Was Satan kicked out of Heaven?

There is a very common belief that Satan was kicked out of
heaven. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, you will not find this clearly stated
in the Bible. This is one of many examples of a common misconception
taking on the appearance of authority or truth simply because it is
repeated by enough people for a long enough time.

The idea that Satan was kicked out of heaven is probably
gleaned by a false interpretation of Isaiah 14:12. The NIV has this
passage as, "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the
dawn." The problem comes (not surprisingly) from a mistranslation in the
King James version, which translates "morning star" as Lucifer. The
mistranslation in the King James version here has created the false idea
that Lucifer is a biblical name for Satan and that Satan has fallen from
heaven. In order to understand the Isaiah passage, one must look at the
context. In the context of the passage, which is apocryphal in nature,
the morning star is referring to Babylon. Isaiah 14:3 specifically
references Babylon, and a number of other phrases in the context
definitely point to the fall of Babylon which happened when Cyrus
conquered the city in 538 BC. Phrases in the passage such as, "Even the
pine tree and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you" (v 8) and, "Is this
the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made
the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his
captives go home?" point toward Babylon.

I would concede that some of the ideas in Isaiah 14: could
equally well apply to how Satan attacks us spiritually as it does to how
Babylon treated Judah in its captivity, and this may not even be a
coincidence. However, if one were to take the word Lucifer out of the
King James version (a translation not justified by the Hebrew), the whole
idea of Satan being thrown out of heaven would never have arisen.

By the way, one could still ask whether Satan is in heaven, or
whether he ever did dwell in heaven, and if he no longer does, whether he
was thrown out. Passages such as Job which, perhaps parabolically, shows
Satan talking to God, presumably in heaven might be mentioned in this
context. One might also mention Revelation 12:13, which says "When the
dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who
had given birth to the male child." Another relevant passage is Luke 10:18 in which Jesus figuratively sees "Satan fall from heaven like a lightening flash."  Exactly what this means is open to interpretation. These passages might provide a source
for speculation about the dwelling place of Satan, but one would do well
to avoid making really strong statements in view of the fact that the
Bible does not make any unmistakably clear statements on the subject.

John Oakes, PhD

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