I've always been told that when Jesus died on the cross, he ultimately defeated Satan and won victory over death. Satan was not aware of the secret plan and thought that he had defeated Jesus until Jesus died and he realized what had really been going on.

I don't find that so hard to believe, but I've been thinking about it lately ... Since there are a lot of prophecies about the son of God in the Old Testament -- and Jesus fulfilled them all -- shouldn't it have been quite clear for the Devil that God's plan was to sacrifice his only son, namely Jesus, on the cross to cleanse all of our sins? I figure that he should have the necessary intelligence to come to that conclusion. Or is it something along the lines that he's not able to understand the ways of love and truth, since he hates love and truth and all that is good, and has nothing to do with any of it?

So, my question is: Was Satan really taken by surprise when Jesus died on the cross?

8 Answers 8


No I don't think he was surprised at all. But that doesn't mean he wasn't disappointed. I'm sure he held out a false hope that things might go his way.

Satan is not omnipotent and could not have known exactly what God was planning, but he would have known and been able to understand the prophecies as well or better than men and it was never any secret that he was going to be crushed. However we must remember how he got to be Satan in the first place. His pride blinded him to think that he could rise and challenge the living God. That kid of pride is debilitating to comprehension and it deludes one into thinking an outcome could be different than the obvious.

I think this can stand as a warning to Christians because we have the same root of pride in our nature. If we willfully object to the sovereignty of God in our personal lives we will be blinded by this pride.

  • I like that you said "got to be Satan". Sometimes we forget that satan isn't merely a name, but it means "accuser" in Hebrew, and devil means the same in Greek. It's not just a name, but also the title of his office. A sure sign of pride is accusing others, but "who can accuse the elect? It's God who justifies."
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 4:14

Actually, we are never told in Scripture whether or not Satan knew exactly God's plan of redemption was. But we might have an inference in 1 Peter.

1 Peter 1:12 (NASB) says:

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look.

Apparently the angels have wanted to look into what the gospel plan was, but were unable. Hence, if the angels did not know, then I feel pretty safe in saying that Satan did not know either.

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    Apparently, none of the Jews knew either. They expected the Messiah to come and reign, not die on the cross. Even His own 12 didn't understand this during the majority of His ministry. Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 22:27
  • There's probably a hint there in Matthew 16:23.
    – Nick
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 22:51

Satan did not understand and cannot understand Living Truth.

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained .before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

This is how Satan & Co perceived this (1 Cor 2:7-8) crucifixion :

Matthew 21:37-43 38 38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’

The law of double reference would suggest that this is not purely the thinking of Jews/Pharasee as they did not claim to be God, or his Son. This is counteraction strategy of Antichrist forces against the imminent Church. They misread Gods battle-plan completely. Because...

John 8:44 - [Satan] abode/s 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.

He can process facts - but Living Truth is beyond his capability. That's why.


Some of the saints of centuries past explained that when Lucifer (angel of light) heard of God's plan to become man to raise man up, that was the cause of his desire to overthrow God. That does make sense. The angels are above man (see the Psalms) so when God wishes to become one of us, Lucifer had jealousy in his heart, his downfall.

In doing some reading, I came across the following article which discusses a wide range of topics that might be of interest in addressing perhaps the background which would help one better grasp the context of the difference between the reasoning of man and the pure intellect of the spirits/angels.

Devil (Catholic Encyclopedia)

To directly address the question: I think Herod's attempt to kill the baby Jesus when he knew he was going to be born but did not have enough specifics could be argued as "inspired" by the devil (Matthew 2:1-18, RSV).

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 6 `And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'" 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; 8 and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9 When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; 11 and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more."

Obviously this is not something I can "prove" but it seems to be consistent with his modis operandi. In the Gospels of St. Matthew (4:1-11) & Luke (4:1-13), we see Satan knew Scripture, so I don't think this line of thinking can be so easily discarded.

