Christians are often asked questions about Satan: Who is he? Was he created? When was he created?
These and similar questions are valid questions to ask. To answer them, we need to carefully consider what the Bible says, since it is the only completely reliable source of information about Satan. The Bible doesn’t give much information about Satan or the angels, but it does give enough to answer some of these questions.
God’s Word is infallible and the absolute authority, and we need to be leery of conclusions drawn from sources outside the Bible, such as man’s ideas or traditions. Let’s consider what the Bible says related to these questions.
Who Is Satan and Was He Always Called Satan?
The first use of the name Satan is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1; chronologically, Job, which was written much earlier, surpasses this. Satan is found throughout Job 1 and 2. Satan literally means “adversary” in Hebrew.
Another name appears in the Old Testament in the King James Version:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12; KJV).
This is the only passage that uses the name Lucifer to refer to Satan. This name doesn’t come from Hebrew but Latin. Perhaps this translation into English was influenced by the Latin Vulgate, which uses this name. In Latin, Lucifer means “light bringer.”
The Hebrew is heylel and means “light bearer,” “shining one,” or “morning star.” Many modern translations translate this as star of the morning or morning star. In this passage, heylel refers to the king of Babylon and Satan figuratively. Of course, Jesus lays claim to this title in Revelation 22:16. Though the passage in Revelation is in Greek while the passage in Isaiah is Hebrew, both are translated similarly.
Some believe that Lucifer was a heavenly or angelic name that was taken from Satan when he rebelled. The Bible doesn’t explicitly state this, though Satan is nowhere else referred to as Lucifer but instead is called other names like the devil, Satan, etc. This tradition may hold some truth, although the idea seems to miss that this verse is referring to him during and after his fall—not before. Since other scriptural passages refer to him as Satan, Lucifer wasn’t necessarily his pre-Fall name any more than Satan would be.
Even though Satan is first mentioned by name in Job, previous historical accounts record his actions (see Genesis 3, when Satan influenced the serpent, and Genesis 4 where Cain belonged to him [1 John 3:12]).
In the New Testament, other names reveal more about Satan’s current nature. Devil (diabolos) means “false accuser, Satan, slanderer” in Greek and is the word from which the English word diabolical is formed. Satan is called a dragon in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2, as well as the “evil one” in several places. Revelation 12:9 calls him “that ancient serpent” or “serpent of old,” and Matthew 4:3 calls him the “tempter.” Other names for Satan include Abaddon (destruction), Apollyon (destroyer, Revelation 9:11), Beelzebub or Beelzebul (Matthew 12:27) and Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15). Satan is also referred to as the god of this world/age (2 Corinthians 4:4), prince of this world (John 12:31), and father of lies (John 8:44).
Was Satan Originally a Fallen Angel from Heaven?
Satan is mentioned in conjunction with angels (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9) and the “sons of God” (Job 1:6, 2:1), which many believe to be angels. Although no Bible verse actually states that he was originally an angel, he is called a cherub in Ezekiel 28:16. The meaning of cherub is uncertain, though it is usually thought of as an angelic or heavenly being. (Ezekiel 28 is discussed in more detail later.)
In 2 Corinthians 11:14, we find that Satan masquerades as an angel of light—another allusion to his angel-like status:
And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Although it is possible that Satan was an angel, it may be better to say that he was originally a “heavenly host” (which would include angels), since we know that he came from heaven, but don’t know with certainty that he was an actual angel. Recall Isaiah 14:12:
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
When Satan, the great dragon in Revelation 12:9, fell, it appears that he took a third of the heavenly host with him (a “third of the stars” were taken to earth with him by his tail, Revelation 12:4). We know that angels who fell have nothing good to look forward to:
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment (2 Peter 2:4).
What these passages don’t say is who and where the angels and Satan were originally.
And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them (Daniel 8:10).
Daniel is speaking of heavenly hosts and angels, which were often spoken of as stars or luminaries (see Judges 5:20; Daniel 8:10; Jude 13; Revelation 1:20). It is unlikely that this passage refers to physical stars, as such would destroy the earth. The Hebrew word for stars (kowkab) also includes planets, meteors, and comets. Were these stars comets and meteors? Likely not, since the context refers to heavenly beings, which would be trampled on. This is further confirmation that Satan (and perhaps some other heavenly host) and his angels sinned and fell.
