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Recently, a good friend of mine posed the question:

What (or who) is Satan and how do we know?

I answered him, saying that Satan is an evil angel because this is what I've been taught since I was a child. However, after further investigation (meaning looking through relevant portions of the Bible) I could not justify my claim. In fact, the only form that Satan is described as having, in my investigation, is the form of a dragon. So, that's my question:

What is the form of Satan? Is he/it a dragon, human, angel, something else, or is his/its form indeterminate? Please use scripture to support your answer, and thank you.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan masquerades as "an angel of Light." From that we can deduce that Satan is, in fact, and angel, Albeit not an angel of light. Still, you are right that there is very little in the Bible about him.

We know that he is "the Accuser of the Brethern" (from Job), and in fact, "Ha-Satan" is Hebrew for "Accuser."

We also know that he is a snake (Gen 3), a lion waiting to devour (Gen 4), and that he is the Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesian 2:2).

In Revelation 12, he often associated with "the Beast, that evil dragon," but it is wise to remember that Revelation has all sorts of wild imagery that seems intended as metaphor as much as description.

Finally, in Isaiah 14, Christian tradition has said that he is Lucifer, the Morning Star, who was brought down by pride. Ezekiel 28 is another text often applied to him.

Beyond that, most everything else we know about Satan is historical tradition. Paradise Lost, in particular, has shaped many people's beliefs about "the Fall from Heaven."

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@Affable_Geek, Thank you very much for your answer. II Cor. 11:14, NIV, says, "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." Now, usually "masquerade" is defined as being a false appearance, as in Merriam-Webster's definition: "an action or appearance that is mere disguise or show." Wouldn't this verse then imply that Satan is not of angelic nature? –  mjgpy3 Dec 7 '12 at 14:58
    
So, I have the same issue here as I did in this question. Angel has come to mean any of the heavenly host. Satan clearly has the ability to enter heaven (see Job 1), and so by that definition qualifies. But, I agree, it's not as "obvious" as it sounds. –  Affable Geek Dec 7 '12 at 15:05
    
Okay, I understand where you are coming from, thanks again. –  mjgpy3 Dec 7 '12 at 15:14
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@mjgpy3: At first, my response with the same as yours. If Satan transformed into an angel of light, then that means he isn't naturally an angel of light. Then, I thought about the focus of Paul's remark. Was he emphasizing "angel" or "light." We know that certainly Satan is not an angel of light, but did Paul mean to say that Satan isn't really an angel, either? I don't think so. The Jews had such a nation that "all the angels are light." Of course, they mean the good angels. But, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Though he is still an angel, he is an angel of darkness. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 7 '12 at 17:04
    
Excellent point -- I can't just take "angel," I would have to take "angel of light." It would be like saying, "An evil man masquerades as a good man," he is still a man, but underneath he is evil. –  mjgpy3 Dec 7 '12 at 17:26
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Quote from Religionfaq.org article

Quote

Many Jews believe that "the adversary" is simply a personification of our inclinations to evil. Judaism teaches us a path through Torah precept how to overcome the evil incliation. Judaism teaches us how to be accountable for our behaviors, accept responsibility when we do wrong, make amends and choose to do better in our walk with God through Tikkun Olam. ( working as partners with God and fellow humans to repiar and restore the world to righteousness, justice, mercy and harmony) HaSatan can be thought of as the outward projection and manifestation of the impulse to think for self alone and above all else with immediate gratification

Its helpful in most cases to observe continuity with Judaism and its views. I say, in most cases, because, sometimes, Judaism hasn't developed a view on certain issues. So it wouldn't be profitable to look for views on the topic of the afterlife, for instance. There isn't one.

On Satan, however, Judaism describes HaSatan, the adversary both as a drive, the yetzer hara within man, as well as an entity, one that enters Heaven and accuses men, God's men.

That's because Judaism has no problems personifying emotions, traits, properties and characteristics of God and men.

One thing is clear though. Satan may be the accuser, but he works for God. He serves a purpose in God's scheme of things.

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It's good to hear what Judaism believes about Satan, but it isn't necessarily relative to this particular forum (Christianity Stack Exchange). We need more of a Christian perspective. There's no doubt that Judaism does not believe a lot of things that Christianity believes. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 7 '12 at 22:50
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