Get ready to tackle our hottest topic yet: the Devil.

The Big Lie – A Biblical word study on the Devil

When is Satanas not Satan or Diabolos not the Devil in the New Testament?


Mark 8:27-33; Matthew 16:21-23, Sometimes Satanas means a tempter, figuratively
1 Timothy 3:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-4; Titus 2:1-3, Diabolos can mean those who act like the Devil
John 6:61-71

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Mark 8:27-33; Matthew 16:21-23, Sometimes Satanas means a tempter, figuratively (5/29/13)

By now you are saying, “Enough already! I knew all that! I knew that Satan = Devil.” True, but maybe you didn’t know that satan means adversary. I’m even willing to bet that most of us didn’t know that satan is usually translated as “adversary” in the Old Testament. From here on out, though, I expect that a lot of study tips are going to be news to you. Why? Because a lot of what we’re going to cover was news to me and my Greek study buddy.

Whenever our Sunday School fund has more money than we expect, one of our members says that we have a “Secret Santa.” Now, she does not mean that the actual Santa Claus is putting money into our class’s budget. She means that someone is acting like Santa Claus by giving us an extra gift.

In the same way, when Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan,” he does not mean that Peter is the actual Satan. He means that Peter is acting like Satan. It’s important that when Jesus gives his reason, he doesn’t say, “You are like Satan because you are evil.” Instead, he says, “You are like Satan because you are thinking human thoughts.” When we encourage a friend not to do what God wants our friend to do, we are thinking human thoughts. We know that Satan is an adversary and a tempter, and sometimes we can act like an adversary by tempting our friend to do evil, just as Satan would. Do God’s word, not Satan’s work.

From the International Standard Version (courtesy of the ISV Foundation):
1 Timothy 3:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-4; Titus 2:1-3, Diabolos can mean those who act like the Devil (5/30/13)

One way we can act like our adversary Satan is to tempt other people to do evil. We know also that the Devil is a liar and a slanderer, so a second way we can act like Satan is by lying or gossiping. I’ll bet you had no idea that gossip is such a serious sin that people who commit it are called diabolos. They aren’t called the Devil, but in Greek they are called devils three times in the letters of Paul. Keep in mind Thumper Rabbit’s Rule: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

From the International Standard Version (courtesy of the ISV Foundation) with additions from other translations:
John 6:61-71, Diabolos can mean those who act like the Devil. (5/31/13)

Satan is the Father of Lies, so we act like Satan when we gossip about or slander another person. Satan is the Tempter, so we act like Satan when we tempt other people to do wrong. And Satan is the great Adversary, so we act like Satan when we betray those who trust us. I’ve always said, “I don’t need Satan, because I get into plenty of trouble all on my own.” As it turns out, Satan relies on me to do his work for him, whenever I gossip, tempt, or betray!

From the International Standard Version (courtesy of the ISV Foundation):
More of The Big Lie The Son of God and the Father of Lies
The OT satan is always an adversary, but not always the Devil.
The Hebrew satan is translated various ways.
In the New Testament, both satanas and diabolos normally refer to the Devil.
Sometimes satanas and diabolos are used figuratively to refer to someone acting like the Devil.
Poneros – Evil in the New Testament
Demons cause sickness, not sin.
Sometimes Satan and demons cooperate with each other.
Neither Baalzebub nor Lucifer is a Biblical name for the Devil.
Belial means "worthless," and once it's used as a nickname for the Devil.
Satan's job description: Temptation and Lies
Our job description: Resist him!

Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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