Who in Hell is Satan?

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Chronicles of the Nephilim has largely been based upon the Divine Council worldview that has been explained in many free articles on the Chronicles Links Page and my book When Giants Were Upon the Earth. This involves the fallen Watchers from God’s heavenly host who are called the Sons of God. They led the world astray in the Days of Noah, that led to the Flood as Yahweh’s judgment. Deuteronomy 32:8-9, then speaks of how at the Tower of Babel, Yahweh divided the seventy nations according to the number of the fallen Sons of God and placed them under their authority. They became the “princes” (Dan. 10:13, 20-21) or “gods” of those pagan nations (Deut. 32:17; 4:19-21), rulers of those geographical territories.[1]

So the headline was a trick, ya see, because Satan isn’t in hell, he’s in the heavens (Eph 2:2).

When earthly rulers battle on earth, the Bible describes the host of heaven battling with them in spiritual unity. In Daniel 10, hostilities between Greece and Persia is accompanied by the battle of heavenly Watchers over those Gentile nations (described as “princes”).

Daniel 10:13, 20
The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.” …Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come.

When Sisera fought with Israel, the earthly kings and heavenly authorities (host of heaven) are described interchangeably in unity.[2] (previous posts showed that in the Bible, “host of heaven” and “stars” are used to mean both the stars we see in the sky and the gods of the nations, interchangeably Deut. 32:43; 4:19; ; Isa 14:12-13)

Judges 5:19–20
“The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan…From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.

When God punishes earthly rulers, he punishes them along with the heavenly rulers (“host of heaven”) above and behind them.

Isaiah 24:21–22
On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.[3]

Though this notion of territorial archons or spiritual rulers is Biblical and carries over into intertestamental literature such as the Book of Enoch (1 En. 89:59, 62-63; 67) and others,[4] it seems to lessen at the time of the New Testament.

Ad300x250-BookofEnochThe New Testament epistles speak of the spiritual principalities and powers that are behind the earthly rulers and powers to be sure (Eph. 6:12-13), but it appears to be more generic in reference. And after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, these spiritual powers have been disarmed and overthrown (Col. 2:15, Luke 10:18), at least legally losing their hegemony (Eph. 1:20-23).

The fallen angelic powers are still around in the first century, but have been defanged with the inauguration of the Messianic kingdom of God.

But there is one of those fallen angelic powers that seems to rise up and grab extraordinary power in the New Testament: The satan (which translated, means, “Accuser”). The Accuser’s choice of Belial as a proper name in Jesus Triumphant is well-attested in Scripture and other ancient Jewish writings, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran.[6] He is also called Beliar, Mastema, and Sammael in other Second Temple literature.[7] (For more details on the satan in the Old Testament, see my book When Giants Were Upon the Earth)

Throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew word belial is used as a personification of death, wickedness, and treachery, as well as “an emotive term to describe individuals or groups who commit the most heinous crimes against the Israelite religious or social order, as well as their acts.”[8] (For more details on the satan in the Old Testament, see my book When Giants Were Upon the Earth)

The Apostle Paul uses the proper name of Belial for the satan (using language similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls) in 2 Corinthians 6:14–15: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial?”

Three times in the Gospel of John, this Accuser, Belial, is called “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31, 14:30-31, 16:11), in 2 Cor. 4:4, “the god of this world.” In Eph. 2:2 he is called the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” In fact, when Jesus was tempted by the satan in the desert, he offered Christ all the kingdoms of the world for his own “domain and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6).

It seems as if the satan is the only Watcher god in authority over the nations, like he has all the power. What happened to all the other ones?

Walter Wink points out a possible key to the solution. In the intertestamental period,

“Much tradition identified Satan as the angel of Rome, thus adapting the angels-of-the-nations idea to the situation of Roman world-hegemony. Since Rome had conquered the entire Mediterranean region and much else besides, its angel-prince had become lord of all other angel-princes of the vanquished nations.This identification was already explicit at Qumran, where Rome and the Romans (the ‘Kittim’ of the War Scroll) are made the specific allies and agents of Satan and his host.”[9]

The Dead Sea Scroll 11QMelch interprets Psalm 82 as describing Satan/Belial as the chief of the gods in the divine council to be punished for his unjust authority over the nations.[10]

Another Jewish intertestamental document, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, lists in several places Beliar, synonymous with Satan, as holding captive mankind.[11]

In 3 Enoch 26:12 Sammael is called the Prince of Rome, just as Dubbiel is called the Prince of Persia (remember the “Prince of Persia” from Daniel 10?).