Mt 4:1-11

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." 4 But he answered, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, He will give his angels charge of you,' and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; 9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Lk 4:1-13

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit 2 for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." 4 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.'" 5 And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." 8 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'" 9 And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it is written, He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,' 11 and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 And Jesus answered him, "It is said, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Surely Satan knew the Jewish understanding of the prophecies. While he cannot read minds (See Catholic Catechism references below, particularly 395 - logic: Satan is a created being who was corrupted by its own choice), but he can listen to the Jewish teachers or perhaps even reason himself, though imperfectly because he lacks love (cf. Ephesians 4:18, Romans 1:21, 2 Corinthians 3:14).

Catholic Catechism Paragraphs

391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. [Cf. Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24] Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil”. [Cf Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9] The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.” [Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800]

392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. [Cf. 2 Pt 2:4] This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” [Gen 3:5] The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies”. [I Jn 3:8; Jn 8:44]

393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.” [St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 2, 4: PG 94, 877]

394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls “a murderer from the beginning”, who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father. [Jn 8:44; cf. Mt 4:1-11] “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” [I Jn 3:8] In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.

395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.” [Rom 8:28]

The following is an interesting talk on the Devil by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who is long dead: The Devil - Venerable Fulton Sheen (YouTube).

This talk is an exorcist-priest about angels. I thought this might be useful because the devil and his angels are ex-angels: Guardian Angels ~ Fr Ripperger (YouTube).


Satan did not understand what he was doing.

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

It is amazing it was still a mystery considering it speaks about the redemptive plan in Gensis.

  • 3
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    – user3961
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 6:24

Satan did not know God's plan. That is why it says in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Ephesians 3:1-9 (NKJV)

3 For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles—

2 if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you,

3 how by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words,

4 whereby when ye read this, ye may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ),

5 which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel,

7 for which I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.

8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

9 and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ,

Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. And we are still today trying to spread this gospel that was taught to Paul from Christ. People do not want to hear about it they want credit for their salvation. But Christ finished it all on the cross.

  • 1
    Welcome, please be clear when you quote, remember that it takes two line breaks to get a new line, and it would help your answer tremendously if you spend a few lines explaining a bit better why these verses prove your point.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 14:14
  • Welcome to the site! This doesn't really have much to do with your answer, but I find that sharing the following tends to help new visitors avoid mistaking the purpose of this site. I do hope to see more from you! When you get a chance, please see How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 20:57

The Scripture says:

John 10:10 King James Version (KJV) 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

---> So, it is God's nature to be good. And the thief's nature to be bad.

The Scripture continues to say:

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

---> This means that Jesus as the good shepherd will only do good by laying down his life for the sheep -- the believer of the Lord Jesus Christ.

---> Satan, on the other hand, can only do bad. He can steal our life, kill us, and destroy our life. His very nature is like that, according to the scripture. So, he did carried out his plan of stealing, killing, and destroying, even to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is like God and Satan is playing "chess" -- the game of life. The only move Satan makes is always stealing , killing and destroying. And the only move God makes is always giving life to his creation.

---> After Satan had done the "check mate": Killing the Lord Jesus Christ, then God made a move: GIVING LIFE to His beloved SON: Praise the LORD, the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the death and LIVES forever more. Isn't God awesome and wonderful.


1 Corinthians 2:7-8 is not referring to angels or the devil, it is referring to man not knowing the plot. I like the first answer. Know the devil is not stupid but his pride or lack of humility was strong enough to get him kicked out of heaven so it would be strong enough to not see this plan. Or at least believe it would work. Or maybe he did know but because he knew he could stop it he didn't do anything about. Taking it a little further, maybe he didn't care because he knew he had a better chance and attacking humanity later instead of the omnipotent Jesus Christ. Just think about the people today and people back then. Always remember the devil never attacks straight on head first. He is not strong enough. He uses our own power and will against our selves. He knew what was going on.

  • 1
    Please edit this to fix your typos.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 7:36

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