What is Satan's Origin?
There is much that we do not know, for we see through a dark glass dimly (see I Corinthians 13:12). The Holy Spirit reveals all we need to know for life and godliness through the Word of God (II Peter 1:3). Regarding the origin of Satan, the Bible doesn't give us all the details. However, the Bible does give us some clues to piece it together.
First of all, we know with certainty that God (Elohim) created all things through His Word. "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth"
(Genesis 1:1), and "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made"
(John 1:3; also see Colossians 1:16). God's creation certainly would include the whole angelic realm, known as the "host of heaven"
Biblical evidence suggests that the angels were created sometime during the first few days of creation, before man was formed. In the book of Job, God asked Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding ... who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
(Job 38:4-7). Elsewhere in Scripture, "morning stars" and "sons of God" are references to angels, so we see here that angels had the privilege of seeing and rejoicing in the handiwork of God. It is possible that the angels were created on the fourth day of creation along with the stars. Note the amazing parallel between angels and stars: "And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to
divide the light from the darkness"
(Genesis 1:17-18). Regardless of what day angels were created, the fact remains that within six days, "the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them"
The devil, that old serpent, was there in the beginning with the angels. It was he who tempted Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden (compare Genesis 3:1 and Revelation 20:2). The Bible tells us that God "created the waster to destroy"
(Isaiah 54:16) and both "the deceived and the deceiver are his"
(Job 12:16). We also read that it was God who created the devil: "By his [God's] spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent"
Now the question arises: did God create the devil as a perfect and holy creature who later fell from his heavenly state? Or, was the devil created already evil? Well, when God's creation was complete, "God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good"
(Genesis 1:31). Most would agree that although the devil is necessary for the time being, he is not
good. Therefore, Satan must have fallen from a holy state sometime after God declared that all was "very good."
Ezekiel 28 supports this observation. The passage is a prophetic utterance against the King of Tyre, but it quickly becomes evident that the message is not about a mere man. It reads, in part, "Because your heart is lifted up and you have said, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods in the heart of the seas'; yet you are a man and not God ... you had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering ... you were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled
with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground ..."
(Ezekiel 28:2, 12-17).
Satan is not mentioned in this passage by name; however, the references to the Garden of Eden, the mountain of God, the stones of fire, a covering cherub, and a heart lifted up in pride are major clues revealing a dark power which controlled the human king of Tyre. We know that Satan presently rules behind the scenes of all the kingdoms of the earth (see Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-7). Satan also delegates principalities, powers, and earthly kingdoms to fallen angels
and whoever else will worship him. Thus, the prophet Ezekiel was ultimately speaking about the satanic entity behind the attitudes of pride and arrogance in the human king.
Another passage which gives clues about the satanic powers behind earthly kingdoms is Isaiah 14:1-23, a prophecy about the king of Babylon. We read, "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! For thou hast said in thing heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God ... I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
The prophet Isaiah used the Hebrew word "day star" (translated Lucifer
, meaning "light bearer" in Latin) to personify the king of Babylon. However, the meaning here could also just as easily refer to an angelic "star of the morning" whose heart was lifted up in pride.
A third and final prophecy to consider is found in Ezekiel 31. This passage is a parable about Pharaoh King of Egypt. "The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him ... nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; 'Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height ... I have driven him out for his wickedness'"
(Ezekiel 31:8-11). Notice once again the references to the Garden of God, extraordinary beauty, and pride.
In these Old Testament prophecies, we have a glimpse into the supernatural realm behind the scenes of certain empires. All three of these world leaders were deceived into thinking they were gods and should be worshiped as gods. Such an attitude no doubt originated from the devil. "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil"
(I Timothy 3:6).
Now, back to the Garden of Eden: the serpent was the most cunningly shrewd of all the beasts (literally, living creatures
) that God had created (Genesis 3:1). He was endowed with extraordinary beauty and wisdom. Along with the other angelic beings, the seraphim
(also known as "fiery serpents"), and cherubim
, the serpent most likely would have worshipped in the highest heaven, closest to the throne of God, with wings to cover him.
