At my Church we have a group of older pople who we can turn to for advice or questions, but there is never one person who is the 'leader' or 'in charge'. We usually vote together to make bigger decisions (like how to spend money - a new air conditioner for our church hall, or new chairs etc). We have a roster so that everyone takes turns for duties like reading on Sunday, speaking from the platform, teaching Sunday School, washing up the win cups and doing other jobs. This way we can never be swayed by the opinion of one person in power. I believe so strongly that you always, always should seek out the truth for yourself. I believe God designed us to work in groups "we are the body", but I don't think that means just blindly following whatever someone has told you.
Originally Posted by Regina Phalange
I'm too excited to wait til tonight so I wanted to respond now. Firstly, I just want to say that I too want this to be a nice thread and I really hope we can all discuss our ideas respectfully and in a Christ-like manner.
The words 'devil' and 'satan' are different words, which I think we need to clarify from the start. "Satan" is a Hebrew word, "Devil" is a Greek word.
This is going to get long Can I say I don't think I am able to articulate what I believe as well as the person who wrote the following piece, that's why I am using their words. The words in blue are NOT words I have written myself, but were written by someone who thinks similarly to me. I know this information is heavy going, so I have included most of it, so those who want to know more can read it all and those who don't want to can just read as much as they like. I baulked at including the bit about Job, but I do think it's important. Job and Revelation are the two books I struggle with the most, they are just so complex. I am reading a book about Job at the moment and it is EXCELLENT. I love it, but it is heavy going and I still need to do some thinking. Also, this is just about "satan", I'll let you digest this and then I can come back and talk about the word "devil" This is what I believe...
“Satan” is a Hebrew word, and transferred to the English Bible untranslated from the original tongue. Cruden (himself a believer in the popular devil) defines it as follows: – “Satan, Sathan, Sathanas: this is a mere Hebrew word, and signifies an adversary, an enemy, an accuser”. If Satan is “a mere Hebrew word, signifying adversary”, etc., obviously it does not in itself import the evil being which it represents to the common run of English ears. This conclusion is borne out by its uses in the Hebrew Bible. The first place where it occurs is Numbers 22:22:
“And God’s anger was kindled because he (Balaam) went; and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary (Satan) against him.”It next occurs in the same chapter, verse 32:
“And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine *** these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand (the margin note says "to be an adversary" – a Satan to) thee”.In this case, Satan was a holy angel. Understanding “Satan” to mean adversary in its simple and general sense, we can see how this could be; but, understanding it as the evil being of popular belief, it would be a different matter. The following are other cases in which the word is translated “adversary”, in the common version of the Scriptures:
“Let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary (Satan) to us.” (1 Samuel 29:4)In these cases, the translators have translated the word, and by this means have fenced off the notion of diabolical interference in the matters recorded, which would certainly have sprung up if the word had been “Satan” instead of adversary. In one or two other cases, however, they have not translated the word, but simply transferred it in its Hebrew form, unaltered, to the English version, thus mystifying the idea of the original, and giving countenance to the popular Satanic theory.
“And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries (Satans) unto me?” (2 Samuel 19:22)
“But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary (Satan) nor evil occurrent.” (1 Kings 5:4)
“And the Lord stirred up an adversary (Satan) unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom.” (1 Kings 11:14)
“And the Lord stirred up an adversary (Satan), Rezon the son of Eliadah, who fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah.”
“And he was an adversary (Satan) to Israel all the days of Solomon.” (1 Kings 11:23,25)
A notable instance of this is found in the narrative of Job’s trials. “Satan” here plays a conspicuous part, and of course the common English reader thinks of the creature variously denominated the Devil, Lucifer, Old Harry, the Old Gentleman, the Prince of Darkness, Old Nick, Old Scratch, Sooty, Old Horny, the Gentleman in Black, etc. He sees the monster with horns, hoofs, and tail, bloodshot eyes, and fiery sceptre, every time he encounters the word “Satan” in the narrative; and a vivid imagination will supply the clanking of chains, the hissing of fire and smoke, and the general accessories of Satanic dignity, according to popular conceptions. This is purely owing to a mistaken use of the word, borrowed from bygone days of intense darkness. If the reader will substitute “the adversary” for “Satan”, which is done marginally in the Authorised Version of the Bible, he will read strictly according to the original, and escape popular devilism.
But who was the adversary, it may be asked, who proved such a terror to Job, against whom he exerted such power? All the answer that can be made is, that there is no information as to who he was in particular. His title would show that he was an enemy of Job, and probably of the sons of God in general – a wicked, overbearing lord, whose envy and malice were only equal to the dominion he seems to have exercised. It is impossible to be more specific than this, in saying who he was. We can say who he was not. He was not the horned and sulphurous monster of popular superstition, for he did not come from “hell” to attend the assembly of the sons of God, but from “going to and fro in the earth”. He was not the “devil” of popular theology, who is so coy of spiritual influence that he flies when the Bible is presented, or the godly fall on their knees; for he came boldly into the blaze of the divine presence, among a crowd of worshippers. He was not the arch-fiend, who is represented to be on the alert to catch immortal souls, and drag them into his fiery hold; for he had his eye on Job’s estate and effects, and ultimately got his envious malice to take effect on Job’s body. The probability is he was a powerful magnate of the time – a professed fellow of the sons of God – but an envious and despiteful malignant, who looked on Job with evil eye, and sought to effect his ruin.
But, you say, what about the calamities of tempest and disease that befell Job? Was it in the power of a mortal man to control these? The answer is these were God’s doings, and not the adversary’s. “Thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause” (2:3). This is the language in which God describes Satan’s transaction in the matter. It was God who inflicted the calamities at the adversary’s instigation. This is Job’s view of the case: “Have pity upon me, O ye, my friends”, says he, “the hand of god hath touched me” (19:21). And the narrator, in concluding the book, says: “Then came there unto him all his brethren … and bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (42:11). But even supposing the adversary had actually wielded the power that affected Job, that would no more prove him a supernatural agent, than do the miracles achieved by Moses prove him to have been no man. God can delegate miraculous power even to mortal man.
The three other cases in which Satan is untranslated are the following:
“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)With regard to the first, the adversary seems to have been God; for we read in 2 Samuel 24:1, “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and HE moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah”. The angel of God was a Satan to Balaam, as we have seen, and, in this case, God proved a Satan to Israel. Moved, doubtless, by the general perversity of the people, He impelled David to a course which resulted in calamity to the nation.
“Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.” (Psalm 109:6)
“And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 3:1,2)
In the second case, it is evident that Satan (margin, an adversary) is synonymous with “wicked man” in the first half of the verse. The second part of the verse is the first part repeated in another form, as is so frequently the case in Hebrew writing, e.g., “He shall wash his clothes in wine, and his garments in the blood of grapes”. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” On the same principle, a wicked man standing over the subject of David’s imprecations, was Satan standing at his right hand; of course, not the orthodox Satan.
As to the case of Joshua, the high priest, the transaction in which “Satan” appeared against him was so highly symbolical (as anyone may see by reading the first four chapters of Zechariah), that we cannot suppose Satan, the adversary, stood for an individual, but rather as the representative of the class of antagonists against whom Joshua had to contend. The nature of these may be learnt from the following:
“Then stood up Joshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the Man of God … Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel, then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you … But Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even unto the reign of Darius king of Persia.” (Ezra 3:2,3; 4:1,5)