Is Lucifer such a bad guy after all?

In the King James Bible at Isaiah 14.12 we read, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” Modern translations have something like ‘day star’ or ‘morning star’ instead of ‘Lucifer’ here. But in 2 Peter 1.19 these same modern translations also have ‘morning star’ and the like: “Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (NET). The problem is that in 2 Peter 1.19 the reference is to Christ. Consequently, it seems that to use ‘morning star’ in Isaiah 14.12 and ‘morning star’ in 2 Peter 1.19 is to confuse Jesus with Satan and thus destroy the divinity and essential goodness of our Lord. Or so the argument goes.

In reality, in both passages the word in the original is referring literally to Venus, the ‘morning star’ among the stars. The Hebrew word in Isa 14.12 is ‏הילל, a word that occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. Such a rare word may have given the KJV translators fits because what they ended up doing was not to translate it at all! Instead, they transliterated the Latin Vulgate here:

quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes.

 Lucifer is not a proper name but is simply the word for ‘morning star’ or ‘day star’ in Latin. Both in Isa 14.12 and Job 38.32, the KJV translators simply transliterated the text in front of them rather than translate. In the latter passage, they transliterated the Hebrew ‏מזרות as Mazzaroth. There, Jerome had translated the word as lucifer. The underlying Hebrew word most likely means ‘constellations’ in Job 38.32; both the Vulgate and modern translations come close to this in their rendering, while the KJV simply transliterates it.

Lucifer is found two other times in the Latin Vulgate: in Job 11.17 and 2 Peter 1.19. For our purposes it is sufficient to note its use in the latter text:

et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem cui bene facitis adtendentes quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso loco donec dies inlucescat et lucifer
     oriatur in cordibus vestris

Here again, Jerome has translated a word that means ‘day star’ or Venus. And the KJV translators did exactly the same thing:

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and
the day star arise in your hearts

So, what are we saying? First, lucifer is not a proper name but is the Latin word for ‘morning star’ or ‘day star.’ In itself it has zero negative connotations. It all depends on what the secondary reference is to. If it is to a pagan king, as in Isa 14.12, then the implications in relation to him are evil. But in 2 Peter 1.19, the reference is to Jesus and the implications in relation to him are good.

Second, unless we want to claim that some pernicious conspiracy of confusing Jesus with the devil began with Jerome, we must admit that the KJV conspiracy patrol is making much ado about nothing. They have misread a transliteration as though it were a proper name, then assumed that the underlying Hebrew text meant Lucifer, embracing the false conclusion that calling the king ‘the morning star’ in Isa 14.12 and Christ the ‘morning star’ in 2 Peter 1.19 was to deny the divinity and goodness of Christ. This argument is thus linguistically wrong-headed and has no real basis.

In short, Lucifer is not such a bad guy after all because Lucifer is not Satan.


61 thoughts on “Is Lucifer such a bad guy after all?

  1. Interesting, certainly etymology is important, but so is context. In Isaiah 14:12, ‘Lucifer = Morning star. Is worshipped by the Assyrians as male at sunrise, female at sunset. And is a name of Satan’, this is according to the work of E.W. Bullinger. See also verse 13, in that context, “the north”, ‘this helps us to localize the dwelling place of God. No “Semitic conception”, but Divine revelation of Him Who knows what Satan “said in his heart.” ‘ Cp. Ps. 75.6 , Job 26.7. (E.W. B.)


      1. @Will: As a Irish born and raised Brit, and later went to England and classic Anglicanism, I of course love and read the KJV. (Note I am over 60, 62 to be exact) But like the Anglican Bullinger who used the RV, I also use and look at other English Bible translations. I have too Darby’s (JND’s) Bible (an eclectic Greek text). Among many others. And as I noted, I have E.W. B.’s.. Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament. As too his classic book: Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. And yes, even his Companion Bible (KJV, with critical notes, etc.). Though I don’t follow Bully’s Dispensational lines (yet I am Historic Pre-Mill, post-trib.). Not too many Anglican priest/presbyters these days are Pre-Mill, of course. (Love old Henry Alford however!)


