The Fall of Satan: A Biblical Investigation (I)
Luo Ci Yi—Taiwan
Translated from Holy Spirit Monthly—Issue 422
The origin of evil is an age-old philosophical problem, which has attracted many scholars and has led to a plethora of diverse theories. The human mind by itself, constrained by the limits of space and time (Acts 17:26), can never grasp the truth about the spiritual realm. Therefore, we should not apply philosophical speculation or human precepts in discussing the truth concerning Satan’s fall. Instead, we ask the Holy Spirit to personally guide us to understand the truth that God reveals to us through the Bible.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME “SATAN”
Nowadays, the New Testament term “devil” is commonly used to refer to the representation of evil. In Hebrew, the word for “devil’ is שֵׁד (shed) and only appears twice in the Old Testament (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37), whereas “Satan” is שָׂטָן (satan), meaning adversary or opponent; one who opposes the will of God. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew word שָׂטָן (satan) as Σατανᾶς (satanas).
The term traditionally used among Christians—“devil”—is translated from the Greek word διάβολος (diabolos) and this Greek word is derived from the verb διαβαλλειν (diaballein) in the same lexical family. These two words have an inseparable etymological relationship. The Greek word διαβαλλειν (diaballein) is a compound word from the preposition διά (dia) and the verb βαλλειν (ballein), which is literally translated as “to cast across” or “to hurl.” It also connotes actions such as “slander,” “oppose,” “accuse,” or “malign”; thus, the devil is called “the accuser” (Greek: κατήγορος - kategoros) in Revelation 12:10. Comparing the Old Testament term with the New Testament term shows that the “devil” is undoubtedly the epitome of evil and the leader of demons (Mt 9:34).
THE GOD WE WORSHIP IS THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE GOD
Before delving into the fall of Satan, our understanding of God in whom we believe must be correct. We must obey His revelation given to us through the Bible and use it as the basis of our study.
God Himself has revealed to man that He is the one and only God. This supreme and absolute message is not only a proclamation but is also a command that we must believe in. Therefore, the people of God in the Old Testament time built their faith on the foundation of God's “oneness”:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut 6:4)
“The Lord is one, [a]nd His name one.” (Zech 14:9)
Jesus also testified to the oneness of God:
“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.’” (Mk 12:29)
“How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?“ (Jn 5:44)
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn 17:3)
In addition, the apostles made unequivocal declarations of their faith in the one true God (Jude 4, 25); particularly Apostle Paul, who understood God profoundly. Whenever he mentioned God’s oneness, he would conclude with a votive and proclamatory “amen”:
“…to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Rom 16:27)
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim 1:17)
“…who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” (1 Tim 6:16)
THE GOD WE WORSHIP IS THE SELF-EXISTING TRUE GOD
We know the attributes of God from the Bible. With regard to essence, He is immutable (Jas 1:17; Heb 13:8). With regard to time, He is eternal (Ps 90:2; Rev 1:8). Moreover, He is omnipresent (Eph 4:6; Jer 23:23–24), omniscient (Ps 139:1–4), and omnipotent (Jer 32:17). He has absolute sovereignty over all things (Eph 1:4–5). These attributes of God are absolute and are reserved for God alone.
Furthermore, God is self-existing. As Jesus testified, “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (Jn 5:26). God does not derive His existence from any other source; neither does His life depend on any external force. This supreme truth is something that man, the creature, can never understand; we can only accept. When Moses was called, he asked God who He was, and God answered by saying “I AM WHO I AM.” This was the first time God directly proclaimed the mystery of His self-existing nature to man (Ex 3:13–14).
INSEPARABILITY OF ''I AM WHO I AM' (SELF-EXISTING AND EVERLASTING)
In Exodus 3:14, God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” In the Hebrew Scriptures, God uses two repeated verbs – אֶֽהְיֶה (’eh·yeh - I AM) to introduce Himself and joins the repeated verb with אֲשֶׁר(’ă·šer - who, that). Therefore, the literal English translation is “I AM WHO I AM” (אֶֽהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶֽהְיֶה). In the second part of the same verse, God refers to Himself as “I AM” אֶֽהְיֶה – a single verb.