Another key passage to this is Ezekiel 28:15–17 (discussed in more detail later). The passage indicates that Satan was indeed perfect before his fall. He was in heaven and was cast to the earth.
Were the Heaven of Heavens, Satan, and His Angels Created?
The Bible doesn’t give an exact time of Satan’s creation or of his fall but does give some clues. Paul says in Colossians that God/Christ created all things:
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).
So logically, Satan was created, as was the “heaven of heavens.” We already found that Satan was originally in heaven prior to his fall. So the question becomes, when was the heaven of heavens created? The Bible uses the word heaven in several ways. The first mention is Genesis 1:1:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Hebrew word for heavens is plural (dual form): shamayim, dual of an unused singular shameh. The word itself means “heaven, heavens, sky, visible heavens, abode of stars, universe, atmosphere,” and “the abode of God.” The context helps determine the meaning of a particular word; heavens is properly plural, and many Bible scholars and translators have rightly translated it as such.
Therefore, it seems safe to assume that the “heaven of heavens” was created along with the physical heavens (the space-time continuum, i.e., the physical universe, where the stars, sun, and moon would abide after they were created on day 4) during creation week.
The definition of the Greek word for heaven(s) (ouranos) is similar: “the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it; the universe, the world; the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced; the sidereal or starry heavens; the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings.”
By usage, this could include the heaven of heavens. However, other biblical passages also help to answer whether the heaven of heavens was created.
You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You (Nehemiah 9:6).
A clear distinction is made between at least two heavens—the physical heavens and the heaven of heavens. The physical heavens include the expanse made on day 2, the place where the stars were placed on day 4, and the atmosphere (birds are referred to as “of the air” and “of the heavens,” e.g., 1 Kings 14:11; Job 12:7; Psalm 104:12). The heaven of heavens is the residing place of the heavenly host, angels, and so on. This would seem to be the third heaven, which Paul mentions:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2).
The passage in Nehemiah indicates that God made the heavens; they are not infinite as God is. So the question now becomes, when?
Since the heaven of heavens is referred to with the earth, seas, and physical heaven, we can safely assume that they were all created during the same time frame—during creation week. The creation of the heaven of heavens did not take place on day 7, as God rested on that day from all of His work of creating. So it must have happened sometime during the six prior days.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished (Genesis 1:31–2:1).
Everything that God made, whether on earth, sky, seas, or heaven, was “very good.” Did this include the heaven of heavens and Satan and the angels? Absolutely! Satan is spoken to in Ezekiel 28:15:
You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
This passage says that Satan was blameless, hence he was very good originally. It would make sense then that the heaven of heavens was also a recipient of this blessed saying, since Satan was. In fact, this is what we would expect from an all-good God: a very good creation. Deuteronomy 32:4 says every work of God is perfect. So the heaven of heavens, Satan, and the angels were originally very good.
Ezekiel 28:15 says “from the day” (emphasis added) Satan was created. Obviously, then, Satan had a beginning; he is not infinite as God is. Thus, Satan has some sort of binding to time. Other Scriptures also reveal the relationship between Satan and time.
For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time (Revelation 12:12; NASB, emphasis added).
When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time (Luke 4:13; NASB, emphasis added).
As a created being with a beginning, Satan is bound by time. He is not omnipresent as God is, nor is he omniscient. God has declared the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10); Satan cannot.
We can be certain that Satan, the heaven of heavens, and all that is in them had a beginning.
When Were the Angels and Satan Created?
The Bible doesn’t give the exact timing of the creation of Satan and the angels; however, we can make several deductions from Scripture concerning the timing. Let’s begin by examining Ezekiel 28:11–19:
11 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.
14 You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
16 By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.
17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.
