Study Guide

The Devil in James, 1-2 Peter, Jude

The Devil

The Prince of Darkness makes a name for himself in these letters, so there's no use hiding from him. Here's what our authors have to say:

  • Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
  • Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
  • When the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (Jude 1:9)

Sounds like bad news.

The Greek word that's used here is diabolos—a person who tells slanderous lies or falsely accuses people. Obviously, Christians are supposed to be avoiding this guy like the plague. The only thing he's good for is getting you in trouble and damaging your relationship with God, and you definitely can't believe a word he says.

The Devil (or Satan or Beelzebub or whatever name he happens to be going by at the moment) pops up every now and then in the Bible.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, he's identified with the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). 
  • He's also Job's adversary—otherwise known as the guy who makes things tough for the hero (Job 1:6). 
  • In the New Testament, Jesus is tempted by him in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3). 
  • He also makes an appearance as the dragon during the end of the world as we know it (Revelation 12:9).

According to some Christian traditions, the Devil was an angel named Lucifer (which means light-bringer…how sweet) until he got a little too big for his britches and challenged God's authority. God kicked him out of Heaven, a story which Peter and Jude know very well:

God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment. (2 Peter 2:4)

The angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:6)

Was the Devil among these rebellious angels? Did he come back seeking revenge on God's faithful on Earth?

In these epistles at least, it seems like the Devil is more of an idea. He's a force of evil working in the world. He lurks around waiting for you to slip up so he can bring you down. He's sort of the opposite of Jiminy Cricket—he's the voice in your head telling you to turn away from God and do something deliciously bad.

It's also clear that he's really no match for God. Sure, he's a dangerous character who'll try to steer you the wrong way, but the Almighty could totally crush him in about a second. Just look at what he did to those fallen angels.

So much for the Prince of Darkness.