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We see at Genesis 3:1

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made."

We go on to read at Gen 3: 14:

"The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures....".

We come across the first mention of the name of Devil in the Old Testament at Wisdom 2:24 :

" but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it."

One wonders whether the Devil pre-existed human beings, or whether he was a creation of the sins of mankind. What do the scripture-based teachings of Catholic Church say about the origin and development of Devil .

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    "or whether he was a creation of the sins of mankind" How could this be possible if he prompted them to commit the first sin? Jan 21, 2019 at 18:04
  • Did "Lucifer the Light-bearer" exist as a good Angel be fore the existence of mankind? The Scriptures tell us how to go to heaven and not how the heavens go.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 22, 2019 at 12:39

4 Answers 4

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Job tells of the time when the universe was created, and the angels sang and praised his work:

Tell me, since thou art so wise, was it thou or I designed earth’s plan, measuring it out with the line? How came its base to stand so firm; who laid its corner-stone? To me, that day, all the morning stars sang together, all the powers of heaven uttered their joyful praise. -- New Advent -- Job 38:5-7

These spirit beings (stars are symbolic of angels) obviously preceded the creation of mankind.

The Catholic Encyclopedia contains a long article about the Devil, giving great detail about Satan and his fallen angels. In particular:

... the words of St. Jude: "And the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6; cf. 2 Peter 2:4).

In the Old Testament we have a brief reference to the Fall in Job 4:18: "In his angels he found wickedness". But to this must be added the two classic texts in the prophets:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations? And thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the most High. But yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

This parable of the prophet is expressly directed against the King of Babylon, but both the early Fathers and later Catholic commentators agree in understanding it as applying with deeper significance to the fall of the rebel angel. And the older commentators generally consider that this interpretation is confirmed by the words of Our Lord to his disciples: "I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven" (Luke 10:18). For these words were regarded as a rebuke to the disciples, who were thus warned of the danger of pride by being reminded of the fall of Lucifer.

...

The parallel prophetic passage is Ezekiel's lamentation upon the king of Tyre:

You were the seal of resemblance, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You were in the pleasures of the paradise of God; every precious stone was thy covering; the sardius, the topaz, and the jasper, the chrysolite, and the onyx, and the beryl, the sapphire, and the carbuncle, and the emerald; gold the work of your beauty: and your pipes were prepared in the day that you were created. You a cherub stretched out, and protecting, and I set you in the holy mountain of God, you have walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your wave from the day of creation, until iniquity was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:12-15)

The spiritual creation and later Lucifer's rebellion and fall obviously occurred before the seven days of creation.

... it is clearly taught that the Devil and the other demons are spiritual or angelic creatures created by God in a state of innocence, and that they became evil by their own act.

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  • It would also include Gen.2:1 "Thus the heavens and the earth and all the host of them where finished." This would implicate that God created the Angel's during the same time period as the 6 days of creation. Job 38:4-7 ties right into that. There for satan could have not fallen before creation Jan 21, 2019 at 19:37
  • One more thought Jan 21, 2019 at 22:51
  • How could Satan be thrown to earth if earth had not been created as Isaiah 14:12-15 indicates"How art thou fallen to earth" Just things to ponder ! Jan 21, 2019 at 22:56
  • @Littlemisspiper, look into the "Gap Theory", which places an indefinite period of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. E.g. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/25848/… Jan 22, 2019 at 0:04
  • Hey Ray, interesting theory. I briefly read the highlights and got the jest of it but to suggest that verse 1&2 could somehow mean that the initial creation fell into a desolated condition would seem very doubtful. The description "without form and void" refers to a creation yet to be formed and filled rather than one that has fallen into despair. Our LORD leaves many mysteries for us. I personally leave those things to His own ordained purposes.. there will be much for us to learn in heaven perhaps that's the purpose of eternity. It will take all of eternity for us to grasp Jan 22, 2019 at 1:06
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Regarding the first article of the Creed, "I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven ['the world of spirits'] and of earth" (cf. Genesis 1:1), the Catechism of the Council of Trent §1.1 explains that God created man last, after "He created out of nothing the spiritual world and Angels," which included the devil:

Lastly, He formed man from the slime of the earth

So, yes, the devil did preexist humans.

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Satan is a title, and the name of this Cherub was Lucifer. He and the angels with him did fall before the earth was created.

Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them. Gen 2:1

*And there was war in Heaven: MICHAEL and HIS angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in Heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Rev 12:7-9

This shows that the earth was made last from all the worlds created.

ELOHIYM, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by HIS SON, whom HE hath appointed HEIR of all things, by whom also HE made the worlds; Heb 1:1, 2

  • earth-this incorrect according to the Greek word. G1093 is gē.

Contracted from a primary word: soil; by extension, a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application): - country, earth (-ly), ground, land, world. Strong Greek Dictionary

It should be clear that Satan and his angels were expelled before the Adams and the earth were made.

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  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I would also recommend reading the Help Center's sections on asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Nov 18, 2023 at 15:32
  • Welcome to the site, Marian, and for an interesting and relevant answer. One does not have to agree with all of it to give an up-vote (which I do). Just to point out that Rev.12:7-9 can hardly apply to before Adam and the Earth were made, given that Jesus saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven during his earthly ministry -Lk.10:18. But, certainly, the Earth was made last from all the worlds created, as you say.
    – Anne
    Nov 21, 2023 at 8:48
  • Thank you, Ann, for your comment. I want to provide an answer to your comment. It is about YAHSHUA'S statement in Luke 10:18. Many believe in a trinity, which the Bible does not claim. John 1:1-3 says clearly that THE WORD was with ELOHIYM and also is ELOHIYM. It means it is not a part of a HOLY BEING. Heb 1:1-3, 10 proves this because THE FATHER says, HIS SON is an appointed HEIR. HE also said that HIS SON made or created all of the worlds, and FATHER was the Designer! Dan 7:13; John 5:18,21, 36, 37, 43; 8:59; Acts 7:55 1John 5:7; Rev 1:8; 22:13, 14 All of these Scriptures prove that YAHSHUA Dec 2, 2023 at 4:18
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You wrote: “One wonders whether the Devil pre-existed human beings, or whether he was a creation of the sins of mankind.” Here some related bible scriptures that widen the perspective.

Based on John8:44 scripture, it seems that Jesus also held the devil accountable for what happened.

John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

About the origins of the Devil, there are some hints in the following bible scriptures:

Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! [NIV]

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. [ESV]

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [KJV]

Isiah 14:12 calls him son of the dawn, 1 John 3:8 says that the devil has been sinning from the beginning. And Revelation 12:9 Mentions the devil (Satan) and his angels. Which could be used to support the idea, that Satan the devil, existed before humankind.

Another, somewhat more speculative idea is that Ezekiel 28:12-15, describing the King of Tyre, speaks also allegorically about Satan the Devil.

Note I have no Catholic background, and just wanted to provide some additional bible scriptures that can provide some additional insight. But there seem no great contradictions in views on this point. Typically Satan the Devil is believed to be created together with the Angels in the beginning of creation.

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