We have explained at length in earlier chapters that 'Satan' and 'Devil' in the Bible are renderings of Hebrew and Greek words which basically mean 'adversary', 'false accuser', 'opponent'. They can refer to persons, good or bad, who play that role. But sometimes in the New Testament, they are used more metaphorically to refer to sin, in various forms, and to systems which oppose the Gospel. Sin must be manifested through something; one cannot have abstract diabolism, it must always be manifested in a person or system of things. It is for this reason that the Devil is personified; because sin (the Devil) cannot exist in the abstract, it can only be found within the human heart and person.
In some passages, notably in Revelation, the Devil refers to sin manifested through a political system, notably that of the Roman empire. In others, there is reference to the Jewish system which was the great 'satan' or adversary to the early church.
Consider the following assignment: ‘Give a brief Biblical
history of the Devil, according to your interpretation of Bible passages'.
The responses would be highly contradictory. According to ‘orthodox’
reasoning, the answer has to be something like this:
a) The Devil was an angel in heaven who was thrown out into the garden of Eden. He was thrown to earth in Gen. 1.
b) He is supposed to have come to earth and married in Gen 6.
c) At the time of Job he is said to have had access to both heaven and earth.
d) By the time of Is. 14 he is thrown out of heaven onto earth.
e) In Zech. 3 he is in heaven again.
f) He is on earth in Mt. 4.
g) He is “cast out” at the time of Jesus’ death, according to the popular view of “the prince of this world” being “cast out” at that time.
h) There is a prophecy of the Devil being ‘cast out’ in Rev. 12.
i) The Devil is “chained” in Rev. 20, but he and his angels were chained in Genesis, according to the common view of Jude 6. If he was bound with ‘eternal chains’ then, how is he chained up again in Rev. 20?
All this is contradictory- moreover, Heb. 2:14 states that the Lord Jesus "destroyed" the Devil at the time of His death. And if the Devil was cast out of Heaven in Eden, how come he appears to talk with God so freely in Heaven itself afterwards? Quite simply, the orthodox story just doesn't add up. It's literalism's last gasp.