Is he real? Yes! Should we refer to him as the Devil? No! How about Satan? No! Neither name is right. I know you are saying: “Bob has flipped his lid!” Well, I have not flipped my lid. I think God would never use either name. I know you have seen those names in every translation but are those translations right? The answer to that is, “NO!” So let us tackle this topic and see where it goes.
From the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation we will find that God has an Enemy. God, who is our heavenly Father, has given him descriptive names. He did this in the words He used to tell us about this Enemy of His. God’s name is Yahweh! See this article for more on His wonderful name: Intimacy with God and His Great Name. Yahweh, who invented language, uses words in wonderful ways to explain everything we need to know. This is a verse we all need to know.
2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)1
His [God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Wonderful words! He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him… How did we get that knowledge of Him? Through the words in a great book called the Bible. The primary way our God chose to communicate with us is written words. So words are very important, and how they are used is equally important. Words have meanings, so we had best learn what words God uses to describe His Enemy because it will not take much time in the Bible to see he is our Enemy as well. We should want to know about this Enemy because we are in a fight with him and his minions. Check out this verse.
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our struggle is not against people [flesh and blood] but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms [which includes rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world]. Those spiritual forces of evil are our Enemy. Our struggle is with him and his minions. Several versions translate this word “struggle” [also DBY] as “contend against” [RSV], “wrestle” [KJV, ESV], “wrestling” [ASV, DRA, ERV], “fight” [BBE], “battle” [CSB], “fighting” [NLT], and there are more; but you get the point, he is our Enemy. Also this Enemy is the god of this age we live in.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
I want to throw one more thing in here and to me it is real BIG! Contrary to what many teach and say about God, He is not in control! Hey! That is what almost every translation of the Bible states. The following verse says it is the evil one, or the wicked one, depending on what version you read. In over 40 English translations, all but seven say “evil one” or “wicked one.”
1 John 5:19 (NIV)
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
There are many verses where he is referred to as the “Evil One,” and you can look every one of them up here [Matt. 5:37, 6:13, 13:19, and 38; John 17:15; Eph. 6:16; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 John 2:13, and 14, 3:12, and 5:18]. Our Enemy received it as a gift, and he tells us that in this next verse. This is in the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4.
Luke 4:5 and 6 (NIV)
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
God had given rule/dominion/authority over everything worth having—the fish, birds, livestock, and wild animals in Genesis 1:26–28—to the first man and woman. So as a result of the Fall, now our Enemy has it. With this power, he kills people, yet he gets Christians to blame God. We will have to cover why they blame Him some other time [too long to cover here], but He is not the culprit, our Enemy is, the Bible tells me so!
Hebrews 2:14 (NIV)
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death [Jesus] he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—
So, everyone knows this guy as Satan or the Devil, so why am I trying to change it? Simple. I believe if Yahweh used descriptive names to describe our Enemy, then so should we. We will be saying who he is by the descriptive names used in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. I believe these names given to our Enemy by God will help us understand him and we will see how he works. So let us start in the Hebrew Scriptures with Satan. Consider this verse.
1 Chronicles 21:1 (NIV)
Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
First, the word Satan here is the Hebrew word שָׂטָן which is transliterated to English as Satan but that is not a translation because it does not convey the meaning of the word. The word means: Adversary, one who withstands, also Accuser. One who withstands is an Adversary and that describes who he was here with David—here and in the context. He was David’s Adversary. So Adversary is how he is described in this verse. Let us look at more verses where Satan is used but the context shows how using his descriptive name is more accurate.
Job 1:6 (NIV)
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
Many translations say Satan. Some translations actually say Adversary [CJB, YLT, TNK] instead of Satan; and some say Accuser [NLT, GWN, in the study notes in the NIV, and NIB—they feel Accuser is another meaning]; one says Devil [LXE]. Reading the book of Job, since all throughout the book this antagonist is always accusing Job, we feel it is fitting to translate him as the Accuser. This hold true in Job, the context will be either the Adversary, or the Accuser. When you read Satan, look at the verse and the context, and you will be able to see if it should read the Adversary or the Accuser. See how the descriptive name God used defines who and what he is. Let us look at Zechariah.
Zechariah 3:1 (NIV)
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.
Within the verse itself, you can see why this time Satan should be translated Accuser. …Satan standing at his right side to accuse him—this says it all. Satan as the Adversary or Accuser is only used in those three books— 1 Chronicles, Job, and Zechariah—in all the Hebrew Scriptures. Satan only comes from one Hebrew word and can be translated as either the Adversary or the Accuser. Since the translators would normally translate the words used by their definition, why not use Satan? We feel it was satanic influence trying to conceal who and what he is. We feel his true colors should be exposed. He has done his best work making the Christians think God kills people, God makes people sick, God is responsible for all the sin, evil, and suffering in the world. The Accuser is the one behind those lies. He is God’s, and our, Adversary, so calling him that only makes sense. Using the descriptive names God gave him makes sense also. Let us look at the Christian Scriptures.
