Print
Search for page by title (auto-completes)
Advanced search
  
Translate into

The Bible

OT Overview

NT Overview

OT Books

NT Books

OT History

NT History

OT Studies

Pentateuch Studies

History Books Studies

Studies in the Prophets

NT Studies

Studies in the Gospels

Acts and Letters Studies

Revelation Studies

Inductive Study

Types of Literature

Geography

Early Church

British Museum

Museums

Historical Documents

Life Questions

How to Preach

Teaching

SBS Staff

Advanced Search
Search for word or phrase within each page
Search by OT book and chapter
Search by NT book and chapter


The Fall of Satan - Does the Bible teach it?

Julian Spriggs M.A.

The purpose of this article is to study the two passages in the Old Testament that are frequently used to teach that Satan is a fallen angel. The intention is to consider the two passages, setting them in their literary and historical context, to see whether this is a legitimate interpretation.

The two passages are: 1) Isaiah 14:12-15, a taunt against the king of Babylon. 2) Ezekiel 28:11-19, a lament about the king of Tyre. Because Satan is not specifically named in either passage, we should be cautious about making any claim that they are describing Satan. This would be an interpretation of the text, which is open to different opinions, rather then a direct observation. It is also important to note that both of these passages are written in poetry, using the vivid picture language and imagery typically employed by the OT prophets.

The popular teaching on the fall of Satan

The popular teaching about the fall of Satan normally follows this, or a similar, outline: Satan was once a beautiful angel, the greatest of all created beings. He rebelled against God and became the devil before man was created. Originally there were three archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer; each ruled one third of the angels. Michael and Gabriel remained faithful to God, but Satan rebelled, taking one third of the angels with him, who became the demonic forces.

Some teach that Satan was the heavenly choirmaster, with musical instruments built into his body. This is supported from Ezekiel 28:13: "the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created". However this translation is only found in the King James Version (KJV). The NKJV is very similar. The NRSV renders it: "and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings", with a foot-note indicating that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. The NIV is as follows: “Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.”, also with a footnote saying that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

Some also teach that there was a population of humans on the earth before Adam, known as the pre-adamic race, which Lucifer was given authority over. They rebelled and were judged by a flood, and Lucifer became Satan. After judgement, the earth was remade as described in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. This is part of the 'gap theory', which is an attempt to combine the Genesis account with the theory of evolution by saying there was a very long gap in time between the first two verses in Genesis.

Two other passages of scripture are used to support this teaching. The first is Luke 10:18, He (Jesus) said to them (the seventy sent out into the harvest-field), "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning”. However when studied in context, this does not refer to a fall of Satan before the beginning of time, but to the effect the mission of the seventy had on the powers of darkness, when they said, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” (Lk 10:17).

The second is Revelation 12:1-12, in which John sees a vision of the great red dragon, who is identified as, “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan” (v9). Michael and his angels fought against Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, who was thrown down to earth and his angels with him. The timing of this dramatic event is indicated in verse 10, when the loud voice in heaven says: "now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down". This did not happen at the beginning of time, but at the cross, where Jesus brought salvation, demonstrated the power of the kingdom and defeated the enemy. Jesus made a similar statement shortly before his death, “Now is the judgement of the world; now the ruler of this world (Satan) be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth (on the cross), will draw all people to myself” (John 12:31).

It is questionable whether either the Luke 10, or the Revelation 12 passage describe a fall of Satan from heaven before the beginning of time, but more apparent that both describe the defeat of Satan achieved by the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.

There are references to fallen angels in Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4, but no indication is given that Satan was associated with them or that he fell at the same time. Both these passages are more probably referring to the rather mysterious account of the time when the sons of God lusted after the daughters of men (Gen 6:1-4). Both Peter and Jude use this event as a warning about false teachers. There are no other passages in the Bible which give a clear and unambiguous teaching about the origin of Satan, or of a fall of Satan from a place of glory.

Is Lucifer a name for Satan?

The name 'Lucifer' only appears in Isaiah 14:12. The Hebrew word is 'helel', meaning 'the shining one'. In the Septuagint (LXX), the translation of the OT into Greek, it was translated 'heosphoros', meaning 'the light-bearer'. The first time it was translated as 'Lucifer' was in the Latin Vulgate Bible (AD 382-404), “Quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer, qui mane oriebaris?”. In Latin, 'Lucifer' was the name of the planet Venus, the morning star, from a word meaning 'bright light' or 'light-bearer'. Venus is the brightest planet in the sky (brighter than any of the stars), and is still known as the morning star.

