By Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer

"Bible doctrines are the bones of revelation and the attentive Bible student must be impressed with the New Testament emphasis on sound doctrine (Matt. 7:28; John 7:16, 17; Acts 2:42; Rom. 6:17; Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6, 16; 6:1; 2 Tim. 3:10, 16; 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:9, 10)."

~ Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer ~

The studies presented herein are a continuation of Major Bible Themes which, Lord willing, will eventually be presented in its entirety. Major Bible Themes may serve as a wonderful outline for personal or group Bible study. Links to previous studies in the series may be found in our Library and Sound Doctrine pages. ~ editor


"An immeasurable gulf exists between the uncreated, self-existent, eternal Persons of the Godhead, and this the chief of God's creatures."



This chapter introduces the highest being among all the creatures of God. However, an immeasurable gulf exists between the uncreated, self-existent, eternal Persons of the Godhead, and this the chief of God's creatures.


Since he does not appear in corporeal form, Satan's personality, like that of the Godhead and like all the angelic hosts, must be accepted upon the evidence set forth in the Scriptures. Considering this evidence we may note:

1. Satan was Created as a Person.
The fact of the creation of all things that are in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, and that these were created by Christ and for Christ, is stated in Colossians 1:16. The time of the creation of the angelic host is not stated beyond the fact that their creation probably preceded that of all material things, and was itself preceded by that eternity of existence on the part of the Godhead, which existence is declared in John 1:1, 2.

Among all the heavenly hosts, Satan's creation alone is mentioned in particular. This fact suggests the supreme place which Satan holds in relation to all the invisible creatures of God.

In Ezekiel 28:11-19 there is recorded a lamentation addressed to The king of Tyrus, and while this may have had some partial and immediate application to a king in Tyrus, it is evident that the supreme one among all the creatures of God is in view; for the one here addressed was said to be the sum of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. He had been in Eden, the garden of God (probably the primal Eden of God's original creation, rather than the Eden of Genesis 3), and by divine design was created and anointed as a covering cherub over the holy mountain of God, which, in Biblical imagery, represents the throne or center of God's governing power. No king of Tyrus could answer this description. In fact, this description could apply to none other than Satan as he existed before his sin and fall.
2. Satan Exercises all the Functions of a Person.
Of many Scriptures which set forth the personality of Satan, the following may be noted:
Isaiah 14:12-17. Contemplating Satan as having completed his course and having been judged finally at the end of time, the prophet addressed him in this passage under the heavenly title of Lucifer, son of the morning, and sees him as fallen from his primal estate and glory. He who didst weaken the nations is also guilty of opposing his own will against the will of God in five particulars, and in this passage, as in Ezekiel 28:15, his sin is said to be a secret purpose hid within his own heart which God discovered and disclosed (note 1 Tim. 3:6).

Genesis 3:1-15. By the events recorded in this passage, Satan gains the title of Serpent, for through the serpent he appeared to Adam and Eve. Every word here spoken and design [sic] revealed is an evidence of Satan's personality (note 2 Cor. 11:3, 13-15; Rev. 12:9; 20:2).

Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13. A revelation peculiar to these texts is that Satan has access to God (note Luke 22:31; Rev. 12:10) as well as to men (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:10-12), and that he exhibits every feature of a true personality.

Luke 4:1-13. Again the personality of Satan is revealed when in the wilderness he comes into conflict with the Son of God -- the Last Adam. He who purposed to become like the Most High (Isa. 14:14), and who recommended this purpose to the first man and woman (Gen. 3:5), is now seen offering all his earthly possessions to Christ if only He will worship him. This proffered authority and power which Christ refused will yet be received and administered by the Man of Sin (1 John 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:8-10).
Ephesians 6:10-12. The strategies and warfare of Satan against the children of God as declared in this passage are proof positive of the personality of Satan. There is no mention in the Scriptures of a warfare by Satan against the unregenerate: they are his own, and therefore under his authority (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19, R.V.).