  2. No, this has nothing to do with etymology. Bullinger is helpful, but quite dated and linguistically unsound. Further, he’s reading into the passage to see it as ‘a name of Satan.’ If Lucifer is a name for Satan in this passage, then it’s also a name for Christ in 2 Peter 1.19. The Isaiah text is referring to a Babylonian king, although some see it as having a secondary reference to the devil. And the context demonstrates this fairly clearly. But either way, Lucifer is not the name of anyone, but is a word for the morning star or Venus.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Daniel: I think Bullinger would take issue, 😉 but he is close, for any reference to Venus, would be Satan to him no doubt. I have Bullinger’s Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament. Some of his NT word studies, are simply closer to the LXX or Septuagint Greek, like his work on Hilaskomai (Rom. 3:25), which he translates a ‘Expiation”, which is most correct to my understanding also. Just a point to his scholarship. – No dating here!

      Again, I think your missing “context” with Lucifer and 2 Peter 1:19.


  3. Dan, thanks for writing this great article. Something must be wrong with me because I have always been fascinated with the origin, fall, and names of Satan 🙂 I agree with you completely about Lucifer not being a proper name as you clearly demonstrated in your article. However, I am of the opinion that the original context of Isaiah 12 is describing the pagan king of Babylon with hyperbolic language, but this language is exhausted in the second/spiritual/theological/canonical (whatever we want to call it) reading as referring to the fall of Satan.
    Also, it seems we have NT support for this because Luke (and Jesus) seemed to interpret Isaiah 14 as referring to the fall of Satan (or at least to Satan since in the context of Luke 10 Satan and his demons are falling like lightning in Jesus’ current ministry).
    πῶς ἐξέπεσεν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (Isaiah 14:12)
    ἐθεώρουν τὸν σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα (Luke 10:18) (The NET note on Luke 10:18 says this is an allusion to Isaiah 14:12).
    If this is true then the pre-fall name of the mighty cherub would be Helel and not Lucifer. What do you think?


    1. Justin, I tend to see Isa 14.12 as referring, from the divine author’s viewpoint, a reference to Satan, too. Luke 10.18 makes an important link to it, as does Rev 9.1 (“I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit” [ESV]). But I wouldn’t call Helel the pre-fall NAME of Satan since it’s just a metaphorical application of a literal referent to a person–just like if you call your wife ‘honey.’


  4. Rich

    Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
    And smile, smile, smile,
    While you’ve a Lucifer to light your fag,
    Smile, boys, that’s the style.
    What’s the use of worrying?
    It never was worth while, so
    Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
    And smile, smile, smile.

    IN THIS OLD SONG a LUCIFER was a match and a fag was a cigarette.
    We don’t call them LUCIFERS any more, and don’t dare use the word FAG.



    1. Gary

      Wow! I’m Kjv only crowd and I would never consider making a stink or to accuse of hiding the name in “modern versions”. I feel like I’ve just been used like a curse word, KJV only.


      1. Perhaps you are unique in the KJVO world, but I have encountered many KJVO people and made the mistake of attending a church based being KJVO, with the pastor consistently ranting about the “Non-Inspired Version” and all the “dupes” who read it.

        I think the KJVO crowd is close to being a curse word, and are a cause of a lot of division in the Church as well as being worshipers of one particular translation. The KJV is NOT God’s Word any more than any other good translation. The KJV translators were fallible men, and there are many errors in the KJV. The idea that all other versions are corrupt and from Satan, or are “New Age Bible Versions” is total hogwash. There are even KJVO people who claim all other translations should be made from the KJV and that the KJV is even more accurate that the original Hebrew and Greek!

        Lucifer is indeed a Latin word that was never meant as a name for Satan.


  5. Here is an old classic English Dictionary statement as to the definition of Lucifer: “[Lucifer, bring light, the morning star, fr. lux, lucis, light + ferre to bring,] 1. Astron. The planet Venus, when appearing as the morning star; – the Latin rendering of the Hebrew “helel” (R.V., daystar); – called also Phosphorus.
    2. Satan as identified with the rebel archangel before his fall; as, proud as “Lucifer”. According to a Semitic myth, the morning star fell from heaven, and it is this that the fate of the King of Babylon is compared in Isa. xvi. 12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O “Lucifer”, son of the morning!” The legend of the fall of angels, and such passages as Luke x. 18, Rev. ix.1 & xii, 7-10, led to the identification of Lucifer with Satan.


    1. Gerrie

      Brother, the view that Lucifer in Isa 14 is reference to Satan, is and has always been the product of Greek philosophising techniques. The same applies to Satan as the anointed cherub of Ez. 28. It is no different than arguing the reason the Samaritan stopped to help the wounded man in Luke 10, when the priest and Levite did not, was because the wounded man was a Samaritan – you have to read things into the text and context.

      The stains of Greece have done a lot of damage to Joe Church’s understanding of the Scriptures, because the teachers refuse to understand.


