Who is the Devil?

Venerable Arsenius the Abbot of Komel, Vologda

Venerable Arsenius the Abbot of Komel, Vologda

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

by Hieromonk Benedict of Holy Mount Athos, Greece

The Devil: Time and Reason for his Fall

The Holy Bible teaches us that before the creation of man, the devil and those who upheld his view were thrown down from their heavenly office because of their pride and haughtiness. As a consequence, the devil's fall was the commencement of death in the world. Just as one wise man says: "The malice of the devil was the beginning of death in the world" (Solomon, the Wise 2:24).

So tell me then, if the devil had not fallen before the creation of man, how could he have hatred for man, since he would have still retained his heavenly position? It is because an angel's hatred for man cannot be justified. An Angel is held in a high regard by "man," the creature who is dressed with a body. However, from the highest glory that the devil held, he fell to the worst possible condition. All this happened while he was a bodiless spirit. He watched the created "man," dressed with a "body," and enjoying such a high position because of the great love which His Creator had for him. For this reason, the fallen angel, Satan, felt great envy. So, with deception, which he offered man through the use of the snake, Satan made man guilty of the punishment of death. Because such is evil! He cannot tolerate with tranquility the happiness of others. So then, it is common knowledge to everyone that in ancient times, the devil and all of his armies fell from heavenly grace and, furthermore, are found in the category of those who have lost their virtue.

The Indifference, Arrogance and Desperation, Reasons for his fall

Before his fall, the devil was pure. But since he showed indifference and was conquered by desperation, he fell into such great malice that he could no longer pull himself up. The fact that he was pure is evident in the Holy Scripture, which say: "I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven" (St. Luke 10:18). The comparison of his fall with lightening shows his previous condition and the speed of his fall. (Concerning Repentance, A'GFC 30,94, PG 59,278)

Just as the devil fell because of arrogance, in the same way he who is influenced by him practices arrogance. This is why we should all take care to abstain from this passion, in order for us not to fall into the sin committed by him, lest we be held responsible for and include ourselves in the same damnation and become participants of his punishment. (2 Thessalonians, A'GFC23,12. PG 23,470)

The devil did not become like this because of something else, but only because of the fact that he first fell into despair from despair went on to fall into arrogance.

His Envy

I am astonished at the magnitude of the devil's envy and malice. It is because he, the deceiver and demon, could not endure watching angelic conduct in a human body. (Genesis, 15, GFC 2,400. PG 53,124)

Just in the same way as he, at the commencement of his arrogance, was expelled from the grace which was granted him, this was exactly what he wished to do to you. And, with the breaking of the commandment, he wanted to drive you to the punishment of death in order to satisfy his malice. It is just as someone said: "This malice of the devil was the beginning of death in the world" (Wisdom of Solomon, 2:24). (Genesis, 16, GFC 2,426. PG 53, 130)


The devil, who is motivated by hatred and envy, and cannot endure the countless blessings granted immediately and from the beginning to man, ran to malice and from there to deception, which causes death. (Genesis, 18, GFC 2,554. PG 53,162)

There are Subordinate Forces of Heaven

Those Dominations, Principalities and Authorities are celestial but these principalities and authorities are below heaven. This is the reason why they are called dominators of the world. It is in order to show that heaven is not open to them and that all their tyrannical authority is exercised only in this world. (Re Incomprehensible Matters, D. GFC 35,122. PG 48,730).

The Existence of Battalions of Demons

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Just as is written, there exist heavenly thrones, principalities, offices, and authorities and it is so with the spirits of deception. (Ephesians 6:12).

His Appellation

He is not only the wolf, but also the lion, since it is said: "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (St. Peter 5:8). It is he who is the serpent and the scorpion, as is written: "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (St. Luke 10:19).

a) Ruler of the World and of This Age

"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has no hold on Me" (St. John 14:30). Christ calls the devil the ruler of this world and He calls cunning (Πονηροί άνθρωποι) people the same thing, because he is not the ruler of the heaven and the earth, otherwise he would have overthrown and destroyed everything. This is why He names him "ruler of this age" (Ephesians 6:12). (St. John 12:31)

Why is it that He calls him ruler of this world and this age? It is because almost all of mankind has submitted itself to him and all are his willing servants. What is more, they have done this through their own volition. No one gives attention to Christ, Who promises to grant us countless treasures. Yet, everyone is obedient to the one who promises nothing, but also sends us to Hell. But, if he is the ruler of the age and has a hold on more souls then Our Lord does, and more people are obedient to him than to Our Lord Jesus Christ (except for a few), this occurs because of our indolence

His Place

"He has authority of the spirit of the air," that is, "following the ruler of the air, the spirit." Christ again says this, because the position he holds is the place under the heavens, and because the bodiless forces are spirits of the air whenever he operates.

Listen to what Saint Paul, the Apostle, says at the end of his letter when he states that it is certain that the devil's authority is not eternal but terminates with the end of the present "age." He says: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). So that you do not come to believe, therefore, that he is immaterial, having heard that he is called the ruler of the world, he also, in another part of the Holy Scripture, is called "the age of deception and perversion." (Is there any doubt that this age that we live in?). Naturally, the Holy Bible does not mean things which are created. And so, I firmly believe, that if he became the ruler under the heavens, even after his transgression, he would not have let go of this authority of his. (Ephesians 4).

b) Opposer and Devil

The Holy Bible calls him an object and fiend, because he slanders God to man, us to God, and even ourselves to each other. Elsewhere, that is, in Job, the devil says to God: "Does Job fear God for nothing?" (Job 1:9), and again he slanders God to Job saying: "The fire of God fell from the sky" (Job 1:16). Towards Adam, he again slanders God when he said as is written: "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman, "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3L4). What is more, to many of today's people, he states, "God does not tend to all of these things which you see, but he left it to the demons to care for all that has to do with you." He even slandered The Creator to the Hebrews (Jews), calling Him a deceiver, a cheat, and a wizard!

Perhaps though, someone would like to learn how he operates. When he finds a mind empty of thoughts of love for God, when he does not find a prudent soul, a soul which does not study God's Commandments, neither keeps His laws, he then captures this person. Later on, he departs. If Adam, in this case, had studied the command which said: "But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17), he would not have suffered all that which happened to him. (2 Corinthians, 2.)

(To be continued)



The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

+"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" --Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George