Last updated on November 4th, 2019
Was Satan an angel? Is the church teaching of the origin of the devil a myth? Let’s review scripture.
As you may have seen in my previous posts such as “What Happens When a Christian Dies? Hint: Not Heaven”, “Why Do We Celebrate Easter?” and many others, I’m not shy about challenging traditional beliefs if they seem inconsistent to what Scripture states. Because ultimately, I only care about believing what God wants me to believe according to His Word. Connecting with Him deeper through continually embodying the Word in my thoughts and actions. So with that said, let’s see through scripture whether it tells us Satan, aka the devil, was an angel.
The common story that has been taught in churches is that Satan was once an angel who got too prideful and was eventually banished from heaven by God. Most people will point you to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 as proof of this teaching. But it’s very important to observe whose being spoken to who in these verses. This is going to be a great lesson on reading scripture carefully.
So first, here’s the verse that’s cited as proof Satan was a fallen angel. Isaiah 14:12 states, ““How you have fallen from heaven,
O [a]star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!”
So people assume the entity that is being referred to as fallen from heaven is Satan. Quick questions. Do you see the word Satan in this verse? Do you see the word the devil in this post? Perhaps these would be our first clues something doesn’t seem accurate. But let’s dig deeper.
Earlier in the chapter, In Isaiah 14:4 (NASB), it states, “that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say, “How the oppressor has ceased, And how fury has ceased!”
What does this verse talk about? It talks about a taunt that will be taken up. Who does the author write the taunt will be taken up against? The author wrote the king of Babylon. Additionally, we see some of the words that will be spoken. “How the oppressor has ceased, And How fury has ceased!”. When you follow the rest of the chapter, it continues with words quoted as being spoken to the King of Babylon up to verse 21.
Verse 21 states,
“Prepare for his sons a place of slaughter
Because of the iniquity of their fathers.
They must not arise and take possession of the earth
And fill the face of the world with cities.”
Verse 22 continues with the Lord of hosts declaring he’d rise up against them. Verse 22 stated, “22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity,” declares the Lord.” The use of the word “them” appears to indicate the author concluded what was specifically directed to the King of Babylon. You can look at all of verse 4 through 21 here.
But if verse 4 indicated that the following words between verse 4 through 21 will be a taunt to the king of Babylon, then it follows that the verse that people point to in verse 12 about the fallen star is not a reference to Satan. That in actuality, it’s a statement directed to the King of Babylon. To my humble knowledge of scripture, I know of no verse that the devil was ever referred to as the King of Babylon.
Two verses cited as proof Satan was once an angel is Ezekiel 28:14 and 16.
Verse 16 states, ““By the abundance of your trade
[h]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 [i]covering cherub,
From the midst of the stones of fire.”
Some believe that the cherub is referring to Satan. But we can ask the same questions as we asked of the previous verse. Do we see the words “Satan” in this verse? Do we see the words “the devil” in this verse? Simple questions that seem to have one simple answer. No. And as a result, this idea some churches teach about Satan seems even more questionable.
When we look earlier in the chapter, Ezekiel 28:2 indicates that the following words written in the chapter are being directed to the leader of Tyre. Ezekiel 28:2 states, “Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “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, Although you make your heart like the heart of God—“.
As with the last verse we looked at, the words continue all the way through to verse 19. Verse 19 states,
“All who know you among the peoples
Are appalled at you;
You have become [j]terrified
And you will cease to be forever.”
If you’re interested in reading the full text of verse 2 through 19, click here.
I know all these verses are a lot to read through, but I’m trying to show you the full picture. I break this all down in this way so you see things for yourself, and not just take my word for it. So you can come to your own understanding. And as you see when you read the passage, the author went out of their way to indicate who all of these words are directed to not once, but twice. In Verse 11 and 12 it states “Again the word of the Lord came to me saying, 12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God,“.
So Satan is never directly mentioned in these verses people reference in Ezekiel 28. And to my humble knowledge of scripture, I know of no verse that ever referenced him as the King of Tyre. Therefore, it appears neither verses are talking about Satan. And when you think about what you see in these verses, if no one ever told you these passages were about Satan, would you have thought that?
If we go back to Isaiah 14:12 for a moment, in the KJV translation, some have attached the word Lucifer to be referencing Satan. But looking at the Hebrew translation of the word Lucifer, it actually means morning star. And you saw this in the translation I used when I cited Isaiah 14:12, because newer translations translate it as such, which was why I stated fallen star when we were discussing Isaiah 14 earlier. But nonetheless, there’s no verse I’m aware of that references Satan as a morning star.
Assuming Satan was an angel
I have one last scriptural analysis for consideration. So what if one were to presume, for the sake of argument, that it’s true the devil was in fact once an angel? Let’s consider what this verse says. 2 Peter 2:4 states, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;”
Theoretically, based on this verse, if Satan was ever once an angel who sinned against God, he would be in a pit of darkness eternally bound until the day of judgment.But that understanding would perhaps not fit with what the rest of scripture states. Because numerous verses show that Satan is an active force in this world throughout Scripture in times past (Job 1) and times present (1 Peter 5:8). So it would be difficult to conclude that Satan was ever an angel, because if he was, then he wouldn’t be an active evil force in the world right now. Additionally, it seems doubtful an angel could do much evil if they were committed to a pit of darkness reserved for Judgment by the all-powerful God we serve.
Was Satan An Angel Conclusion
I hope this helps you to think more about how you read Scripture. I encourage us all to continually make sure we’re understanding scripture the way it’s specifically stated. That we don’t view it by the lens of whatever tradition we were raised in. That we question the teachings our pastors taught us, or our families taught us. I challenge you to think about everything you’ve ever been taught to believe or practice as a part of your faith. Whether if you were taught Satan was an angel, or taught a sinner’s prayer grants you salvation. Always put it to the test of Scripture. Because as long as we’re following His Word, God will be pleased with us.
Peace to all those who are in Christ.