Satan and the Serpent

(Derek Ishmael) #1

So a co-worker wanted to know is the serpent in the book of Genius actually Satan? I know we don’t have a definitive timeline for Satan’s fall from Heaven but is there any way of showing that Satan is the serpent through the Bible?

(SeanO) #2

@Derek_Ishmael Great question! Personally I think the first step is to clear up what we mean by the word ‘satan’ or ‘devil’. As I am sure you are aware, the word simply means ‘the accuser’. Secular scholars will argue that the Jews never linked ‘the accuser’ with the serpent in the garden until the time of the Jewish exile. In other words, secular scholars claim it was external influences that resulted in the serpent being called satan. But I think this is an argument from silence - we actually do not know this to be the case - it is just an assumption.

We see in Job, Chronicles and Zechariah that the accuser is a heavenly being that seeks to lead people astray from God. This description is consistent with what the NT teaches. The NT is clear that the serpent is the accuser. Revelation makes the linkage explicit and Jesus’ description of the accuser matches perfectly with the serpent. I think there are many things we do not understand about the origins of the accuser, but the linkage with the serpent is clear.

Is that helpful? Do you have any additional questions?

Revelation Clearly Links the Accuser with the Serpent

Rev 12:9 - And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Rev 20:2 - He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Jesus’ Description Matches

Jesus describes the accuser as a liar and murder from the beginning. And that is exactly what the serpent did - lied and led to the death of Adam and Eve.

John 8:44 - You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

A Real Serpent Influenced by the Accuser

Some commentators suggest that it was a real serpent, but under the influence of the accuser.

“the serpent is neither a figurative description of Satan, nor is it Satan in the form of a serpent. The real serpent was the agent in Satan’s hand. This is evident from the description of the reptile in Genesis 3:1 and the curse pronounced upon it in 3:14 [… upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy Life ].”
Henry C, Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology , Revised edition, Eerdmans. Grand Rapids. 1979, p. 180.

“Let us therefore, establish in the first place that the serpent is a real serpent, but one that has been entered and taken over by Satan”
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 1, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1958), p. 185.

(Derek Ishmael) #3

@SeanO thank you very much. Having the different scripture verses will be very nice to be able to discuss this topic with my co-worker and hopefully help him to not have as much doubt. He has been reading the Bible for a while now and that topic has been one of his biggest hang ups and it has been hindering his spiritual growth.

(SeanO) #4

@Derek_Ishmael May God give you wisdom as you interact with your coworker. If he is interested in this topic, he may find these articles helpful as well. Sam Storms article on Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 is good - I personally do not think they refer to the accuser, but rather are simply allegorical descriptions of the king of that nation - but he presents both sides.

If he has any follow up questions feel free to share. God bless!

(Anthony Costello ) #5


Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. I think Sean has provided you with a lot of resources as to finding some of the biblical data that might suggest that the Serpent is Satan (i.e. the accuser). I guess another way to approach your friend’s question is to ask, “if the Serpent is not Satan, then who or what else could it possibly be?”

I can’t think of any other being or thing that the Serpent could be, unless we think that Snakes can talk and not only talk, but also tempt human beings. Even if we posit that animals could somehow talk prior to the Fall, I don’t see animals as moral agents capable of tempting people. That doesn’t seem right or even plausible. I think the obvious answer, even without the other biblical passages, is that this is some kind of spiritual being speaking through the Serpent.