Satan is a spiritual being who led a heavenly revolt against God and was subsequently cast down into the earth (Luke 10:18). His personal name, “Satan,” means “adversary.” This name indicates Satan’s basic nature: he is the enemy of God, of all God does, and of all God loves.
He is also called “the devil” in the New Testament. The word “devil” means “false accuser” or “slanderer.” Satan plays this role in Job 1–2 when he attacks Job’s character.
In Matthew 12:24, the Jews refer to Satan as “Beelzebul,” an epithet derived from “Baal-Zebub” (“lord of the fly”), a false god of the Philistines in Ekron (2 Kings 1:2-3, 6).
Other titles of Satan include the tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5), the wicked one (Matthew 13:19, 38), the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10), and—three titles that point to Satan’s authority in this world—the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Second Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan transforms himself into “an angel of light,” a description that highlights his capacity and inclination to deceive.
There are a couple of passages which refer to the judgment of earthly kings but may very well also refer to Satan. The first is Isaiah 14:12-15. This is addressed to the king of Babylon (verse 4), but the description also seems to fit that of a more powerful being. The name “Lucifer,” which means “morning star,” is used here to describe someone who sought to overthrow God’s very throne.
The second passage is Ezekiel 28:11-19, addressed to the king of Tyre. As in the “Lucifer” passage, this prophecy contains wording that seems to go beyond the description of a mere mortal. The king of Tyre is said to be “anointed as a guardian cherub,” but he was laid low by pride and “expelled” by God Himself.
In addition to providing names and titles of Satan, the Bible uses various metaphors to reveal the character of the enemy. Jesus, in the parable of the four soils, likens Satan to the birds that snatch the seed off the hardened ground (Matthew 13:4, 19). In another parable, Satan appears as the sower of weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:25, 28). Satan is analogous to a wolf in John 10:12 and a roaring lion in 1 Peter 5:8. In Revelation 12:9, Satan is the “great dragon . . . that serpent of old”—obviously, a reference to the serpent who deceived Eve (Genesis 3:1).