19 October, 2008

SATAN: CURRENT BELIEFS

Beliefs in a literal supernatural evil being called 'the devil' or 'Satan' are rapidly declining in North America:
‘The notion that Satan, or the devil, is a real being who can influence people's lives is regarded as hogwash by most Americans.

Only one-quarter (27%) strongly believes that Satan is real while a majority argues that he is merely a symbol of evil.

Mormons are the group most likely to accept the reality of Satan's existence (59%) while Catholics, Episcopalians and Methodists are the least likely (just one-fifth).’
The Barna Group, 25 June, 2001

‘In 2007 more than half of adults (57%) say that the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil. In 2007 46% of born again Christians deny Satan's existence. Two-thirds of Catholics (64%) say the devil is non-existent and only a symbol of evil’

The Barna Group, 2007

Increasingly, Christians are coming to an understanding of what the Bible really says about 'satan'.

EARLY JEWISH BELIEFS
The famous 18th century Baptist commentator John Gill, acknowledged that early Jewish teachers interpreted 'satan' as a reference to the natural inclination people have to sin, the 'evil imagination':

‘'...they {a} often say, "Satan, he is the evil imagination", or corruption of nature…’
John Gill, ‘Commentary On the Bible’, note on 2 Corinthians 12:7, 1748

Current Jewish groups confirm this is a historic understanding of 'satan' within Judaism:

‘Rather, Satan is a force or adversary, according to rabbinic sources, equal to the serpent-tempter of Genesis, and the yetzer ha’ra, the evil inclination that Judaism says exists within all of us alongside our better impulses.’ ‘Judaism teaches that these images “are different manifestations of the same [force of evil],” Kahn says. “Not that there is a physical person or an angel out there doing things, but that it's the way in which we hold or characterize the destructive or negative forces that exist in ourselves or in the world.”
Jewish News Weekly, Leslie Katz, ‘Never underestimate the power of evil, say scholars’, January 19, 1996
This understanding of 'satan' is found in the New Testament. In the following the apostle Peter places two statements in parallel to show that 'satan filled your heart' is another way to say 'you thought this deed up in your heart':

Acts 5:3-4 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land? Before it was sold, did it not belong to you? And when it was sold, was the money not at your disposal? How have you thought up this deed in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God!”

SO 'SATAN' IS NOT A NAME?
The Hebrew word ‘satan’ is not a personal name. It is a word meaning ‘adversary’. It is used of different adversaries in different places. As noted previously, it can refer to the internal temptation to sin which we all face. It can also refer to any external adversary:

• In Numbers 22:22 it is used of an obedient angel (as a verb)
• In 1 Kings 11:14, 23-24 and Psalm 109:68 it is used of mortal men
• In 1 Chronicles 21:1 it is used of an enemy nation
• And in Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33 it is used of Jesus’ disciple Peter, when he was opposing Jesus.

The ‘devil’ is also sometimes used of evil rulers or kingdoms: 1 Peter 5:8 (quoting Proverbs 20:2; 28:15), Revelation 12:9 (quoting Daniel 7:7, 19-23)

HISTORICAL INTERPRETATIONS
As noted previously, this understanding of 'satan' is not new. It has been a historic interpretation among Jewish commentators, and for centuries it has also been believed by various Christian commentators. It is not a new doctrine which has been invented recently.

The following is a list of Christian expositors who held to this same view of 'satan', preceded by their date:
• 1858: Horace Bushnell
• 1854: Hosea Ballou
• 1842: John Epps
• 1842: William Balfour
• 1836: Amos Alcott
• 1819: ‘Philalethes’
• 1804: John Simpson
• 1799: ‘AN’
• 1791: William Ashdowne
• 1772: Thomas Barker
• 1761: Hugh Farmer
• 1737: Arthur Sykes
• 1727: Sir Isaac Newton
• 1699: Ludowick Muggleton
• 1695: Balthassar Bekker
• 1651: Thomas Hobbes

The following is a list of Jewish expositors who held to this same view of 'satan', along with the passages of Scripture they interpreted according to this understanding.
• 1344 (d): Levi ben Gershon (1 Samuel 24:1)
• 1160 (b): David Kimchi (1 Samuel 24:1, Zechariah 3:1)
• 892-942: Saadia Ben Joseph (Job 1:6)
• 400s (?): Judah, (Micah 7:5, compare Deuteronomy 15:9 LXX)
• 330-360: Ben Isaac (Micah 7:5, compare Deuteronomy 15:9 LXX)
• 230-270: Simeon Ben Lakish (said that satan/the heart/angel of death are all one)
• 135-160: Joshua Ben Kar’ha (Deuteronomy 15:9)
• 100s AD: Jonathan Ben Uzziel (Zechariah 3:1)

J.Burke (http://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/)

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28 Comments:

Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

this is very interesting, I had always been taught that Satan was originally Lucifer, and now a fallen angel.