Whether it is the repeated “I AM” for emphasis or a single “I AM,” God’s intent was to proclaim His self-existing and everlasting nature. In the Septuagint, the Greek Bible used during the time of Jesus and Paul, the same expression is rendered ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (Ego eimi o un), which literally means “I, I am, the one who is” (cf. Rev 1:8). When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He was also the true God in heaven in spiritual terms. Hence, He used ἐγώ εἰμι （Greek: Ego eimi - I, I am) to reveal the uniqueness of His spiritual existence (cf. Jn 8:24, 28, 58).
Although the Union Version of the Chinese Bible translates the self-revelation of God, “I, I am,” into “self-existing and everlasting,” the term cannot be divided because it refers to only one condition. The true meaning of “self-existing and everlasting” is actually “I am, I am.” Readers of the Chinese Bible may thus make the mistake of dividing the whole term of “I am, I am” into two conditions—“self-existing” and “everlasting.” After separating this characteristic that belongs to God alone, some may go even further and apply human reasoning to conclude that God is self-existing and everlasting, while Satan is self-existing but not everlasting.
In order to see the truth behind God's proclamation of “I am, I am,” we need to return to the original Hebrew text. In this way, we will see that the two “I am” are inseparable. We cannot claim that God is “I am” and “I am,” while Satan is “I am” but not “I am.” Moreover, God proclaimed in the same verse that He is the self-existing and everlasting one who does not require the emphasis of a repeated verb—the “I AM.”
THE GOD WE WORSHIP IS THE ONLY SELF-EXISTING TRUE GOD
The God we worship is not only self-existing, He is also the ONLY self-existing true God. There is nothing else in existence that is like God or that has His absolute self-existing nature. In Isaiah 43:12, God makes His chosen people His witnesses that there was no foreign god among them. Henceforth, God declares: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (Isa 45:5; cf. Isa 45:14, 18, 21, 22; Dan 3:29).
God is the only absolute being; an unequalled being whose self-existence is without comparison. The Bible portrays this truth as follows: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You” (1 Kgs 8:23). We also see how “there is no one like the God of Jeshurun” from the blessing of Moses, the man of God (Deut 33:26). David too conveys the truth concerning the inimitable nature of God: “Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Sam 7:22; cf. Ps 86:8).
With these clear revelations from God and proclamations from witnesses of faith, we can declare with conviction that only the true God we worship is self-existing and everlasting—the only I AM. The description of God’s unique existence, “I AM WHO I AM” (self-existing and everlasting), cannot be separated and is reserved for Him alone.
THE ONE TRUE GOD AND THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS
Everything that exists is either created or not created. Nothing in creation originated from itself but from the Lord who created everything. The God whom we worship is not only an unparalleled being but also the source of all things. He is the Creator who created all that exist apart from Him. In other words, He is the only self-existing being and the only Creator; everything else is created. This is exactly what the Bible records: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (Jn 1:3). Hence, Paul took great pains to introduce God as the “God who created all things” (Eph 3:9)—a fact that is supported by many references in the Bible (cf. Heb 3:4; Neh 9:6; Isa 44, 45; Jer 10:12; Rev 4:11).
In addition, Paul received a revelation from God regarding His creation:
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Col 1:16)
Here, Paul categorizes God’s entire creation into two levels, based on locality: heaven and earth. These two levels also include things that are visible and invisible. Paul follows on by making specific mention of four distinct creations: thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.
[To be continued…]
In the next issue, part two of this article will explore the downfall of God’s creation in the spiritual realm.
 “Oneness” as used in this article refers to God’s uniqueness, i.e., that there is only one God.