Satan in the Christian Scriptures in the Greek is Σατανᾶς which is transliterated into the English as Satanas. It means Adversary [one who opposes another in purpose or act], and should be translated that way in the following verse. This is one of two places where the Adversary was tempting Jesus.
Matthew 4:10 (NIV)
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Here, Jesus is obviously dealing with an Adversary. He is opposing both God and Jesus with his twisting of the Truth of God’s Word. Yet, Jesus stands strong every time with this statement: “it is written.” Those are powerful words to live by; it is what the Greek text says, so why don’t we do as he did by quoting how the text reads when it comes to our Adversary! Satan is used in Matthew 12:26 (2x) and 16:23 and should be Adversary every time. Let us look at Mark.
Mark 1:13 (NIV)
and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Here again, it should be translated Adversary, yet the translators let us down again. Two translations do it right: Young’s Literal Translation and the Complete Jewish Bible. Both of those versions read, Adversary; so it is not that translators do not know, but they are fine saying Satan. This kind of thinking has caused Christians to be ignorant about the very nature of our God and our Enemy. Mark has four more verses with Satan in them. All four should read Adversary [Mark 3:23, 26, 4:15, and 8:33].
Luke 10:18 (NIV)
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Just like Matthew and Mark, Satan here should read the Adversary. The same is true with Luke 11:18, 13:16, 22:3, and 22:31. I have studied out the rest of the Christian Scriptures and everywhere it says Satan should read the Adversary. Here is a list if you want to look them up yourself. John 13:27; Acts 5:3 and 26:18; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11, 11:14, and 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:20 and 5:15; and Revelation 2:9 and 13, 3:9, 12:9, 20:2 and 7. We have gone through the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures and have seen Satan is not the best descriptive name used, but the Adversary, or the Accuser are! We feel it is much better to use the descriptive names God used than a transliteration which misses the mark. Okay now let us look at the Devil!
The word Devil never appears in the Hebrew Scriptures and is only used 33 times in 32 verses in the Christian Scriptures. It first appears in Matthew 4 in one of the temptations of Christ. Let us take a look at four verses here in Matthew 4 where the translators used Devil. We will find Tempter and Satan [Adversary]. The name Tempter is very accurate because throughout this record he is tempting Jesus to do things off the Truth of the Word of God [also in 1 Thess. 3:5; and he was tempting Jesus in Luke 4:1ff.]. Using Satan shows he is God’s Adversary, but the word Devil [Slanderer] shows his contempt for God by twisting the Word of Truth that God had given throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, but Jesus always responded with, “It is written,” showing the Word and his love for God.
Matthew 4:1–11 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
The word Devil here in these verses is the Greek word διάβολος and is transliterated into the English as diabolos, pronounced dee-ab’-ol-os. In other words, again, it is not a translation but a transliteration. It does not mean Devil. Its meaning is: 1) prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely; 1a) a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer. That last one nails the meaning: Slanderer! This also gives us his descriptive name here: Slanderer. That is the descriptive name given to him by God and we feel it best describes our Enemy here in the Christian Scriptures. Christians do not realize that slander, in the Christian Scriptures, is the primary weapon our Enemy uses against us and that being an Adversary, or Accuser, are some of the other ways he comes against us. These names are describing who we are fighting and how we are fighting him. Let’s look at a few more verses.
Matthew 13:39 (NIV)
and the enemy who sows them is the devil [Slanderer]. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
We feel that if this were translated right it would read: “and the Enemy who sows them is the Slanderer. This shows he is our Enemy and a Slanderer! Here is a verse showing that the Slanderer has his own angels.
Matthew 25:41 (NIV)
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘’Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil [Slanderer] and his angels.
Each of the following verses is the devil in the translation, but we believe the descriptive name of Slanderer is what should be used. Luke 4:2, 3, 5, 9, 13, and 8:12; John 6:70 and 13:2; Acts 10:38; Ephesians 4:27; 1 Timothy 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14; James 3:15 and 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 3:10; Jude 1:9; Revelation 2:10, 12:9, 12:12, 20:2, and 20:10. There are three more verses which say devil but I feel they have enough information in them to print it out. They are filled with information on the Slanderer.
John 8:44 (NIV)
You belong to your father, the devil [Slanderer], and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
It seems that the information in this verse shows his slanderous ways in a big way. This next one goes well with his slanderous ways and him being our Enemy.
