Satan and Demons are Characters (the bad ones) in the Biblical Story

Dr. Chris Stroble / Published on December 25, 2023


I was recently listening to The Bible Project’s Spiritual Being Series, and I liked the 6-minute video on The Satan and Demons. Many people raise a side eye when you mention Satan and demons, but as The Bible Project explains, they are characters (the bad ones) in the biblical story. Here’s my paraphrase of how they explain it:

How it all started

  • In the beginning, Genesis 1, God creates a beautiful, ordered reality out of darkness and disorder, so that life can flourish. He appoints humans as His representatives to rule over all of it.

The Conflict or Problem

  • But in Genesis 3 we meet a creature (a slithering snake) who is in a state of rebellion against his creator. We’re not told yet why or how he rebelled, but he’s on a mission to ruin God’s good world for other creatures.

How This Creature Works

  • This creature, a spiritual being in rebellion against God, did not want to live under God’s wisdom and authority; he wanted to be God. He is the Bible’s first portrait of evil. He distorts what God has purposed for good--ruining and dragging creation back into darkness and disorder (exactly what happened when he deceived Adam and Eve).
  • He tells them they can rule the world like God, but by their own wisdom.
  • They join this spiritual rebellion, bringing them back to chaos and death. 
  • From this point on, a human rebellion is interwoven with a spiritual rebellion.


The Consequence of This Rebellion

  • The consequence of this human and spiritual rebellion is they’re all kicked out of Eden, and God says this rebel will now crawl on its belly. 


This Spiritual Rebel at Work Now

  • This spiritual rebel is at work now, working behind the scenes, animating division and hatred between humans. 
  • He isn’t for anything; rather he is anti-everything, working through lies to drag us back into darkness and disorder (what he did to Adam and Eve).
  • This spiritual rebel, even tempted and tried to deceive Jesus in the wilderness, telling him--you can rule the world right now if you come under my authority and do things my way.
  • There are other spiritual rebels too – demons, who are also working behind the scenes.
  • This spiritual evil is at work in anything that drags God’s good creation back into chaos, darkness, and death.
  • This is why when Jesus arrives on the scene, He says his primary enemy is not humans. 


The Resolution, Denouement, and Good News

  • Jesus knew that the only way out of the cosmic ruin, was to overcome evil and death itself, even if it cost him everything. And it did. It cost him his life- death on the cross. 
  • Because of his great love for humankind, Jesus died on the cross–to save, rescue, and restore us (humanity) to our lost calling - to be his representatives to rule over the earth. 


Many people raise a side eye when you mention Satan and demons, but as The Bible Project explains, they are characters (the bad ones) in the biblical story. They are spiritual rebels on a mission to ruin God’s good world for other creatures. They are working behind the scenes, animating division and hatred between humans. Their spiritual evil is at work in anything that drags God’s good creation back into chaos, darkness, and death.

To learn more about spiritual beings, listen to the 7 short episodes of The Bible Project’s Spiritual Being Series.