Just like the satan in the New Testament, Sammael is called the “prince of the accusers who is greater than all the princes of kingdoms that are in the height [heaven]” (3 Enoch 14:2). And just like the satan in the New Testament, Sammael’s name means “god of the blind” (2 Cor. 4:4).[14]

Ad300x250-ChroniclesNephilimBut what about this notion of the ruler (archon), or god of this world? Is the world something bigger than the realm of this satanic Prince of Rome? To answer that, we will have to look at the idea of the world as presented in the New Testament.

It is common in the Bible to refer to the Roman Empire as “all the world” (oikoumene) which meant the known inhabited world under Rome’s power (Luke 2:1; Col. 1:6; Rom. 1:8). All the known nations were encompassed in its power and worldview, so it seems those national angelic entities over those nations would therefore also be under the authority of the Watcher of Rome.

If Belial, the satan therefore was “god” or “ruler” of that “world,” then most likely he had become the angelic authority over Rome, and it would make sense that the New Testament would focus on the satan over the other Watchers.

In this understanding, When Jesus the Messiah arrives and inaugurates the kingdom of God, he does so by “binding the strong man” the “god of this world,” the satan. His casting out of demons was a herald of casting down the satan’s power (John 12:31; Matt. 12:28-29), and taking authority over his world. It was as if one fell swoop of the highest heavenly power over the nations brought down all the enemies with him. Jesus destroyed the devil who had the power of death (Heb 2:14).

Then why was the satan still around? He still prowled around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1Pet. 5:8). His binding was for something very particular. We will examine this “binding” in the next post.

For additional Biblical and historical research related to this post, go to www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com under the menu listing, “Links” > Jesus Triumphant.

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[1] See Appendix, “Sons of God,” in Brian Godawa, Noah Primeval (Los Angeles: Embedded Pictures, 2011, 2012), 280-289.
[2] See also 2 Kings 6:15-17 where Elisha’s servant has his spiritual eyes opened to see the myriad of heavenly warriors surrounding Israel preparing to battle Syria.
[3] Interestingly, this passage of Isaiah is not clear about what judgment in history it is referring to. But the language earlier in the text is similar to the Flood when it says, “For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. 19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. 20 The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.” So this may be another passage that uses a Flood reference tied in with the Watchers and their punishment.
[4] See also Jubilees 15:31-32; Targum Jonathan Deut. 32, Sect. LIII; 3Enoch 48C:9, DSS War Scroll 1Q33 Col. xvii:7, Targum Jonathan, Genesis 11, Section II.
[6] Especially in the War Scroll (1QM) and the Thankgiving Scroll (1QH). Florentino Garcı́a Martı́nez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, “The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (translations)” (Leiden; New York: Brill, 1997–1998), 113-178.
[7] C. Breytenbach (I, IV) and (I–III) Day P. L., “Satan,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 72; S. D. Sperling, “Belial,” DDD, 169; J. W. van Henten, “Mastemah,” DDD, 553. On Sammael: M. A. Knibb, “Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah: A New Translation and Introduction,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom, and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works, vol. 2 (New Haven;  London: Yale University Press, 1985), 151.
[8] S. D. Sperling, “Belial,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 169. “Such crimes include: inciting one’s fellows to worship foreign gods (Deut 13:14); perjury (1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Prov 19:28); breach of hospitality (Judg 19:22; 1 Sam 25:17); lese-majesty (1 Sam 10:27); usurpation (2 Sam 16:7–8; 20:1); abuse of Yahweh’s sanctuary by female drunkenness (1 Sam 1:13–17); and the cultic misappropriation and sexual harassment of women by priests (1 Sam 2:12–22). Refusal to lend money on the eve of the Sabbatical year (Deut 15:9) falls into the category of heinous deeds because it indicates lack of faith in the divine ability to provide.” See also, Deut 13:13; Judg 19:22; 1 Sam 1:16; 2:12; 10:27; 25:17; 2 Sam 16:7; Nah 1:15 (2:1); 1 Kgs 21:13.
[9] Wink, Naming the Powers, Kindle Locations 409-412. Of the Qumran War Scroll, Davies says, “Using the term “Kittim,” which in the Hebrew Bible is applied to Greeks and then (in Daniel) to Romans, it transparently identifies the Roman Empire as the ally of Belial, the spirit/angel of darkness, and of the “Children of Darkness,” and describes their defeat in a great seven-stage battle… At present, there is little consensus on the literary history, though a date in the last quarter of the first century B.C.E. is widely accepted, as is the identification of the Kittim, allies of the “Children of Darkness,” as the Romans.” Phillip Davies, “The Biblical and Qumranic Concept of War,” James H. Charlesworth, Ed. The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls Volume One – Scripture and the Scrolls (Waco: Baylor University, 2006), 223, 226.
[10] 11QMelch (1st century B.C.) Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised and extended 4th ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 361.
[11] TDan 5:10-13; TZeb 9:8; TLevi 18:12; Test. Judah 25:3; Assum. Moses 10:1-3. These texts are from the 2nd century B.C.
[14] P. Alexander, “A New Translation and Introduction,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York;  London: Yale University Press, 1983), 236.