Acts 13:10 (NIV)
“You are a child of the devil [Slanderer] and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?
He is full of all kinds of deceit and trickery and never stops perverting the right ways of the Lord. We need to understand our Enemy. This next verse shows he has been sinning from the beginning and the reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the Slanderer’s work.
1 John 3:8 (NIV)
He who does what is sinful is of the devil [Slanderer], because the devil [Slanderer] has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s [Slanderer’s] work.
What a list we have gathered thus far: god of this age, Evil One, Enemy, Adversary [Satan], Accuser [Satan], Tempter, Slanderer [Devil], and there are a couple more. The first one used in the Bible is Serpent. People some times ask if it was an actual Serpent and the answer is: NO! It does not take too much thinking to say how many men, let alone women, would hold up a conversation with a Serpent? Few, if any! So we will explain using language. Take a look at these verses in Genesis. We are not going to cover the entire record only the verses with “Serpent.”
Genesis 3:1–4, 13, and 14 (NIV)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
The word Serpent is a figure of speech. Figures of speech are one of the areas in biblical studies which require exacting scholarship. Unfortunately, few Christians have had any training in this field. There are more than 200 figures of speech used in the Bible. Although the names of some of these figures of speech are thrown around loosely in our vernacular today, there are exact definitions for each of the figures of speech used in the Bible. For example, a Simile is a comparison by resemblance, using “like” or “as” (“You eat like a pig!”), a Metaphor is a comparison by representation (“You are a pig!”), and a Hypocatastasis is a comparison by implication (“Pig!”). The usage of Serpent in these verses is a Hypocatastasis and God, who invented language, used figures of speech throughout the Bible in an exacting way. The Serpent is a comparison by implication. It implies he had all the characteristics of a Serpent, but this in no way makes him a Serpent any more than someone referring to me as a pig really makes me one. If you would like to study this area of Figures of Speech Used in the Bible,2 that is the title of a wonderful book, by E. W. Bullinger. By the comparison with a real serpent, we can see what God was trying to tell us by the use the figure of speech. We are dealing with a snake like creature by his actions, and I personally do not like serpents and very few do. The thought of his characteristics sends goose bumps up my back ever since a Bamboo viper tried to crawl in bed with me while I was in Vietnam. I would like for us to look at three verses in the book of Revelation which show this Serpent to be the Adversary and the Slanderer.
Revelation 12:9 (NIV)
The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil [Slanderer], or Satan [Adversary], who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Revelation 12:15 also covers the Serpent. I will cover the Dragon after we finish the Serpent. This verse would really live if it were translated properly to read: …that ancient Serpent called the Slanderer, or Adversary, who leads the whole world astray…. It makes so much sense to translate here rather than transliterate. The descriptive names show his real colors and the kind of being he is. At the end he will be locked in the Abyss for 1000 years.
Revelation 20:2 (NIV)
He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil [Slanderer], or Satan [Adversary], and bound him for a thousand years.
As we see, he is the Serpent, Slanderer, and Adversary; but he is also called the Dragon. He is called the Dragon 14 times in the book of Revelation. This is a very lengthy topic and this is already a long article. Let us just leave it that as a Dragon he is lizard like, scaly, and not a creature many would want to be around. So in closing, we have learned we have an Enemy. He is the god of this age [and from the state of the world he is a god we do not need or want]. Our struggle is not against flesh and bloodbut against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. He is the Evil One! He has the control of the entire world! He is the one who kills people! He is the Adversary or the Accuser! He is the Slanderer! He is the Tempter! He is full of all kinds of deceit and trickery and never stops perverting the right ways of the Lord! Also lastly, he is the Serpent and the Dragon! He is the polar opposite of our heavenly Father, God, and he is our Enemy. I would like to close with a verse from the King James Version but there is one more verse I need to share.
2 Corinthians 2:11 (KJV)
Lest Satan [Adversary] should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
By not understanding the descriptive names of our Enemy, we will be ignorant of his devices [NIV says schemes] and he could get an advantage of us. I do not want that and I am sure you do not either, so let us learn who we are fighting against. Then the battle will be ours for the Lord! Amen and amen! Do not be ignorant, learn who we are fighting, and fight. Also, we will overcome them [our Enemy and his minions] because the one in us [Christ in us, Col. 1:27] is greater than the one in the world [the Adversary]. So we have nothing to be afraid of! We will be, in all these things [in the context], more than conquerors through him who loved us [Rom. 8:37].
1 John 4:4 (NIV)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you [Christ] is greater than the one who is in the world [Slanderer].