Though morally fallen and now judged in the cross (John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:15), Satan has not lost his position, and he has lost but little of his power. His power both as to personal strength and authority is disclosed in two forms:

1. His Personal Strength.
His personal strength cannot be estimated. According to his own declaration, which Christ did not deny, he has power over the kingdoms of this world, which kingdoms he said were delivered unto him, and which power he bestows on whom he will (Luke 4:6). It is said of him that he hath the power of death (Heb. 2:14), but that power has been surrendered to Christ (Rev. 1:18). Satan had the power over sickness in the case of Job (Job 2:7), and was able to sift Peter as wheat in a sieve (Luke 22:31; 1 Cor. 5:5). Likewise, Satan is said to have weakened the nations, to have made the earth to tremble, to have shaken kingdoms, to have made the earth a wilderness, destroying the cities thereof, and not to have opened the house of his prisoners (Isa. 14:12-17). Against the power of Satan even Michael the archangel durst not contend (Jude 1:9); but there is victory for the child of God through the power of the Spirit and the blood of Christ (Eph. 6:10-12; 1 John 4:4; Rev. 12:11). Satan's power and authority are exercised always and only within the permissive will of God.

2. Satan is Aided by Demons.
Satan's power is increased by the innumerable host of demons who do his will and serve him. Though he is not omnipresent, omnipotent, nor omniscient, through the wicked spirits he is in touch with the whole earth.


1. On what ground must the personality of Satan be received?
2. By whom and for whom were all things created?
3. What is suggested by the fact that among all the heavenly hosts Satan's creation is mentioned in particular?
a. Give the passages in which Satan's creation and early condition are described.
b. What things are said of his first estate?
5. What evidence of his personality and power are indicated in Isaiah 14:12-17?
6. What evidence is indicated in Genesis 3:1-15 and Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13; Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:10-12; 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 12:10?
7. Mention the facts set forth in Luke 4:1-13.
8. Against whom does Satan wage his warfare?
a. In what sense is Satan fallen?
b. Is he cast out of Heaven (see Rev. 12:9)?
10. Is Satan's professed authority over the kingdoms of the earth the statement of fact?
11. Where is the power of death now invested?
12. What evidence have we of Satan's power as seen in Job, in Peter, and over the nations?
a. Did Michael contend with Satan in his own strength?
b. How, then, may the Christian be victorious?
14. How is Satan assisted in his undertakings by the innumerable demons?



Two errors regarding Satan are current and since he alone is advantaged by them it is reasonable to conclude that he is the author of them.

1. Many believe that Satan does not really exist and that the supposed person of Satan is no more than an evil principle, or influence, which is in man and in the world. This conception is proved to be wrong by the fact that there is the same abundant evidence that Satan is a person as there is that Christ is a person. The Scriptures, which alone are authoritative on these matters, treat one to be a person as much as the other, and if the personality of Christ is accepted on the testimony of the Bible, the personality of Satan must also be accepted on the same testimony.
2. Likewise, others believe that Satan is the direct cause of sin in every person. This impression is not true (1) because Satan is not aiming to promote sin in the world. He did not purpose to be a fiend, but rather to be like the most High (Isa. 14:14); he is not aiming to destroy, so much as he is to construct, and to realize his own ambition for authority over this world system, which system proposes culture, morality, and religion (2 Cor. 11:13-15). The impression that Satan is the direct cause of sin is not true (2) because human sin is said to come directly from the fallen human heart (Mark 7:18-23; Jas. 1:13-16; Gen. 6:5).


The following are only a few of the many passages bearing on the work of Satan:

Isaiah 14:12-17. This passage reveals Satan's original and supreme purpose. He would ascend into Heaven, exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the most High. To this end he will use his unmeasured wisdom and power; he will weaken the nations, make the earth to tremble, make the world as a wilderness, destroy the cities thereof, and refuse to release his prisoners. Though every phrase of this passage is a startling disclosure, two in particular may be noted:

1. I will he like the most High. As recorded in the Scriptures, the activities of Satan following his moral fall can be traced only in the line of this supreme motive. It was this purpose which in all seriousness he recommended to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:5), and they, by adopting Satan's ideal, became self-centered, self-sufficient, and independent of God. This attitude on the part of Adam and Eve became their very nature and has been transmitted to all their posterity to the extent that their posterity are called the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3; 5:6; Rom. 1:18), they must be born again (John 3:3), and, when saved, have a struggle to be yielded wholly to the will of God. Again, Satan's desire to be like the most High is seen in his passion to be worshiped by Christ (Luke 4:5-7). When the Man of Sin enters the holy place and is worshiped as God (2 Thess. 2:3, 4; Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; Rev. 13:4-8), for a brief moment, Satan's supreme desire will be realized under the permissive will of God.

