When Was Satan Created?
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Friday, October 8, 2010 at 12:48pm
QUESTION: When do you think Satan was created? Some say that since God created ALL things within the six days of creation described in Genesis 1, this means that all angelic beings must have been created within this time frame, probably on the sixth day. Is there any basis for this idea?
ANSWER: The answer, of course, depends on who Satan, demons, and angelic beings in general are. As to his identity, the first point to emphasize is that Satan is indeed a created being, and not some eternally-existing evil force that has a kind of quasi-equality with God. He does not share divine attributes with God, such as infinity, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience (including foreknowledge of the future).
The second point is that he is a part of the invisible (spiritual) creation mentioned in Col. 1:16, which embraces all angelic beings. Thus he shares the same attributes that apply to all angelic beings, namely, he is finite (as are all created things); he is spiritual in essence, and thus invisible to human eyes; he is a personal being, made in God’s image; he possesses supernatural power; and he is immortal, i.e., designed by God to exist forever, once he has been created.
The third point is that Satan is a part of the group of angels who sinned (2 Peter 2:4), and is actually the leader of these rebellious spirits. His one-on-one contest with Michael the archangel in Jude 9, and his position as leader of the demonic force that opposed Michael in Rev. 12:7, suggest that prior to his fall he too was an archangel (chief angel, an angel of the highest rank).
Now we may get back to the question, when was Satan created? It is important to see that he was not created AS SATAN, but as a good angel, a highest-ranking angel. God does not create evil beings. He creates beings with free will (such as the human race) who can use their free will to do evil things, but everything he creates is good when it is created. This applies to angels, even to the angels who used their free will to commit sin. This includes the devil. Thus he BECAME Satan after he was created.
When, then, were the angelic hosts as such created? The fact is that there is no clear Biblical data that can help us answer this question. We can mostly speculate. One thing we do know is that there is no Biblical reason to think they had to be created during the six days of creation in Genesis 1. This is because Genesis 1 is describing the origin of the VISIBLE universe only (see again Col. 1:16). Genesis 1:1 specifies this limitation by saying, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This phrase, “the heavens and the earth,” refers ONLY to this material universe. “Heavens” is not the angelic or spiritual realm; it is the universe that surrounds the earth. IF the angelic world was created during this time frame, the Bible is mostly silent on the point. (See the paragraph after the next one, though.) There is no reason to think that somehow these two universes are so inseparably linked that they must have been created at the same time.
The more tantalizing question is, when did the angelic FALL happen? The only sure references we have to this event are 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. Some also think Isa. 14:12-17 and Ezek. 28:12-19 refer to Satan’s fall, but we can’t be sure of this. It is possible they are sarcastic references to the evil king of Babylon. Others think Luke 10:18 and Rev. 12:7ff. are references to Satan’s original fall, but it is much more likely that these passages are alluding to Christ’s personal defeat of the devil and his fallen-angel forces (the demons) during the time of His earthly ministry. The significance of the conflict between Christ and Satan, and of Christ’s decisive defeat of Satan via his death and resurrection, cannot be overemphasized.
The one sure marker we have for both the creation and fall of Satan is Genesis 3. Because of Satan’s role in the temptation of Eve, we know for sure that he had already been created and had already fallen into evil before this time. In my judgment both of these things had already taken place even before Genesis 1:1, before this world was made. Scripture testifies that the devil has been a murderer and a sinner “from the beginning” (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). I take this to be the beginning of this universe. I.e., even when this universe was coming into being, the devil was already a murderer and a sinner.
Even if we cannot know for sure about Satan’s past, it is much more important that we know about his future. We know that he and his minions have already been defeated by Jesus Christ in the flesh (Heb. 2:14; Rev. 12:7ff.; 20:1-3), and that his final condemnation and doom are sure (Matt. 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). May Christ the Victorious One be praised!