posted on May, 28 2021 @ 05:00 PM
“The seventy returned with joy, saying; Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!
And he said to them; I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke ch10 vv17-18).
We cannot understand what Jesus meant, unless we keep his words in context. As the above quotation shows, they were his direct and immediate response
to the report of the seventy disciples. He cannot be talking about some event before the Creation of the world, as at the beginning of Paradise Lost,
because that would not fit into the conversation.
We should remember that the idea of “heaven” is ambiguous in the New Testament. On the one hand, it is the place where God dwells, or sometimes a
euphemistic substitute for the name of God. On the other hand, it may mean the physical heavens, the location of the stars and the planets and the
home-base of the spiritual powers associated with the stars and the planets. That is why Paul says we are fighting against “the spiritual hosts of
wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians ch6 v12).
At the same time, we should understand “fall” as a fall from power. It is the metaphorical fall that occurs when somebody is removed from a
That is how the two above-quoted verses fit together. The subjection of the demons is one of the symptoms of Satan’s fall from power. Satan’s fall
from power is the explanation of the subjection of the demons. The servants of Satan cannot stand up against the name of Jesus. And this fall from
power has been happening, “like lightning from heaven” (i.e. suddenly) while the seventy were out on their mission, which is why Jesus is
announcing it now.
The connection between the two events is explained by the New Testament’s other reference to the fall from heaven;
“The great dragon was thrown down… Satan, the deceiver of the whole world … The accuser of the brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them
night and day before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation ch12 vv9-11). Of
course “the blood of the Lamb” means “the fact that Jesus died”.
Satan appears as an “accuser” in the first chapter of Job. In fact the word is a reasonable translation of his Hebrew name. His function there
seems to be to report back to God on all the bad things he finds in the world. In other words, he gets people into trouble by making God aware of
their sins, and that is the real source of his “power”. It is the power of the informant or blackmailer. It is a power founded upon the existence
of unforgiven sin.
That is why his power is destroyed by forgiveness. If God is not going to act on his reports, then the ground is cut away from under his feet. So the
disciples of Jesus overcome him by means of the Cross, which makes forgiveness available, and by the word of their testimony, which is about telling
the rest of the world that forgiveness is available.
In the rest of Revelation ch12, and in the following chapter, we learn how the frustrated Accuser gets his revenge by turning himself into a
Persecutor. If he cannot get Christians into trouble with God, he will get them into trouble with the Roman authorities instead.
I suggest that the “fall of Satan”, in the sense of Revelation ch12, was already happening in Luke ch10. They are the same event.
The seventy disciples had been sent out to do what Jesus was doing, and to proclaim what Jesus was proclaiming.
Their message is summed up, twice, in the declaration that the kingdom of God “has come near”. (This translates ENGIKEN, a word with much-debated
shades of meaning)
It is reasonable to suppose that they were actually presenting the fuller message of Jesus, summed up for us by Mark as “The time is fulfilled, and
the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark ch1 v14).
And what was his gospel? Evidently it included the promise of forgiveness of sin in response to repentance. The clearest evidence is in the conduct of
the woman who washed his feet (Luke ch7). Jesus saw it as evidence of her gratitude, and he told her that her sins were forgiven. But the cause of her
gratitude must have been that she knew about forgiveness already; she had learned about it from his previous teaching, and that prompted her joyous
reaction. Her faith in his message was the faith that “saved” her.
So the seventy disciples were going round the country presenting what Jesus taught about the forgiveness of sin (they could not, of course, make any
reference to the Cross), and THAT was enough to bring about the “fall of Satan” which Jesus was watching. They were overcoming him “by the word
of their testimony”.