    1. thefourwinds

      This isn’t all that surprising: the Greek word has the same meaning in English (light-bearer) as the Latin word “lucifer.” This is well-understood in etymology.

      The chemical phosphorous was given that name because white phosphorous glows (gives light) as it oxidizes.


    1. I’m arguing in terms of sources and showing the poor logic of those who think that modern translations denigrate the goodness and divinity of Jesus. But if we continue to promote misnomers then we will continue to live a step or two removed from authentic, biblical Christianity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, it is hard on the blog to get where someone is going sometimes? But I get ya now! Rock on! 😉 I love the KJV as an old Brit, but I also have many, many English translations & paraphrases. But I read my Greek NT every a.m. for my morning devotion. But, I do love the ESV for reading, and too the NASB Update (’95) for study. Btw, I also like the NKJV too. I actually buy case lots of the NKJV to give away. I find the New King, is good for memory, with the cadance, etc. People need to get a good memory going with Holy Scripture!


  6. Great article Dr. Wallace. I always enjoy reading your blog. Would you say this is a case of letting tradition influence our understanding of scripture? I have struggled a little in this passage as well as the Ezekiel 28 passage (also traditionally “Satan”) namely for the context. Do you think the Isa. 14 and Eze. 28 passage have the same contextual problem? I have come across so many people that talk about these passages as literally talking about Satan (or Lucifer, haha) when he is nowhere mentioned but rather the King of Tyre or Babylon is the person mentioned in the passage, and much of their understanding of Satan is heavily pulled from these two passages. I know its not EXACTLY on topic, but I am very curious: How historical/traditional is the reading of these passages as applying to Satan? I mean, what are the earliest extrabiblical references connecting those passages with Satan?


      1. Matthew Reeves

        Dr. Wallace, I realize I’m a bit late for the party, but I feel as though I might still be able to liven things up a bit.

        Despite the well meaning statements that propose it was unthinkable for someone to believe Isaiah 14 applied to Satan, it was, to the contrary, quite possible.

        The earliest reference that I know of comes from the Jewish Second Temple Pseudepigrapha. The document known as “The Life of Adam and Eve”, believed to have been written around the 1st Century BCE, recounts the fall of Satan. It’s version is rather unique (refusing to bow before Adam) but it applies in part the text of Isaiah 14 to Satan’s fall.

        So yes, it was not only possible for people before Jerome to consider Isaiah 14 as having a double meaning, but it was done almost a hundred years before Jesus was born.

        But did the belief originate from this document? The text says that Satan masquerades as an “angel of light”, something which Paul states as well.

        But again, did Paul get it from this Pseudepigraphon? Unlikely. The common consensus is that the “Life of Adam and Eve” contains traditions about Satan that also were floating around in oral (or lost written) traditions.

        So this shows us that the idea and interpretation of this passage in Isaiah predates Christianity. So regardless of one’s personal belief, the identification of Isaiah 14 with Satan is not without historical foundation.


      2. Gerrie

        Matthew, all historical foundations are not true. People have had many opinions through the centuries that proved untrue later. Galileo found out the hard way. But all that aside, what you say therefore implies that the Bible speaks with a forked tongue; that it does not mean what it says. If clear biblical mention of the king of Babylon also refers to Satan, then which part of the Bible means what it states and states what it means. We only have to look at all the identified “Antichrists” of modern times – which include one Ronald Reagan – to see why it is imperative to read the Bible again, for the first time, and shake off the chains of our traditions which rob the Word of God of its power. Otherwise I have to start believing those, for example, who say the reason why the priest and Levite passed by the injured man, but not the Samaritan, is because the injured one was a Samaritan. Then we can manipulate and the titrate the Scriptures any way we want, based on historical foundations. The interesting thing of truth is that it is not dependent on my or your opinion, or on our acknowledgement. Truth is truth. But the reason there are so many sceptics and unbelievers around, is very much the product of Christian confusion of the Scriptures.


      3. Matthew Reeves

        Gerrie, I never said they are. In fact, at no point did I even personally state my own opinion on the matter at hand.

        Rather, I was answering a question regarding the usage of this inference. And the result was that the connection between Satan and Isaiah 14 was something that has long been seen in both Second Temple Judaism and subsequent Christianity.

        But where did ‘they’ get the idea? That is the question.

        The truth is that we are missing many prophetic works (including two by Isaiah himself 2 Ch. 26:22; 2 Ch. 32:32) and histories and within any of these could very well be the foundation for this belief. Where did the Book of Jasher go? The Sayings of the Seers? etc.

