Is the name of the adversary “Satan”?

The dark figure opposing God has been called by many names such as Devil, Beelzebub & Lucifer. But most Christians know and speak of this great adversary in the Scriptures as “Satan”. While many use “Satan” as a proper name (such as James, John, Peter, etc), the Scriptures provide a very different perspective on the subject. Let us review what the Word says beyond our translations.

1. Is Satan the name of this Great Adversary?
2. If his name is not Satan, what is it?
3. Nameless, but known by many titles

1. Is Satan the name of this Great Adversary?
At the onset itself, we must understand that the English word “Satan” originates from the Hebrew word “Saw-tawn”. The Strong’s Concordance defines this Hebrew word as given Below:
H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’ – an opponent; adversary.

As per the definition above, it should be clear to you that the word “Saw-tawn” is not a “name” for a specific character or individual, but a word used generally for “Opponent” or “Adversary”. Let us look at the usage of this word in the Scriptures.

The Angel of God called “Satan”
Num 22:22
  And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary(H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’) against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
Num 22:32  And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand(H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’) thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
David called “Satan”
1Sa 29:4
  And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary(H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’) to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?
Sons of Zeruiah called “Satan”
2Sa 19:22
And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries(H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’) unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?
Hadad the Edomite called “Satan”
1Ki 11:14
 And the LORD stirred up an adversary(H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’) unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom.

In the above examples Num 22:22&32 both regard the Angel of God who stopped Baalam as an “Adversary”(Saw-tawn). In the 3rd instance, the princes of Philistine spoke of David as an “Adversary”(Saw-tawn) towards them. Surely, neither the Angel of God or David was “Satan” in these instances. It is clear proof that this word “Saw-tawn” cannot be used as a “proper name” to refer to a certain individual, but that it was generally used for any person who opposes or acts as an adversary.

H7854 – saw-tawn’ is translated as Adversary in the following verses
Num 22:22, 1Sam 29:4, 2Sam 19:22, 1Kin 5:4, 1Kin 11:14,23,25
H7854 – saw-tawn’ is translated as Withstand in the following verse
Num 22:32
H7854 – saw-tawn’ is translated as Satan in the following verses
1Chr 21:1, Job 1:6,7,8,9,12, 2:1,2,3,4,6,7, Psa 109:6, Zec 3:1,2

A Greek transliteration of the Hebre word “Sawtawn” has been used extensively in the New Testament, further enforcing the above conclusion. G4567 – Σατανᾶς – Satanas – sat-an-as’ – Of Chaldee origin corresponding to G4566 (with the definite article affixed); the accuser, that is, the devil: G4567 is translated Satan in the following verses
Mat_4:10; Mat_12:26; Mat_16:23; Mar_1:13; Mar_3:23; Mar_3:26; Mar_4:15; Mar_8:33; Luk_4:8; Luk_10:18; Luk_11:18; Luk_13:16; Luk_22:3; Luk_22:31; Joh_13:27; Act_5:3; Act_26:18; Rom_16:20; 1Co_5:5; 1Co_7:5; 2Co_2:11; 2Co_11:14; 1Th_2:18; 2Th_2:9; 1Ti_1:20; 1Ti_5:15; Rev_2:9; Rev_2:13; Rev_2:24; Rev_3:9; Rev_12:9; Rev_20:2; Rev_20:7;

If you have read the study we have done on the definition of “Christ”, you would understand this dynamic a bit better. In the same way that “Christ” or “Messiah” cannot be exclusively used for Yeshua (Jesus’ true name), as Saul, the Levitical Priests and even the Persian king Cyrus were called Messiah (Mashiyach) – the word “saw-tawn” (Satan) cannot be used as a proper name for “The Adversary”, as it is a general term for one who withstands or is an adversary.

2. If his name is not Satan, what is it?
A. Lucifer
Many believe that the name of the Great adversary is “Lucifer” as mentioned in Isa 14:12

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! “


engraving by Gustave Doré illustrating Canto XXXIV of Divine Comedy, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri. Caption: Lucifer, King of Hell

The word translated as Lucifer in our English Translations come from the word “Helel” (H1966 – הילל – hêylêl – hay-lale’ – From H1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning star) in the original Hebrew Manuscripts. It is used only once in the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures and would read “Shining one” if properly translated.

The word “Lucifer” originates from the Latin word “Lucifer” which means “light bringing” which has been carried onto the English translations as a name – although this cannot be used as a proper name according to the Scriptures.

B. Beelzebub
Another name commonly used for the Adversary is Beelzebub. This name originates from the Old Testament, where a false god of the Philistines known as “Baal-Zebub”(Baal of the flies) of Ekron was enquired by King Ahaziah in the time of Elijah( 2Kin 1:2,3,6,16). This same name was used to defame Yeshua and was apparently used to denote “the chief Adversary” as seen in Luke 11:15 “But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.

