By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
What is in a name? There is a lot that can be said about the name of a person. In today’s times, the name of the child, specifically the last name, is the real identifier of who the child is. There can be lots of people named John, but you distinguish between them by their last name. In biblical times it was different. Often the name that was given defined who the person was. For example, when Esau and Jacob were born, the names they were given described them.
“The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.” – Genesis 25-25-26
Jacob means he grasps the heel, in case you were wondering.
What was true of humans in the Bible is also true of Satan. He does not just have one name in Scripture, but several. The reason why there are different names for Satan is that they all define who he is. When you understand what is in the various names associated with Satan and how they all connect to his character, then you will understand why there are different names for Satan.
What Does Satan Mean?
The Hebrew word for Satan means to oppose, obstruct, or accuse. In Greek, the word for Satan means adversary. This is a perfect definition of him because this is what he does to believers and to unbelievers. In all honesty, he is not a friend of anyone but an adversary to everyone because his ultimate desire is destruction. To help this all make sense, let me show you two areas in Scripture where his character and name match up.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.’” – Revelation 12:10
As you can see here, Satan is described as an adversary and accuser. It is not a coincidence that these two descriptions match his name because that is who he is. Of all the different names for Satan, you discover in the Bible that this one speaks most plainly to his real agenda. He seeks to oppose you because he is your opponent. This points to who he really is. One of his greatest deceptions is to present himself as something that he is not. You will see this as we look at some of the different names for Satan and tie them back to the character of the one who is your opponent.
What Are the Different Names for Satan?
While there are many names for Satan you can find in the Bible, I want to focus on just four of them. Pay close attention to what they mean, which will reveal their relevance.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” – Isaiah 14:12
The name Lucifer means star of the morning. The use of this name points to his life before he fell. You should also pay attention because this gives some indication, though a very small one, of what he might look like. Let me explain. Satan is often depicted in human imagery as being red with horns and a pitchfork. Yet the Bible calls him a star of the morning (Isa. 14:12) and even depicts him as being beautiful (Eze. 28). In the New Testament, it is said that he disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). All these things play into his character because remember, he attempts to portray himself as something that he is not. While the Bible does not say exactly what Satan looks like, you can rest assured that he is not running around with a red tail and a pitchfork. He is Lucifer, a star of the morning who looks for opportunities to destroy the people of God.
The Evil One
This definition points to his real and true motives. His thoughts and intentions are evil, not some of the time but all the time. The Bible reveals some of the things that the evil one does.
“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” – Matthew 13:19
I mentioned before that Satan works against the believer and the unbeliever. He is friend to no one. In Matthew, he is depicted as stealing the word planted in someone’s heart so it cannot take root and allow for growth. This can be true of a believer or an unbeliever. In the other instance, he is attacking the believer with the intention to oppose or obstruct their progress. Regardless of who he is going after, he has no good in him, and his purpose, as we said earlier, is destruction. This is the heart of the evil one.
The God of This World
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT)
It is interesting that the Bible would call Satan the god of this world if you think about how gods are viewed by men. The gods are worshipped, followed, and obeyed. If you know Satan’s past, the reason why he was kicked out of heaven is that he wanted to sit in God’s seat and be worshipped, followed, and obeyed. Because he was unable to sit on the throne of heaven, he sits on the throne of the earth looking to get people to worship, follow, and obey him. He often works deceptively through the influences of the world so that people who are following him don’t even realize it. This leads to the last name I want to refer to.
The Father of Lies
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” - John 8:44
This name perfectly encapsulates the way Satan operates when he deals with people. He uses lies and deception. I have never heard it said of anyone else before that they are incapable of truth. Yet, Jesus said this of Satan, “there is no truth in him.” Everything about him is filled with trickery. He will not tell the truth because he cannot tell the truth. One of Satan’s goals is to always move you away from what is good. Sometimes he will even attempt to move you away from the truth that is right in front of you. This is how people can use Scripture to deceive others. He even tried to do this with Jesus when he was tempting him in the wilderness. Satan used Scripture.
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” – Matthew 4:5-6
It is amazing that even in the quoting of scripture, Satan was distorting the truth. The reason why he can do this is because there is no truth in him. After all, he is the father of lies. There are many different names for Satan in the Bible, which we could never cover completely in one article. When it all boils down, remember more than anything else that he is your adversary who has one goal, to bring you down. Whether he goes by Satan, Lucifer, the evil one, or any of the different names for Satan in the Bible, they are going to tie back to this one goal. As you continue to learn about who he is just remember the greater one lives inside you. Approach Satan with knowledge but without trepidation because of all his names; not one name of his is greater than the name of the one who lives inside you.
Photo credit: © Getty Images/elijah_sad
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, teacher, author, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled to try to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.