10 Key Bible Verses on the Devil

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

All commentary notes adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

1. 1 Peter 5:8

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Read More

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Christians need to be spiritually vigilant, watching for attacks from the devil, their great enemy and opponent. Peter uses the graphic image of a lion to describe Satan’s destructive threat: he prowls around . . . seeking someone to devour, hoping that believers will be terrified in their hardship and persecutions, or that they will be deceived and fall into sin. Though the devil may threaten to “devour” Christians, they nonetheless have assurance that they will be guarded by God’s power (1 Pet. 5:5).

2. Genesis 3:14–15

The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” Read More

God addresses the serpent first. Verse 1 declared the serpent “more crafty” (Hb. ‘arum); now God declares it more cursed (Hb. ’arur). Indicted for its part in tempting the woman, the serpent will be viewed with contempt from now on. This is conveyed both literally and figuratively by the serpent’s going on its belly and eating dust. Having deceived the woman, the serpent will have ongoing hostility with the woman, which will be perpetuated by their respective offspring.

While many modern commentators interpret this part of the curse as merely describing the natural hostility that exists between men and snakes, it has traditionally been understood as pointing forward to the defeat of the serpent by a future descendant of the woman, and this interpretation fits well with the words and the context. This defeat is implied by the serpent’s being bruised in the head, which is more serious than the offspring of Eve being bruised in the heel. For this reason, Gen .3:15 has been labeled the “Protoevangelium,” the first announcement of the gospel. This interpretation requires that the serpent be viewed as more than a mere snake, something which the narrative itself implies, given the serpent’s ability to speak and the vile things he says. While the present chapter does not explicitly identify the serpent with Satan, such an identification is a legitimate inference and is clearly what the apostle John has in view in Rev. 12:9 and Rev. 20:2. The motif of the offspring of the woman is picked up in Gen. 4:25 with the birth of Seth; subsequently, the rest of Genesis traces a single line of Seth’s descendants, observing that it will eventually produce a king through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Some interpreters have suggested that by saying “he” and “his,” the intended meaning is that one particular offspring is in view. Within the larger biblical framework, this hope comes to fulfillment in Jesus Christ, who is clearly presented in the NT as overcoming Satan (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8; cf. Matt. 12:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; 16:11; 1 Cor. 15:24; Col. 2:15), while at the same time being bruised.

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3. John 8:44

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Read More

The Devil was a murderer from the beginning: that is, the Devil incited Cain to kill Abel (cf. 1 John 3:12). He does not stand in the truth, i.e., it is not the realm that he lives and acts and thinks in. He is the father of lies: at the fall, the Devil blatantly contradicted God’s word (Gen. 3:3–4; cf. Gen. 2:17).

4. James 4:7–8

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Read More

The only way to resist the devil is by also submitting and drawing near to God (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). Satan will be defeated and will have to flee, as indeed he did from Christ (Luke 4:13).

5. Job 1:12

And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” Read More

The fact that Satan has to ask permission to test Job (see also Job 2:6) indicates that the extent of his authority falls ultimately under the sovereign governance of God—something that Job also refers to, but without knowledge of or reference to the heavenly dialogue and its relation to his troubles (Job 1:21; Job 2:10).

6. Revelation 12:7–12

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Read More

The victory of Michael and the holy angels over the dragon and its coconspirators may symbolize the triumphant power of Jesus’ cross (cf. Col. 2:15), or a subsequent defeat of demonic forces flowing from Christ’s victory at the cross, or the original casting of Satan and his demons out of heaven (see note on Rev. 12:4). The devil (Gk.) and Satan (Hb.) describe a legal opponent, an accuser at law. Many futurists think he was thrown down to the earth indicates intensified demonic activity on earth during the great tribulation.

The dragon’s expulsion from heaven shows that Satan cannot press charges as the accuser of our brothers because the Lamb shed his blood for them and they maintain their testimony of trust even unto death. Although “conquered” by the beast physically in death (Rev. 11:7; Rev. 13:7), in fact the martyrs have conquered both the beast (Rev. 15:2) and the dragon that empowers it. They have conquered him is set in ironic and beautiful contrast to Rev. 13:7.