2. He opened not the house of his prisoners. The entire prophecy from which this phrase is taken is concerning the work of Satan as it will have been completed in the days of his final judgment. Doubtless there is a larger fulfillment yet future; however, we know that Satan is now doing all in his power to keep the unsaved from being delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son (Col. 1:13). Satan is the one who energizes the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2), blinds the minds of the unsaved lest the light of the Gospel shall reach them (2 Cor. 4:3, 4), and holds the unconscious world in his arms (1 John 5:19, R.V.).

It is also revealed that Satan in his warfare will counterfeit the things of God, which undertaking will likewise be in accord with his purpose to be like the most High. He will promote extensive religious systems (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). In this connection, it should be observed that Satan can promote forms of religion which are based on selected Bible texts, which elevate Christ as the leader, and which incorporate every phase of the Christian faith excepting one -- the doctrine of salvation by grace alone on the ground of the shed blood of Christ. Such satanic delusions are now in the world and multitudes are being deceived by them. Such false systems are always to be tested by the attitude they take toward the saving grace of God through the efficacious blood of Christ (Rev. 12:11).
Satan's enmity is evidently against God alone. He is in no way at enmity with the unsaved, and when he aims his fiery darts at the children of God, he attacks them only because of the fact that they are indwelt by the divine nature, and through them he is enabled to secure a thrust at God.

Likewise, the attack against the children of God is not in the sphere of flesh and blood, but in the sphere of their heavenly association with Christ. That is, the believer may not be drawn away into immorality, but he may utterly fail in prayer, in testimony and in spiritual victory. Such failure, it should be seen, is as much defeat and dishonor in the sight of God as those sins which are freely condemned by the world.


As the Word of God is explicit regarding the origin of Satan, so it is explicit regarding his career and destiny. Five progressive judgments of Satan are to be distinguished:

1. Satan's Moral Fall.
Though the time in the dateless past is not disclosed, Satan's moral fall, with its necessary separation from God, is clearly indicated (Ezk. 28:15; 1 Tim. 3:6). It is evident, however, that he did not lose his heavenly position, the larger portion of his power, or his access to God.

2. Satan's Judgment through the Cross.
Through the cross a perfect judgment has been secured (John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:14, 15), but the execution of that sentence is yet future. This sentence with its execution was predicted in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15).

3. Satan will be cast out of Heaven.
In the midst of the coming Tribulation and as a result of a war in Heaven, Satan will be cast out of Heaven and be limited to the earth. He will then act in great wrath knowing that he has but a short time to continue (Rev. 12:7-12. Note, also, Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18).

4. Satan will be confined to the Abyss.
For the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth, Satan will be sealed in the abyss, after which he must be loosed for a little season (Rev. 20:1-3, 7).
5. Satan's Final Doom.
Having promoted an open rebellion against God during the little season, Satan is then cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:10).


1. What are the two general errors regarding Satan?
2. Give the evidence from the Scriptures that Satan exists as a person.
3. What is Satan's supreme motive?
4. From what source does human sin arise?
5. What are the outstanding facts regarding Satan as recorded in Isaiah 14:12-17?
6. Whom is Satan seeking to imitate?
7. Trace his passion to be like the Most High in two events of history and one of prophecy.
8. What is Satan's attitude toward the unsaved as to their salvation?
9. How does he accomplish his ends?
10. What undertakings are predicted for Satan, in his counterfeiting the truth of God?
11. What one theme does he of necessity omit from his false systems?
12. Against whom, primarily, is Satan at warfare?
13. In what sphere does he attack the children of God?
14. Trace the five aspects of divine judgment upon Satan.


Major Bible Themes herein presented is its first edition (copyright 1926), is in the public domain, and may be freely downloaded in its entirety or chapter by chapter at Information for purchase of the revised edition by John F. Walvoord (copyright 1974) may be found at the same address.

Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952) was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, and from 1924 until his death, served as the its first President and Professor of Systematic Theology. His ground-breaking eight volume Systematic Theology, first published in 1947-1948, was the first systematization of a premillennial, dispensational interpretation of the Scriptures.

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