Is Satan an Angel?

Does Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 9:11 Imply the Devil was an Angel?

How do the passages Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 9:11 affect the answer you gave about Satan being a fallen angel? Please explain what Isaiah 14:12-17 is referring to. What does verse 12 mean when it says, “O, Lucifer, son of the morning?”

Isaiah 14:12 reads in the King James Version, “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!” Many have taken the word “Lucifer” to refer to Satan. In fact, our modern culture accepts this word as being synonymous with Satan. Modern culture, however, should not be our standard for applying definitions to the Bible. If one were to look in a dictionary regarding the word “baptism” a number of things would show up. No doubt among those things would be sprinkling and pouring of water onto someone’s head. Should we accept this modern definition for baptism and insert it into the Biblical text? Absolutely not. We find by studying the Bible that baptism is a burial (Romans 6:4) and that therefore we must be immersed in water to be properly baptized. The same is true here. Just because modern society accepts the word Lucifer to refer to Satan does not necessarily mean that this passage is referring to Satan. In contrast to the KJV, the American Standard Version reads, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations!” You may have noticed that in the ASV the same word that is translated “Lucifer” in the KJV, is translated “day-star.” This is the better translation of the Hebrew word and you will find that most modern day translations use this same phrase to translate the word.

You may be wondering where the idea of Lucifer as Satan first got started. Well, according to Smith’s Bible dictionary, Jerome first taught this. Jerome lived from 331 A.D. to about 420 A.D. He was best known for his work in translating the Old and New Testaments from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. This became known as the Latin Vulgate. It was completed in 405 A.D. The Latin Vulgate was the predominant translation used from this time well into the second millennium. It was not until the reformation when the Bible was translated into other languages (such as English and German) that the Latin Vulgate lost its popularity. But the Latin Vulgate was still influential in these translations. The King James Version was not immune to its influence and the King James translators chose to use the Latin word here for their translation. This reflected the doctrine that Jerome taught regarding Satan. That is how we got the word “Lucifer” in the King James Version of the Bible. But was Jerome’s understanding of this verse correct?

There is really no indication in the context of this verse that Isaiah is speaking historically about anyone except about whom he specifically identifies. Notice in Isaiah 14:3, 4. “And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!” Isaiah specifically says that this passage is referring to the eventual destruction of the King of Babylon. In other words, this is a prophesy regarding the fall of the King of Babylon. The prophecy is couched in proverbial language (as Isaiah specifically says). This is language that is figurative in nature. Why should we take it to refer to anything else other than this man? Considering that the person about whom it is speaking is specifically mentioned and considering that this passage is full of figurative language, there is no compelling reason to believe that Isaiah was speaking about anyone except the King of Babylon. Now, this certainly does not mean that Satan does not share these same attitudes. In fact, there is no doubt that when sin is involved Satan is behind it. However, that is quite a different thing from saying that this passage refers to the history of Satan and his aboriginal relationship with God.

The word “Lucifer” merely means in this passage, “morning star” or “day-star.” This was a common name given to ancient kings to honor their position of power in the world. History records that this appellation was used not only in the Babylonian kingdom as Isaiah records here, but also in reference to other ancient kings as well. It would have been consistent, in his historical setting, for Isaiah to use this term to refer to the king of Babylon, as others would clearly understand to whom he was referring.

The second passage that the question poses is Revelation 9:11. This verse reads, “And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” The Hebrew word Abaddon and the Greek word Apollyon both mean “the destroyer.” The king of this passage is in reference to the king of locusts that were released at the sounding of the trumpet of the fifth angel in 9:1. In this verse we read, “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” Is this “star” that fell the same one as the king of the locusts? Well, I will admit that it is possible, but the context is so highly figurative that it is difficult to come to any specific conclusions about which individual this specifically is and to what all these locusts are referring. The Bible says that many angels fell due to sin (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). What would make us think that this king is not one of them? Is it possible that this passage could be talking about Satan? I will admit that it is possible. However, the question that we need to ask is: “Is it conclusive?” I just don’t think that it is conclusive.

So I don’t think that these passages change my answer in regard to what I said about the Bible teaching that Satan was once an angel. No Bible passage conclusively says that Satan was once an angel. Was Satan a created being? Yes, he was. Was he fallen from grace? Yes, he fell from grace. Was he specifically an angel that had fallen from grace? The Bible just does not specifically say whether he was an angel or not. I will readily admit the possibility of that being true. But for us to dogmatically say that this is the case is to go beyond the evidence that is presented within the text.

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