Seeing your point on this, I agree that satan can be used for all kinds of people, even God, but is it a stretch to say that Satan, with a capital S, cannot be an actual angel?

December 16, 2008 6:56 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

HI Danny,

Thanks for your comment. If Satan (capital S) was an angel, we would quickly find the Bible rejects such a conclusion. Consider:

1) The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

2) If divine angels were sinners, then they would die

3) But Jesus said angels do not die. (Luke 20:36)

4) All angels are ministering spirits (Heb 1:14). There are no exceptions mentioned here of angels, or an angel, who is something other then a ministering spirit (e.g. a supernatural evil entity at odds with God).

For these reasons alone, Satan (capital S) cannot be an angel.

December 16, 2008 7:52 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

I never knew that Romans was used in context for angels as well as men

And as for the Tempter who tempted Jesus in the desert, and the serpent who tricked Eve, and the Accuser who tried to prove that Job was worthless, these were not beings who were not of this world?

December 16, 2008 8:55 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Romans 6:23 is used in the context of sin, irrespective of the sinner.

As for who tempted Christ in the wilderness, the serpent in the Garden and Job's accuser, there's no need to view any of them as beings "not of this world".

The concept of sinful angels at odd with God is not a Bible-based doctrine.

December 17, 2008 9:40 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

this confuses me, because in Matthew 5:37, when Jesus talks about giving oaths, whe he talks of going no more than saying "yes and no" he says anything beyond cames comes from "the evil one" (I'll note that it was not in caps in the NIV version, which is what I'm using right now)

And the demon possessed men (or man, depending on which gospel) they beg Jesus not to be sent into the abyss (first, the very fact that they're called demons suggests them to be evil, that they have sinned, and their punishment isn't destruction, but ruination, notinh the abyss)

Jesus also talks of Beelzebub in Mattheew 12:22-29 (and of Satan with a capital S, although that could'vejust been an error in translation, I don't know) and of Satan having a kingdom

and for "evil" or "unclean" spirits, why are they caled spirits if they are not supernatural? what other beings ar there that are of this world that are called spirits?

December 18, 2008 3:54 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Mat 5:37 - "Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil." (KJV)

There's a post on demons here.

Beelzebub - this word is used primarily by the scribes and Pharisees as an accusation against Christ, never by Christ himself or any of the disciples/apostles to denote a supernatural evil force.

The Greek word for "spirit" is 'pneuma' and means 'breath' or 'air'. There's nothing inherently 'supernatural' about the word itself.

December 18, 2008 6:01 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

So am I to understand that the girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination nothing more than a mental illness (and I didn't know that there was a mental illness that allowed you to be an accurate fortune-teller) (Acts 16:16)

And that same spirit was called a he (I'm using the version you're using, the KJV) when Paul exorcised her from "him?"

I understand the part of speaking in one's language to get your point across, but I do not see the relevance applied to it here.

And is that same reason used for "when demons hear his name, they tremble" or is that Peter simply saying that Christ is greater than those demons (which I agree that is what he's saying, but why just not say that they don't exist instead?)

And as for Jude, does the same explanation go for there? "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;"

I would liketo right more, but I have to go now, and I'm not sure when I'll be able to get back on. It was a pleasure talking to you though. Thank you for your time.

December 19, 2008 12:27 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

The 'spirit' in Acts 16:16 isn't said to be a demon or evil. The key word however is 'divination', translated pythōn and the only time this word is used in the Bible.

in the Greek text it is, "the spirit of Python"; the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "the spirit Python"; the same with Apollo, who was called Pythius, as was his oracle, from the people coming to him, πυνθανεσθαι, to inquire of him and consult with him, about difficult matters (y); or rather from the Hebrew word פתן, which signifies a serpent; and so Apollo is said to have his name Pythius, from his killing the serpent Typhon, or Python (z); hence the city of Delphos, where was the oracle of Apollo, was called Pytho [John Gill's Exposition]

In other words, the people believed she had this spirit of Python and was able to predict the future, etc. Whatever her affliction however, it's clear her masters were using her strictly to make money. Notice that when they accused Paul and Silas, they make no mention of them 'removing' this so-called spirit, which would have been the obvious accusation had such a spirit been truly able to predict the future.

