Lucifer, also called Satan and the devil, was once a holy, pure, beautiful angel. According to the Bible, Lucifer was part of God’s good creation. But then everything changed. The holy angel became a fallen angel when he sinned against God. Many people are curious to know what Lucifer did and why God cast him out of heaven.
God cast Lucifer out of heaven because of the sin of pride. Historically, scholars generally agree that the Bible teaches that his fall resulted from conceit, arrogance, haughtiness, and superiority. Lucifer not only wanted to be like God — he wanted to be God — so God expelled him from heaven.
How does the name “Lucifer” shed light on his story in the Bible? How does the Bible describe Lucifer’s sin and fall? What do Ezekiel and Isaiah say about Lucifer’s rebellion? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see What Was Lucifer’s Job in Heaven? to learn more.
How does the Bible describe Lucifer’s sin and fall?
The name “Lucifer” only appears once in the Bible (Isaiah 14:12) and only in certain translations. The KJV and NKJV translate the Hebrew name helel as “Lucifer.” Other English translations render the Hebrew according to what the name Lucifer literally means: “Morning star” (NIV), “shining star” (NLT), and “day star” (ESV). The Bible refers to angels as stars in multiple passages (e.g. Job 38:7).
The name “Lucifer” is from Old English via Latin. The Latin word for light is “luc-” and the word for “bearing is “-fer.” Therefore, “Lucifer” means “light-bringing” or “morning star.” Christian theology sometimes uses the name “Lucifer” to describe Satan in his pre-fall condition and other names like Satan and devil to refer to his post-fall condition.
“Satan,” meaning adversary, is his most common name in the Bible, appearing 52 times. “Devil,” meaning slanderer, is the second most common, appearing 35 times. He is also called a serpent, dragon, and evil one multiple times. Like “Lucifer,” he is called “Destroyer” just once (Rev. 9:11).
Lucifer’s pride came before his fall
Christian scholars are in general agreement that pride was Lucifer’s downfall. However, they don’t always agree on what Bible passages teach it. For example, there is significant disagreement among scholars about if Isaiah 14:12-17 teaches it (see below). There is more agreement about Ezekiel 28:1-19 teaching it (see below).
Yet there is even more agreement that 1 Timothy 3:6 teaches it. The context of the verse is about the qualifications of overseers or elders. In the passage, Paul warns that a person who serves in that role mustn’t be prideful, or else they will fall as the devil did.
|Translation||1 Timothy 3:6|
|ESV||He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.|
|KJV||Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.|
|NASB||and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.|
|NIV||He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.|
|NLT||A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.|
A minority view of the verse, reflected in the NLT translation, argues that the devil could cause an unqualified elder to fall into sin. However, the majority view, reflected in the other translations, is that an unqualified elder might succumb to the pride of sin and fall as a result, just as Lucifer succumbed to the pride of sin and fell as a result.
Other angels followed Satan in his rebellion
When God cast Lucifer out of heaven, other angels followed him. Jesus taught that fallen angels will be eternally judged for their sinful pride. “[God] will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
Some scholars believe that John mentions the same event in Revelation: “His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth” (12:4).
Fallen angels are locked into their sinful condition. God doesn’t offer them forgiveness or redemption. Jesus’ death on the cross secured their defeat (Col. 2:15; cf. John 5:22).
Do Ezekiel 28:1-19 and Isaiah 14:12-17 corroborate Paul’s teaching? According to most scholars, these passages (discussed below) are about rebellious human rulers. However, some believe they have a secondary meaning and describe Satan’s fall. The basis for their conviction is that certain descriptions in these passages don’t appear to refer to a human being but instead corroborate 1 Timothy 3:6.
Also see Who Was the Serpent in the Garden of Eden? to learn more.
What does Ezekiel say about Lucifer’s rebellion?
Ezekiel 28:1-19 is addressed to the prince of Tyre (v. 2) and the king of Tyre (v. 12). Those who believe the passage refers to Lucifer and not just a human ruler interpret v. 1-10 as addressing the rebellious human ruler of Tyre and v. 11-19 as addressing the rebellious lead fallen angel, Lucifer. The human leader’s rebellion is analogous to Lucifer’s.
|Prince of Tyre||Satan|
|Called “prince” (v. 2)||Called “king” (v. 12)|
|Called “man” (v. 2, 9)||Called “cherub,” i.e. an angel (v. 14, 16)|
|no parallel as people are born sinful||He was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (v. 12)|
|no parallel as Adam and Eve were the only people in Eden; however, the serpent was there||He was “in Eden, the garden of God” (v. 13)|
|no parallel as people are born sinful||He was “blameless in your ways from the day you were created” (v. 15)|
|no parallel||God said, “you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you” (v. 16)|
|God said, “Your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god'” (v. 2)||God said, “Your heart was proud because of your beauty” (v. 17)|
|God said, “They shall thrust you down into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas” (v. 8)||God said, “I cast you to the ground” (v. 17)|
To some readers, Ezekiel 28:1-19 reveals that God created Lucifer as a beautiful, sinless cherub. Yet because of the sin of pride, God cast him out of heaven and down to the earth. The essence of his pride was an arrogance about his beauty and possibly his position.
Furthermore, some theologians believe that Lucifer rebelled because he thought he was better than human beings and didn’t want to serve them. God intends angels to minister to people (e.g. Heb. 1:7), communicate with them (e.g. Luke 1:19), and protect them (e.g. Isa. 63:9).
Also see Who Are the Sons of God in Genesis 6? to learn more.
What does Isaiah say about Lucifer’s rebellion?
There is significant disagreement among Christian theologians and scholars about if this passage refers to Lucifer and his downfall. The passage is addressed to the king of Babylon (v. 3), but like some interpretations of Ezekiel 28:1-19, some see descriptions that can’t be true of people. There are also parallels with other passages that are about Satan.
Is Isaiah referring to a fallen angel?
Isaiah 14:12 reads, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!”
Those who don’t see Satan in this verse interpret the description as a king losing his power. Those who do see Satan, note the name “Day Star” aligns with Ezekiel’s description of “cherub” (28:14, 16). God also throws him to the ground, which Ezekiel also describes (v. 16).
Does Isaiah identify pride as Satan’s sin?
Isaiah describes the angelic rebel as challenging God when he writes, “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high” (v. 13) and “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (v. 14). This is similar to Ezekiel’s description of Lucifer’s pride (28:17).
Theologians today often note that there are scholars who refute the idea that Ezekiel 28:1-19 and Isaiah 14:12-17 apply to Lucifer and his fall from heaven. Yet many disagree, such as Merrill Unger, who writes, “In their full scope these passages paint Satan’s past career as ‘Lucifer’ and as ‘the Anointed Cherub’ in his prefall splendor. They portray as well the apostasy in drawing with him a great multitude of lesser celestial creatures (Rev. 12:4), making him “the Evil One’ or “the tempter.” 
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