What in Hell Are Demons?

Demon_203473324In anticipation of the release of my next novel, Jesus Triumphant, Book 8 of the Chronicles of the Nephilim, I am going to post some articles on wild and bizarre spiritual stuff in the New Testament that will show up in the novel to come. July release. You better get cracking on the previous books in the series cause it all fits together with the Watchers, The Nephilim and the Cosmic War of the Seed.

Demons are a theological problem. Where do they come from? What are they? Why are they almost entirely absent in the Old Testament, and then all of a sudden, there is a flurry of demonic activity and possessions once Messiah comes to Israel? The casting out of demons is so frequently linked with Jesus’ proclamation of the Gospel that it seems to be more than a mere symbolic expression of his power over the spiritual world. It appears to be an essential theological component of the New Covenant.

First, just what are demons? We see in the New Testament that they are evil spirits that possess or inhabit the physical bodies of living individuals (Luke 11:24-26), and who are cast out by Jesus and his disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 8:16; Luke 10:17). Their presence sometimes causes physical infirmities like blindness (Matt. 12:22), deafness (Mark 9:17-29), or epilepsy (Matt. 17:15-18), as well as mental insanity (Mark 5:15). Many of them can inhabit one body (Mark 5:9), and bring great strength to the host (Mark 5:4).

But where did these evil spirits come from? In the Old Testament, there is very little explanation of demons. God sends an evil spirit to torment King Saul in 1 Sam. 16:14. Based on Saul’s insane behavior it is safe to say he was most likely possessed by that evil spirit (v. 15-23). 1 Kings 22:22-23 reveals that God sends a “lying spirit” into the mouths of false prophets. Demons? Maybe. But certainly subservient to God’s interests. Even the satan is depicted as a circumscribed servant of God’s will in the Old Testament (Job 1:12). As explained in other Appendices of the Chronicles, pagan idols are often referred to as demonic (“sheddim” Deut. 32:17; Psa. 106:34-37; Lev. 17:7; 2 Chron. 11:15) exposing the spiritual reality behind their earthly façade of graven images and foreign deities. But even these are not the same as what we traditionally think of as demons.
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Other than these few examples, there is a dearth in the Old Testament of the kind of activity we read about in the New Testament, with raging demoniacs being exorcised by Christ and his disciples. It seems like the demons knew that the presence of Messiah was the final countdown of their own demise and they were throwing fits and tantrums. As if the Seed of the Woman was crushing the Seed of the Serpent’s head and the body was wriggling in pain.

But they are never described as fallen angels in the Bible. What then, are demons and from where do they come?

The church father Origen claimed that there was no clearly defined teaching on their genesis in the early church, but that a significant opinion was that “the devil was an angel, and that, having become an apostate, he induced as many of the angels as possible to fall away with himself, and these up to the present time are called his angels.”[1]

This common Christian idea of the satan and demons as fallen angels is often proof-texted from Isa. 14:12-15, Ezek. 28:12-16, and Rev. 12:4. But as explained in the Appendix to Enoch Primordial, I do not believe these passages apply to a satanic fall from heaven.[2] Isaiah 14 is the likening of the monstrous pride of the king of Babylon to a Canaanite myth of arrogant deities. Nothing about the satan there. And there is no reference to any others joining him either. Ezekiel 28 is a condemnation of the king of Tyre by likening him to Adam’s fall in the Garden, not the satan. This passage also fails to mention anyone in collusion with the arrogant prince. One has to import an alien notion of the satanic fall into these passages through eisegesis.

