Monday, May 11, 2020

The Nature, Purpose and Destiny of the Adversary (Part Five)

Satan’s eonian purpose and ultimate destiny

Having defended the view that “the Adversary” (tou diabolou) and “the Satan” (tou satanas) referred to in the Greek Scriptures should be understood as an intelligent, superhuman being who belongs to the same order of celestial spirits as Michael and Gabriel, I’ll close this study with a brief scriptural defense of what I believe his present, eonian purpose is, and what I believe his post-eonian destiny will involve.

With regard to Satan’s present eonian purpose and role, one of the following must be true: either (1) Satan was created by God with a sinful character/disposition or (2) he acquired a sinful character/disposition at some point subsequent to his creation. Most Christians hold to the latter view, and believe that Satan underwent a change in character at some point after he was created (at which point he went from being righteous and “pure in heart” to being sinful and wicked). However, I believe that Scripture reveals that no such change in Satan’s character/disposition ever took place.

In John 8:44 we read that Christ declared the following to a group of unbelieving Jews:

“You are of your father, the Adversary, and the desires of your father you are wanting to do. He was a man-killer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, for truth is not in him. Whenever he may be speaking a lie, he is speaking of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

And in 1 John 3:8 we find a similarly-worded description of the Adversary:

”Yet he who is doing sin is of the Adversary, for from the beginning is the Adversary sinning. For this was the Son of God manifested, that He should be annulling the acts of the Adversary.”

In response to what Christ declared and John wrote in these verses concerning the Adversary, it may be asked, “From the beginning of what?” Answer: From the beginning of the Adversary’s existence, when he was first created by God. When Christ used the same expression in reference to Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6), the “beginning” in view refers to the time of their creation – i.e., the beginning of their existence. When used in reference to Satan, therefore, it is most natural to understand the “beginning” as a reference to the time of his creation – i.e., the beginning of his existence. The truth that God created Satan with a sinful and lying disposition is confirmed from what Christ affirmed to be the reason why the Adversary “does not stand in the truth.” According to Christ, Satan does not stand in the truth (and, it can be inferred, has never stood in the truth since the beginning of his existence) because “the truth is not in him.”

It’s not difficult to understand how Satan could’ve had a sinful and lying disposition from the time of his creation. But how could Satan have been a “man-killer” before there were human beings in existence to kill? First, it should be noted that a person could be considered a murderer or “man-killer” without actually killing anyone. In 1 John 3:15, for example, John taught that anyone who has hatred for his brother is a “man-killer.” Thus, being characterized as a “man-killer” has to do with the malicious, unloving disposition of a person’s heart, and does not require that one be responsible for having actually taken someone’s life. Second, if God created Satan to be an adversary to mankind who would naturally desire and seek our destruction and ruin, then it would be true to say that Satan was a “man-killer from the beginning.” For being a “man-killer” – i.e., being someone who hates and seeks the destruction and ruin of human beings – would be the purpose and role for which Satan was created by God (at least, with regard to the eons). Thus, Satan can be said to have been a man-killer from the beginning if, in accordance with God’s eonian purpose, he was created by God with a sinful and malicious disposition that is antagonistic and hostile towards human beings, and which caused him to seek their destruction and ruin as soon as they were created.  

Most Christians cannot accept even the possibility that God might have created Satan (or any other being) with a sinful disposition. For this, of course, would mean that God is ultimately and absolutely responsible for the entrance of sin into the universe through Satan. However, Scripture is clear that the sovereignty of God is absolute, and that his purpose is all-encompassing (click here for a defense of this important truth). As is clear from verses such as Isaiah 45:7 and 54:16, God is responsible for both good and evil circumstances:

“Maker of welfare and Creator of evil, I, Yahweh Elohim, make all of these things.”

“And I, I created the ruiner to harm.”