I see Paul's actions here as being quite noble - curing the woman and freeing her from the masters (not from a supernatural evil force - of which a reference to is entirely absent from this account).

As for Jude, this is talking about mortal men who are now dead ("everlasting chains under darkness") but whom will be "judged" when Christ returns ("the great day"). This is a reference to Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who were challenging Moses for the pre- eminence in front of the altar.

December 19, 2008 8:41 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

Hey Jason

I re-read the link concerning demons you gave me, but it still did not explain away why these "demons" spoke, and spoke of an abyss. I understand about speaking in one's beliefs in order to demonstrate truth, but this seems to be going too far.I flegion was not really many demons, but simply many illnesses, why would it speak as if it were a thing? How could it speak if it did not exist? Likewise it talked of an abyss, and these were not the words of Jesus or an apostle seeking to get the message spread. This passage does not help readers who believe in demons to understand that they don't exist, rather, this encourages the belief. And if I understand it correctly, even Jews during this time believed in demons.

There is also Jo, speaking of an "accuser" that was with two angels, and was able to speak to God (supposedly in a different realm) and was clearly seen as a being with supernatural powers. Now, I don't know if this book is regarded as a symbolic story, or if it was literally true. However, if it is taken to be literally true, this only supports the evidence in my eyes.

As for Peter's comments on demons, you still did not explain to me what he meant if we cannot take what he said at face value.

As for the girl "possessed by the spirit of Python" I understand that they didn't believe why python did not exist, but it still doesn't explain that this girl was able to make accurate predictions, such as her proclaiming out loud who Pual and Barnabas were asservants, and that they were proclaiming the way of salvation. For one, I do not understand how it would be noble of Paul to cast out that spirit on the basis that he was annoyed of what she was doing (following them around and procaiming what they were doing)

if anything, these versus encourage the belief in demons, and Jesus' and Paul's "exorcisms" do not repudiate the belief in demons, but rather encourage the belief. What it demonsrtates, rather, is their power over them.

January 18, 2009 1:59 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Danny,

The demons didn't speak, the person spoke. In someone with multiple personalities for example, who's actually do the speaking - the person or the sickness? Likewise, Legion spoke because Legion existed.

However, I don't see where Legion talks about an abyss...?

The Bible was written in the language of the day using symbols and analogies of the day and age in which Christ and the writers of the NT lived. 'Demons' and 'devils' were common descriptions used during the 1st century to describe illnesses that had no explanations. Today however, they do. For instance, when Legion was healed, he was said to be in his "right mind". Today, when people use the phrase "he's not in his right mind", they're not referring to demon possession, they're implying there's something psychologically wrong with the individual. With the proper treatment and medication, voila, the individual is back in his "right mind".

Regarding Job's accuser, he wasn't speaking to God in a different realm and his 'powers' were given by God (Job 1:12, 2:5-6). It's very important to remember that everything that happened to Job was a result of God: "...and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him..." (Job 42:11).

Regarding Peter's comments on demons, we can take what he's saying at face value. Peter never says demons are fallen angels or supernatural evil forces. If people think he's saying they are, they're merely reading their beliefs into his words.

Paul and Barnabas' identities certainly weren't a secret which is why the girl "possessed by a spirit" knew who they were. As for accurate predications, we have no way of knowing what her predictions were. Indeed, history is filled with people predicting all kinds of outcomes by using vague language and merely looking at history. Finally, Paul didn't heal her because he was annoyed, he did it because he was "grieved" (Acts 16:18). Personally, I think Paul was upset the girl was being used as a money-making tool by her masters. By healing her, he was, for all intents and purposes, freeing her.

January 18, 2009 5:34 PM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

Hey Jason

I am using the esv version for this: And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit,(AG) "I command you(AH) in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And(AI) it came out that very hour. (Acts 16:18)

As for Peter, if we are to take what he says at face value, what does he mean by demons, then?

hmm...this is wierd. In the NIV version of Mark 5:9, it sayd that legion doesn't want to go to the "abyss", but in the esv, which I prefer, it simply says that they don't want to be sent out of the country. However, in the ESV it is stated in luke that it was an "abyss" that they feared.

for Job's accuser,this is what was in the ESV: 6Now there was a day when(K) the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and(L) Satan[b] also came among them. 7The LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From(M) going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." 8And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you(N) considered my(O) servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth,(P) a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" 9Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason? 10Have you not put(Q) a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have(R) blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But(S) stretch out your hand and(T) touch all that he has, and he will(U) curse you(V) to your face." 12And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

I understand that the capital Satan may be from a "biased" perspective, however who are these "sons of God" stated to be with him? And his reply to THE LORD was kind of ambiguous. Was he just a traveler? It sounds too vague for me, and more ominous (however I am simply ignorant of what he meant)

And moreover, I still don't understand why they couldn't just say "there is no demon, and I'll prove it". Rather, they were daying, "there is a demon, but I can drive it away." For me, this does not refute the evidence of demons, it only encourages it.

