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Many people have seen the Classical depiction of Satan in paintings and statues, but what does scripture say about what Satan looks like?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Apparently, anything he likes, including an angel:

2 Corinthians 11:14:

... Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

Assuming Satan is an angel, then he can probably take on any appearance, at least that of a human:

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2

And possibly a snake (though some Christians do not take this passage literally)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.

Genesis 3:1

More information can be found on the Christian demonology Wikipedia article.

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Similar to Apperance | Christian demonology? Taken from here or you Wiki editor? –  FMS Jul 15 at 23:02
@FMShyanguya: it was a while ago when I wrote it but I think it was all original work based on my existing Bible knowledge. I don't remember ever looking at that link, prior to today. –  Wikis Jul 16 at 4:51
got it! It could also be the other way round, perhaps the editor of Wikipedia lifting from you ... –  FMS Jul 16 at 6:15
@FMShyanguya - very flattering, but no. If you look at the changes to that page since I posted this, the Appearance section is not edited. :) I think any similarity is because the verses I have quoted I quite well known to many Bible-reading Christians. –  Wikis Jul 16 at 6:57
nice! I am learning so much. may I suggest the a reference to Wikipedia in your answer so that people may not conclude as I did? –  FMS Jul 16 at 7:02

Don't forget the images in Revelation:

an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. Rev 12:3–4 NIV

And especially this one, which gives the Number of the Beast:

Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon...It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
    This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. Rev 13:11,16–18 NIV

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Although some readings (particularly modern dispensational ones) associate them, many historical interpretations say that the beast of Revelation is not the same thing as Satan. Even if they were, this imagary is clearly intended to be symbolic of a function, not necessarily the physical appearance of an individual. Considering how this conflicts with how Satan is known to appear from clearer scriptures, I think one ought to prioritize the other facets. –  Caleb Apr 30 '12 at 21:02

It should be noted that as an angel, aside from a stint in fleshly imagery in the West, Satan like other angels is considered to not actually have a 'true appearance' at all. He is a bodiless intelligence and is thus, invisible.

It is highly misleading to try to tack down his appearance, like that of any angel or demon, because what they are is not primarily bodily and thus, passively or objectively visible, but intelligible and intelligent, and subtle. Any image they assume can be considered a 'vision of angels', since they have no actual appearance. How they appear is based on how they wish to be intelligible to us.

If you can stomach it, you may wish to consider On The Divine Hierarchy by St. Denys.

Satan can appear as an angel of light and frankly, as alluded to above, whatever suits him and God permits.

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How is it then, as is said, '[...] they shall see God'? –  FMS Jul 16 at 23:06
As an angel, he is primarily a "pure spirit". –  Yves Jul 22 at 15:48

God differentiates evil from Good that he IS. Just as he separated light from darkness.

StackExchange differentiates between an increase in reputation and a decrease in repuation. The former by +(green number), and the latter by -(red number).

Only God is Good [cf. Mk 10:18] and he alone is creator. Good and evil belong to the knowledge of God [cf. Gn 3:5], therefore it is he who determines what evil should look like since he is the only Good. Hence the separtion of what is clean and unclean, what is an abomination or not as in Lv Ch 11 and Dt Ch 14. For example:

Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, all the swarming things that swarm upon the earth, you shall not eat; for they are an abomination. [Lv 11:42]

We know most people's reaction when they see a snake, or a centipede, or a scorpion.

Another illustrative example in Rv 18:2

[A]nd has become the haunt of devils [Is 34:11f] and a lodging for every foul spirit and dirty, loathsome bird. [Rv 18:2]

Concluding, in general, should one see demons as they are, the sight will more likely evoke a worse reaction than people have when the encounter say a snake, scorpion, etc.

In the bible, Satan or the Devil has been called the primeval serpent and dragon. This section has covered in a couple questions that highlighted the common threads and recurring themes among religions and peoples. We find dragons among the Chinese, and there is Quetzalcoatl a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means "feathered serpent"; their depictions, terrifying.

What follows below is shared for knowledge:

In reply to the question WHAT IS A DEMON?, an exorcist Fr. Fortea says in it:

In art, demons are depicted as deformed and grotesque beings. This would seem appropriate given that demons have definitively decided on a destiny far from God. The interior loneliness in which they find themselves forever and their envy of the faithful who enjoy the Beatific Vision continually bring them face-to-face with their sins. They hate God, themselves, and all those who seek to serve God.

My commentary is we use terms as 'monster,' 'glazed-eyed/empty-soul,' 'repulsive,' 'evil-looking,', etc. to describe say evil people like serial killers, etc. Also, those in the Adult industry, ladies of the night [e.g. in dressing], etc, have a certain distinctive look about them.

Summary, demons and evil have a real [as God sees them] and distinctive appearance: terrifying to behold (hence the representation as serpents, dragons, goats, etc.), dark, ugly, repulsive, agitating, etc. everything the apposite of glory, good, beauty, welcoming, reassuring, etc.

Another description by by a seer at Fatima:

The first secret [shown by the Our Lady of Fátima] was a vision of hell, which Lúcia describes in her Third Memoir as cf. [The Message of Our Lady of Fatima]:

On July 13, 1917 the Blessed Virgin unveiled a terrifying reality before the three children's eyes. Lucia recounts: "Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire, which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls, in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in this conflagration in clouds of smoke, lifted by flames coming out of their bodies. They rose and fell on all sides, like sparks in roaring fires, without weight or direction, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair that terrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. This vision lasted but a moment, thanks to our good Mother from Heaven who had warned us beforehand, and promised to take us to Heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of horror and fear. Then we raised our eyes to Our Lady, who said with kindness and sadness: 'You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If people do what I am going to tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. ' "

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I have to downvote for this because it is plainly wrong: "[certain sinners] have a certain distinctive look about them." There are quite a few serial killers that everyone loved and thought were normal, great people. Maybe sometimes the face can give an indication of wrong doing, but your comment is akin to championing facecrime. –  fredsbend Jul 15 at 22:46
@fredsbend Read distinctive as differentiating. Evil has a look but a similar look does not imply evil e.g. if one's plastic surgery turned horrible and one were to look grotesque ... –  FMS Jul 15 at 23:08
@fredsbend Facecrime, not in the least. Real [as God sees them] 'Shoel below is open to God ...'[cf. Ps 139:8}. Look is only one among many signs I have mentioned. Please see my summary. In hindsight people will always tell you that they thought something was off. They didn't fool all the people all the time ... PS '[certain sinners]' is yours and not mine. I don't believe you have any justification to maintain your down-vote. –  FMS Jul 16 at 23:10

The Bible says that Lucifer( Satan's former name)was a cherub(Ezekiel 28:14). Cherubs are not cute little chubby angels but are in truth actually pretty frightening to look at. Cherubs are twenty cubits long, had four faces(of an ox, lion, eagle and man), an enormous wingspan, huge flaming swords and are covered in eyes according to Ezekiel and Isaiah's accounts. We can only assume that Satan looks like one of these.

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This answer needs more support. It needs sources and citations, if necessary, to support what you are saying. Otherwise, it just looks like your opinion. Please edit more to it to make a truly academic answer. Thank you. References: Guidelines for writing effective answers and What is a well-sourced, dispassionate answer? –  fredsbend Oct 12 at 23:17
Remember that the Scripture also says he comes as an angel of light. –  Affable Geek Oct 13 at 0:22

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