What is his real name?
We don’t really know of any formal name. He is called many informal names, which are derived from his character (Satan, “the evil one,” the devil, etc.). Some believe his name is “Lucifer.” This name is unfortunate. It comes from the Latin translation of “morning star” found in Isaiah 14:12-15. Some believe this passage describes the fall of Satan; however, this is hotly debated, as the context does not really suggest as much. The association seems to have been popularized in the intertestamental period through the books of Enoch. Unfortunately, the King James Version, following this popularization, actually uses the term “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12-15. Most modern translations have corrected that. So we don’t really know any formal name for Satan.
Can he read minds?
There is no reason to believe that Satan has the power to read minds. He is not omniscient (he does not know everything). While his power is greater than ours (relatively speaking), his power is very limited.
Where is he?
We don’t know. I imagine that he has never been in your room, seen your house, or taken a ride with you in your car. He probably does not even know your name. Remember, he is not omnipresent (everywhere) or transcendent (above time and space). Being a created being existing in our universe, he is spatially limited just like us. Therefore, he is only in one place at time. I don’t know how fast he travels or his mode of transporation. I don’t know if he walks, runs, flies, or hitches a ride on a car. I just know that he is not everywhere.
Where does he live?
I doubt he has a “home” or a regular habitation. One thing we can say for sure is that he does not live in hell. Popular thought frequently holds that he lives in hell or is the ruler of hell. This is simply false. Hell is not his. In fact, he has never been there and does not want to go there any more than you or I do. Hell, as we often think of it, has not even been created yet. It is a post-judgment habitation. However, hell will one day be his eternal dwelling, as it will all other demons and unbelievers (Rev. 20:14).
Was he an angel?
This is what I was taught and I suppose I believe it. But I don’t know for certain if it is true. I don’t even know what angels are, since the term “angel” does not really refer to a particular species. Remember, angels do not procreate, so they have no physical relationships the way humans do (at least I think). The reason we sometimes call Satan a “fallen angel” is due to a supposed double-referent interpretation of Isaiah 14:1-14. But, again, there is no definitive reason why we must believe this passage refers to anyone other than the king of Babylon. Revelation 12:3-4 may be of some support here. It speaks of the Dragon who swept a third of the “stars” of heaven to the earth. Could this be Satan and other angels who “fell” in a great rebellion? Maybe, but again, it is hard to be sure. God was just not too interested in letting us know so many of the details we want to know about angels, demons, and Satan.
Can he take human or animal form?
It seems that Satan took the form of a serpent in Genesis 3. Therefore, he may be able to take the form of other animals. However, it is greatly debated whether Genesis 3 is to be taken literally. He may be able to take on the form of a man as it seems happened with other angels in Genesis 6. However, again, it is greatly debated who the “sons of God” were in this chapter so we cannot be definitive.
What does he look like?
We don’t know. One thing we do know is that he does not have horns or a tail and he is not red. However he looks, he is probably not the monstrous looking figure that popular culture has made him out to be. I imagine that he, in his natural form, is or was very beautiful. However, this we know: if he ever presents himself to a human, he will be in his best form. After all, he presents himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), not an angel of darkness.
Does he think he will win?
This is a question that has perplexed me all my life. Why does he do what he does? After all, he has read the Bible! He knows the end! Does he think he’ll find a loophole? Why did he try to stop Christ? Did he really think it was possible for Christ to worship him? (Matt. 4:9). Crazy questions that I don’t have the answer to. Maybe the noetic effects of sin have just really messed up his mind to such a degree that he does think his rebellion could eventually pay off.
Why did he tempt Christ to turn stone into bread?
This is an interesting question. In Matthew 4:3, Satan tempts Christ to turn a stone into bread. Why? It does seem odd. Here we have the cosmic evil meeting his arch-enemy, and what is his first stab at temptation? To turn a stone into bread to satisfy his hunger. Some will say that he was trying to make Jesus break his fast. Big deal. Like breaking a fast is a cosmic sin. I think it was more than this. I think Satan was trying to get Christ to give in to his base instincts to break the rules of the incarnation. You see, Christ had to be like us in every way. And since we cannot turn stones into bread when we get hungry, neither could Christ. Satan was trying to get Christ to draw upon his omnipotence (power) to satisfy his human need to eat. Had Christ done it, we would not have had a representative on that cross. Satan was trying to get Christ to forfeit the incarnation.
When was he created?
We don’t know. It could have been before the creation of this universe, at the same time, or sometime after. It would seem to me, however, that Satan and all the angels were created in and with this universe. If so, God is no longer creating these angels, as he has rested from all creation. If not, then there is no reason to think that angels are not still being created (albeit, not indirectly through procreation like we are).
When did he fall?
This we don’t know either. But it was sometime before Genesis 3.
Is he God’s evil equal?
Not even close. Satan is a creation of God. He is not God’s cosmic equal. God has complete power over Satan just as he does over us. As the book of Job illustrates, Satan can only do what God allows him to do.
C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]