January 19, 2009 3:32 AM  
Blogger sylvia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 19, 2009 8:49 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Danny,

The ASV and NIV uses 'troubled'. Nonetheless, I think we're arguing semantics here. The woman was being exploited by her masters and when she was cured, it was the masters who rose up against Paul and Barnabas, not the woman.

You said: As for Peter, if we are to take what he says at face value, what does he mean by demons, then?

For discussions on demons, I would suggest you read this post first.

You said: I understand that the capital Satan may be from a "biased" perspective, however who are these "sons of God" stated to be with him?

They were most likely righteous believers:

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Rom 8:14)

"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God..." (Phl 2:15)

You said: And his reply to THE LORD was kind of ambiguous. Was he just a traveler? It sounds too vague for me, and more ominous (however I am simply ignorant of what he meant)

He probably was a traveller. There's no reason to assume this means anything more then it does.

January 19, 2009 8:53 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

hey Jason

I understand what you mean by the Legion story, even though I am still unsure of whether or not it was demons that Jesus cast unto the pigs or if it too was the same mental illness that was affecting the man. Regardless, I still feel that in this passage and in others, it does not refute the existence of these demons, but rather, it not only encourages the belief, but also show that Christ and his disciples had power over these creatures. When I read the post about demons, the doctor said that this medicine will cure the demons. Now, I don't know whether or not the doctor simply left it at that, hoping that his patient would come to realize the irrationality of demons being pushed back by medicine, but as for the gospels, it does not show any evidence where people are coming to realize that their are no demons, rather, it is the unerstanding that they don't have to be afraid of them anymore. Just like when someone builds a basement as a defense against a tornado, he doesn't have to be afraid of the tornado, not because it doesn't exist, but because it no longer has any power over him. That is the understanding I get when I read these gospels.

As for the terminology in Acts 16, I agree, however, for me, the words used in any verse are extremely important, especially as one as this. Being "annoyed" or "troubled", when used in this context, are two different things. However, I don't believe we'll reach a conclusion anytime soon about which wording is correct, so I'll leave it alone for now.

Again, with Peter talking about the demons, I understand that he would be using certain terminology to reach out to these people, however, like I said before, what he is doing is not refuting the existence of demons, but acknowledging their existence and their weakness against Christ, that Christ's power is far greater than theirs. When Paul and Jesus were talking about some false issues, they would say, "if this was possible, then this would happen" essentially saying that "this belief is false, but even if it were true, it still does not have the effect you want it to have." When I find the verses I'll give them to you.

There are many verses indicating that "sons of God" were angels, I don't think that I have to bring up those verses, but if you like, I will.

I see that you haven't refuted my observation of Legion being afraid of this "abyss".

I also feel compeled to bring up revelation again, although I feel you'll simply dismiss it as symbolism. Yes, I understand it's symbolism, but symbolism of what? You have yet to explain what the dragon described in revelation is supposed to be. This dragon is able to smack 1/3 of the stars in heaven to earth (many see this to be a parallel of the angels who rebelled against God, led by Lucifer), is able to fight angels in heaven (at the very least, meaning that this fight does not take place on Earth) and is cast dow to Earth with the rest of the angels. If this does not symbolize some supernatural disburbance, I don't know what ever will.

January 19, 2009 6:05 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Danny,

There's a definite correlation between the many 'personalities' in Legion and the number of pigs that cast themselves into the see. Legion was well known in those parts and the means in which Jesus cured him would have been understood by all.

You said: Regardless, I still feel that in this passage and in others, it does not refute the existence of these demons, but rather, it not only encourages the belief, but also show that Christ and his disciples had power over these creatures.

Except that Christ, the disciples and the rest of Scripture is completely silent what these 'creatures' are, where they come from, and their purpose. In fact there's nothing in Scripture that requires these forces to be supernatural in nature.

I would also be very hesitant to say these references to demons encourage this belief. Jesus had to use language which was helpful to the sufferer. The sufferer had been told by those around him that his trouble was demon possession. Jesus had to deal with that fact in the process of hs healing work.