7. 1 John 3:7–10

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. Read More

The reason the Son of God appeared restates 1 John 3:5 but here specifies the connection of sin to the devil. Knowing Christ means becoming involved in an all-out war against the works of the devil, that is, the practice of sinning.

born of God. See John 3:3–8. God’s seed. Some take this to be the Word of God that brings about the new birth (cf. James 1:18, 22; 1 Pet. 1:23, 25). Others see it as a way of speaking of the Holy Spirit in his regenerating and transforming presence within the believer. Since the Holy Spirit works through the Word in regeneration, both of these ideas are likely intended here. In other words, because the Word is present in the believer’s heart through the work of the Spirit, the believer cannot keep on sinning. Thus the hearts of genuine Christians (those who are truly children of God) have been so transformed that they cannot live in a pattern of continual sin—though this does not mean that Christians are ever completely free from sin in this life (see 1 John 1:8–10). By this it is evident. Or, as Jesus said of false prophets, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16). does not love his brother. John returns to the ethical dimension, the true barometer of what people really believe, whatever they may say.

8. Zechariah 3:1–4

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” Read More

The fourth vision is located in the heavenly courtroom, where the angel of the LORD is seated as the judge. Joshua the high priest, one of the leaders of the returned exiles (Hag. 1:1; spelled “Jeshua” in Ezra and Nehemiah), is the defendant, and Satan, whose name means “the Accuser” or “the Adversary,” is the prosecutor.

The Lord’s rebuke of Satan provides the most likely basis for the reflection on the nature of spiritual authority in 2 Pet. 2:11 (cf. Jude 9).

Satan has a very strong case, for Joshua was not merely clothed with filthy garments but, more precisely, clothed in garments soiled with excrement, which would automatically defile the wearer. Joshua’s defilement posed a severe problem for the people, since he was the intermediary through whom their own defilement was to be removed on the Day of Atonement. Yet the Lord ruled Satan’s charges inadmissible before he could present them. The Lord’s election of Jerusalem and Joshua’s position as one “plucked from the fire” (Zechariah 3:2; i.e., brought safely from the holocaust of exile) means that Joshua is free from any possible condemnation.

The Lord also acts to cleanse Joshua from his iniquity. He commands his servants to remove the filthy garments, so removing Joshua’s iniquity, and to clothe Joshua in pure vestments, garments suitable for him to wear in the presence of the King of kings. Since the filthy garments represent iniquity, these “pure vestments” represent a new righteousness imputed to Joshua.

9. Revelation 20:10

and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Read More

God Defeats and Destroys the Dragon and Its Gathered Armies. Satan’s release after the thousand years will free him to deceive the nations and to gather them for the last battle. Amillennialists see this as the same battle as the one described in Rev. 16:13–16 and Rev. 19:17–21. Premillennialists see this as a separate, later battle. The gathered armies are called Gog and Magog, titles of Israel’s pagan oppressors, who would be destroyed by fire . . . from heaven (Ezek. 38:22; Ezek. 39:6) and consumed as carrion (Ezek. 39:1–6, 17–20; Rev. 19:17–18, 21). Although the saints are exposed as a camp and, as inhabitants of God’s beloved city (Rev. 11:2; Rev. 21:2), are besieged by foes as countless as the sand of the sea (see 12:17), their enemies will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment. The deceiver will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur.

10. Ephesians 6:10–12

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Read More

be strong. Because Christians cannot stand on their own against superhuman powers, they must rely upon the strength of the Lord’s own might (see Eph. 1:19), which he supplies chiefly through prayer (Eph. 6:18).

The Greek word for whole armor (panoplia) refers to the complete equipment of a fully armed soldier, consisting of both shields and weapons like those described in Eph. 6:14, 16–17. Paul’s description here draws primarily on OT allusions, yet the terms used also overlap well with Roman weaponry (esp. the terms for the large, door-shaped shield and the short stabbing sword). Visible portrayals of such weaponry can be found on the numerous military reliefs (esp. on sarcophagi) throughout the Roman Empire. schemes. Here the diabolical origin is exposed, regarding the “deceitful schemes” of those teaching false doctrine (Eph. 4:14; see also 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7).

This list of spiritual rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers (see Eph. 3:10) gives a sobering glimpse into the devil’s allies, the spiritual forces of evil who are exceedingly powerful in their exercise of cosmic powers over this present darkness. And yet Scripture makes clear that the enemy host is no match for the Lord, who has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15; see also Eph. 1:19–21).

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