The question of the ultimate destiny of Satan and demons has been hotly debated for centuries and even millennia. However, just based on the revelation of the Bible, we cannot conclude that Satan and his fallen angels will ever cease to exist. If they will, then the Bible has simply not revealed that to us. What is revealed points clearly at a never-ending life of Satan and his demons, cut off from God and existing in the blackness of spiritual darkness forever.
We explain the fate of Satan and his demons in more detail in our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” on pages 51 and 52. We are quoting below a few excerpts:
“… The angels who sinned are presently in chains of darkness, to be reserved for future judgment (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They are living today in a state of darkness. They are spiritually imprisoned by their own perversions… Satan’s spiritual torment, and that of his angels, will continue. After a time period called the Great White Throne Judgment, Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41). Their torment will be spiritual, as they will see all of their evil works destroyed by fire (compare 2 Peter 3:10–13), and their influence on others will be gone forever. Their final fate might be revealed in Jude 13, referring to ‘wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.’ Compare, too, 2 Peter 2:17. God knows what is in store for them, and so do they.”
We need to realize that Satan and his demons are fallen ANGELS–and angels CANNOT die (compare Luke 20:36). As invisible spirit beings (Colossians 1:16), both God’s righteous angels and the rebellious angels are “ETERNAL” (2 Corinthians 4:18)–that is, they are created spirit beings, incapable of dying. When God gives us ETERNAL life, we will live forever. There is never a possibility to lose our eternal destiny–because God has promised it to us, and God cannot lie.
Some have speculated that Satan will cease to exist, claiming that God will change him from a spirit being into a mortal being, who is then capable of dying. However, there is no biblical evidence that God will do this; nor, that this could be done. God is faithful to His own word–and He declared through Jesus Christ that angels cannot die. Nowhere does the Bible say that angels or demons CAN die; nowhere is it mentioned that any angel or demon EVER died; and nowhere do we find it expressed that an angel or a demon EVER changed into a physical being. (We find that God’s angels materialized on occasion, appearing in a human form–but they did not CHANGE into a human being. We also find, however, that Satan and his demons were deprived of that ability. This is fully explained in our booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” on pages 42-44.)
Some have pointed out that God cannot die, either, but that Jesus Christ–the God of the Old Testament–became a man so that He could die. This is true–Christ divested Himself of His divinity–He, who had been a God being, chose to BECOME flesh for the purpose of death. But note HOW this was done. Christ was conceived in the womb of a human mother–the virgin Mary. God the Father did not simply change Him from a God being into a man by fiat–Christ became a man by being conceived of God’s Holy Spirit, and He was then nurtured in the womb, until the day of His birth as a little baby. If we allow the Bible to tell us HOW God changed a spirit being into a physical being–the only time this EVER happened, based on the Scriptural record–then here is the answer. However, nowhere does the Bible as much as suggest that God will do with Satan, as He did with Christ. Surely, God will not change Satan into a physical being by having him conceived in the womb of a woman. It is interesting that Hollywood movies portray this kind of diabolical scenario–something which was undoubtedly inspired by Satan himself. He might want to WISH this to happen–but God will NOT allow it.
Some have pointed at a passage in Ezekiel 28 which describes the fall of Lucifer, who became Satan. They say that this passage shows that Satan will be burned up and that he will therefore cease to exist.
However, we need to understand that Ezekiel 28 speaks about a human being, as well as Satan. In Ezekiel 28:1-10, God addresses the “PRINCE of Tyre” (verse 2), a mighty human leader. Beginning with verse 11 and until verse 17, God then addresses the real power behind that human leader–Satan the devil, who is identified in verse 12 as the “KING of Tyre.” But beginning in verse 18, God returns to the description of the prince of Tyre–the human leader–and it is the human leader who will be “devoured” and “turned… to ashes,” and he “will be no more forever” (verse 19).