Jesus never once supports any of the current notions about demons (of which the Greeks and Jewish scholars had plenty), such as that demons were the spirits of dead people or were under the direction of Beelzebub. Nor does he associate them with the animal world, which is known to have been a belief of heathen people.

Christ's language is straightforward. Christ treats those who are said to be afflicted with evil spirits as sick people, and he heals them. The language is the language of healing.

What's interesting in these account of 'demons' is that there's a mixture of what is said to be the person speaking or the demons - but never of both at once. The records in which conversation takes place are those where the sufferer is mentally afflicted (not, for example, when the affliction was identified as a purely physically one).

It is important to take note of this fact. In his healing Jesus had need to communicate with the afflicted person, and he could only do so within the limitations of that person himself. It is interesting to note that whether the demon or the person answers, according to the record, there is no real evidence that there are two personalities in the conversation with Jesus.

The accounts can be understood well enough by regarding the conversations as being a afflicted person talking with the Lord in the only language he knew, and Christ sharing that language in order to deliver the sufferer from his plight. Talking as though there was a real demon is no different in essence from rebuking a fever as he did in the healing of Luke 4:39. It is very difficult to see what other kind of language the Lord could have used when speaking to a deluded person.

You said: There are many verses indicating that "sons of God" were angels, I don't think that I have to bring up those verses, but if you like, I will.

I agree but there are also verses that clearly show "sons of God" are righteous (mortal) believers. Therefore, in reading "sons of God", we have to look at the context before we can conclude the individuals are angels.

I see that you haven't refuted my observation of Legion being afraid of this "abyss".

I'm not sure what there is to refute...?

You said: You have yet to explain what the dragon described in revelation is supposed to be. This dragon is able to smack 1/3 of the stars in heaven to earth (many see this to be a parallel of the angels who rebelled against God, led by Lucifer), is able to fight angels in heaven (at the very least, meaning that this fight does not take place on Earth) and is cast dow to Earth with the rest of the angels. If this does not symbolize some supernatural disturbance, I don't know what ever will.

First, the connection between Revelation 12 and Daniel 7 must be noted. In Daniel 7, we find a beast revealed to Daniel in a vision, which appears very much like the beast of Revelation 12:

Daniel 7:
7 After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns.

Revelation 12:
3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

The similarity of these two beasts is significant, especially given the context of Daniel’s vision, in which empires are represented by beasts:

Daniel 7:23 This is what he said: “As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth that shall be different from all the other kingdoms; it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.

The fourth beast therefore represents the ‘fourth empire on earth’, the fourth in a list of empires of which Babylon is the first. This fourth beast must therefore represent the Roman empire, and when the same beast is seen in Revelation 12, there is every reason to conclude that it is speaking of the same empire.

When combined with the connection with Daniel 7, and its obvious use of beasts to represent empires, the conclusion is unavoidable – the dragon here in Revelation is not being used to represent a supernatural evil being, but to represent an empire which is hostile to God and His people – an adversary.

This belief has been held for centuries. Consider:

And behold a great red dragon: see Re 12:7,9,17. Most judicious interpreters, by the great red dragon, understand the Roman emperors that first persecuted: the Christian church, of which Claudius was the first; yet some understand it of the devil, the old serpent; but the most and best interpreters understand it of the pagan emperors, by whom the devil did this work, called a great dragon, because of the vastness of that empire; a red dragon, for their cruelty against the Christians.’

(Matthew Poole, ‘New Testament Commentary’, note on Revelation 12:3, 1685)

January 20, 2009 9:40 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

Hey Jason, sorry for the wait-

- You said: Except that Christ, the disciples and the rest of Scripture is completely silent what these 'creatures' are, where they come from, and their purpose. In fact there's nothing in Scripture that requires these forces to be supernatural in nature.

Me: That is not true: "You belong to your father, thedevil, 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.Whe he lies, he speaks his nativelanguage for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) (NIV), "As soon as Judas took the Bread, Satan entered into him" (John 13:27) (NIV), Luke 4:1-13 explicitly stating that the devil not only tempts Jesus, but that he was given authority over the kingdoms of the world, which Jesus does not deny, but instead simply states that he should worship God, not the devil, and later on, when he is resurrected, claims that he is in authority now, "The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.' He replied, "I saw Satan fall likelightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy. However, donot rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20) "I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagouge of Satan Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devilwill out some of you in prison to test you, and you will sufferpersecution for ten days..." (Revelation 2:10), "I know where you live - where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name..." (Revelation 2:12)

we get our sources from other literature included in the Bible (such as Jude, the writer used literature not used in the Bible, such as the reference to Michael and the devil's dispute over the body of Moses). Your previous argument fits in here as well: Jesus talked to people in the way they could understand, int his case he would not have to explain about the origin of demonms in order for people to believe in them. It was a common belief that they had, not soemthing entirely new.