In English translations, Wyclif was the first to translate Isaiah 14:12 as 'Lucifer', presumably because he translated from the Latin Vulgate, “A! Lucifer, that risidist eerli, hou feldist thou doun fro heuene;”. (In more modern English, it would read as follows: Ah! Lucifer, that rises early, how you have fallen down from heaven). This translation was followed by the KJV, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”, and more recently by the NKJV, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

Other translations translate it as 'day star', or 'bright morning star'. The RV: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of the morning!”, the RSV: "How you are fallen from heaven O Day Star, son of Dawn!”, the NEB: “How you have fallen from heaven, bright morning star”, the NRSV: "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!”, the NIV: "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!”, and the GNB: "King of Babylonia, bright morning star, you have fallen from heaven”. Luther translated it into German, “du schöner Morgenstern”, meaning, “you beautiful morning star”.

Isaiah uses it as a name for the king of Babylon who had set himself among the gods. Babylonian worship was strongly based on astrology. Both the Babylonians and the Assyrians personified the morning star (Venus) as Ishtar. The message of Isaiah is that none of the Babylonian gods are able to save the king, as all gods are powerless before the One True God. In the Ancient Near East it was common practice for kings to believe they were incarnations of gods. So, when a king was defeated in battle and his city was captured, it was a sign that their god had also been defeated by the more powerful god of the victorious enemy. The enemy would normally tear down images of the god, and take them captive, placing them in the temple of their own god to demonstrate its superior power. This would explain why the Philistines placed the captured ark of the covenant in the temple of their god Dagon (1 Sam 5:1-2). Jesus calls himself “the bright morning star” in Rev 22:16, and is referred to as “the morning star” in 2 Peter 1:19.

Tertullian (160 - 220) was the first of the church fathers who taught that Satan was a fallen angel, by quoting Ezekiel 28 (Against Marcion 2:10). Origen (c.185 - c.254) also quoted Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28 and Luke 10:18 to teach that Satan, or Lucifer, had fallen from glory in heaven (De Principis 1:5:5, Against Celsus 6:44). Although rejected by the Reformers, this teaching was popularised through Milton's vivid description of Satan’s rebellion and fall in Book I of 'Paradise Lost', and now, at least on a popular level in the church, seems to be accepted without being questioned.

Isaiah 14:12-20

Isaiah chapters 13 to 23 contain prophecies against the pagan nations. Chapters 13 and 14 are prophecies specifically against the pride of Babylon, made 150 years before the rise of the empire. The most significant king of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar. The kings who followed him were insignificant, with there only being five kings in a period of 23 years. The prophecies in Is 13-14 fit the character of the Babylonian empire, specifically king Nebuchadnezzar, perfectly.

Chapter 14:2-23 is a taunt against the king of Babylon, which Israel should take up after they have been restored to the land and have rest from their pain and turmoil (14:1-3). There is peace on earth, but Sheol (the land of the dead) is stirred up (14:9) as the dead world leaders are astonished when they greet the king of Babylon, saying that he has become as weak as they. His pomp has been brought down to Sheol. The passage often claimed to be a description of the fall of Satan is contained in this taunt. The one who laid the nations low (v12) will also be brought down to Sheol (v15), where the dead will ponder over him, asking if this is the man who made the earth tremble (v16).

The king of Babylon was the one who, “laid the nations low” (14:12). This is precisely what Nebuchadnezzar did when he expanded his empire by conquering the known world. Isaiah said that he said in his heart that, “I will ascend to heaven” (14:13). This is translated as the “tops of the clouds” in the NIV. This phrase does not necessarily speak about Satan exalting himself to heaven, but is often used poetically to describe excessive pride, as seen in the following examples: Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: "Your greatness has increased and reaches to heaven." (Dan 4:22). Jesus asked Capernaum, "Will you be exalted to heaven?" (Mt 11:23).