We see a similar way of describing a human leader, and the spiritual power behind the leader, in Isaiah 14. Beginning in verse 3, God addresses the human king of Babylon (see verse 4). But beginning in verse 12, God speaks of the fall of Lucifer or Satan–the one giving his power and authority to the king of Babylon. But commencing in verse 16, God returns to the description and fate of the human king, addressing him in verse 16 as “the MAN who made the earth tremble…” He is a human being with children (verse 21), and he will not be buried, but he will be cast out of his GRAVE, as he disgraced the land (verses 19, 20). Clearly, God is here no longer talking about a spirit being, but He returns to the description of the physical king of Babylon, whom He had originally addressed in that chapter.
Returning to Ezekiel 28, we find that God said in verse 16 to Lucifer: “And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I DESTROYED you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.” Some claim that this passage proves that Satan will be “destroyed” in the sense of “annihilated.”
However, that is not the meaning of “destroyed” in that context. Please note that God speaks about the fall of Lucifer which occurred BEFORE the creation of man. It was already at THAT time that God “destroyed” him “from the midst of the fiery stones.” But Satan did not cease to exist at that time. He is still around today–and he will be around at the end of the Millennium, to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:7-10). All Ezekiel 28:16 is telling us is that God did not allow Lucifer any longer to dwell with Him on the mountain of God–in heaven. He was no longer allowed to fulfill any holy administrative functions in the service of God. Rather, he FELL down from heaven to this earth like lightning (Luke 10:18).
Even though the Hebrew word for “destroy,” “abad,” can have the meaning, by implication, of “perish,” it can also mean “wander away” or “to lose oneself.” Judging from the context and in light of the remainder of the Bible, it is clear that the meaning here is not, “cease to exist.” The New International Version translates, “… I EXPELLED you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.” Other translations say here, “drove out.”
Some have pointed at a question by demons at the time of Jesus, when they asked Him: “Did you come to destroy us?” (compare Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). They have concluded that this shows that demons know that they will be annihilated. This is, however, not what the passages indicate–apart from the fact that the Greek word for “destroy,” apollu,” can ALSO mean, “to lose off or away.”
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible comments that the context of the passages does not mean, “… to annihilate them, but either to turn them out of the bodies of men, which to them was a sort of a destruction of them, and was really a destroying that power, which they had for some time exercised over men; or to shut them up in… prison…, and inflict that full punishment on them, which is in reserve for them…”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible adds: “We may suppose this spirit to have felt and spoken thus: ‘Is this the time of which it hath been predicted, that in it the Messiah should destroy all that power which we have usurped and exercised over the bodies and souls of men?'”
The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary adds that the feared “destruction” refers to the power or the works of the demons, and does not imply that they themselves will be annihilated: “Conscious, too, that their power was but permitted and temporary, and perceiving in Him, perhaps, the woman’s Seed that was to bruise the head and destroy the works of the devil, they regard His approach to them on this occasion as a signal to let go their grasp of this miserable victim.”
The demons KNEW that their fate was not one of annihilation. Rather, we read that they asked Christ whether He had come to “torment” them “before the time” (Matthew 8:29).
To quote again from page 51 of our afore-mentioned booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”:
“Luke 8:31 adds that they begged Christ not to command them ‘to go out into the abyss.’ At this point in time, they are not yet in that ‘abyss.’ Satan is not in it either; rather, he will be placed in it at the beginning of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3, 7—the word ‘abyss’ is translated there as ‘bottomless pit’). What is the ‘abyss?’ The word is used in Romans 10:7, where we read, ‘Who will descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).’
“In Romans 10, the ‘abyss’ is used as an analogy in association with the dead who are buried. It is also used as an analogy in Luke 8 and in Revelation 20. When Satan and his demons will be placed in the ‘abyss’ at the beginning of the Millennium, they will be as good as dead—unable to influence and deceive the nations any longer during that time period (compare Revelation 20:3). The fact that they won’t be able to destroy others will give them spiritual torment—that is why they asked Christ whether He had come to torment them before ‘the time.'”
Viewing all of the Scriptures in context, and based on what IS revealed in the Bible, we conclude that the fate of Satan and his demons is NOT one of annihilation or extinction; rather, it appears that they will become “wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link