As for the dragon, you ddin't mention Revelation 12:7-9, describing in detail about Michael and his angels fighting the dragon, and the dragon and his angels "losing their place in heaven". I can see your parallel with Daniel's vision, but these verses keep me from seeing it your way. As for the great empires or kingdoms, I see that more with the beast from the sea.

The people whom you reference to not believing that the dragon was the devil STILL BELIEVED IN THE DEVIL, AS WELL AS THAT THE DEVIL WAS WORKING THROUGH THEM. (I'm capitalizing because I still have not learned how to italicize).

Me: I see that you haven't refuted my observation of Legion being afraid of this "abyss".

You: I'm not sure what there is to refute...?

Me: I meant that you were asking me were abyss was found in scripture, and after I gave you the source, you left it at that. I was expecting some kind of argument against it, which was why I was surprised you didn't bring it up.

February 01, 2009 3:36 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Danny,

The five references you provided (John 8:44, John 13:27, Luke 4:1-13, Luke 10:17, and Revelation 2:10) don't mention 'demons' nor do any of these verses demand the existence of supernatural evil creatures. My point remains that nothing in Scripture requires the existence of these supernatural evil creatures.

You said: As for the dragon, you ddin't mention Revelation 12:7-9, describing in detail about Michael and his angels fighting the dragon, and the dragon and his angels "losing their place in heaven". I can see your parallel with Daniel's vision, but these verses keep me from seeing it your way.

Revelation is not only a book of symbols, but also a book comprised entirely of "things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev 1:1). It can't, therefore, describe a past event. On the other hand, the parallel between Daniel 7 and Revelation 12 fits perfectly.

You said: I meant that you were asking me were abyss was found in scripture, and after I gave you the source, you left it at that. I was expecting some kind of argument against it, which was why I was surprised you didn't bring it up.

I left it at that because I don't see the argument here. Christ was in the "abyss" (Romans 10:7) which tells me the "abyss" is simply the grave, a place reserved for the dead.

February 01, 2009 4:15 PM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

Hey Jason

You said: The five references you provided (John 8:44, John 13:27, Luke 4:1-13, Luke 10:17, and Revelation 2:10) don't mention 'demons' nor do any of these verses demand the existence of supernatural evil creatures. My point remains that nothing in Scripture requires the existence of these supernatural evil creatures.

Me: On the contrary, when Jesus was tempted, that would require for that being who tempted Jesus ot exist. Also, how could he have been the authoritative figure over all these nations, and yet be a human? He would have been exceedingly famous. When the 72 disciples went to Jesus rejoicing that the demons submitted to them, Jessu did not refute what they said. Rather, he told them that they should be happy because of something even greater than having authority over demons. My point has always been that nowhere in Scripture does it point out that demons do not exist. Everywhere I see, when I see it within the context of the writing, only encouraged those beliefs. he miracles did not stop them from believing. Also, you told me of the writers not needing to explain things that people already knew. I found another verse holding that Satan (personal) exists, and his nature: For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. (2nd Corinthians 11:13-15)

Thank you for your point about revelation, I had missed that part, however, for me it still does not take away from the importance of what it's saying: That heavenly beings fall rom the sky, that this dragon that is supposed to be a bunch of evil empires somehow rise to the heavens to fight the angels, and that the dragon has angels subordinate to him. I guess this is significant to me because this points in the other direction, that angels canot rebel against God and cannot sin. (and therefore, cannot die).

February 02, 2009 8:26 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Danny,

My original point was that Christ, the disciples and the rest of Scripture is completely silent what these 'creatures' are, where they come from, and their purpose. In fact there's nothing in Scripture that requires these forces to be supernatural in nature.

You then provided verses which refer to a 'devil', not demons...

On the contrary, when Jesus was tempted, that would require for that being who tempted Jesus ot exist.

I agree. But the entity tempting Jesus isn't required to be a supernatural evil force. In fact, when you look at the account closely, I think you'll see that the 'adversary' tempting Jesus in the wilderness was actually himself.

Also, how could he have been the authoritative figure over all these nations, and yet be a human? He would have been exceedingly famous.

He didn't need to be famous. He only needed to have the authority to rule over the kingdoms of men - which Christ did.

When the 72 disciples went to Jesus rejoicing that the demons submitted to them, Jessu did not refute what they said. Rather, he told them that they should be happy because of something even greater than having authority over demons. My point has always been that nowhere in Scripture does it point out that demons do not exist.

