Friday's Question of the Day: Is the Devil Real?

Is the Devil real? Is he a medieval  creation?

Is the adversary more of an it, a creation of humanity, found in humanity, but personified?

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49 Replies to “Friday's Question of the Day: Is the Devil Real?”

  1. Definitely real, as testified by scripture. The devil is an adversary that Christian’s should be constantly guarded against, through the Word and through prayer.

  2. The adversary is real. The term translated as Satan is literally Adversary. He was around in the Old Testament times, as well as in the New Testament times.

    1 Chronicles 21:1
    “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.”

    Job 1:6-8
    “6 And the day is, that sons of God come in to station themselves by Jehovah, and there doth come also the Adversary in their midst. 7 And Jehovah saith unto the Adversary, `Whence comest thou?’ And the Adversary answereth Jehovah and saith, `From going to and fro in the land, and from walking up and down on it.’ 8 And Jehovah saith unto the Adversary, `Hast thou set thy heart against My servant Job because there is none like him in the land, a man perfect and upright, fearing God, and turning aside from evil?’ ”

    2 Corinthians 11:14
    “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

    2 Thessalonians 2:8-10
    “8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

  3. I think Satan developed as an individualized opponent to God at the end of the exile and into the Second Temple Period. The only verses that treat the word as an actual individual come from post-exilic texts. The gentleman above cited 1 Chr 21:1, which, in 2 Sam 24:1 says YHWH incited David. Job is also a very late text that explores Second Temple questions of righteousness and suffering.

    Before the exile, there was very little sense of individual responsibility and salvation. Corporate responsibility was what God was concerned with. As God was elevated further and further from humanity and as Israel lost self-autonomy and was fractured and spread across the Near East, corporate responsibility gave way to individualized responsibility, which created a need for individualized soteriology. In the process, God was separated even more from humanity through the conceptualization of an independent source of evil (originally evil came from YHWH – see Isa 45:6-7), which was Satan.

  4. Fr. Robert-

    Thanks for the response. I personally am a believer in a spiritual adversary, but I do my best to approach the Bible from an agnostic point of view in my scholarship. If we treat the Bible as a univocal text we can perhaps harmonize the serpent with Satan, but the identification is not demanded. I believe Genesis 3 is earlier than Genesis 1 and pre-exilic, but I don’t think that undermines my Second Temple dating for Satan as an individualized figure. I’ll take a look at Bullinger’s text, as well.

  5. PS…I wish I could have quoted Bullinger’s note here on Gen. 3, but it is simply too long. But at least see the Hebrew word here for serpent (Nachash, a shining one). Also with 2 Cor. 11:3 “as the serpent beguiled (deceived) Eve through his subtilty (craftiness)” & 11:14…”an angel of light” (= a glorious angel). Note also, “subtil” (KJV) Gen. 3:1. Indeed Satan’s wisdom (so-called) was personal, and with much craft!
    Fr. R.

  6. Daniel,
    I am aware of the pre-exilic ideas of Gen. 3 verses Gen. 1. All I can say is that I don’t buy it! It is only guess work. And sadly too so is much of the Second Temple stuff. Tom Wright is a good theolog in places. But, I am not a fan always of his scripture exegesis. Especially on the issue of women in the bible, etc. But these are my thoughts anyway. Please do yourself a favor and check out Bullinger on at least Gen. 3. Thanks.
    Fr. R.

  7. Fr. Robert-

    I generally put Genesis 1 in the late pre-exilic period, with 2-3 around the monarchy, originally. I don’t date any of them to the Second Temple Period, although I do think some redaction took place then. I will check out Bullinger, though, but probably not today.

  8. Daniel,

    Redaction criticism, which is as you know an editoral process is such guess work. It is so really hard for us to know with any certainty the materials and proccesses used. I have no doubt that the very early aspect is there, but we just often have to take the text as it is, and where it is. And especially with Genesis this is very hard. Right now it is sort of a hobby horse with many. Least this is my feeling. Personally we must use redaction only in broad and general terms and ideas. As pre and post-exilic, etc. The Word of God is historical, but unto God’s plan and unity In Christ! Again, my thoughts at least. I am basicly a biblical conservative. All of our tools and processes must be laid at the feet of God’s Revelation! & Word Itself!
    Fr. R.

  9. I know the Devil is real. About a week after I first felt the Holy Spirit, I also felt the Devil when he put thoughts into my head to try and counter my relationship with Jesus. Praying to the Holy Spirit for help made him go away. The Devil had plainly influenced my life before then but I had never felt him. I try not to let the Devil influence me, asking and letting Jesus to lead me in the right direction.

    Jesus. He is not a way to Heaven. He is the way to Heaven.

  10. 1 Peter 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

    You better believe it!

  11. Daniel,
    The problem for me with much of this, is the historical presuppositions. The second temple was the time of the Apocrypha, an we simply cannot take it down whole, such as 1 Enoch, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Jubilees, 2 Baruch, and many others, etc.
    Fr. R.

  12. Joel,
    This may be true, but we simply cannot make it all canonical, or build doctrine and dogma here. This appears what Daniel is seeking to prove by his idea of this history. This is not the real Anglican position. Note, my careful words “historical presuppositions”.
    Fr. R.

  13. Joel,
    We agree here, but when God chose to use something, like Enoch, it was only that portion that God used and chose from Enoch, and thus only that itself became canonical. Note carefully that St. Paul nowhere directly quotes the Apocrypha, or deuterocanon. He no doubt read it, used it somewhat, but God choose not to make it canon. We simply must maintain this, if we are going to be reformational, reformed and even Anglican. Note Article VI, in the Anglican Articles of Religion. I love of course the Wisdom books therein, but we must see this history (and the Second Temple lit.) for what it is. In the wisdom books, perhaps closer to Christ, but it is still not canon. If we go where Rome and the Orthodox do, then we do lose the Text alone, and the Church becomes the final authority. Speaking for myself, I cannot go here.
    Fr. R.

  14. Daniel,
    As I said, redaction criticism really does not bring us closer to the text so much, as just more questions. That line you call arbitrary, is what really belongs to God. And again, we “have” both the canon and the Revelation of God. How we really got it is of course just academic and theoretical. Sure we can find benefit here somewhat to sources and perhaps the historical? But in the end, we are simply left with the Judeo-Christian covenant and its revelation of God, and what else do we really need? Any further redaction criticism is guess work and maybe even false leads and detriment. All biblical criticism must be a servant to the Judeo Christian truth!
    As to Hellenization and the NT, this also must have limits, Diaspora Judaism, etc.
    Fr. R.

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