        Any one of these ancient scriptures (that eventually were lost, destroyed, or fell out of use) could have contained information about Satan’s fall that would make it plausible for us to see a connection with Isaiah 14. But we don’t have them now, so we can never be sure. At the very least, the “Wisdom of Solomon” states the Devil fell through envy. That comes close in some respects to Isaiah 14’s description. But again, where did this tradition come from? Clearly we are missing many pieces of a much larger puzzle about Satan.

        Does any of this prove a connection? No. But is it plausible? Certainly. The very idea of prophecy is to have double meaning at times. So there’s nothing strange at work that hasn’t been recognized elsewhere in the prophets.

        Certainly though, Dr. Wallace’s point that Lucifer isn’t an actual name of Satan is correct. I only wish more realized it. Once that’s understood, one can examine Isaiah 14 with much fresher eyes.


    1. Gerrie Malan

      Because I began to read the Bible again “for the first time” some 6 years ago and without the pollution of the doctrines I was raised with, I also researched these portions of Scripture. In the process I approached orthodox Jewish rabbinic understanding as well, as the Scriptures were written within their culture and through the Hebraic mindset. On the Ezekiel question they point out that the whole anointed cherub reference and the rest is a case of sarcasm directed against the ruler of Tyre. The traditional “Satan” readings into these are simply the product of philosophy techniques.
      I was raised in the reformed tradition in South Africa. As a university student in die mid 60s I was resident in the Dutch Reformed Church’s hostel at Pretoria University. At the time I noted that Philosophy was one of the major subjects of the theological students. I did not understand then, but I do now, just what damage that subject has done to rightly dividing the Word of Truth, and is in fact still doing on an ongoing basis.


  7. Btw, quoting the Rev’d Dr. Frank Cross’s fine book: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (First Ed. 1957; I have the Third Ed. 1997 also.)

    Lucifer (Lat., ‘light-bearer”), in Is. 14: 12 (Vulgate, followed by the AV), an epithet of the King of Babylon. Taken in conjunction with Lk. 10: 18 it was used as a synonym for the devil by St. Jerome and other Fathers. With the use of the word in classical mythology for the planet Venus may be compared the RV rendering ‘day star’ in Is. 14:12. The imagery is applied to Christ in 2 Pet. 1:19 (‘day star’), Rev. 22:16 (‘the morning star’), and in the Exulter.” (Exultet, The ‘Pascal Proclamation’.)

    So indeed context is everything! 🙂


    1. Also let me quote John Frame here, he makes a good point I believe…

      “In my view, circular argument of a sort is inevitable when one is arguing on behalf of an absolute authority. This is true of Christian as well as non-Christian arguments. One cannot abandon one’s basic authority in the course of arguing for it. The problems created by this circularity can be mitigated by bringing in data from various sources, but they cannot be totally avoided.”


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  11. Jeff

    Thank you Dr. Wallace. I am amazed at your patient working (again) of this topic, since I recently watched the mid-90’s video of you (and others) on the Ankerberg show dealing with this very same question. When will this battle every be over? I realize some will hear, some won’t ever hear.

    Also, I saw you quote from the NET Bible, which I possess but never used, not knowing fully what or who was behind it. I limited my study to only one translation (NASB), but find “limited” is a good word for what I was learning. I have added the NET to the list of versions to study from. I even bought it for the iPad. I didn’t know you had anything to do with it, but now that I know better who is behind it, I feel I can trust it.


  12. Tim, I really don’t think it was based on tradition that Isaiah 14 became associated with Satan, but upon Scripture itself. Jesus (and Luke) are alluding to this passage (Isaiah 14:12) in Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Dan also mentioned above that Revelation 9:1 alludes to Isaiah 14 as well. It is also fascinating to me that in all these passages concerning Satan it speaks of him falling to the earth (Isa 14:12, 15; Ezek 28:16-17; Luke 10:18; Rev 9:1; 12:7-12). As far as the earliest extrabiblical reference to Isaiah 14 referring to Satan, I don’t have a definitive answer either. However, at least by AD 400, St. Augustine believed it referred to him. “Whence but by the quarters of the devil, who hath said, ‘I will set my seat at the North?’” (St. Augustine on Ps 60). I have a longterm goal to read through the Fathers so if I come across an earlier reference I will let you know. God bless

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gerrie Malan

    Justin, while I understand, I must note that Isa. 14:12 remains part of prophecy against the king of Babylon. Whether Augustine, the Pope or whoever reads Satan into this, is doing out of a philosophical twisting of Scripture. It simply is not there! And this is exactly why there are 38000 plus denominations/independent church groups at large. What we have here is once again, prophecy filled with sarcasm against a human ruler who thought he was God’s equal or more. Doctrinal tradition is seemingly an impossible wall to break.