There are five statements of the king exalting himself, each saying, “I will ...” (14:13-14). These also fit Nebuchadnezzar’s character perfectly, so it does not have to be describing an angelic being. Isaiah says that he is “brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit” (14:15). Sheol was the place of the dead in the OT. This verse describes Nebuchadnezzar’s death and the surprise of the dead kings in Sheol who greeted him, rather than Satan being brought down to earth. The same picture is given in the previous oracle, when the dead kings express surprise of Nebuchadnezzar becoming as weak as them (14:9-11).

He is described as, “he man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?” (14:16). Nebuchadnezzar certainly did this through military conquest. It is difficult to see how Satan could be described as a man who shook kingdoms. He also, “made the world a desert and overthrew its cities” (14:17). Famine and starvation accompanied the invading armies of Nebuchadnezzar, when many cities through the Middle East, including Jerusalem, were overthrown. He was also the one, “who would not let his prisoners go home” (14:17). This fits the policy of Nebuchadnezzar who deported captured peoples and made them settle in camps outside the city of Babylon (Ezek 1:1).

Ezekiel 28:11-19

Ezekiel chapters 25 to 32 are also prophecies against pagan nations. Chapters 26 to 28 are specifically against Tyre, a major city, important port and wealthy commercial centre at that time, under its ruler Ethbaal III (c.590 - c.573). Ezekiel described Tyre’s trading with other nations (27:12-25), and gave dramatic oracles about the ships and sailors of Tarshish wailing over the fall of Tyre (27:25-36).

The king of Tyre is described as, “the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (28:12). Many say only Satan could be this, not a king or a city. However, elsewhere in these same oracles against Tyre, Tyre claimed this for itself: "O Tyre, you have said, 'I am perfect in beauty'" (27:3), “Your heart is proud and you have said, ‘I am a god’” (28:2). The prince of Tyre's wisdom, trade and great wealth are described in (28:4-5). The prince of Tyre compared his mind with the mind of a god (28:6). The Hebrew here is 'elohim', which can either mean 'God', or pagan gods (plural), so translations vary. Ezekiel also prophesies that “the most terrible of the nations shall draw their swords against the beauty of your splendour” (28:7).

He was, “in Eden, the garden of God” (28:13). This probably does not refer to Satan's presence in the garden of Eden in the account of the fall in Genesis 3, as Eden is often used poetically in the scriptures to depict a fertile place of great plenty. Elsewhere in Ezekiel, Egypt was likened to a cedar of Lebanon: “the cedars in the garden of God could not rival it ... the envy of all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God” (Ezek 31:8-9). Ezekiel also predicts that when Israel is restored, people will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden.” (Ezek 36:35). Joel said this about the locust swarm, “Before them the land is like the garden of Eden and after them a desolate wilderness” (Joel 2:3), and in Genesis, “Lot ... saw that the plain of Jordan was well watered like the garden of the Lord” (Gen 13:10).

The description continues by saying that, “every precious stone was your covering” (28:13). This does not have to be a description of Satan, as throughout history kings have worn richly decorated garments. There is also a similarity with the list of precious stones on the breastplate of the high priest (Ex 28:17ff).

God says that, “With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you” (28:14). The NRSV has a footnote saying that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. The KJV has: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so”. A cherub (plural - cherubim) is one of the four living creatures described in Ezekiel chapter 1 and Revelation chapter 4, whose job it is to guard the throne of God and to worship God. They are associated with God's glory and judgement. Other than this passage in the KJV, Satan is never described as a cherub in the Bible, neither are the archangels Michael or Gabriel, so this verse cannot be used to claim that Satan was once an angelic being.

The king of Tyre's judgement and fall were due to the abundance of its trade filling them with violence (28:16). Tyre was renowned around the ancient Near East as a important port and commercial centre.

One common argument used to support the view that Satan is a fallen angel says that Ezekiel 28 distinguishes between the prince of Tyre (v2), who they say was the physical ruler of Tyre, and the king of Tyre (v12), who they say is Satan. However, a study of Ezekiel's use of the words 'king' and 'prince' shows that they are used interchangeably. For example, David is called king in 37:29, but prince in 34:24 and 37:25. Jehoiakim is called king in 1:2, but chapter 19 is a lamentation for the princes of Israel, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, all of whom were kings. In 7:27 king and prince are used in the parallelism: "the king shall mourn, the prince shall be wrapped in despair".

What do we know about the origin of Satan?