Where do they exist in the Old Testament?

Evidence for something not existing isn't proof it does. If demons do exist and if they are supernatural evil creatures, why is Scripture completely silent about what they are, where they came from, and why they're limited to inflicting people with sicknesses that today can be cured with medicine?

Everywhere I see, when I see it within the context of the writing, only encouraged those beliefs. he miracles did not stop them from believing.

I see nothing in the NT indicating the disciples or anyone they were teaching believed these 'demons' were supernatural creatures sent from who-knows-where by who-knows-who.

Also, you told me of the writers not needing to explain things that people already knew. I found another verse holding that Satan (personal) exists, and his nature: For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. (2nd Corinthians 11:13-15)

The Satan of this passage is not a rebel angel but rebel Jewish adversaries who were undermining the apostle Paul's influence in the Corinthian ecclesia. (See 2 Cor. 10:2, 10-18; 11:3-26). As Paul said: "for such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder for even Satan {the chief leader} disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants {misguided supporters} also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." (vs. 13-15, R.S.V.).

Thank you for your point about revelation, I had missed that part, however, for me it still does not take away from the importance of what it's saying: That heavenly beings fall rom the sky, that this dragon that is supposed to be a bunch of evil empires somehow rise to the heavens to fight the angels, and that the dragon has angels subordinate to him.

If you're going to treat everything in this account as symbolic (and I suggest we should), it doesn't make sense to only treat 'heaven' as being literal. Remember, we pray that God's "will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Why would we want God's will on earth if He wills heaven to be a battleground?

I guess this is significant to me because this points in the other direction, that angels canot rebel against God and cannot sin. (and therefore, cannot die).

Bingo.

February 03, 2009 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Jesus silent on what these 'creatures" are?

John 3:12 - I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

1 Cor 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Why would we judge angels if they had not sinned?

March 30, 2009 11:52 AM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

hey Jason,

Sorry for the long break.

You said: My original point was that Christ, the disciples and the rest of Scripture is completely silent what these 'creatures' are, where they come from, and their purpose. In fact there's nothing in Scripture that requires these forces to be supernatural in nature.

Me: I understand that it is silent, but it is silent for a reason. The talk of unclean spirits were, as you said, directed to the population who ALREADY BELIEVED IN SPIRITS, AND HAD PRECONCIEVED NOTIONS about them. The authors were silent either because they didn't know what they were, or becasue the population didn't need an explaination, just like they didn't need an explaination for what a cross was, or where the river of Jordan was located.

You said: I agree. But the entity tempting Jesus isn't required to be a supernatural evil force. In fact, when you look at the account closely, I think you'll see that the 'adversary' tempting Jesus in the wilderness was actually himself.

I completely disagree. I understand that it only makes a little sense if I were to believe that Jesus was a man who was capable of sinning, i.e. not God, and if the CHristadelphian understanding is true, that it would make a little more sense. But when I look at the passage, all I see is an external force telling Jesus of these things, not him expressing his own desires.


You said: He didn't need to be famous. He only needed to have the authority to rule over the kingdoms of men - which Christ did.

When the 72 disciples went to Jesus rejoicing that the demons submitted to them, Jessu did not refute what they said. Rather, he told them that they should be happy because of something even greater than having authority over demons. My point has always been that nowhere in Scripture does it point out that demons do not exist.

Where do they exist in the Old Testament?

Evidence for something not existing isn't proof it does. If demons do exist and if they are supernatural evil creatures, why is Scripture completely silent about what they are, where they came from, and why they're limited to inflicting people with sicknesses that today can be cured with medicine?

Everywhere I see, when I see it within the context of the writing, only encouraged those beliefs. he miracles did not stop them from believing.

I see nothing in the NT indicating the disciples or anyone they were teaching believed these 'demons' were supernatural creatures sent from who-knows-where by who-knows-who.

Also, you told me of the writers not needing to explain things that people already knew. I found another verse holding that Satan (personal) exists, and his nature: For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. (2nd Corinthians 11:13-15)

The Satan of this passage is not a rebel angel but rebel Jewish adversaries who were undermining the apostle Paul's influence in the Corinthian ecclesia. (See 2 Cor. 10:2, 10-18; 11:3-26). As Paul said: "for such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder for even Satan {the chief leader} disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants {misguided supporters} also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." (vs. 13-15, R.S.V.).

You said: If you're going to treat everything in this account as symbolic (and I suggest we should), it doesn't make sense to only treat 'heaven' as being literal. Remember, we pray that God's "will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Why would we want God's will on earth if He wills heaven to be a battleground?

