Satan, the Demons, and Their Fate
Our daily battle in this world, wherein we are wayfarers and strangers, is an intense one indeed. Beset on all sides by enemies, we rely on God’s power continually to help us overcome the great forces that would utterly destroy us were it not for the incredible care that our Maker has for us.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
Paul revealed unequivocally the nature and name of the major enemy, Satan the prince of devils and the wicked spirits that follow him. They are the source of so much of our agony on this earth — in truth all of it if we tie our selfish inborn human nature to the first sin of mankind in the Garden of Eden, which was instigated by Satan as well (Genesis 3:1-19), and that has passed down “genetically” to all of mankind. He is the adversary, the devil, who “… as a roaring lion walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Paul admonished us in the next verse of I Peter 5 to “resist [him] steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” James confirmed Peter’s assessment:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded” (James 4:7-8).
Who Are Satan and the Demons?
It behooves us to carefully study the nature of this adversary of ours, and know the character of this vital enemy so that we may successfully fight him, fend him off, and continue in wholehearted zeal towards serving the Eternal God who made us. We may be certain that Satan desires to destroy us, for he wanted to sift Peter as wheat … but Jesus Christ prayed to the Father that Peter’s faith would not fail so that he would be able to resist the adversary.
Satan is always translated in the Old Testament from the Hebrew Satan [saw-tan’], which means “to attack, accuse.” Thus we see the accuracy of the term “adversary” to describe him. We can also understand his all-pervasive influence throughout the world in instigating competition and strife at all levels of society, pitting one side against another in politics, war, athletic contests, and social systems … and in nature the predatory nature of carnivores, as well as competition between pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms amongst plants, soils, and all living creatures. Truly the adversary lives up to his name by pitting one side against another in his attempt to upset the harmonious, joyous, and productive plans of the Father for mankind to like cooperatively — not contentiously — in accord with lawful living … if only people would turn to Him with their whole hearts … if only His creation would strive after God’s spirit of love.
“You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [servant], and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
Satan is mentioned in relatively few places in the Old Testament: I Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 12; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 6 7; Psalm 109:6; Zechariah 3:1, 2. In the many references to Satan in the New Testament the word is always translated from the Greek Satanas, which means “the accuser, the devil”.
Satan is a son of God. This is clear in Job 1:6-7 and 2:1-2, where the Father had called a conference of His sons, and Satan was amongst them. Interestingly, when the Father asked him from whence he had come, Satan replied, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7; 2:2). This statement is highly suggestive of I Peter 5:8, where Satan is shown to be walking about like a lion, but not just to pass the day but to devour susceptible individuals like a lion does when it hunts for prey to consume.
As a son of God he is higher than the angels, for angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Jesus Christ, a son of God, is worshipped by the angels:
“An again, when He brings in the first begotten [Jesus Christ] into the world, He said, And let all the angels worship Him” (Hebrews 1:6).
Jesus Christ is the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29) — these brethren being the saints — and is the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). The saints will inherit the same reward as Jesus Christ, to sit with Him on the Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21), a reward beyond our comprehension but fully in line with Jesus Christ’s words that we, the saints, are brothers of Christ, and are thus to live in a lateral brotherly relationship throughout eternity (Hebrews 2:11-17).
Satan is called Lucifer, or daystar (Strong 1966) in Isaiah 14:12. He also has other names, as will be seen later. This Hebrew word is heylel, which means “brightness, the morning star”, and comes from the root Hebrew word halal (Strong 1986), meaning “to shine, hence to make a show, to boast, and thus to be clamorously foolish, to rave, to celebrate”. These characteristics certainly characterize the spirit of Satan as identified in Galatians 5:19-21 … qualities of reveling, strife, and envy that are the nature of the devil and his followers. According to linguistic studies, this being is the same individual that was in the Garden of Eden and that tempted Eve to sin (Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9). He deceives the entire world and was cast out into the earth, and his angels (the demons) with him. These evil angels may constitute the “third part of the stars of heaven” mentioned in Revelation 12:4 that were drawn to earth by the “great dragon”.
Satan is also an archangel (Strong 743, archaggelos, a chief angel, or “a ruler over angels”). Jude 9 indicates that Michael is one of the archangels, who was contending with the devil over the body of Moses; it is not possible to contend with a spirit authority unless one is of more-or-less equal authority. Likewise, Daniel 10:13, 21, and 12:1, call Michael “the great prince”, indicating his position of authority over angels as would be the case of the devil over the evil angels.
