Home > Content Index > Worldview > Entertainment and Worldview > Paradise Lost

Is “Paradise Lost” by John Milton biblical?

Paradise Lostaudio
Question: "Is 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton biblical?"

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in 12 books based on the biblical story of Satan’s fall from heaven and Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Milton’s strong Puritan faith is evident in all his work and comes to its greatest height in the epic poems. The opening lines of Paradise Lost give the “argument” for the piece in which Milton invokes the heavenly muse to help him write:

"Of Man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man [Christ],
Restore us and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, O heavenly Muse…”

Like John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Milton’s Paradise Lost “fills in” details of what takes place in the spiritual realm. Milton presents interactions between God and Satan, Satan and Adam and Eve, Satan and his demons, etc., using poetic license and lyrical expression. Nothing in Paradise Lost directly contradicts the Bible. But Milton’s work should not be understood as biblical fact. Perhaps the most famous line from the poem is Satan’s rebellious declaration, “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.” So often has that line been repeated that it is often mistaken for a quote from the Bible.

It should be noted that Milton’s poetry can be difficult for the modern reader. Paradise Lost is full of the rhythms and idioms of 17th-century English, and Milton often alludes to Greek mythology and Renaissance Italian, French, and English writers, many of whom are unfamiliar to the modern reader. But, from a theological and literary standpoint, his work is first-rate. Amazingly, Milton wrote his epic poem while completely blind, having to dictate the lines to his secretary.

Recommended Resource: Four Views on Hell edited by Crockett & Gundry

More insights from your Bible study - Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!

Related Topics:

How is eternity in hell a fair punishment for sin?

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

What are the gates of hell?

Where is hell? What is the location of hell?

Is annihilationism biblical?

Return to:

Miscellaneous Bible Questions

Is “Paradise Lost” by John Milton biblical?

Share this page on:

Find Out How to...

Statement of Faith
The Gospel
Crucial Questions
Content Index
Top 20 Questions

Question of the Week

Preferred Bible Version:


Subscribe to our Question of the Week

Get our Questions of the Week delivered right to your inbox!