Since God is operating all in accord with the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11), it follows that the entrance of sin and evil into the universe through Satan was an event that God intended to occur, and that the sinfulness of Satan is in accord with God’s sovereign purpose. Satan’s first sinful act after being created by God did not, therefore, take God by surprise or thwart his intention. Rather, the commencement (and continuation) of Satan’s sinful career was just as much in accord with God’s intention and purpose as was the creation of the heavens and the earth. When Satan, through the serpent, deluded Eve, he was doing exactly what God created him to do (and thus did exactly what God expected him to do). Does this mean that Satan’s actions at this time weren’t sinful? No. That which makes any volitional action sinful (or not) is the motive behind it. Thus, if the motive with which Satan did what he did when he deluded Eve in the garden was sinful, then Satan sinned when he deluded Eve. It’s that simple. The fact that Satan was created by God with a sinful disposition (and thus is doing exactly what he was created to do) does not change the fact that he was sinning when he deluded Eve and caused her to transgress God’s command (for a more in-depth defense of the truth that sin is still sin – and that God is still good – even though God is ultimately responsible for the sinfulness of his creatures, click the following link:

One expression that’s commonly used by Christians in defense of the view that God should not be considered responsible for the entrance of sin into the universe is that “God is not the author of sin.” The rhetorical force of this expression, however, is entirely dependent on its inherent ambiguity. If this statement is to be understood as meaning, “God did not create a being with a sinful disposition,” then it would simply be question-begging in nature (and – apart from any reason provided in defense of such a claim – can simply be dismissed as a mere unsubstantiated assumption). On the other hand, the statement “God is not the author of sin” could also be understood to mean, “God has never sinned.” If that’s how the expression should be understood, then I take no issue with it. I fully agree that God has never sinned (and indeed cannot sin). The only way that the sinlessness of God could possibly constitute an objection to the view that God created Satan with a sinful disposition (and thus willed that sin exist) is if it was a sin for God to have done this. But is this, in fact, the case? I see no good reason to believe that it is.

For God to intend that sin exist in the universe and for him to actually sin are two completely different things. There is no good reason to think that God couldn’t do the former without doing the latter. Again, that which makes any volitional action sinful (or not) is the motive behind it. Thus, if God had a wise and benevolent reason for bringing into existence a being whose disposition was such that he was incapable of not sinning (which would imply that God knew the creation of such a being would ultimately contribute to the maximization of his glory and the happiness of every created being), then God’s intention to create such a being could in no way be considered sinful. And this would be the case even if one didn’t understand how, exactly, God’s intention to create a sinful being could spring from a wise and benevolent motive (or how, exactly, such an act on God’s part could ultimately result in his being glorified, and in the happiness of all being maximized).

One reason why many Christians can’t accept the truth that God created Satan with a sinful disposition is because they believe that, because of Satan’s deceptive work in the world, billions of people are going to be “eternally lost.” Thus, if God himself were responsible for Satan’s sinful disposition (and, by extension, Satan’s sinful acts), then this would make God ultimately responsible for the eternally tragic fate that most Christians believe awaits those whom Satan has managed to deceive (and who end up dying in a deceived, unbelieving state). Consider the following argument (which reflects the reasoning of many Christians):

1. If those whom Satan has managed to deceive are going to be eternally lost, then it cannot be true that God (who is perfectly loving and just) is responsible for the sinful disposition of Satan.
2. Everyone whom Satan has managed to deceive is going to be eternally lost.
3. It cannot be true that God (who is perfectly loving and just) is responsible for the sinful disposition of Satan.

However, as I’ve argued in greater depth elsewhere on my blog (see, for example, the following article:, the second premise is unscriptural and false. Scripture doesn’t teach that anyone is going to be “eternally lost.” Not only does Scripture reveal that all humanity is going to be saved, but it’s further revealed that every other being in creation who is (or ever will be) in need of being subjected to Christ and reconciled to God is, in fact, going to be subjected to Christ and reconciled to God. And this necessarily includes Satan himself. In 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 we read the following:

For [Christ] must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy is being abolished: death. For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.

Satan is thus destined to be subjected to Christ and to become part of the “all” in which God is ultimately going to be “All.” And, as Paul tells us in Colossians 1:17-20, this final state will involve being reconciled to God:

And He [Christ Jesus] is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first, for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.

