Why is Satan NOT in hell yet? (Part 1)

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Job 1:6
  • Revelation 20:1-3
  • Romans 6:23
  • Luke 10:18, Job 1
  • Genesis 3:1-7
  • 2 Corinthians 11:13-14
  • 2 Corinthians 11:3
  • Revelation 12:9, 20:2
  • John 8:44
  • Matthew 3:7
  • Matthew 23:29-33
  • Genesis 2:17
  • 1 Timothy 2:13-14
  • Genesis 2:21-22
  • Job 38:7
  • Jude 1:6
  • 1 John 3:8, John 8:44
  • Genesis 1:29-30
  • John 16:7-11, John 12:31, John 14:30

Let’s set this up a bit

We find that in Matthew 25:41 that hell was created for Satan and his angels. This seems straightforward until you start thinking about it. Why isn’t Satan in hell? His punishment was already created? So why is he around now? We can see clearly that there are several situations where Satan is active and clearly not in hell:

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Job 1:6 ESV

Similarly, you find that Satan is around when he is tempting Jesus. Clearly, something about this picture seems off. Some people try to have an explanation saying that Satan is already in hell or that maybe he is bound. Then some say he still interacts even bound or some say he doesn’t don’t interact with us at all. Turns out both aren’t true (especially the second one) because of some of the passages that describe when and how Satan will be bound. We find in Revelation a future event, that is still not even him being finally bound.

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be released for a little while. … 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison … 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:1-3, 7, 10 ESV

Following that, we also know that God is a just God and he must punish sin. Like talked about before, God does hold every sin accountable and to a pretty extreme degree:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 ESV

What in the world does that mean? We will talk about it another day because it’s a cool topic. But today we just want to focus on the fact that Satan is not currently in hell. 

People often have a hard time when talking about this because we say Satan fell, but what does that mean? We find in Job that while it seems Satan is clearly not good (as the word here for Satan literally means the adversary h7854). We also see that Satan is still in heaven. If he fell what does it mean? Because we say Satan fell from heaven yet here he is in heaven? Of course, we can ask several questions about what does it mean for Satan to “fall.”

  • Was he punished?
  • Was his punishment full?
  • Was his title removed?
  • What title was it?
  • Was his power removed?
  • What type of power?
  • Was he removed from going to heaven? 
  • Is this removal from heaven past, present, or future? (Luke 10:18)
  • Was he removed from Authority?
  • What type of Authority is this?
  • Was he removed from God’s presence?
  • Was he removed forever?

When you start looking at these questions, some are straightforward, others we can’t answer, and yet some seem to be debatable. Even though some seem to be in effect you really need to split hairs on how you answer these questions and you will probably find scholars debating about this issue.

When did Satan fall?

So now that we established that Satan did fall at some point, now comes the question, when did he fall? Depending on how you answer this question affects how you answer the previous questions. To a larger degree, this actually complicates things when you really look at it, Satan falls before most of those questions. Even still some of those questions seem to be partly answered in the future as well. But we try to establish the question in a more familiar context for many people. Did Satan fall before Adam? With Adam or after Adam? And was Satan the serpent in the garden?

Was the Serpent Satan?

Now to deal with this age-old question. Then you look at Genesis 3, it does not directly state that Satan was in the garden tempting Eve. A lot of people say that it was a serpent (as in a literal animal). Then many questions come into play, why is the animal talking? To make things even more complicated there are old Jewish traditions that come from some non-biblical books (that are often full of problems). What we will do is stick to what the Bible actually says and see if we can deal with this issue.

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 ESV

We often assume from culture and our media that Satan is this ugly monster with horns and red skin, probably carrying a pitchfork. But that is not the picture we get from this passage (or Ezekiel). But note that it says, “disguises himself.” that doesn’t mean he looks like an angel of light but that he can look like one. How does this work? No clue, but to some degree, Satan can change his appearance. Of course, history is full of people who claimed an angel came to them giving them “new revelation.” Not going to take the time to jab at different situations but you can quickly start thinking of when Satan probably did this in the past. Just gonna leave this here:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-8 ESV

We find that Satan is heavily connected to the serpent in many different ways. One thing, we find that the serpent is talked about specifically in 2 Corinthians.