Some people have called Satan merely an “idea”, anything that is against God, but not a real spirit being. Such a conclusion runs contrary to all of Scripture in general and the direct works of Jesus Christ in particular. Satan being called a son of God in Job 1 and 2 has already been brought out. The words of Jesus are magnificently clear throughout the New Testament.
l Christ speaks of “Satan casting out Satan”, an impossible statement if he was not a real being (Matthew 12:22-28).
l In the wilderness temptation Jesus directly confronted the devil, not an “idea” (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).
l In the Parable of the Sower, Satan “catches away” those sown in stony ground (Matthew 13:18-19).
l The Parable of the Wheat and Tares shows that Satan sows the enemies of God [tares] in the field, and these tares will be gathered together at the end of the age and burned up; the sown seed of evil is tangible and real, and can be burned up, so cannot be an idea (Matthew 13:24-30).
l Satan was seen falling from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:17-18).
l Satan actually entered into Judas; only a real spirit entity can do that (Luke 22:3).
l Peter was desired by Satan, but had to be restrained by the Father (Luke 22:31).
l Jesus Christ spoke of the power of Satan; a “power” is not merely an idea (Acts 26:18).
l Satan is termed an “angel [messenger] of light” (II Corinthians 11:14).
l Some people were turned aside after Satan in the early Church (I Timothy 5:15).
l The Synagogue of Satan is not an etheral idea but a true group of men empowered by the devil (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).
l The Devil is equated to the serpent, the dragon, and Satan in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2. We know from Genesis 3 that this being was readily seen by Adam and Eve, who also had a conversation with him.
l Satan presently is the “god of this world”, and has authority in it (II Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:20. An idea cannot exert authority as can a spirit entity who is actively influencing day-to-day events in society as Satan is: note the analogy of King Saul ruling Israel [Satan over the earth] even though David [a type of Jesus Christ] had been anointed by Samuel to be king in Saul’s place [Jesus Christ being King over all the earth once Satan is put in chains into the abyss for 1,000 year; Revelation 20:1-3]. Jesus Christ was anointed King over all the earth by the Father after He had defeated Satan in the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-3).
Satan the devil, the deceiver and ruler over the evil angels, is indeed real. Jesus Christ fully recognized he was, contended frequently with his demonic angelic followers, and cast them out of the ill and possessed. Though Satan eventually had Christ put to death, His resurrection on the third day insured that Satan’s fate, as revealed in prophecy, would be fulfilled as planned, and this “shining one” would forever be deposed from the face of God’s people and from all of the earth.
The Fate of Satan and the Demons
One thing is certain regarding Satan and the fallen angels: while their existence and works among men on the earth are a tragedy to all, their fate is assured. The tables will be reversed. Aging and death amongst men will be turned into agelessness and life eternal for the elect, and the evil spirits wreaking destruction and suffering on the earth today will be utterly destroyed. Let us examine the evidence in Scripture.
The signs and pronouncements of Satan’s and the demon’s destruction are posted in several places in Scripture, notably in five locations but alluded to in several other places as well. Note first Isaiah 14:12-19:
“How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms, that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit, as a carcass trodden under feet.”
The word for pit in this scripture is bowr (Strong 953), or “a pit hole, especially one used as a cistern or prison”. This fate of Satan is verified in Revelation 20 as we shall see later. He is to be brought down to a hole in the ground [hell, pit], not to deceive the nations any more.
In Ezekiel 28 Satan is described as having been in Eden, a being of beauty, perfection, and wisdom, who was present in the heavenly Zion. However, iniquity was found in him and he was prophesied to be deposed in verses 16 to 19.
“By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned; therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness; I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings that they may behold you. You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic; therefore I will bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you. All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you; you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more.”
This awesome scripture reveals that Satan will be destroyed (Hebrew abad; Strong 6), “to wander away, i.e. lose oneself; by implication to perish or destroy”), and cast to the ground. Cast (Strong 7993) comes from the Hebrew word shalak meaning “to throw out, down, or away”, while ground (Strong 776) is the Hebrew erets, “to be firm, earth.” Fire will come out of him and literally burn him up to ashes (Strong 665), or epher in Hebrew, “to bestrew, ashes”. To have this occur he must first be material, a state that he will either be required to maintain during the burning process or that he will desire, preferring destruction to living forever in the torment of the abyss where he would most likely be required to return after being released “for a little season” (Revelation 20:3), after wreaking havoc on the earth once again.
Thirdly, note Revelation 20:10, where Satan’s (and presumably the demons’, or fallen angels’) restriction is again mentioned, after his release from the abyss and his deceiving of the nations once again.