    As to the statement by Jesus of Satan falling like lightning from heaven, we need at least to bear in mind that he was a Jew, and in the Hebraic mind, Satan was an angel sent by God to test man – not the kind of understanding we grew up with.

    It really is no wonder we find a declared atheist writing that he always understood truth to be truth, but the Christians seemingly have many different truths about one and the same Scripture.

    “The Pharisees added to the sacred Scriptures…As the official interpreters of God’s Word, the Pharisees were endowed with the power of creating tradition. They tacked on to the Word of God reams of human laws that were passed on to subsequent generations…The error of the Sadducees moved in opposite direction. They subtracted whole segments of Scripture…Contemporary Christianity has fallen into the errors of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees”. (Viola & Barna).


    1. Gerrie, that is a good warning, but I think there is a slippery slope you may fall into if you consistently followed this hermeneutic throughout the OT. If Isaiah 14 is only referring to the King of Babylon and no one else, then is this also true of Psalm 110:1 for example. “The LORD said to my Lord…” Is not this “Lord” David is referring to in its historical context Solomon? However, Jesus makes clear it’s ultimate referent is the Messiah (Mark 12:35-37). Or what about the historical context of Isaiah 7:14. Doesn’t this refer to Maher Shalal Hash Baz in the original context (Isa 8:3-8)? But Matthew makes clear this is referring to Jesus (Matt 1:21-23). Lastly, an appropriate parallel to the King of Babylon/Satan reference in Isaiah 14 would the little horn/abomination of desolation, etc. in Daniel. Do not all scholars agree this is originally speaking of Antiochus Epiphanes and what he did the Jews 167-64 BC? However, Jesus makes clear this prophecy in Daniel was not exhausted by Antiochus but refers to someone in the future (Matt 24:15/Mark 13:14; cf. 2 Thess 2). My point is that if you believe there is a human and Divine author of the Scriptures then you must acknowledge multiple layers/referents in Scripture. Looking at the numerous examples of Apostolic exegesis in the NT of passages in the OT; do you really think they would not have interpreted Satan as the ultimate referent in Isaiah 14 and Ezek 28?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gerrie Malan

        I appreciate your concern Justin. Of course, one cannot deal completely with matters in comments on a comment to a blog post. The fact remains that too many preachers, teachers and authors are rewriting the Scriptures. One telepreacher, for example, has “proven Scripture after Scripture that man was made on the seventh day”. The same man has “revealed” that Gen. 13:16 refers to the offspring of Ismael – earthy.Gen. 15:5, again, points to the offspring of Isaac – heavenly.

        I fully believe that the OT points to the Messiah, and therefore it contains prophecies in this regard. But Origen proclaimed that where he discerns reference to Jesus in the OT, that was what God had meant. The whole idea of layers of meaning come from application of the techniques of Greek philosophy. I would never dare to propose I have all the correct answers – that is why I appreciate opportunity to work through Scriptures with others.

        Some food for thought, for example, on Matt. 24. In my understanding the future Jesus was dealing with, was the soon to experienced future of those listening to Him. He told them some would have to flee to the mountains. He spoke to them of things in their generation’s future, not a generation thousands of years away. Ironically, the most detailed study on Matt. 24:34 I have seen is one by a skeptic – detailing the content of 52 versions, 5 Greek lexicons, 25 Bible Dictionaries, 6 Bible encyclopedias, 16 Bible commentaries, 8 Christian scholars and authors’ views, and 13 scholars re the “race” argument. When I read letters to newspapers by Christians, there good intentions are too easily destroyed by non-believers who undertake more intensive studies of the Scriptures than Joe Church does.

        We cannot redefine concepts from our Westernized (even Hellenized) minds. Context does not refer to two verses before and two verse after. It covers the whole contextual area of cultural, historical, geographical and literature (and more). Because so many do not heed this, we have the ridiculous array of denominations today, each claiming to have the truth. So all call themselves the Bride of Christ – busy preparing themselves as the spotless Bride awaiting Christ’s return. Sounds more like a harem to me (and I am not trying to be funny).