What was it, then, that caused this beautiful "covering cherub" to fill his heart with pride? Well, perhaps the serpent thought he could rule the universe better than God could. Or, perhaps he envied Adam, who was made in the image of God (no other creature received that special honor — see Genesis 1:26-28). The serpent could have envied Adam, an inferior being to himself, because Adam was given rulership over the earth. Psalm 8:4-8 says, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet."
Whatever the reason, the serpent had spite against Adam and sought to destroy him.
The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve walked with God in the beautiful paradise called Eden (Genesis 3:8). They probably also enjoyed the company of angelic beings. God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so Adam could freely choose to obey Him or not. God already knew the outcome, but gave Adam fair warning not to eat of it, lest they die (see Ezekiel 3:20). The cunning serpent took advantage of this opportunity. Paul said in Romans 7:11, "For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me."
Satan went to Eve first to question God's word and deceive her (see I Timothy 2:14). Did the serpent appear to Eve as a talking snake? Probably not, for it seems that Eve would have been more familiar with angelic beings than with talking animals. Remember that Satan can appear as a "shining one" or "angel of light." "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light"
(II Corinthians 11:14). He deceived Eve the same way he deceives mankind today: by appealing to the "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life"
(I John 2:16).
With this action, Satan fell from his holy state and became the traitor of mankind. Just as Jesus' disciple Judas became a traitor so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled, Satan became the adversary of mankind so that God's sovereign plan could be accomplished. Adam delivered up his rights to rule when he submitted to sin, and Satan became the "god of this world"
(see II Corinthians 4:4).
Adam and Eve faced consequences for their disobedience. They lost the covering of God's presence and were ashamed of their nakedness; their bodies started to age and die; they were taken out of and kept from the Garden and the Tree of Life (lest they eat of it and live forever in this sinful state); their fellowship with God was cut off; and they experienced a cursed ground and painful childbirth. Yet, God gave Adam and Eve the promise of an Heir who would crush the head of the serpent (the traitor) under His feet (see Genesis 3:15).
Although the serpent apparently believed that deceiving mankind would benefit him, the curse he received turned out to be his undoing. He would from then on crawl on his belly (perhaps a reference to the removal of his wings or covering of glory), and he would feast on the dust of the earth (a reference to his ongoing enmity with mankind). Thus, Satan became the crooked serpent. In the absence of God's light, Satan became the epitome of darkness itself.
When Did Satan Lead Other Angels to Fall?
From what we have read so far, the Bible indicates that Satan was the first angelic being to fall. It was Satan himself who crouched at the door of Cain's heart to plant thoughts of murder (Genesis 4:7). Other fallen angels aren't mentioned until Genesis 6. It is plausible that groups of angels have fallen from heaven throughout earth's history at various times, never to return to their holy state. Most likely, those angels were enticed by Satan to be the rulers (gods) behind earthly kingdoms, powers, and principalities as more and more people filled the earth.
The book of Revelation mentions the fall of one-third of the angels. Revelation 12:4 says that the tail of the great red dragon drew a third of the stars from heaven and cast them to earth. When did this happen? Many people believe this happened at the beginning of time; however, in context with the surrounding verses, this event happened sometime around Christ's birth. Notice in the account that Israel was already a nation and the woman (Mary, also symbolic of Israel) was about to give birth to a son (Jesus), "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron"
(12:5). So, sometime around Christ's manifestation on earth, one-third of the heavenly angels were recruited by Satan to become fallen angels, perhaps with the goal of joining up to prevent Jesus from completing His mission (the dragon sought to "devour her child").
Satan filled the heart of king Herod to kill all the baby boys of Bethlehem in a rage to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:16). Satan also tempted Jesus in the wilderness to see if he could get Jesus to sin. If he succeeded, Satan would thwart God's plan and remain ruler of the world. But Jesus overcame the temptations of Satan and gained the right to rule the world. Satan came against Jesus in other ways throughout His ministry, ultimately stirring up hatred in the hearts of men to put Jesus to death. But God raised His Son Jesus from the dead, so Jesus emerged victorious over the evil one.