Who Is Satan? Is He Eternal?

Who Satan is and how he operates are large areas of debate within the religious and non religious community. Questions like: “Is Satan Eternal?” and “Did God Create Evil By Creating Satan?” are viable starting points for discussion and areas that should be addressed.

In order to first tackle the topic, one must define religious dualism. Religious dualism promotes the idea that there are two mutual hostile forces or beings in the world with one representing good and the other representing evil where the universe becomes the battleground[1]. The Bible teaches that these two beings are God and Satan, with God representing all that is good and Satan representing all that is wicked and against God.  We must recognize that Christian teaching varies from religious dualism slightly, in that, Christian theology does not consider Satan to be either original or ultimate, and therefore he is said to be excluded from the universe[2].

Satan used to be an angel by the name of Lucifer who led a rebellion against God and was justly cast from Heaven along with the angels who tried to assist him[3]. The Bible only asserts God as being eternal and the author of Creation. Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14:12-17 seem to present Satan’s back story[4] as well as God delivering prophecy against him[5]. The most common objection to presenting these two passages as referring to Satan is that they may merely refer to worldly kings[6]. However, the prophecies themselves seem to transcend earthly rulers and Scripture draws a close parallel between Satan and world government’s wickedness[7]. We must understand that The Bible contains extensive prophecy promising followers that Satan will be cast away from this world. Without the promise of Satan’s ultimate casting into Hell, God could not be the ultimate good in the face of complete wickedness. Prophecy clearly states that Satan will be cast into Hell for all of eternity after a final war against God that results in another failed effort[8].

God did not create evil as some suggest. We must recognize that initially, Satan was created with complete perfection[9]. His rebellion against God created a void between he and God. Satan became consumed by evil through his rebellion and brought it into the world when he fell. While true that God sent Lucifer from Heaven, Satan made the decision of his own will to become the embodiment of evil. I have heard it suggested that God allows Satan to exist because He believes Satan will ultimately repent. This is completely inaccurate. Satan’s existence is reflective of God’s gift of free will and enables man to make a choice between good and evil.

Satan is not God’s equal, and he is subservient to Him. As stated before, God created Lucifer. Anything God creates, He intends to be used to glorify Himself[10] and simply because Lucifer rebelled against God does not negate his origin. God is eternal and Satan’s existence is a “flash in the pan” in comparison. God’s omnipotence and omniscience limit the powers that Satan has[11]. Calling on God in prayer and study works as a shield and deliverance from Satan’s power and Satan’s tactics.

I stand by my prior proposal that God allows Satan to exist in order to give man free will and a choice between good and evil. The debate can very well occur as to why Satan has been given this long to exist within the world, but that argument relies on blaming Satan for the sins we commit. In reality, we have the ability to choose between good and evil and to seek God or resist Him. None of us are incapable of sin, only Jesus was able to resist it. But we must recognize that our failures at righteous living are uniquely our own. Ultimately, because Satan’s power is restricted, God is able to help us resist and avoid Satan’s advances.

Therefore, not only is Satan not eternal, he is limited in his power by the mere fact he is a creation. Even though he was created with perfection, he was not given the power of omnipotence and omniscience because those traits uniquely belong to God and give Him reign over all things. I do not believe that Satan created evil, rather I believe evil came about as a result of his actions and it consumed him. I make this distinction because Satan cannot create things.

In short, Satan is temporary, but God is eternal.


[1] Elwell, Walter A.  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.  2nd ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker,

2001, p 357

[2] Elwell, 357.

[3] “fallen angels”. Elwell, 1054.

[4] Ezekiel 28:15, Isaiah 14:12-17 details Satan’s attempts to overthrow God and how unsuccessful he was.

[5] Ezekiel 28: 16-26.

[6] king of Tyre in Ezekiel. king of Babylon in Isaiah. Elwell, 1054.

[7] Elwell, 1054.

[8] Revelation 28:10

[9] Ezekiel 28:15

[10] Isaiah 43:7

[11] Elwell, p 1054.

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charlestinsley

My name is Charlie Tinsley and I blog about The Bible. In particular, I post my thoughts, commentaries, and Bible Study teachings I have done. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Science in Religion Summa Cum Laude with a Biblical Studies Minor. I am currently studying for a Masters In Divinity at Eastern Mennonite Seminary with PhD ambitions in the study of Theology. I am married and have been for several years and I currently reside in Virginia.

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