        As a last thought that lingers in my heart: All our wrong doctrines have been robbing us of the Kingdom power Jesus came to announce (His very first message). Jesus gave this message very directly in Matt. 15:6.


      2. Gerrie Malan

        As an afterthought, I ran a check on the Bible Commentaries on e-Sword, including the NET Bible notes. The message overall in these resources is that any interpretation of Satan into Isa. 14 is unwarranted.
        Also, unless I am missing it, I have not found such an interpretation in the words of Jesus, or of the apostles?


  14. Jack

    C.S. Lewis used Venus in a similar way to the Bible – he used the brightest wandering star (Venus), the symbol of beauty, fertility, and laughter in the ancient world, to describe Aslan, the Christ figure, but also depict Queen Jadis, the beautiful, yet wicked, temptress. See


  15. C Michael Patton

    I want more Wallace! It’s been a week! Sheesh. Why don’t you jump into this Catholic mess I am in? :/)


  16. Gerrie Malan

    I have and see an obvious assumption – “it is probable”. The NET notes re Isa 14: 12 concludes “Some Christians have seen an allusion to the fall of Satan here, but this seems contextually unwarranted (see J. Martin, “Isaiah,” BKCOT, 1061)”.

    This position illustrates what happens when we err in finding an answer in one place – it will inevitably create problems elsewhere. Some time back C. Michael Patton posted three principles on the Parchment and Pen blog. One of these, which he described well, was the principle of clarity within the Scriptures. The opposing comments in the NET notes does not reflect such clarity, does it? They were probably (my assumption) the views of different contributors.


    1. Yes, but notice he says “contextually” Isaiah 14:12 cannot refer to Satan. I agree that in the historical/ grammatical context Satan is not there, but this refers to the King of Babylon. However, If you think the only way to interpret the Oracles of God is the historical/grammatical/contextual way then I bring up again the countless Messianic passages in the OT that in their historical/grammatical context do not refer to the Messiah at all. Let’s use a specific example because you didn’t answer how you interpret Psalm 110:1; Isa 7:14, Daniel 7:11; etc. without going beyond the historical/grammatical contextual meaning. Take Genesis 3:1. Who is the Serpent? Contextually, you will never find Satan in this passage of Genesis. However, Revelation 12:9 makes it clear that this serpent is Satan. What hermeneutic then do you use to interpet the serpent in Genesis as Satan if you do not believe we should have layers of meaning? This is not Greek philosophy but Apostolic exegesis (which really goes back to a bible study they had with Christ see Luke 24:27). This is a good discussion 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice statement here! The Medieval, and Catholic biblical hermeneutic was literal or historical, doctrinal, and moral. This follows the Fathers, and the Medieval readers and thinkers (the Monastic Bible Study). For these, as for St. Benedict, etc., the Bible or Holy Writ, has several layers of meaning. And here is simply that place of the ‘Mystical’ sense.


      2. Gerrie Malan

        Justin, all I can say is that the argumentation will go round and round simply because of our traditional teachings, embedded in what we have learned over many years. The point remains: there is no way one can understand Isa. 14:12 as a reference to Satan, but by applying the techniques of Greek philosophy and creating so-called layers and double prophecies. And the fruit of it all is 38 000 plus denominations. Something is very seriously wrong. If we do that, then it would be difficult to deny that the reason why the Samaritan stopped to help the wounded man when the priest and Levine did not, was because the wounded was a Samaritan.

        I need to underline re the NET notes on Luke 10:18 do not convey the words of Jesus, but that of a modern commenter. I have not been able to find such a direct conclusion in the words of Jesus or of the apostles.

        Clarke: “…the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall…”
        Gill: “ which is meant, not Satan, who is never in Scripture called Lucifer…”


      3. Yes, in the end, we cannot escape the whole Biblical Tradition in English Literature! And here also is the English Church itself. We have not mentioned Beelzebub here, btw. Note for example Milton’s Paradise Lost. And Melville’s Moby-Dick. Note, the Wicket-Gate in Pilgrim’s Progress, etc.


  17. One wonders how the eccentric biblicist EW Bullinger (an Anglican btw) came to his conclusions? In his notes from his Companion Bible (see his notes Isa. 14, as his notes in Dan. 7:8, etc.) And Bullinger never followed Church tradition it seems?


  18. thefourwinds

    In my opinion, there are some concepts here that are being thrown about without a lot of clarity.