3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

Interestingly enough, John writes in revelation about an “ancient serpent” and directly calls it Satan. On top of that, the word for Serpent in all three passages use the same Greek word ὄφις G3789 – ophis. 

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.

Revelation 12:9 ESV

2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

Revelation 20:2 ESV

We can look at some other verse to get some sense of this too. For instance, we find several occasions when Jesus and John the Baptist had a conversation with some of the Pharisees and they make some exchanges. 

6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Matthew 3:6-7 ESV

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Matthew 23:29-33 ESV

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 does not stand in 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.

John 8:44 ESV

Here we find that the Pharisees are being so bad, that they are being compared to serpents. That then is extended as they are children of a serpent (symbolically) and their father is Satan (presentable a serpent). This is just a bunch of food for thought that might indicate that it was Satan who was directly involved in some way. But again many scholars debate over this issue.

Timing the fall of Satan

So back to something a bit more relevant. When did Satan fall? Was it before Adam, during Adam, or After Adam? Well, we do know something, it was probably after Adam was created. How can one say this? There are several clues to indicate this. First I talked before about how the angels were around when God created the Earth. We find this in Job 38:7 as I mentioned before. So it is safe to say that much. I also talk a bit in a previous post when talking about the issue of “the gap theory” and deal with some issues of Satan’s fall. From there you can rule out that Satan did not fall before creation was completed for several reasons. 

Now we get to another issue that comes in to play here. There were also other angels who fell (Jude 1:6). Did Satan fall with these angels? Clearly, they sinned and Satan sinned, so what’s the difference? If Satan sinned after them, then there doesn’t seem to be a justification for why Satan isn’t punished the same way. If Satan fell before them, What makes Satan’s situation different? Several passages point to the fact that Satan was most likely the first one to fall or at vary less they all fell with Satan. For instance, the passage mentioned previously (John 8:44, ) mentions that he was full of sin from the beginning. 

8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8 ESV

Of course in the biblical context, we know that in the beginning “beginning” Satan was not evil. He was created with a purpose by God (which we can see in Ezekiel).  Clearly, after he was originally created he fell. Looking back at some of the passages from Revelation which call him an “ancient serpent” further points out that the beginning was most likely around the time of Genesis 3. The mention that he was the “father of lies” indicates that he was the first person to lie. Again beating all this to death, the first time a lie exists (as we can see in the Bible) is when the Serpent lied to Eve telling her that she will not die if she eats the fruit. So in terms of the question of Satan falling with the angels, more than likely he fell either before or with them.

But there is still a question that is lingering. What makes Satan’s situation so different? Clearly, Satan sinned, and clearly, he is not in hell. Why did (or doesn’t) God judge Satan with hell like he was planning to? After all of this, we come to the conclusion that something about Satan’s falling seems to be special. If God could just judge Satan he would have. One might say “Satan was judged on the cross,” which is true to some degree, but looking at the passage from Revelation 20, Satan is still not judged with Hell like he was supposed to be. Why not? What exactly is God waiting for? That will be explored next time.

Consequences of Satan not being in hell

There is another issue that we need to talk about. If I ask you who owns the world, you might be tempted to say God does. But it turns out that is not true. When you look back at the beginning you find God does something interesting:

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 1:27-30 ESV

Here we find that God gives over authority of the earth to man. So if I ask that question, who owns the earth, you might say man does right? It turns out that is not true anymore. It was true then, but after the fall that is no longer true. We find that Satan controls this world. 

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

John 12:31 ESV

30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

John 14:30 ESV

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

John 16:7-11 ESV

Clearly, God does not own the earth, Jesus isn’t in control of the earth and man is not in control of the earth. Someone else is in control. If you remember the temptation of Jesus, Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. You would think Jesus would have brought up some Bible verse about God owning the earth, but he doesn’t. But then there is another question for next time, why does Satan seem to have control?

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