One Satan or Many Satans or None?
Some people think there’s one Satan. Some think there are many. Some think there’s no actual individual being called Satan. Which is it?
Two boys were talking after church. The pastor had preached about Satan.
“What do you think about all this Satan stuff?” one boy asked.
“I don’t know.” The other shrugged. “Maybe he’s like Santa. Maybe it’s Dad!”
There’s a lot of confusion about Satan because he’s a complicated subject. Let’s un-complicate it a bit. Here’s what the Bible says.
There is One Individual Spirit Being Known As Satan
There are multiple places where the Bible refers to one Satan. The definite article “the” tells us Satan is a specific person.
- Jesus was tempted by “the devil” Matthew 4:1-11. In that conversation Jesus called him Satan Matthew 4:10. It was a conversation between two individuals.
- Jesus said an eternal fire is prepared for “the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41.
- The book of Revelation describes a future battle between good and bad angels. The leader of the bad angels is “called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” Revelation 12:9.
Here are other passages that refer to one Satan: 1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; 1John 3:12; Jude 9.
There is, however, another way the term Satan is used.
The Term Satan Is Also Used Collectively
Even though there is one Satan as an individual, the term Satan is also used of his followers. We see this in Matthew 12:25-26. The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Jesus said,
Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:25-26.
Jesus said if “Satan” referring to the individual, were to cast out “Satan” referring to his followers, his kingdom will not stand. So the term Satan can refer to either the one Satan or to those aligned with Him. How can we tell who is being discussed? By the context. Many of the warnings, such as 2 Corinthians 2:11, refer to Satan and his followers collectively.
There is still only one Satan.
Why It’s Important To Know There Is One Satan
- Realize it’s highly unlikely Satan himself will ever attack you or me! There are too many of us. Many people give Satan credit for attacking them every day! That just isn’t possible.
- Don’t elevate Satan to god-like status. When we think the individual Satan can be anywhere and attack anytime we view him like God! He’s a limited creature. The youngest child of God can resist and defeat him James 4:7.
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 1 John 5:18
What do think? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or question below.