Useful Bible Studies > Revelation Commentary > chapter 12

The names and titles of Satan

Revelation 12:9

When God acts, his most powerful enemy will certainly suffer defeat. The shock for us in Revelation 12:9 is to discover how great that enemy is, or was. The verse reminds us of the devilís power so that we may truly recognise the astonishing greatness of God.

The verse does that by means of a list of the devilís titles. Each of his names tells us something about his greatness, his authority or his power. He is like a great king who rules over many countries. One name or one title would not be enough to describe his power properly.

So, the devil is first called by his principal name in this chapter: the great dragon. People used the word Ďdragoní to describe the most terrible and fierce animal that they could imagine. Similar descriptions of the devil as a fierce wild animal appear elsewhere in the Bible too, for example Isaiah 27:1.

Then the devil is called by his name in two languages. In the Hebrew language, he is called SATAN, which means the accuser. In the Greek language, he is called DIABOLOS, which means a false accuser. English Bibles usually translate DIABOLOS as Ďthe devilí. The devil constantly accuses Godís people (12:10), but his words are false (John 8:44).

The devil is also called Ďthe ancient serpent (snake)í. That is a reference to Genesis 3:1-13, when he persuaded the first people not to obey God. It also refers to Godís judgement against him in Genesis 3:14-15.

The last title for the devil here is Ďthe deceiver of the whole worldí. To deceive means to lie; but this title does not just mean that he lies. It means that he leads all people away from God. Their wrong deeds and their evil behaviour are the results of the devilís work.

Next part: Satan, the accuser (Revelation 12:10)

 

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© 2016, Keith Simons.