"In biblical sources the Hebrew term the satan describes an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character. Although Hebrew storytellers as early as the sixth century B.C.E. occasionally introduced a supernatural character whom they called the satan, what they meant was any one of the angels sent by God for the specific purpose of blocking or obstructing human activity." [Elaine Pagels, "The Origin of Satan," 1995]Satanic "pertaining to Satan" is first recorded 1667 (in "Paradise Lost"); meaning "diabolical" is from 1793. Satanism "worship of Satan" dates from 1896, with ref. to France, where it was said to be active at that time; Satanist is attested from 1559, applied by their enemies to Protestant sects.
The devil. In the Bible, Satan is identified with the tempter who encourages the fall of Adam and Eve; he is the accuser who torments Job in the hope that he will curse God; the one who offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him (see Get thee behind me, Satan); and the evil one who puts betrayal in the heart of Judas. Satan will one day be confined in hell, but until then he is free to roam the Earth.
Note: Satan is the power of darkness opposed to the light of Christ; he is thus sometimes referred to as the Prince of Darkness.
Note: Satan has been depicted in many ways: as a man with horns, goat hooves, a pointed tail, a pointed beard, and a pitchfork; as a dragon; and sometimes as an angel with large batlike wings.
adversary; accuser. When used as a proper name, the Hebrew word so rendered has the article "the adversary" (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). In the New Testament it is used as interchangeable with Diabolos, or the devil, and is so used more than thirty times. He is also called "the dragon," "the old serpent" (Rev. 12:9; 20:2); "the prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30); "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2); "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4); "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized. He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He is "Beelzebub, the prince of the devils" (12:24). He is "the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way." His power is very great in the world. He is a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Men are said to be "taken captive by him" (2 Tim. 2:26). Christians are warned against his "devices" (2 Cor. 2:11), and called on to "resist" him (James 4:7). Christ redeems his people from "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14). Satan has the "power of death," not as lord, but simply as executioner.
in Judaism and Christianity, the prince of evil spirits and adversary of God.
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