Michael Bradley based on research by Duncan Heaster on satan and what scripture is actually referring to:
“Satan is not a fallen angel literally walking around trying to trip up Christians. He’s a personification of anyone or anything that is opposed to God. He’s a man in Isaiah 14:12-16. He’s Peter in Matt 16:23. He’s Rome in Rev 2:10. He’s Judaism in 1 Thess 2:16,18. Satan is also sin itself in Luke 10:18 among others.
Contrary to religious tradition, Satan didn’t fall from heaven.
Isaiah 14:12, often used to picture Satan’s rebellion in heaven and subsequent transfer to earth, isn’t about a personal fallen angel at all. It’s about a man.
In Isaiah 14:16, we see that Lucifer (assumed to be a spiritual being) is actually a man who exalted himself among other men.
Isa 14:16 Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the MAN who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,
We can discover the identity of this man by looking a few verses back.
Isa 14:4 you will take up this taunt against the KING OF BABYLON: “How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased!
When Jesus said…
(Luke 10:18) “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”
….He was not referring to a personal being, some “fallen angel” falling out of heaven and landing on earth.
In both Isaiah 14:12 and Luke 10:18, “falling like lightning” is Hebrew idiom for losing authority. Just as the king of Babylon lost his authority, so sin itself loses its authority when the gospel is preached with power to heal (See also Lamentations 2:1 and Jeremiah 51:53)
The word “Satan” literally means “adversary”, and can be applied to men and organizations who are hostile to God.
For examples, Jesus called Peter “Satan”.
Mat 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Judaism was Satan:
In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul describes how Jews were….
(1Th 2:16) hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.….
But Paul goes on to say in verse 18…
(1Th 2:18) For we wanted to come to you–I, Paul, more than once–and yet Satan hindered us.
The idea of Satan being a personal being is simply not in view in these scriptures but is instead, a symbolic representation of opposition to the
gospel by Judaizing impostors who were trying to infiltrate the church. (see 2 Cor. 2:11; Gal. 2:4-6; Jude 4).
Jesus called Jews who opposed Him “vipers”, snakes, which of course pictures Satan as a snake in Genesis 3 and Rev 12:9.
Rome was also Satan (Rev 2:10).
(Rev 2:10) …., the devil is about to cast some of you into prison…..
A personal being called ‘the devil’ was not throwing first century Smyrna Christians into Roman prisons. Rome was. In this context, Rome was ‘the devil’.
Revelation 2:13 is describing “Satan’s throne”, a place where Roman governance was established along with its idolatrous practices.
(Rev 2:13) ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Rome was clearly an opposer to the Christian faith, having put many Christians in prison and to death for their refusal to capitulate to Roman idolatry. In this context, Satan is Rome.
Satan is sin itself, and is inside those who have not been cleansed of him.
In Genesis 3:1, Satan is commonly understood to have taken the form of a snake. In Genesis 4:7, sin is like an animal, “crouching at the door”. In 1 Peter 5:8, the devil is “like a lion”. In 2 Tim 2:26, sin is a hunter and again in Rev 12:9, a snake. As a personal being, Satan would not be able to be all of these things at once. However, sin takes many forms and rebellion can be expressed in many way. When Paul says…
2Co 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
….he is actually describing deception in those who appear to be workers for Christ but really are not.
2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
Acts 5:3 provides an example of the connection between the devil being our own sin. Peter says to Ananias: “Why has Satan filled your heart?”
Act 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart….?”
Then in verse 4 Peter says…
“Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?”
Conceiving evil within our heart is the same as Satan filling our heart. Recall that Jesus taught that evil is in our hearts.
(Mar 7:20) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.
(Mar 7:21) “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
(Mar 7:22) deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
(Mar 7:23) “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Our lusts are deceitful (Eph. 4:22) and the word ‘devil’ means ‘false accuser’.
The devil is described in Hebrews 2:14 as being responsible for death. But
according to Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death”.
Heb. 2:14 says that through his death Christ destroyed the devil (rendering sin powerless). Heb. 9:26 matches this, in that Christ appeared “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
These example show that the devil/Satan is not some spiritual boogeyman. He is the personification of sin itself, the supreme work of rebellion against a holy God.
What about Job? Job believed that the attitude of his friends was wrong. They should (as Jesus taught later) be looking into themselves to find the source of sin, rather than fantasizing about the action of some unseen evil being they imagined
“Ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?… know that there is a [personal] judgment”(Job 19:28,29).
Job is not describing a real being. Satan, in Job, is a personification of the struggle between good and evil. Our western, Greek-oriented, logical, hyper-literal interpretive paradigm has been wrong for centuries, and has from Job, created a monster we have believed is Satan.
…Jesus was tempted “by the devil” in Matthew 4:1.
Mat 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Jesus had no sin in Him, but as a Being with free will, He had the potential to take the kingdoms of the world, depart from dependence on the Father and to be independent the Father’s will, which would be sin and rebellion. He did not give in to that temptation. Note that the scripture say Jesus was “tempted like we are”.
(Heb 4:15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
We are tempted in the same way Jesus was tempted, and like Jesus, we have the opportunity to refuse the temptation and be without sin. In this sense, it was the potential for human weakness that was “the devil’.
Interestingly, we see this human weakness being played out in Jews, who are referred to as Satan in other instances. Here, they tempt Jesus in the same way “Satan” does in Matthew 4:1.
The Jewish crowd wanted to make him king (Jn. 6:15) Satan offers him the kingship of the [Jewish?] world
The Jews ask for miraculous bread (Jn. 6:31) Satan invites him to make miraculous bread
The [Jewish] disciples want Jesus to go to Jerusalem to show His power (Jn. 7:3) Satan takes Jesus to Jerusalem and tempts Him to show His power.
This is yet another example of Satan being those (people) who opposed Jesus… not the ‘fallen angel’ caricature that we have all been entertained by and terrified of and believe is ‘out there’ to get us.
People today want Satan to be the stereotypical caricature of a fallen angel with horns. Religious people want Satan as that caricature because in their mind, his existence explains evil in a world God made good. Non-religious people want Satan to be the popular caricature so they can use him to mock the religious. Many want Satan to exist because he provides an excuse for their own sin, the proverbial “the devil made me do it”. Others, like satanists, are simply deluding themselves and worshiping something that only exists in their imaginations….”