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5-12 Satan As Lightning

Luke 10: 18: “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”.

Popular Interpretation

This shows that Satan was once in heaven.


1. We have shown that no sinful being can be tolerated in God’s presence in Heaven (Mt. 6:10; Ps. 5: 4-5; Hab. 1:13)

2. Jesus is using parabolic language - “as lightning fall from heaven” - so this “Satan” fell. Lightning comes from heaven in the sense of the sky, not as in the dwelling place of God.

3. Any attempt to link this with the prince of this world being cast out is difficult, because that happened at Christ’s death (n.b. “now” in Jn.12:31), whereas this falling of Satan occurred during His ministry.

4. According to popular thought, “Satan” is supposed to have fallen from heaven in Eden, so that he was on the earth at Job’s time, yet Jesus is described as seeing this occurring at His time. Weymouth adds a marginal note on Lk. 10:18 in his translation of the Bible: "The thought is not that of Milton's rebel angel banished for ever from the abide of bliss".

5. If an evil being and his host of followers fell down on to earth literally, why did only Jesus see it and not the disciples? Why is there no other record of this strange event?

6. Falling from heaven is figurative of losing authority, e.g. it is used about the demise of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14. See also Lamentations 2:1 and Jeremiah 51:53.

Suggested Explanations

1. The apostles had just cured many people (Lk. 10:17) and were blinded by their great physical power over disease (v. 20). The real cause of illness and disease is our sin prone nature. That sin is the ultimate reason for illness is stressed in Matthew 9:12 and 12:11, where a sheep gone astray, a clear symbol of a sinner (Mt. 18:13), is equated with a sick man. The principle is summed up in Matthew 9: 5 “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?”. Thus Jesus said, “I beheld Satan fall”, i.e. “In My view the great thing was that the power of sin was being overcome”.

2. There must be a connection with v. 15: “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell”. Is Jesus implying that “Satan”, the ways of the flesh, which were so well exemplified in Capernaum, were being overcome? Notice that Capernaum was “exalted” in Jewish eyes. “Satan” often referring to the Jewish system (2-4 “The Jewish Satan”), maybe Jesus is equating Capernaum with “Satan” and commenting how the sin which was at the basis of this system was being overcome by the preaching of the Gospel.