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [had been cast] (see Revelation 19:20), and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever”.
Forever comes from the Greek work aion (Strong 165), meaning “an age, by extension perpetuity”, and the Greek eis (Strong 1519), “to or into, indicating the point reached or entered, of place, time, or purpose”. Once burned up this formerly majestic spirit being will not keep burning forever and ever, but as shown in Ezekiel 28:18 he will become ashes. As a spirit he will no longer exist, because when manifested as physical he was destroyed by an internal fire. In reality spirit can be destroyed! Its reality and memory will be obliterated, the most ignominious possible death to any creature: total destruction and removal forever. That is the torment, not a continuous sea of pain in an ever-burning hell-fire pictured by modern-day religions. The only place where such a long-lasting place of “punishment” is mentioned in all of the Bible is in II Peter 2:4, where the evil angels were cast into hell (Greek tartaroo; Strong 5020), where their “hell” is “chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgement”. Even that existence in whatever pain they might experience in tartaroo is time-limited, for after judgement the scriptures make clear they will be destroyed, along with Satan the devil.
Fourthly, Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of the fate of those nations on the right hand of Christ — the sheep — going into the Kingdom of God, those who had fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, visited the sick, and clothed the naked. By doing these good deeds to the brethren, they had done them unto Him. On the other hand, the nations on the left hand of Christ — the goats — did not do these good works to the brethren and are condemned.
“Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me you cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels …. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:41, 46).
Here the devil and the fallen angels are specifically mentioned as going into “eternal punishment”. Eternal here is nearly the same word as used in Revelation 20:10: aionios (Strong 166), meaning “perpetual”. It comes from the root meaning “age lasting”. Fire comes from the Greek pur (Strong 4442), meaning “fire, literally or figuratively, and specifically lightning.” As we have seen from previous scriptures, Satan and the demons will be burned up and destroyed. Their punishment is indeed age-lasting and perpetual: obliteration from existence, non-existence, the most rank and awful fate any created being can ever imagine.
Finally, the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 18:37-43 makes plain that the enemy who sows the tares amongst the wheat is Satan.
“He that sows the good seed is the Son of man [Christ]; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sows them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world [age]; and the reapers are the [righteous] angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world [age]. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Included in those that offend will surely be Satan the devil and the demons. They will be cast into a furnace of fire, and until they are burned up and converted into ashes they will certainly wail and gnash their teeth. What else could they be expected to do while being consumed and eternally obliterated? On the other hand, the righteous will be given eternal life as sons of God, never again having to face the trials of aging, pain, and suffering within a Satan-twisted, competitive world.
The Conclusion . . .
Other scriptural references could be garnered in support of the conclusion that Satan’s and the demons’ fate is to be total annihilation in fire, the same fate reserved for the beast and false prophet, as well as for everyone not found written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15). One could examine Malachi 4:1-3, where the proud and wicked will become ashes under the feet of the righteous when the day of the Eternal’s judgement arrives. Are Satan and the demons among the wicked and to be burned up to ashes? Certainly, and their fate as we have seen elsewhere in scripture is assured.
The greatest fear of all for mankind is death … not just physical death, but death for all eternity. That prospect goes totally contrary to the inborn nature of the normal human spirit. Death in the flesh one can perhaps tolerate if one is assured that the resurrection to everlasting life will follow, but death without that assurance, without the faith that Jesus Christ and His holy angels will raise you up and meet you in the air at the resurrection to eternal life — that is a horrible, terrifying prospect, one no human being can endure … nor can Satan and the demons. “What have we to do with You, Jesus, you Son of God? Are you come here to torment us before the time [of our destruction]?” (Matthew 8:29).
Wailing and gnashing of teeth precede utter destruction. It is age-lasting (aeonian). It is final and complete. Why be placed in the highly uncomfortable position of the Devil and his demons and anticipate no future existence? Why not today serve the Almighty Living God with your whole heart, accept His admonitions, His shed blood and sacrifice, and His promise of kingship in the Kingdom of God as a Son of God alongside Jesus Christ? That is in reality the much, much easier decision to make than to be resigned to following the world’s hedonistic, self-centered ways that lead to death and a hopeless future. Sacrifice in the short term — this life in the flesh — is far, far better than living a life filled with carnal kicks from illicit sex, drugs, parties, and revelry, kicks that last for a moment and lead to an early grave … and ultimately to no eternal reward. Paul made it clear that there is no valid comparison of anything in this life to the incredible joy and fulfillment of the coming age.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Serve the Almighty with your whole heart. Do that which pleases Him, and listen closely to Solomon’s admonition:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).