Satan’s Identity Reconsidered -- By: Gary A. Galeotti

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 15:2 (Spring 1998)
Article: Satan’s Identity Reconsidered
Author: Gary A. Galeotti


Satan’s Identity Reconsidered

Gary A. Galeotti

Professor of Old Testament
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

Faculty lecture presented at Binkley Chapel
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587
October 28, 1997

Through the centuries Satan’s identity has bean going through a process of change. His identity has become a blending of Scripture, tradition, and speculation. The arts, literature, and mythology have all made their contribution to his distorted identity.1 The popular concept of Satan dressed in red and having horns, hooves, and a tail is a good example of this eclecticism at work. These distortions are due in part to the small amount of attention that the Bible has given to Satan. There are fewer than 120 verses that refer directly to either Satan or the devil, and the overwhelming majority of these verses are found in the New Testament. The Bible’s lack of attention to Satan is justified, however, for God and not Satan is its focus. This limitation of biblical information to this intriguing and perplexing subject leaves it dangerously open to speculation, distortion, and confusion which ironically helps Satan to accomplish his evil purposes.2

The initial question of Satan’s identity is directly related to a second question concerning the location of his first rebellion. The second question, in the opinion of the writer, is primary to identifying properly who Satan actually is. This study will limit its inquiry to these two questions and to their primary areas of concern. Where did Satan’s initial rebellion take place? Did Satan rebel first in heaven or possibly here on earth? The traditional conservative view of Satan’s fall holds that it took place in heaven where he was a cherub of highest rank.3 The second view which is still undeveloped is drawn both from the Scriptures and from the insights of others. The latter view has Satan’s initial rebellion taking place here on earth. He did not usurp the role of prince of the air; he was

created as such from the beginning. Thus his rank was on a lower level than that of Michael or Gabriel.4

This work has five parts. Part 1 raises several questions concerning the traditional view of Satan. Part 2 is a summary of the historical development of how Satan has been understood through the centuries. Part 3 considers certain key Old Testament passages ...

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