Most Christians are, of course, just as opposed to the truth that Satan is ultimately going to be saved (and will thus cease to be sinful) as they are to the truth that he was created by God with a sinful disposition. They don’t want God to be responsible for Satan’s salvation any more than they want him to be responsible for Satan’s sinfulness. One verse that is sometimes appealed to by Christians in support of the view that Satan is never going to be saved is Hebrews 2:14 (where we’re told that Christ died so that he ”should be discarding him who has the might of death, that is, the Adversary…”). However, the word translated “discarding” in this verse (καταργέω, orkatargeo”) does not mean or imply that the Adversary is never going to be saved. In Luke 13:7, the same word katargeo was used to refer to a land being made unproductive. In Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the first three meanings of the word katargeo are given as follows:

1: to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative
1a: to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency
1b: to deprive of force, influence, power

In light of these definitions, it can be said that Christ – by virtue of his sacrificial death (through which he acquired “all authority in heaven and on earth” and became “Lord of all”) – is ultimately going to deprive the Adversary of his influence and power, and cause him to “have no further efficiency.” This is in accord with what we read in 1 John 3:8: ”For this was the Son of God manifested, that He should be annulling the acts of the Adversary.”

Revelation 20:10 is, by far, the main “proof-text” to which most Christians will appeal in support of their belief that Satan will never be saved. Here is how this verse reads in the English Standard Version (which can be considered representative of how this verse reads in most English Bibles):

“…and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

However, as I’ve argued elsewhere, a more literal and accurate translation of the Greek expression that is translated as “forever and ever” in most English Bibles (eis tous aiónas tón aiónón) would be “for the eons of the eons.” Here is how Rev. 20:10 reads in the Concordant Literal New Testament:

And the Adversary who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the wild beast and where the false prophet are also. And they shall be tormented day and night for the eons of the eons.

The time period expressed by the words “for the eons of the eons” in this verse is the same time period that’s in view in Eph. 2:7 (where Paul referred to “the oncoming eons” during which God shall be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus”). These future “eons of the eons” (called such because they will be the greatest of all the eons) are the eons of the reign of Christ and the saints (Rev. 22:5). However, we know from Paul’s prophecy in 1 Cor. 15:22-28 that Christ’s reign (and thus the eons during which Christ and the saints shall be reigning) is eventually going to end. And this means that the span of time expressed by the words eis tous aiónas tón aiónón (“for the eons of the eons”) cannot be endless. 

Consider the following argument:

1. The Greek expression translated “for the eons of the eons” in Rev. 20:10 does not refer to a span of time that will extend beyond the span of time during which Christ shall be reigning.
2. According to what is revealed in 1 Corinthians 15:22-28, Christ is not going to be reigning over the kingdom for an endless duration of time (his reign is only “until” a certain point).
3. Thus, the span of time to which the expression “for the eons of the eons” refers cannot be endless in duration.

In light of these considerations, we can conclude that Satan’s period of torment in the lake of fire is not going to be “eternal.” Instead, it’s going to continue no further than the reign of Christ. And when Christ has subjected all to himself and delivered the kingdom to his God and Father, the being formerly known by his titles “the Adversary” and “Satan” will be reconciled to God and be part of the “all” in whom God is going to be “All.”


  1. Dear bro Aaron ! Excellent analysis as always ! You answer some deep and detailed questions of mine and many others anytime you post something on your blog. I always tell the small ecclesia in Poland that God blessed us with Aaron Welch immensely! Without you fear bro we as one body would be incomplete to say the least ! You are a gift from our dear Father ! And I freaking mean it ! This analysis is golden ! The true nature of the Adversary and his servants, spiritual wickedness among the celestial which is ours to wrestle. Know your enemy ! This makes this calling ever more greater ! It's tough but we put all our trust in God and have no confidence in the flesh. Without the God given faith we would be powerless against such adversarial superhuman forces ! And I think that it's mainly mind and spiritual war for us ! Great analysis once again. Keep up the good work, your reward will be huge during our presentation at the dias of Christ and it's comming!

  2. Well written Aaron. The more we understand about our Adversary, the clearer our understanding will be of our God and Savior.