Many people find the existence of Satan (i.e. the devil) and demons disturbing and choose to avoid the subject. But to live the Christian life it is vital to understand our chief opponents. Moreover, the Bible has a lot to say about Satan and demons – much of which is in fact encouraging to believers.
Matt 13:19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one [Satan] comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path. NET
Luke 22:3-4 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples. 4So Judas went off and spoke with the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard about how he could betray Jesus to them. GNT
2Cor 4:4 In their case the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. ESV
John 8:44 [Jesus, to the Jews:] You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. NET
Acts 13:9-10 But Saul (also known as Paul), filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at him [the magician Elymas] 10and said, “You who are full of all deceit and all wrongdoing, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness – will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? NET
Ezek 28:12, 15-17 Son of man, sing a lament for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: “‘You were the sealer of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. … 15You were blameless in your behavior from the day you were created, until sin was discovered in you. 16In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I defiled you and banished you from the mountain of God – the guardian cherub expelled you from the midst of the stones of fire. 17Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor. I threw you down to the ground; I placed you before kings, that they might see you. NET
This is either simply “a lament for the king of Tyre” (v. 12) containing highly figurative language, or additionally also descriptive of Satan.
Matt 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard this they said, “He does not cast out demons except by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons!” NET
The name “Beelzebul” refers to Satan. The description of him as “the ruler of demons” points to his extraordinary power.
Heb 2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he [Christ] likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), … NET
This most likely refers to Satan’s power to induce people to sin and so to render them subject to the penalty of death. As such he effectively wields the power of death, an aspect of his very formidable power. In its ultimate or eternal sense, however, this power has now been nullified by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
Luke 4:5-6 Then the devil led him [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “To you I will grant this whole realm – and the glory that goes along with it, for it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. NET
1Jn 5:19 [John:] We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. NET
Eph 2:2 [Paul, to believers in Ephesus:] Yes, in the past you lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit [Satan] is now working in those who refuse to obey God. NCV™
2Tim 2:25b-26 Perhaps God will grant them [false teachers] repentance and then knowledge of the truth 26and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will. NET
Rom 16:20a [Paul, to believers:] The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. NET
Luke 11:14, 21-22 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began to speak, and the crowds were amazed. … 21[Jesus:] When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe. 22But when a stronger man attacks and conquers him, he takes away the first man’s armor on which the man relied and divides up his plunder. NET
In v. 22 Jesus is referring to his overpowering of Satan, stripping him of his power and taking what was his – a truth demonstrated by Jesus driving out demons (v. 14) and thus releasing people from Satan’s grip.
John 16:11b … the ruler of this world has been condemned. NET
Eph 6:11, 16 [Paul, to believers:] Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. … 16and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. NET
1Pet 5:8 [Peter, to believers:] Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. NET
1Thes 3:5 [Paul, to believers in Thessalonica:] So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless. NET
2Cor 11:3 [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. NET
Paul was concerned that just as Eve was deceived by Satan, the Corinthians may also be led astray by false teachers who were ultimately inspired by Satan.
Job 2:7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and he afflicted Job with a malignant ulcer from the sole of his feet to the top of his head. NET
Rev 2:10 [Jesus Christ, to the church in Smyrna:] Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself. NET
1Cor 10:13 [Paul, to believers:] No temptation has overtaken you that is unusual for human beings. But God is faithful, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength. Instead, along with the temptation he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to endure it. ISV
2Cor 12:7-9 [Paul:] So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful physical problem was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud. 8I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. NCV™
Paul’s affliction apparently came from Satan. But Paul implies that Jesus Christ permitted it, using it to both keep Paul from becoming conceited (v. 7) and make Paul receptive to Christ’s power working in him. As such, this passage illustrates that God and Jesus Christ may permit Satan to afflict their people, but only in accordance with their purposes.
Job 1:8-11 So the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.” 9Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? 10Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land. 11But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!” NET
The Greek word from which “Devil” comes, means “an accuser, a slanderer”. In being used of Satan it points to him carrying out such activity, notably accusing and slandering believers before God (as is the case in this passage). To what extent Satan is still able to accuse believers before God, if at all, depends partly on the meaning of Revelation 12:7-12.
Evil spiritual forces are referred to by a number of names, including “demons”, “evil spirits”, “spirits” and even “angels”, with a number of verses correlating demons with fallen angels (cf. Demons face eternal punishment). In order to be concise, only “Demons” has been used in this and the following subheadings.
Eph 6:12 [Paul, to believers:] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. NET
The terms “rulers” and “powers” are indicative of the great – but limited – power of demons. The last two clauses appear to together refer to the whole of the spiritual realm.
Rev 12:7-9 Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. 9So that huge dragon – the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world – was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him. NET
This illustrates that evil angels or demons are aligned with Satan.
1Tim 4:1-2 Now the Holy Spirit clearly says that in the later times some people will stop believing the faith. They will follow spirits that lie and teachings of demons. 2Such teachings come from the false words of liars whose consciences are destroyed as if by a hot iron. NCV™
Note that this refers to the teachings of demons as being spread by false teachers.
Matt 8:28 When he [Jesus] came to the other side, to the region of the Gadarenes, two demon–possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were extremely violent, so that no one was able to pass by that way. NET
Acts 19:13 But some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits, saying, “I sternly warn you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” NET
Matt 15:22 A Canaanite woman from that area came to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter has a demon, and she is suffering very much.” NCV™
Luke 9:39 [A father of a demon-possessed boy:] A spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions and causes him to foam at the mouth. It hardly ever leaves him alone, torturing him severely. NET
James 2:19 You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear. NET
Mark 1:25-27 But Jesus rebuked him [a demon–possessed man]: “Silence! Come out of him!” 26After throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27They were all amazed so that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands the unclean spirits and they obey him.” NET
Matt 25:41 Then he [Jesus Christ] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! NET