10 Different Names for Satan and What They Mean
In the Old and New Testament, the people who try to follow God and His ways have enemies. There are human enemies, and then there are spiritual ones. The great spiritual enemy of humanity is Satan, a being who makes appearances in the Bible on occasion, always antagonistic to God and to those who try to do His will. Whenever Satan’s actions are recorded, his goal is to disrupt God’s plan, to destroy His work, and ultimately, to supplant God.
Through the text, he is called many names, each of which reveal something about his goal, purposes, and character. Understanding them helps believers recognize the actions of the enemy, and can help them remember to put on the full armor of God in order to finish their race well.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/francescoch
What Does the Bible Say about Satan?
In the Old Testament, there are many allusions to Satan, and even descriptions of his origins, but the New Testament clarifies a great deal about this being. Created with the other angels, Lucifer was one of the highest ranking – if not the highest ranking – beings in Heaven. At some point, he became prideful, and set himself against God. He convinced one-third of the angels to join him, and he tried to supplant the Creator:
“You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
As punishment, Satan and his minions were cast out of Heaven, and Hell was created for them to spend eternity. He tempted the first man and the first woman, Adam and Eve, to rebel against God, and by doing so brought humanity down into sin, brought death into the world, and was able to take control of it temporarily. Ultimately, Jesus’ death and resurrection defeated Satan, and the Bible promises his final defeat:
“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 20:10).
He is the source of evil and sin, and, as seen in the Book of Job, seeks to keep unbelievers in a state of unrepentance so they will not be redeemed, or make the life of the believer difficult.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tetra Images
10 Names for Satan
1. Roaring Lion
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Meaning: One who looks for prey; animalistic; predatory
Satan is described as a roaring lion, because lions stalk quietly, trying to remain undetected by its prey, so it can strike, kill, and devour. When the Apostle Peter described Satan in these terms, he was writing to believers, meaning they were not at risk of going to hell. They were at risk of stumbling, sinning, and damaging their relationship with God. Satan sees people as prey, as his victims. He knows God loves people, and he wants as many as possible in hell with him for eternity; if he cannot bring a person to hell because they have put their faith in Jesus Christ, then he doesn’t want them to be useful to their Savior. Therefore, he stalks all people, looking for weaknesses to exploit.
2. The Day Star
Meaning: A lesser light, a lesser being, an inferior source of light
Satan is described as the day star because he was an angelic being, bright and beautiful. However, he is not, nor has he ever been, the ultimate source of light.
God spoke light into being, and the Book of Revelation says that in eternity in the new Heaven and the new Earth, “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23). Lucifer sets himself up as a source of light, but it is a false light. The Day Star in ancient astrology, and used colloquially in modern astronomy, is Venus. It is a bright, star-like object in the heavens, but it will never be as great as the true sun. Lucifer has set himself up as a great heavenly being, but he will never be anything compared to Jesus Christ.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/johan63
3. The Tempter
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread’” (Matthew 4:1-3).
Meaning: The person who presents a challenge before someone to disobey God.
Satan is described as the tempter partly because of how he keeps people in sin, or causes rifts between believers and God, is by presenting things that are seemingly harmless but can lead to people sinning, to get someone to disobey God. When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he tempted him with food, with power, and with his right as the ruler of the world. Everything that Satan presented was within Jesus’ authority and power, but it was not the appropriate time for Jesus to claim that authority and power.
Satan tempts people in a similar way. He finds their physical weaknesses, and things that appear good or desirable, but lead to evil.
4. The Accuser
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God’” (Revelation 12:10).
Meaning: The one who presents someone’s violations of the law before a judge; the one who presents someone’s sin to God.
Satan is described as the accuser because of how he tries to bring people to hell in order to hurt God. It is understood that he stands before the throne of God and accuses people of the sins they committed, or twisting truth into a lie to make someone appear bad to the great Judge. A picture of this is given in the first chapter of Job. God blessed Job greatly, and Satan accused Job of only loving God because of the blessings, and that if God took them away Job would not love him. Job did not do this, though he did experience doubts.
Satan accuses, but if someone puts their faith in Jesus Christ, his death paid the price for those sin of which they are being accused, and the Judge wipes them from the ledger.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ra2studio
5. The Serpent
“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 12:10).
Meaning: The snake in the garden, the dragon in Revelation, the Leviathan.
Satan is described as the serpent because he used the form of a serpent, or possessed a serpent, to tempt Adam and Eve in the garden. He used this form, luring Eve into trusting him because they were familiar with the creatures of the Garden of Eden, and she had no reason to believe the snake would lie.
6. Father of Lies
“When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44c).
Meaning: The origin of deception, the first person to tell a falsehood.
Satan is described as the Father of Lies because he was the first liar. When Lucifer got some of the hosts of heaven to rebel against God, he lied saying that he could dethrone God. When he tempted Adam and Eve, he lied by omission, not telling them that if they could choose between good and evil, they would pay a price for it. Many lies people tell or believe came from him.
“He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44b).
Meaning: Killer, the one who ends life.
Satan is described as a murderer because listening to him leads to death. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were exiled from the Garden of Eden and the tree of life. They died as a result of their sin, and all people die bodily because of sin. Satan also tempts others to take life.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/nelic
8. Prince of the Power of the Air
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Meaning: The one with authority to influence the world.
Satan is described as the Prince of the Power of the Air by the Apostle Paul because he is the one who influences the way the world works. The Greek word used for “the world” here is kosmos, meaning both the physical world, but also the course of the world, the way it operates. The air is the thing that provides for life, and allows life to exist on the planet. Satan has authority to influence the ways of the world. Ultimately though, this status is temporary.
“And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘by the prince of demons he casts out the demons’” (Mark 3:22).
Meaning: The prince of demons
Satan is described as Beelzebub because the demons are the mass of angels who followed him in rebellion in Heaven, who now wait for judgment and being condemned to hell. Satan is their leader. The demons do as Satan commands, but cannot operate outside of what God allows. In culture, sometimes Beelzebub is considered, or the name is attributed to, another entity. However, in the Bible, this title refers to Satan. Jesus rebukes the accusation from the scribes that he cast out demons on the authority of Beelzebub because Satan cannot cast out Satan in a healing and redemptive manner, which Jesus was doing.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/photoschmidt
“What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:15).
Meaning: The spirit of evil personified; lacking worth
Satan is described as Belial because, even though people commit sin of their own volition and are accountable for their sin, he epitomizes everything evil. He was the first to sin, and ultimately was the cause of great evil. He encourages it. Some debate that Belial refers to Satan, and in Paradise Lost, Belial is one of the demons. Because what Satan represents is worthless, the name is also related to worthlessness.
Why Is This Important for Us to Know?
In warfare, it is important to know one’s enemy. Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare with the enemy. Knowing his names, his titles, and his limited power allows Christians to put on the full armor of God and rely on Him to combat their great spiritual enemy.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
Kelly, Joseph. Who is Satan? According to Scriptures. Collegeville: Liturgical Press,1989.
McCallum, Dennis. Satan and His Kingdom What the Bible Says and How It Matters to You. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2009.
Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Old Testament and New Testament. United States of America: Victor Books, 1987.
Wilmington, H.L. Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1981.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Guille Pozzi
Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer who uses her passion for God, reading, and writing to glorify God. She and her husband have lived all over the country serving their Lord and Savior in ministry. She has a blog on graceandgrowing.com.