Satan simply means an adversary or one who opposes. In most Bible versions where the word satan occurs, sometimes it is left as satan and other times words like adversary are used. A selection of verses showing what the Bible tells us about satan.
The first time the word occurs, it is referring to an angel of God:
22 God’s anger burnt because he went; and the LORD’s angel placed himself in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
The second time the word occurs, it is referring to king David:
4 But the princes of the Philistines were angry with him; and the princes of the Philistines said to him, “Make the man return, that he may go back to his place where you have appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For with what should this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Should it not be with the heads of these men?
Satan sometimes refers to motives that are opposed to God. Two examples are:
Judas Iscariot when he betrayed Jesus:
3 Satan entered into Judas, who was also called Iscariot, who was counted with the twelve. 4 He went away, and talked with the chief priests and captains about how he might deliver him to them.
Two early believers who lied about the price of some land they had sold:
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession, 2 and kept back part of the price, his wife also being aware of it, then brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 While you kept it, didn’t it remain your own? After it was sold, wasn’t it in your power? How is it that you have conceived this thing in your heart? You haven’t lied to men, but to God.”
There are several other places where the word is used of people. A couple of examples are:
4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side. There is no enemy and no evil occurrence.
14 The LORD raised up an adversary to Solomon: Hadad the Edomite. He was one of the king’s offspring in Edom.
We see that the word satan is used of God himself if we compare the two records of king David numbering Israel:
1 Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to take a census of Israel.
1 Again the LORD’s anger burnt against Israel, and he moved David against them, saying, “Go, count Israel and Judah.”
A satan who can influence God and is given power by God is involved in Job's sufferings:
3 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil. He still maintains his integrity, although you incited me against him, to ruin him without cause.”
4 Satan answered the LORD, and said, “Skin for skin. Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce you to your face.”
6 The LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand. Only spare his life.”
Satan tempts the Lord Jesus Christ:
13 He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.
Jesus calls the apostle Peter a satan when he tries to oppose him:
31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke to them openly. Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But he, turning around, and seeing his disciples, rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you have in mind not the things of God, but the things of men.”
When 70 followers of Jesus tell him about their recent preaching and healing campaign, Jesus says this is like satan falling from heaven:
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
18 He said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will in any way hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Satan will shortly be crushed under the feet of the Roman believers:
20 And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Satan stops Paul from coming to the Thessalonian believers:
18 because we wanted to come to you—indeed, I, Paul, once and again—but Satan hindered us.
The above verses gives us the following information:
- Satans can be:
- an angel of God
- God himself
- motives and intents opposed to God
- A satan influenced God and was given God's power
- A satan tempted Jesus Christ
- Successful preaching is said by Jesus Christ to be satan falling from heaven
- Satan was in Judas Iscariot when he betrayed Jesus
- Satan would be crushed under the feet of the Roman believers
- A satan stopped Paul from coming to the Thessalonian believers
Satan refers to powers, people, motives or influences that oppose.
These chapters have links to this theme: