When did Satan fall from Heaven?

Stephen_D's picture

For the past several years I've attempted to filter out of my faith any church doctrines that I don't see present in Scripture. And it appears to me that the traditional view of Satan's fall is very unbiblical.

The idea that I am taking issue with goes thusly:
Once upon a time, there was this magnificent angel in Heaven named Lucifer. Lucifer was very prideful and tried to overthrow God, but Michael the archangel defeated him and cast him down to the earth. Then, when God created Man, Lucifer realized that he could hurt God by turning those he loved against him. Lucifer took the form of a serpent, deceived Adam and Eve, and brought sin into the world. Then throughout the rest of history, Lucifer accused people of sinning before got, garnering his new name, Satan.

But in my studies, I have had the hardest time finding support for any of this.
First of all, the name 'Lucifer' is actually a transliteration of the Hebrew for 'Morning Star' and comes from Isaiah 14:12. Is. 14 has nothing to do with Satan, but with the king of Babylon, who's pride led to his downfall. So we can strip that out of the traditional account.
Secondly, I've never seen any Biblical reason to believe that Satan tried to overthrow God. I don't even know where that came from.
Third, the description in Revelation 12 of the war in Heaven, and subsequent casting down of Satan onto earth takes place after the entrance of Christ into the world. So it appears that this is not something that occurred at the beginning of time, but something that happened either concurrent with Christ or will happen later in the end times.

However, 2 Peter 2:4 does say that there have been angels who sinned and were cast into hell (Tartarus), and then he lists several other instances in chronological order of God punishing people throughout history, seemingly implying that the sinning angels were punished before Noah's time.
Also, 1 John 3:8 does describe the Devil as having sinned from the beginning, so that lends weight to the argument for an earlier Fall.

But let's take into account Jesus' words in John 16:11b
". . . because the Prince of this world now stands condemned."
This is especially interesting to me, because it would appear that before the Cross, all of Satan's accusations against humankind are justified. When Satan accused ancient Hebrews before the Father, his accusations were true in that all of them had sinned against Him, and they all deserved punishment. Despite the fact that Satan himself was in a sinful state (recall 1 John 3:8), his accusations themselves were not groundless.

But, when Jesus offered himself on the Cross, to take the punishment for our sins so that we could be made righteousness, Satan would "now stand condemned" for wrongly accusing these (now righteous) humans before the Father. If the extant to which we judge others, we will be judged ourselves, then Satan's highly critical standard of judgement would have been turned on himself, condemning him.

I think this makes tremendous sense with the OT references to Satan. In Job 1, God asks Satan, "where have you come from?" If Satan had already been cast down to earth, then God would be asking a completely pointless question. In fact, a better question might have been, "Didn't I cast you down to earth? What in all My good Creation are you doing back in my presence?"

So my real question here is when do you think Satan fell from heaven, and also, what Biblical support is there for your belief?

JeffLogan's picture

Too much presuming...

re: Satan's Fall
Submitted by fr_wayne_mcnamara on Tue, 2010-03-09 21:32.

    Heaven is created on Day One and presumably filled with heavenly creatures very soon after like earth. Satan's fall happens sometime during that first week. Why? The serpent whom we identify with Satan, is there in the garden as tempter presumably sometime early in the seventh day.

fr_wayne...good effort, but doesn't the word heaven in this context refer to our atmosphere? It seems you believe it means the home of God's abode. Scripture mentions three heavens. The first is where the birds fly--in the firmament. The second is where the stars reside but birds certainly cannot fly to the stars. The third is where God's throne is and the heavenly temple where Jesus now presides as our High Priest and Mediator.

I don't believe Adam and Eve could have been tempted on the 7th day of creation week, if that is what you are suggesting. At that time Adam and Eve were in full communion with God and on the 7th day God rested from the work of creation to enjoy His work. That seventh day of rest would have been spent with Adam and Eve. Satan would not have had access to them while they were in God's presence. We cannot say for sure how long it was before the couple was tempted.

I don't think we know when Lucifer was created. And I don't think it really matters. What we do know is what God has chosen to reveal to us and that is enough. There was war in heaven and Satan and his angels were cast out to the earth. In reality, Satan was cast out of heaven twice. The first time he was physically cast out of heaven. The second time he was cast out of the hearts of the unfallen angels when their affection for him ended at the cross.


And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ:


for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Rev 12:10 (KJV)

"Where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them." Voilà! Church!
(Matt 18:20 (KJV))

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