18 You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever.” ’ ”
In the sections prior to this, the word of the Lord was to Tyre itself (Ezekiel 27:2) and to the ruler of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:2). Beginning in Ezekiel 28:11, a lament (expression of grief or mourning for past events) is expressed to the king of Tyre; or more specifically, to the one influencing the king of Tyre. Note well that the king of Tyre was never a model of perfection (verse 12), nor was he on the mount of God (verse 14), nor was he in the Garden of Eden (verse 13; note that the Flood has destroyed the Garden of Eden several hundred years prior to this time period).
God easily sees Satan’s influence and speaks directly to him. Elsewhere the Lord spoke to the serpent in Genesis 3: Genesis 3:14 is said to the serpent; Genesis 3:15 is said to Satan who influenced the serpent. Jesus rebuked Peter and then spoke to Satan (Mark 8:33). In Isaiah 14, the passage speaks to the king of Babylon and some parts to Satan, who was influencing him.
In the Ezekiel passage we note that Satan was originally perfect (blameless) from the day he was created until he sinned (wickedness was found in him). Thus, we can deduce that Satan was created during creation week; since he was blameless, he was under God’s “very good” proclamation (Genesis 1:31) at the end of day 6.
In Job 38:4–7, God spoke to Job:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Although a poetic passage, it may tell us that some of God’s creative work was eyewitnessed by angels and that morning stars sang. Are morning stars symbolic of heavenly host or other angelic beings? It is possible—recall stars are often equated with angelic or heavenly beings, and most commentators suggest this refers to angels.
If so, the creation of the angels was prior to day 3 during creation week. From Genesis 1, God created the foundations of the earth on either day 1 (earth created) or day 3 (land and water separated). The logical inference is that the angels were created on either day 1 or at least by day 3.
If not, then the physical stars (created on day 4) were present while the angels shouted for joy. If this was the case, then morning stars and angels did their singing and shouting after the stars were created.
It seems most likely that morning stars symbolize heavenly host. Satan, a heavenly host, was called a morning star; therefore, Satan and the angels were created sometime prior to day 3 (or early on day 3), possibly on day 1.
When Did Satan Fall?
Satan sinned when pride overtook him and he fell from perfection (Ezekiel 28:15–17). When was this? The Bible doesn’t give an exact answer either, but deductions can again be made from the Scriptures.
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12–14).
When he sinned, he was cast from heaven (Isaiah 14:12). This must have been after day 6 of creation week because God pronounced everything very good (Genesis 1:31). Otherwise, God would have pronounced Satan’s rebellion very good; yet throughout Scripture, God is absolute that sin is detestable in His eyes.
God sanctified the seventh day. It seems unlikely that God would have sanctified a day in which a great rebellion occurred. In Genesis 1:28, God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Had they waited very long to have sexual relations, they would have been sinning against God by not being fruitful. So, it couldn’t have been long after day 7 that Satan tempted the woman through the serpent.
Archbishop Ussher, the great 17th-century Bible scholar, placed Satan’s fall on the tenth day of the first year, which is the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement seems to reflect back to the first sacrifice when God made coverings for Adam and Eve from the coats of animal skins (Genesis 3:21). It may be that the generations to come (from Abel to Noah to Abraham to the Israelites) followed this pattern of sacrificing for sins on the Day of Atonement.
Regardless, the fall of Satan would likely have been soon after day 7.
How Could Satan, Who Was Created Good, Become Evil?
The answer to this question delves deep into the “sovereignty of God vs. man’s responsibility” debate over which the Church has battled for ages.
From what we can tell from studying the Bible, Satan was the first to sin. He sinned before the woman sinned, and before Adam sinned. Some claim that we sin because Satan enters us and causes us to sin, but the Bible doesn’t teach this. We sin whether Satan enters us or not. Satan was influencing the serpent when the woman sinned and when Adam sinned; they sinned on their own accord without being able to claim, “Satan made me do it.”
But what causes this initial sin; why did Satan sin in the first place?
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1:13–15).
Death is the punishment for sin. Sin originates in desire—one’s own desire. James 1:14 hints that evil comes from one’s own desire. It was by Satan’s own desire that his pride in his own beauty and abilities overtook him.
In the “very good” original creation, it seems likely that Satan and mankind had the power of contrite choice.1 In the Garden of Eden, the woman was convinced by her own desire (the tree was desirable to make one wise—Genesis 3:6). Satan had not entered her; she was enticed by her own desire.