    1. The grammatical-historical method does not forbid layers of meaning. It only seeks to first establish exactly what the plain meaning is to see if that is the best (and only interpretation). Even when the plain meaning is the best interpretation, it does not prohibit any other possible applications of that text (as in the Messianic statements referred to above). But the plain meaning is still the preferred meaning.

    2. The problem with the “layers of meaning” approach that comes from Greek philosophy and was adopted in the Roman Catholic Church even before the Middle Ages (but eventually was coined the medieval quadriga, which, by the way, had a fourth layer, which was futuristic) was not that it sought possible meanings beyond the plain reading. The problem was that it ALWAYS sought multiple layers of meaning for EVERY text.


    1. And here even Augustine did not escape! Indeed, ad fontes…back to the sources, but just what are they? Always the bear Text! But can we escape the “existential”? I am very philosophical this Holy Saturday! 😉


    2. Gerrie Malan

      Thefourwinds, you have blown in a sound description of what has been happening. Viewing a television program on prophetic layers, the person said what people like Augustine started out with – the plain meaning is for the simple folk. It is for the more enlightened, so to speak, to grasp the deeper meanings. Is it not interesting that the very bare meaning of the term “laity” boils down to “idiots”?
      From this layering grew the concept of double prophecy in everything. And the result of all this intellectual theologies is a church that looks more like a 38000 piece jigsaw puzzle than “one body”. The world no longer respects the church and who can blame them? An atheist wrote: “Theists often claim that their scriptures are the ‘truth’. In the case of Christians this seems to be open to doubt. I have always understood that ‘truth’ has the characteristic of being unambiguous and yet there are reported to be 38000 different Christian denominations! How are we to take the idea that the scriptures are ‘true’ seriously when there seems to be so little agreement as to what, if anything, they actually mean”.
      And it seems that AW Tozer’s wise words have been falling on deaf ears in the world of Christianity: “It would be impossible to overemphasize the importance of sound doctrine in the life of a Christian. Right thinking about all spiritual matters is imperative if we would have right living. As men do not gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles, sound character does not grow out of unsound teaching…All a man, a church or a denomination needs to guarantee deterioration of doctrine is to take everything for granted and do nothing. The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness”.


      1. Jim

        I read carefully and enjoyed all the comments to the article above, and thank you and all other commentators for the detailed and deep approach to the topic, and your extensive research and knowledge of the matter. I am afraid that I must be counted as one of the “laity”(resp. “idiots”) by the “enlightened” ones, because after about 20 years being evangelical christian, I fail to understand and to embrace most of the Bible’s and Church’s doctrines and teachings, and I am on my way to agnosticism or atheism, just because of all reasons you pointed above in this last comment. I can’t agree more with you.
        All these differences can’t but make me think that the only conclusion one can come to is that the Bible is NOT what we all believed it is.
        It is probably fairly correct as a historical book, as far as this could be proven by other sources. Basically all historical documents should be regarded this way, and are to be doubted unless proven by other independent sources. Regarding the inspiration, I don’t see any convincing evidence for that. As much as I want to. And all those tons of papers and studies of all scholars during the centuries count for nothing if we only remove the assumption for the inspiration from God to “all scripture”. You must admit that they do not even agree on what counts as “all scripture”.
        That is just a thought, and pray excuse me as a “laity”, for intruding on your debate, for I realize I do not have the knowledge to argue any of your points (I am not sarcastic). Thank you.


      2. Gerrie Malan

        Hello Jim, what I appreciate of your comments, is the absence of cynicism, etc. I hear the cry of your heart. What I wish to add though, is that it is not the Bible that is at fault, but the way people have twisted its message and meaning beyond recognition. I noted once that people should stop interpreting the Bible and start reading it. The kingdom message is one of God’s power manifesting in His people. I have experienced the truth so many times. Sadly, I look around and shrink at the abuse in churches.

        The calling in my heart is to stand up for rightly dividing the word of truth – the Biblical record is a fulfilled truth. But groups such as the popular end-times industry (yep, that’s what they are) have turned the Christian environment into a religious circus.

        I have no appreciation for religion; I love the Christ, who also demonstrated what he thought of religion. The work of Dan Wallace and his people is priceless to us as it brings to light the evidences of the Bible as a book of the truth despite the damage of the theologicical-philosophical circus out there. People and their traditions will come and go, but the everlasting truth of the Christ will remain whether we acknowledge it as such or not. After all, truth is not dependent on the acknowledgement of man.



