Biblical Principle #40: The Word ‘Satan’ is a Title, Not a Name

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The word ‘Satan’ is a title, not a name.


As with the word ‘God,’ the word ‘Satan’ is a title or descriptor for the devil, not his name.

In the Hebrew Bible, the word translated Satan in English is שָׂטָן. In the Greek Scriptures, the word is Σατανᾶς, ᾶ, ὁ.

Both words simply mean “adversary.”

In Scripture, this word is not always used to refer to Satan. For instance:

14 Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.

1 Kings 11:14 NIV

Substituting the word satan, this verse reads:

14 Then the LORD raised up against Solomon [a satan], Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.

Satan is a descriptive term or title for the devil. It’s kind of like saying “the enemy” to refer to a specific individual.

In fact, every term in the Bible that is used for this angelic adversary is a descriptive term—the devil, the serpent, the dragon, the tempter, all of them. We are never given Satan’s real name in the Bible.

The word ‘devil’ means a slanderer or false accuser.

Someone says, “What about Lucifer? I thought that was Satan’s name.”

The word “Lucifer” is only found in one verse, Isaiah 14:12. The word translated Lucifer in many English Bibles is הֵילֵל in Hebrew, and simply means “morning star.” Again, a descriptive term, not a title.

Why didn’t GOD reveal Satan’s name?

I don’t know because GOD didn’t tell us. I surmise that GOD did not want humans to further dignify this great adversary by using his name. But that is just a guess.

What is important for us is that we remember that, when we read terms like Satan and the devil in the Bible, we are reading descriptions of him. As with the word ‘God,’ it is important to remember that these are titles because we want to extract every possible drop of meaning, value, purpose, and the learning that they impart from the word of GOD.

If man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of GOD, as Scripture states, then every word matters. And since we have to translate every word from the language of the manuscripts into English, it is even more important that we strive (and pray) to properly understand what was originally said so that we can know what it means in English. This takes work, but it is very much worth it.

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