he was a sinner. This, we are told, was from the
beginning. No other deduction is possible but that sin began when he began.
of the King of Babylon in the yet future day of Israels restoration, is also taken
as referring to Satans fall in the past (Isa.14:3-20):
How art thou fallen from
O, Lucifer, son of the
is still future, it can hardly refer to Satans primeval fall. At that
time Satan will have been literally cast out from heaven (Rev.12:9, compare Luke 10:18).
But these facts give us no license to identify the two. There will be a king of Babylon
who will arrogate divine horrors to himself and who will lord it over the kings of the
nations, and who will shake kingdoms. Yet he is a man (Isa.14:16), and Satan is not
Moreover, an examination of
the Hebrew text, will convince any one that the evidence for the title Lucifer
is exceedingly slight. It is precisely the same word as the translators rendered
howl in Zech.11:2. In the feminine it occurs again in this very chapter, at
the beginning of verse 31. In slightly different forms it is found in Isaiah ten times,
and it is always rendered howl (13:6; 15:2,3; 16:7,7; 23:1,6,14; 52:5; 65:14).
There is no valid reason why Isaiah 14:12 should not be rendered, Howl!
instead of Lucifer. This name is a human invention, and should have no place
in the Scriptures.
Are not these futile
efforts to find a foundation for the primeval perfection of the devil a tacit admission
that no actual evidence exists? More than that, are they not desperate devices to disprove
the clear, unequivocal statements that the Slanderer is sinning from the beginning
(1 John 3:8), was a man-killer from the beginning (John 8:44), and is not only a
liar, but the father of it?
Having disposed of passages
which cannot be connected with Satan, it may be well to inquire whether we have not
overlooked some which really have a bearing on his origin. We are perfectly safe so long
as we keep to the titles given him in the Scripture Serpent, Slanderer, and Satan.
Is there any suggestion as to who brought the serpent into existence?
In Job 26:13, we read,
hath formed the crooked serpent.
were the utterance of one of Jobs friends, we might well beware, lest it be merely
human philosophy, for the Lord said, ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is
right, as My servant Job hath (Job 42:7).
Besides, we must be careful
to check the translation of the vital expressions. The Revisers change formed
to pierced, yet the same word in 39:1 is left the hinds do calve.
There is more consistency between form and calve than
pierce and calve, yet the Revisers have made a change in the right
direction. The Hebrew word ghool refers to the travail which accompanies
birth (Isa.13:8; 23:4; 26:17; 54:1; 66:78). When Eliphaz used this word, the translators
themselves rendered it, the wicked man travaileth with pain (Job 15:20)
and the Revisers concur. This, it will be seen, is allied to both forming and piercing.
How incongruous pierce is will be seen if we should render Deut.32:18,
thou hast forgotten God that pierced thee. They had forgotten the God
Who had suffered in the travail of their birth.
Coming back, now, to the
serpent, Job declares that
spirit He garnished the heavens;
His hand has travailed with the fugitive serpent.
contrast between the garnishing of the heavens by His spirit and the painful
production of the serpent by His hand. The spirit is used of intimate and vital
association, the hand holds its work at a distance and suggests power and skill, rather
The immediate application
of these lines is, of course, to the material heavens. But no one who has studied the
stars and their relation to holy writ, will fail to see a far deeper meaning. The stars
are often used as figures of celestial powers, and in the ancient constellations, both
Draconis and Serpens have always represented the Satan of Scripture. The Dragons
tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven (Rev.12:4). This does not prove that we have
here the divine description of Satans origin, but it is ever so much nearer a
demonstration than the passages which are usually produced.
But there is one more link
which will put the matter beyond question. Not only is the term serpent (Hebrew, nahghahsh
the same as the name of Eves tempter in Edens garden (Gen.3:1,2,4,13,14), but
Isaiah describes it in precisely the same terms, the fugitive serpent (Isa.27:1):
day Yahweh with His sore and great and strong sword,
Shall punish leviathan the fugitive serpent,
Even leviathan that crooked serpent;
And He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
context clearly shows that this will be when the Lord comes to punish the inhabitants of
the earth for their iniquity (Isa.26:21). Its connection with the twelfth chapter of the
Unveiling is too close to deny. If Satan is that ancient serpent (Rev.20:2),
how can we help identify him with Isaiah and Job and Genesis? All will acknowledge Genesis
and Isaiah. As precisely the same name and descriptive term is used in Job as in Isaiah,
the evidence is as conclusive as it can well be. The fugitive serpent of Job
is the same as the fugitive serpent of Isaiah. The fugitive
serpent of Job (A. V. crooked) and Isaiah seems to refer to the constellation
Serpens, for it flees from the grasp of Ophiuchus. The crooked serpent of
Isaiah may be Draco (or Draconis), which winds its way among the northern stars.
The Unveiling and Isaiah
give us his end, Genesis and Job give us his beginning. He is not introduced to us in the
garden as an angel of light, though such he simulates today. He was seen as a serpent.
Job gives us his origin. The One Who has garnished the heavens His hand was
pained with the travail of bringing forth the serpent.
It is well to seek for
truth in its proper place. The judgment of Tyre and Babylon is no place to look for the
origin of Satan. Job, however, is speaking of the creation of the universe and the manner
of its making. God hangs the earth on nothing. The clouds and the sea are all displays of
His power. Each couplet includes both good and evil. So, in the heavens, He it is Who made
all. It is an elaboration of the great truth that all is of God (Rom.11:36).
We are now able to
appreciate the peculiar term which has puzzled the translators, so that some render it formed,
others, pierced. The woman was not the first to travail in pain because of sin.
Yahweh travailed when Satan, was formed. Sin and pain appear together.
Satan is now transformed
into an angel of light, and many of the Lords own receive him as such. His ministers
are ministers of righteousness, posing as the ministers of Christ. This deception is no
greater than his successful entrance into theology and enlistment of many great and grand
servants of Christ, in proof that he actually was an angel of light at the first.
A. E. Knoch
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