Lastly, Revelation 12 is not about a satanic fall or war in heaven before the Garden of Eden, or even in some future end of the world scenario. It is an apocalyptic parable that is describing the war of the satan at the incarnation of Christ, his ascension to the throne of authority over all principalities and powers, and his suppression of the satan’s power as the Gospel goes forth into the world.

So in the Bible there is no evidence of angels falling before the Garden of Eden. There is a satanic “fall” or a “casting out” of heaven (John 12:31) and a “throwing down” to the earth of the satan during the time of Christ (Luke 10:17-20). But that would be too late in the game to explain the few evil spirits in the Old Testament or their presence before the arrival of Messiah. The only other “fall” of angelic beings in the Bible is the Sons of God, the Watchers, in Genesis 6 coming to earth.[3]

But that presents another problem, namely that the ontological nature or “material being” of the angels as revealed in the Bible would seem to preclude these fallen angels from being the Old Testament or New Testament demons or “evil spirits.” While angels are multidimensional in their ability to traverse between the heavenlies and the earth, they are described as having flesh that eats food (Gen. 18; 19:1), and can have sexual congress with human beings (Gen. 6:1-4). This is a heavenly flesh that is different from human flesh (1 Cor. 15:39-40), but is flesh nonetheless. It is a body. This would make angels such as the Watchers unlikely candidates for incorporeal spirits seeking flesh to inhabit or possess.

There is no origin of demons detailed in the Bible. There is merely a description of their spiritual nature and evil activities. But there is a tradition of their origin that carries some weight beyond mere speculation. Regarding this origin, the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible says, “The most popular myth, however, is found in the Bible, intertestamental literature, the rabbis and the Church fathers: demons are the souls of the offspring of angels who cohabited with humans.”[4] We are right back to that ancient text that keeps rearing its head in the New Testament; the book of 1 Enoch. There we read that the giants had unique ontological status as hybrids of both human and angel. So when they died in the Flood, their spirits became roaming entities seeking bodily possession of humans.

1 Enoch 15:8-16:1
“But now the giants who are born from the (union of) the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies. Because from the day that they were created from the holy ones they became the Watchers; their first origin is the spiritual foundation. They will become evil upon the earth and shall be called evil spirits…12 And these spirits shall rise up against the children of the people and against the women, because they have proceeded forth (from them)… From the days of the slaughter and destruction, and the death of the giants… they will corrupt until the day of the great conclusion, until the great age is consummated, until everything is concluded (upon) the Watchers and the wicked ones.”[5]

Chronicles of the Nephilim assumes this Enochic interpretation in its storyline as the last gasp attempt of the Seed of the Serpent to bite the heel of the Seed of Eve. Needless to say, their head is crushed in that attempt.

See the cool book trailer, artwork, characters, and free articles at www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com

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[1] Origen, “De Principiis,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Frederick Crombie, vol. 4 (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 240.
[2] Brian Godawa, Enoch Primordial (Los Angeles: Embedded Pictures Publishing, 2013), 367-373.
[3] See the chapter “The Book of Enoch: Scripture, Heresy, or What?” in When Giants Were Upon the Earth: The Watchers, Nephilim and the Cosmic War of the Seed (Los Angeles: Embedded Pictures, 2014),.
[4] G. J. Riley, “Demon,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 238. Early church fathers who believed this are Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Minuciux Felix, Irenaeus, among others: Bo Reicke, The Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism (New York: AMS Press, 1946), 80-81. Other Intertestamental literature that affirms demons as sons of the Watchers are Test. Of Solomon 5:3; 17:1; Jubilees 10:5; Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q510 v.5; 4Q511 Frag. 35; 4Q204 Col V.2-3 (1Enoch 10:15), that call the demons, sons of the Watchers or “spirits of the bastards.” Florentino Garcı́a Martı́nez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, “The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (translations)” (Leiden; New York: Brill, 1997–1998), 415, 1029, 1033-35. 11Q11 Col. V.6 calls demons “offspring of man and of the seed of the holy ones.” DSS Study Edition, 1203. See Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “The ‘Angels’ and ‘Giants’ of Genesis 6:1-4 in Second and Third Century BCE Jewish Interpretation: Reflections on the Posture of Early Apocalyptic Traditions,” Dead Sea Discoveries, Vol. 7, No. 3, Angels and Demons (2000), pp. 354-37; Ida Fröhlich,”Theology and Demonology in Qumran Texts,” Henoch; Vol. 32 Issue 1, June 2010, 101-129.
[5] James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York;  London: Yale University Press, 1983), 22.