Thursday, 19 February 2009

Satan = Lucifer?

What would you say if I asked you "Who is Lucifer?" I think the most common response would be 'The Devil' or 'Satan'.

Isaiah 14:12-15, The famous Old Testament passage regarding Lucifer says:

"How you have fallen from heaven,
O [Lucifer] morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High."

But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit."

English Church tradition has talken hold of this passage to refer to Satan. The question is whether this is legitimate or not.

The Hebrew is literally "Morning Star", often used to denote dawn in the Bible. In the Latin versions it was translated to Light bringer or Lucifer (Lux-Light, Ferre-to bring). There is lots of ancient symbology which was probably borrowed, particulatly from a Caananite Myth. Basically they all run along this line. There is the morning star (venus) who assends from the darkness and brings the dawn (the light) and keeps assending in the Sky until the Sun dawns whose light engulfs the morning Star which then descends again.

This then has been associated with Satans falling from heaven (Luke 10:18). Is this what Jesus was refering to? I think not. The main reasoning being that the context of the passage doesn't allow it. Isaiah 14:3-4 says:

"On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
How the oppressor has come to an end!
How his fury has ended!"

and Isaiah 14:16-17 says:

"Those who see you stare at you,
they ponder your fate:
"Is this the man who shook the earth
and made kingdoms tremble,
the man who made the world a desert,
who overthrew its cities
and would not let his captives go home?""

We see from the context therefore that its is actually the King of Bablyon and not Satan! In other words God is greater then the great Kingdom of Bablylon despite it destroying the other Kingdoms and conquering the World! Nothing to do with Satan at all.

In the New testament Jesus is called the Morning Star (Lucifer). In Revelation 22:16 Jesus says:

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

This is not the only example. Is Jesus the Devil therefore? Perish the thought. Rather they NT writers are using the image to show that Jesus is the one who makes the light Dawn in our hearts. For example 2 Peter 1:19 says:

"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts"

For this reason I do not believe that Lucifer is a Biblical or suitable name for the Devil.

Let me know your thoughts

Till next time!


  1. Interesting post. The Isaiah passage certainly refers to an earthly king, however, it could have a double meaning - a literal reference to a king, and a figurative reference to Satan.
    The early fathers loved to find such "double meaning" passages, and sometimes went overboard. Ezekiel 28 and the king of Tyre is another example along those lines.

  2. Thanks for commenting Pizza man.
    I agree they loved to do that but the problem is knowing when to stop. Like you said they sometimes go overboard.
    The NT writers and Jesus all ascribe double meanings to texts but I believe it is possible to read too much into a passage and in the end take something from it which isn't there. What they seem to do is merely use typology.
    As there isn't another passage refering to Satan as Lucifer/Morning star it seems unneccesary and poor exegesis.
    Please keep posting as I love your site!
    In Christ