G954 – Βεελζεβούλ – Beelzeboul – beh-el-zeb-ool’ – Of Chaldee origin (by parody upon [H1176]); dung god; Beelzebul, a name of Satan: – Beelzebub.
G954 – Beelzebub is mentioned in Mat 10:25; 12:24; 12:27; Mar 3:22; Luk 11:15; 11:18; 11:19;

H1176 – בּעל זבוּב – ba‛al zebûb – bah’-al zeb-oob’ – From H1168 and H2070; Baal of (the) Fly; Baal Zebub, a special deity of the Ekronites: – Baal-zebub.
H1176 – Baal-zebub is mentioned in 2Kin 1:2,3,6,16

C. Belial
A not so common epitaph of Satan is “Belial”. This word mentioned only once in the whole of the New Testament by Paul in 2Co 6:15 “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”, originates from the Hebrew Word “Belial” which meant “worthless”, “wicked” or “Evil” and was commonly used to speak of people who did things contrary to God’s ways.

G955 – Βελίαλ – Belial – bel-ee’-al – Of Hebrew origin [H1100]; worthlessness; Belial, as an epithet of Satan: – Belial.
H1100 – בּליּעל – belı̂ya‛al – bel-e-yah’-al – From H1097 and H3276; without profit, worthlessness; by extension destruction, wickedness (often in connection with H376, H802, H1121, etc.): – Belial, evil, naughty, ungodly (men), wicked.

H1100 – bel-ee’-al is translated as Belial in the following verses
Deu 13:13;  Jdg 19:22; 20:13; 1Sam 1:16; 2:12; 10:27; 25:17; 25:25; 30:22; 2Sam 16:7; 20:1; 23:6; 1Kin 21:10; 21:13; 2Chr 13:7;
H1100 – bel-ee’-al is translated as Wicked in the following verses
Deu 15:9; Job 34:18; Psa 101:3; Nah 1:11; 1:15;
H1100 – bel-ee’-al is translated as Ungodly in the following verses
2Sam 22:5; Psa 18:4; Prov 16:27; 19:28;
H1100 – bel-ee’-al is translated as Evil/Naughty in the following verses
Psa 41:8; Prov 6:12

Belial, much like Satan, seems to be a title more than a name, used by many for the great adversary.

D. Devil
Maybe the most common name used for the Adversary other than Satan, would be “Devil”. The word Devil stems from several layers of transliterations of the Greek word “Diabolos” (Greek to Latin to German to Middle English to Modern English). “Diabolos” in the Greek meant “Accuser” or “Slanderer” and is not exclusively used as a name for “The Adversary”. Hence Devil is also merely a title.

G1228 – διάβολος – diabolos – dee-ab’-ol-os – From G1225; a traducer; specifically Satan (compare [H7854]): – false accuser, devil, slanderer

G1228 – diabolos is translated as Devil in the following verses
Mat 4:1; 4:5; 4:8; 4:11; 13:39; 25:41; Luk 4:2; 4:3; 4:5; 4:6; 4:13; 8:12; Joh 6:70; 8:44; 13:2; Act 10:38; 13:10; Eph 4:27; 6:11; 1Tim 3:6; 3:7; 2Tim 2:26; Heb 2:14; Jas 4:7; 1Pet 5:8; 1Joh 3:8; 3:10; Jud 1:9; Rev 2:10; 12:9; 12:12; 20:2; 20:10;
G1228 – diabolos is translated as False Accusers in
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Tit 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
G1228 – diabolos is translated as Slanderers in
1Tim 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

As we see above, the same word “diabolos” is used to mention “Slanderers” and “False accusers” making clear that this word much like “satan” is a general term and not a name.

E. Serpent
Another name used for the Adversary, is the “Serpent”. We see this name used in a variety of verses.
Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Isa 27:1  In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
The words “Serpent”, “Dragon” and “Leviathan” all refer to a creature/monster, comparing the adversary and his qualities to be monstrous. Here again, it must be noted that these names are only titles and not names.

3. Nameless, but known by many titles
As we have seen above, the great adversary has been known by many titles even though no name is mentioned in all of the Scriptures. A few more instances where titles were used to refer to the adversary are:

The Adversary, False Accuser/Slanderer, Old Serpent
1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil(false accuser/slanderer), as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil(false accuser/slanderer), and Satan(adversary), and bound him a thousand years,

Rev 9:11  And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.(G623 – Ἀπολλύων – Apolluōn – ap-ol-loo’-ohn – Active participle of G622; a destroyer: – Apollyon.)
H11 – אבדּון – ‘abaddôn – ab-ad-done’ – Intensively from H6; abstractly a perishing; concretely destruction)

Father of Lies
Joh 8:44  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

When we read the Scriptures, in our day and age, it is a must that we examine and find out true meanings of words and the translations that have been handed down to us. Just like “Lucifer” is not mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures, many other misconceptions have creeped into the Bible – as many unwitting Christians even see words such as “Satan” as the given name of the Adversary. To stand up to an adversary, you must first know about the character. We must not be carried away with popular interpretations and depictions of a dark creature reigning in Hell with red skin, horns and a tail carrying a pitchfork much as his name is not Devil, Lucifer or Satan.

5 thoughts on “Is the name of the adversary “Satan”?

  1. Pingback: Defining the term “Hell” | Bible things in Bible ways

  2. Arinda Botha

    Hi…you articles are very helpful…we are in South Africa…struggle with our friends to understand the place of the law today….I begged Abba this morning to help me get answers…struggled terribly on the internet for days…thank you so much

  3. Pingback: Lost in Translation – Are our English Bibles accurate? | Bible things in Bible ways

  4. Pingback: The Serpent, Dragon and the Seraphim | Bible things in Bible ways

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