Me: I find it wrong to think that because we should take everything in Revelation to be symbolic, that that means that nothing in this book should be taken literally. I guess we shouldn't take literally that Jesus as presented in Revelation is exalted, or that there will be a great evil that will rule over the earth, etc. This passage is indicating that there will be a war among the heavenly beings, regaradless if a dragon or the Loch Ness monster is used.

Me: I guess this is significant to me because this points in the other direction, that angels canot rebel against God and cannot sin. (and therefore, cannot die).

You: Bingo.

I had mis-commented. What i meant to say was that they CAN sin and rebel, looking at the passages above.

I also agree with anonymous, although I'm half-expecting you to come up with a reply that these "angels" are not really angels, but human messengers.

April 15, 2009 3:04 PM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

By the way, I don't believe the Bible to be innerant, so it makes it easier for me to believe that the authors of the books had different beliefs as well.

April 15, 2009 3:05 PM  
Blogger dannydamagichobo said...

AH it appears that I forgot to reply to your explanation of 2nd Corinthians

seeing it that way, it makes alot of sense too.

My question is (although I think i know your answer) why it would be translated into "angel" and not messenger? Is it because it was translated by Christians who believed in the mainstream understanding of Christianity?

April 15, 2009 3:40 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Hi Danny,

I understand that it is silent, but it is silent for a reason. The talk of unclean spirits were, as you said, directed to the population who ALREADY BELIEVED IN SPIRITS, AND HAD PRECONCIEVED NOTIONS about them. The authors were silent either because they didn't know what they were, or becasue the population didn't need an explaination, just like they didn't need an explaination for what a cross was, or where the river of Jordan was located.I agree. Either way, there is no Biblical teaching that requires these things to be supernatural in nature. Therefore, if we claim otherwise, it's not a Bible-based conclusion. Considering the topic of this thread is Satan, to keep things on topic, I would suggest we discuss demons at the relevant thread and not here.

I understand that it only makes a little sense if I were to believe that Jesus was a man who was capable of sinning, i.e. not God, and if the Christadelphian understanding is true, that it would make a little more sense. But when I look at the passage, all I see is an external force telling Jesus of these things, not him expressing his own desires.Well, it either makes sense or it doesn't. :) Considering he had gone 40 days without food or water, I personally have no problem whatsoever imaging that Christ was fighting an internal battle. This viewpoint maintains the consistency of Scripture regarding the source of temptation.

My point has always been that nowhere in Scripture does it point out that demons do not exist.I agree. But this isn't acceptable evidence to suggest they DO exist.

I find it wrong to think that because we should take everything in Revelation to be symbolic, that that means that nothing in this book should be taken literally.I'm not suggesting we take everything in the book of Revelation symbolically, only the passage you were referring to. If a group of verses are symbolic, it doesn't make sense to take out one word and treat it literally.

This passage is indicating that there will be a war among the heavenly beings, regaradless if a dragon or the Loch Ness monster is used.Do you believe a literal dragon will wage a literal war in the literal heavens?

I had mis-commented. What i meant to say was that they CAN sin and rebel, looking at the passages above.The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If angels can sin, angels can die. However, the Bible says angels can't die (Luke 20:36) and that they're all ministering spirits (Heb 1:14). This is why Satan can't be an angel.

I also agree with anonymous, although I'm half-expecting you to come up with a reply that these "angels" are not really angels, but human messengers.The Greek word literally means "messenger" and in some instances, angels are human messengers.

My question is (although I think i know your answer) why it would be translated into "angel" and not messenger? Is it because it was translated by Christians who believed in the mainstream understanding of Christianity?It was translated "angel" because the Greek word is pronounced "ängelo". There are thousands and thousands of English words which are based on the pronunciation of the original Greek or Latin. "Angel" happens to be one of them.

April 16, 2009 4:54 PM  
Anonymous joe said...

It is very clear to say that the Devil formerly known as Lucifer currently called Satan was once a heavenly being. read the book of Ezekiel and Isaiah

October 05, 2012 3:40 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Hi Joe - which verses in particular?

October 05, 2012 1:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin Hahn said...

Interesting conversation. There is a need for greater revelation than what i am seeing here. You guys are so close on so many ideas. Come, let us reason together. If either of you are interested in more just say so. I do not wish to embark where i am not invited. Have a great day guys!

February 05, 2016 6:04 AM  
Blogger jason said...

Hi Kevin - Happy to have a chat. What would you like to discuss?

February 05, 2016 12:22 PM  

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