      3. Hi Jim, I know you didn’t respond to me so forgive me for intruding. You may have already thought about this, but even if the Bible was not inspired that still has no bearing on whether or not God created the world and whether Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. I do believe the Bible is the God-breathed revelation of God with all my heart and I think there is strong evidence to support that, but I do think it’s important to remember that the evidence for a Creator and for Jesus’ resurrection is not based on the inspiration of the Scriptures.

        John Chrysostom’s witty challenge in the 5th century still needs an answer regardless if the Bible is inspired or not: “Upon this ground also we argue with unbelievers. For if He did not rise again, but remains dead, how did the Apostles perform miracles in His name? But you say they did not perform miracles? How then was our religion instituted?…For this would be the greatest of miracles, that without any miracles, the whole world should have eagerly come to be taken in the nets of twelve poor and illiterate men.” (John Chrysostom Hom. Acts 1:1-2)

        God bless,

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Jim

    Hi Gerrie and Justin
    Thank you much for your replies! Honestly, as I said before, I am not educated enough to debate any of the topics you debated. But is it not strange that God did not leave us a more straight-forward word or why He just does not communicate with us today by other means too. Every time I ask this question, the “enlightened” will give me a non-satisfactory answer. I have asked God in prayer, trying to be as sincere as possible – no answer.
    On the question about the miracles: “Why we don’t see them today?” As to the quote
    “the whole world should have eagerly come to be taken in the nets of twelve poor and illiterate men”, we know how most of the old world “eagerly” embraced Christian and Muslim religion – by the sword. The same argument should apply to Mohammed, then. He was not much of a literate, and look at how many nations are Muslim today.
    Gerrie, do you suggest that I just stop going to church, or stop trying to interpret the Bible, since all doctrines failed so far? I assume you don’t accept any of the 38 000 denominations’ “twists”. (Neither do I). What to do then? Reading the bible as is, does not speak to me the way it is supposed to. The talking and walking serpent, to me is just that – a talking and walking serpent. Take away the “inspiration” and you will see how absurd is most of the story. And I mean the whole story. I say this with pain, I do not rejoice “blaspheming” but I can’t help it. As you can see I am still struggling to make sense of it, that is why I am searching and reading numerous of websites, blogs, articles, publications, the comments included, so I can find that grain of truth, that thistle grain of faith, that would give me the eternal life. But how on the world to do that, if no one, and I repeat, NO ONE, seems to know The Truth?
    I can go like this forever, so I better stop and give you a chance to answer. Justin, and everyone else, feel free to reply, please. All answers will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.


    1. Hey Jim, thanks for your response. First, if you truly are seeking the Truth and praying as you said you are, then I am confident you will find the “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Second, I encourage you to study the history of the origins of Christianity vs the origins of Islam. It is true that both were spread by the sword at least in the middle ages, but for the first 300 years the Christians were a persecuted minority in the Roman Empire. On the other hand, the origins of Islam involves conquests through the known world with Mohammed carrying the sword himself. What city or nation did Jesus of Nazareth or His fisherman conquer with the sword? This is what makes the origins of Christianty so unbelievable that a band of fisherman, after the crucifixion of their Jewish Messiah (and there were many Jewish Messiahs at this time and some were crucified) would end up conquering the Roman Empire not by the sword but by speaking the words and imitating the actions of Jesus Christ. The best historical explanation of the phenomenom of this explosion of Christianity in first century Jerusalem is the message of the fishermen: “God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 2:24). Another great challenge on this comes from Blaise Pascal: “The Apostles were either deceived or deceivers if Jesus didn’t really rise. Either supposition is difficult, for it is not possible to imagine that a man has risen from the dead. While Jesus was with them he could sustain them, but afterwards, if he did not appear to them, who did make them act?” (Pensées no. 322).

      Jesus is our eternal contemporary and I hope and pray that you, like billions today and before you, encounter the risen Christ. God bless

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Gerrie Malan

      Very neat summary, Justin. And Jim, there is a book in pdf format and freely available on the www. It’s name is, So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore? It’s in story form, easy to read, and while it does not present all the answers, it does help to bring rest in the heart. And this last sentence reminds me that rest is not out there – it is on our threshold, inside of us, with every deepening of our faith in the One who said, “Come to Me all who are weary, and I will give you rest” (And now I am certainly preaching to myself)!


  20. Jim

    Hey Guys
    Thanks for your replies. I’ll keep reading Dr. Wallace’s blog and your comments, I really enjoy them.
    Take care


  21. Pingback: Daniel B. Wallace: a Servant of Satan | MackQuigley

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