God is not the author of sin; our desires are. God did not trick or deceive Satan into becoming full of pride. God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13), and it would not be in His character to cause one to become prideful. Nor was He the one who deceived Eve. Deception and lies go hand in hand (Psalm 78:36; Proverbs 12:17), yet God does not lie or deceive (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).
Since Satan’s own desires caused his pride, the blame for evil’s entrance into creation cannot be God’s.
Note that since Satan’s own desires caused his pride, the blame for evil’s entrance into creation cannot be God’s. To clarify, this doesn’t mean God was unaware this would happen, but God permitted it to happen. God is sovereign and acted justly by casting Satan out of heaven after he rebelled against the Creator.
Therefore, when God incarnate came to destroy evil and the work of the devil (1 John 3:8), it was truly an act of love, not a gimmick to correct what He “messed up.” He was glorified in His plan for redemption.
Some have asked why God didn’t send Satan to hell instead of casting him to earth, assuming this would have prevented death, suffering, or curses for mankind. But God is love, and this shows that God was patient with him as God is patient with us. Perhaps Satan would have had a possibility of salvation had he not continued in his rebellion and sealed his fate, although Genesis 3:15 revealed that Satan’s head would be crushed (after his continued sin and deception of the woman).
A related question is: was Satan required for man to sin? Satan’s temptation of the woman instigated her to look at the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but it was she who desired it and sinned. Can we really say with certainty that on another day, without Satan, the woman and/or Adam would not have desired the fruit and sinned? However, in the words of Aslan, the lion in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “There are no what-ifs.”
In reality, we suffer death and the Curse because Adam sinned (Genesis 3) and we sinned in Adam (Hebrews 7:9–10), and we continue to sin (Romans 5:12). Adam did his part, but we must take responsibility for our part in committing high treason against the Creator of the universe. It is faulty to think that death and suffering are the result of Satan’s rebellion. Man had dominion over the world, not Satan. When Satan rebelled, the world wasn’t cursed; when Adam sinned, the ground was cursed, death entered the world, and so on. This is why we needed a last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), not a last Eve or a last Satan. This is why Christ came. The good news is that for those in Christ, the punishment for sin (death) will have no sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Why Would God, Who Is Not Evil, Allow Evil to Continue to Exist?
As with the other questions in this chapter, great theologians have struggled over how to effectively answer this. Paul, in his book to the Christians in Rome, offers some insight into the overarching perspective that we should have:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
All things, including the evil in this world, have a purpose. God is glorified through the plan of salvation that He worked out from the beginning. From the first Adam to the Last Adam, God planned a glorious way to redeem a people for himself through the promise of a Savior who would conquer both sin and death.
Jesus was glorified when He conquered Satan, sin, and death through His death and resurrection (see John 7:39, 11:4, 12:16, 12:23; 1 Peter 1:21; Acts 3:13). Both God the Son and God the Father were glorified through the Resurrection (see John 11:4, 13:31–32). Everything that happens is for the glory of God, even when we can’t see how God can be glorified from our limited perspective.
Those who have received the gift of eternal life look forward to the time when we join God in heaven—a place there will be no evil (Revelation 21:27). This 6,000-year-old cursed world is only a blip compared to eternity. This relatively brief time on earth is all the time that evil will be permitted.
What Will Become of Satan?
Satan’s days are numbered, and he will be condemned eternally.
Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:12).
And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while (Revelation 20:3).
We should have no fear of Satan or his minions, since God has power over him and has already decreed what his outcome will be—a second death—an eternal punishment called hell.
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Revelation 20:14).
Some people may claim that they want to “rule with Satan in hell,” rather than go to heaven with and enjoy the infinite goodness of God. Sadly, these people fail to realize that Satan has no power in hell, nor will they. Satan is not the “ruler” in hell but a captive just as they will be if they don’t receive the free gift of eternal life by repenting of their sins and believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
We trust those reading this book will realize that the only way of salvation is found through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God has provided a way of salvation, a right relationship with Him, and a means of forgiveness; have you received Christ as your Savior?