Who is the devil? Everyone knows the story. He was an angel named Lucifer who rebelled against God and was cast from heaven to hell, henceforth being known as the devil or satan.
But is this true?
The Book of Revelation does talk about a battle in heaven (Revelation 12:7), but even then the timing of that battle is disputed. It may be at the beginning of time, during the crucifixion or in the end times.
Even so, much of what Christians believe comes from Isaiah 14. It is here that you will see in the King James Version, the name Lucifer. But is this passage really description of the fall of satan?
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 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 14:12–14 ESV)
It should be noted that modern translations of the Bible do not include the name Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12. Lucifer first appears in the Latin Vulgate and is today only followed by the KJV. The best translation is day or morning star and it is a reference to the planet Venus. There is nothing in the text that suggests that it is a proper name.
In addition to this, we are told who this passage is about. In Isaiah 14:4, it is clear that this prophecy is about the king of Babylon and not a fallen angel.
So how did Christians come to see this as about satan? Unfortunately, most Christians rely on Dante and Milton for understanding satan rather than the Bible.
For this reason, I never refer to satan as Lucifer. It is always best to stick with the Bible.
If you have found this interesting, you might like this post where I address the also unbiblical idea that satan rules the kingdom of hell.