A simple answer is that we don't know, and probably are not meant to know. God does not reveal everything, and it is important not to speculate on what God chooses not to reveal to us, or to make additions to the Biblical revelation. We have to be satisfied with what information we have. In the end, does it matter? We know Satan exists and that he is a deceiver and liar; that is enough. We also know he is defeated by Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection (Col 2:15, 1 John 3:8b). We also can be certain of his destiny of eternal torment in the lake of fire and sulphur (Rev 20:10). I'm sure that Satan enjoys people being taught about his glorious past, so that people think that he was some glamorous figure, rather than the liar, deceiver, adversary, accuser, condemner, that he really is. The Bible has nothing positive to say about him at all.

There are only two clues about his origin in the Bible. Jesus told the Pharisees, “You are from your father the devil ... He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth” (Jn 8:44). 'From the beginning' probably means for all the time he has existed. Also in John’s first letter, “Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). These passages would indicate that the devil has always been a sinner and a murderer, and that he has no great and beautiful past.

Even though it causes philosophical problems, on a practical level there is very little difference between something that was created evil and something that was created good and became evil. The significant matter is that Satan exists and is evil now. Again, this is a question that is not answered in the Bible. God either created Satan as an adversary, or Satan later became an adversary, the end result is the same. One of the reasons for Satan's existence is so that humans as God's created beings should endure some testing. It is never God's will that we sin, but it is God's will that we are tested and tempted. Consistently through the New Testament it is taught that testing is part of the Christian walk (eg. James 1:2-4), so that we learn patience, our faith is strengthened, our love for God proven. Our love for God has to be a positive response and choice. In order to choose to love God, it is necessary to have opposite influence to choose to reject.

What the commentaries and Bible handbooks say

I have yet to find a commentary which, by looking at the whole book and the relevant passages in context, teaches with any degree of certainty that either Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28 describe the fall of Satan. However, there are plenty of topical books on spiritual warfare that quote these passages, saying that they definitely describe Satan's fall.

In the Keil-Delitzsch commentary, the fall of Satan mentioned and rejected in Is 14, and not mentioned in Ezek 28. Matthew Henry makes no mention of Satan in either Is 14, or Ezek 28. In the Expositors Bible Commentary, Geoffrey Grogan writing on Isaiah 14 says it points to Satan indirectly as working through world rulers, but not describing the fall of Satan. Also in the Expositors Bible Commentary, Ralph Alexander writing on Ezekiel says it is difficult to understand this passage as describing the fall of Satan. He says that Satan was the force behind the King of Tyre (as he is behind all anti-Christian governments), but that there is no scriptural backing for using this as a description of Satan's fall.

In an older edition of the one volume New Bible Commentary, Derek Kidner sees the similarity between Isaiah 14 and the pride and downfall of Satan in Lk 10:18, but sees the biblical descriptions of Satan's fall as the break-up and destruction of his kingdom, not his fall from grace. In the same volume, when commenting on Ezekiel chapter 28, G.R. Beasley-Murray makes no mention of Satan. In the one volume International Bible Commentary, David Payne writing on Isaiah says that it is inappropriate that Lucifer is a name for Satan, and F.F. Bruce writing on Ezekiel says that this passage contributed some details to the traditional picture of the fall of Satan, but makes no other comment.

In his commentary on Isaiah, Calvin makes some strong statements. He says that saying Lucifer refers to Satan, “has arisen out of ignorance, as the context clearly must be understood in reference to the King of Babylon.” He continues by saying, "But when passages of Scripture are taken up at random, and no attention is paid to the context, we need not wonder that mistakes of this kind frequently arise. Yet it was an instance of very gross ignorance to imagine that Lucifer was the king of devils, and that the prophet (Isaiah) gave him this name. But as these inventions have no probability whatever, let us pass by them as useless fables."

In his three volume commentary on Isaiah, Edward Young dismisses any idea of Satan being mentioned in Is 14. He sees this passage describing the downfall and removal of a tyrannical king (Babylon), rather than Satan falling from heaven.

John N. Oswalt commenting on Isaiah 14 mentions that certain of the church fathers taught that this passage taught the fall of Satan, but that the reformers dismissed this when the book is studied in context. He says this passage describes human pride, rather than angelic pride, and says that the day star (Lucifer) is the planet Venus.

Barry Webb tries to seek a balance when he wrote this about Is 14:3-23: “The cosmic sweep of the poem led some early interpreters, and many since then, to see here a symbolic description of the fall of Satan. But if this reads too much into the text (and I think it does), it is equally misguided to reduce it to a description of the fall of a particular earthly monarch. The King of Babylon here, like Babylon itself in ch 13, is a representative figure, the embodiment of that worldly arrogance that defies God and tramples on others in its lust for power.”

Alec Motyer notes that in chapter 14, Isaiah is alluding to a Canaanite myth of Helal or Ishtar who attempted a heavenly coup but failed. However, he makes no mention of this being a description of Satan.

In his two volume commentary on Ezekiel, Daniel I. Block makes this comment: “Since the time of Origen many conservative Christians in particular have equated the king of Tyre with Lucifer (= Satan) ... Accordingly, Ezekiel’s prophecy is thought to recount the circumstances of the original fall of Satan, who had previously been one of the cherubim attending the throne of God. But those who interpret the oracle historically reject this approach. Ezekiel’s prophecy is indeed couched in extravagant terms, but the primary referent within the context is clearly the human king of Tyre. In any case, for this prophet and his professional colleagues, as well as for the Hebrew historiographic narrators, human rebellion is problem enough. A detailed treatment of the origin of the demonic is not to be expected from the Old Testament.” In a footnote he also gives a list of books which use this passage in Ezekiel to teach the fall of Satan.

In his commentary on Ezekiel 28, John Taylor makes no mention of Satan. In both Halley’s Bible handbook, and the Lion handbook of the Bible, no mention of Satan is made when comment is made on either Isaiah 14, or Ezekiel 28. It is only the Hodder Bible Handbook, which is published as Unger’s Bible Handbook in USA, which says that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 give revelation of the fall of Satan, but no justification is given for this opinion.

Conclusions

Taking these two passages in their literary and historical contexts, it is a very questionable interpretation to claim they are describing the fall of Satan. This teaching is very popular, but was rejected by the Reformers and by most evangelical scholars in modern commentaries. The Bible appears to give little or no information about the origin of Satan or of evil, but very clearly describes the defeat of Satan through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and predicts his final judgement with great certainty.

It is not necessary for teaching on spiritual warfare to include an explanation of the origin of Satan. Spiritual warfare is real, and it is important to develop a biblical understanding of it. The existence of evil beings is assumed in the Bible, and their work consistently mentioned, particularly in the New Testament. Christians are given the assurance of Jesus’ victory over the powers of darkness, even though they are still active in this world until the time of the final judgement.

Note

Bible quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), unless otherwise noted.

Abbreviations
GNB Good News Bible
KJV King James Version
NEB New English Bible
NIV New International Version
NRSV New Revised Standard Version
RSV Revised Standard Version
RV Revised Version

Bibliography
Alexander, D & P. The Lion Handbook to the Bible. Lion Tring 1973.
Bruce, F.F., ed. New International Bible Commentary. IVP Leicester1986.
Gaebelein, F., ed. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Zondervan Grand Rapids 1986.
Halley, H.H. Halley’s Bible Handbook. Zondervan Grand Rapids 1965.
Keil-Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testament. Hendrickson 1989.
Motyer, A. Isaiah. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP Leicester 1999.
Oswalt, J.N. The Book of Isaiah, chapters 1-39. The International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans Grand Rapids 1986.
Taylor, J.B. Ezekiel. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP Leicester 1969.
Unger, M.F. & Larson, G.N. The Hodder Bible Handbook. Hodder 1984.
Webb, B. The Message of Isaiah. The Bible Speaks Today. IVP Leicester 1996.
Wheaton, D.H, Lucifer, in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (volume 2). IVP Leicester 1980.
Young, E. The Book of Isaiah (3 volumes). Eerdmans Grand Rapids 1992.

Web-sites
Calvin's commentary on Isaiah http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom13.htm
Latin Vulgate Translation http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/vul/isa014.htm#012
Matthew Henry's commentary http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc4
Milton. Paradise Lost http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/milton/pl01.htm
Origen. De Principis http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-04/anf04-45.htm#P6244_1101010
Origen. Against Celsus http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-04/anf04-61.htm#P10182_2698587
Tertullian. Against Marcion http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-03/anf03-29.htm#P4271_1391977
Wyclif’s translation http://sbible.boom.ru/wyc/isa14.htm

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John
Jude

Revelation

Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Tithing
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah


Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS