Satan as the Serpent

05 Aug

from Google Images

We meet the serpent in the Garden of Eden where God says of him that he was more subtle than any beast of the field (Genesis 3:1). The scene opens with the serpent speaking with the woman. Since I was a little boy, I had always visualized Eve speaking with a snake. I wondered how a snake could speak, but I had no doubt that this story of our first parents was true. However, now I am an adult and as Paul said, I need to put away childish things (1Corinthians 13:11). Snakes don’t speak. They never have and never will unless God causes it to take place (Numbers 22:21-30)! If I agree that God’s word is always true, then my preconceptions may need to be adjusted to see its reality.

When our ears are dull of hearing and God wishes to reveal truth that is hard to understand, he will tell a story or a parable. He could then use various elements or animals etc. to indicate a deeper reality. Consider, for example, the parables of the sower or the wheat and tares, the mustard seed and the woman and the three measures of meal (Matthew chapter 13). Within these elements are revealed great mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Consider the symbols in Daniel and Revelation. Who would ever believe that those beasts mentioned therein actually talked and would one day rule the world? However, we, who believe that God’s word is true, would never seriously consider such a thing. We know that these figures symbolize other realities, difficult to put into words that would be understood and accepted. Yet, so many of us accept the truth of the serpent as a literal truth, knowing that elsewhere God uses like figures as symbols of a greater reality. For example, the Brazen Serpent that Moses made in the wilderness was a symbol of Christ. Though Christ never looked like a serpent or acted like one, he was numbered with the serpent (cf. Matthew 12:24). Who would say that this serpent that Moses made is not a symbol of Christ (cf. Numbers 21:4-9 with John 3:14-16; John 8:28; John 12:34)?

God knows how to preserve his word in the midst of a society that rejects and hates him (John 15:18, 24-25). At times, certain figures of his creation are made to personify particular qualities of the character of God or, contrarily, the character of evil. God does this so he may teach a deeper truth, as he did regarding wisdom in Proverbs chapter 8. I believe that this is what he did in Genesis chapter 3. In this Scripture God is unveiling a kind of negative wisdom. A cunning plan and subtle behavior are being described. It is a wisdom that wishes to remain hidden, like that of a hunter or a fisherman (cf. Genesis 10:8-9). The serpent’s qualities personify the character of another individual in the Garden with Eve. Notice what the serpent did. He spoke of a way to be like God, knowing good and evil (cf. Genesis 1:26, 28; 3:22-24). There was indeed a command given to be like God, but the WAY is Christ (John 14:6), symbolized by the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9; cf. 1John 1:1-2) The sin was to try to become like God without partaking of the Tree of Life or Christ (Genesis 3:3). In other words, they attempted to fulfill the purpose of being created in the image of God through rebellion and experimentation (Genesis 3:6), rather than seeking God’s Way (Ephesians 4:13-15).

Man has endeavored to bring good out of evil ever since Eden. He tries to build a better life through war, government, education, science, art, sports, commerce etc., but always with inconsistent results. He has no authority over this tree of knowledge of good and evil. He never did. God does have authority over it and is able to bring good out of evil, making all things work together for our good. His Way of knowing God and becoming like God has always been through Jesus (John 14:6; Matthew 5:48; 19:21; John 17:23). The serpent’s way has always been opposed to Christ.

Wicked men are compared with serpents in Psalm 58:1-4. Their plans (v.2) are like the poison of the adder (v.4). In Psalm 140:1-5 it is said that their plans (v.5) are like the forked tongue of the adder (v.3). In Micah 7:14-17, the enemies of Israel are called serpents. Christ, himself, described the religious leaders who opposed him as serpents (Matthew 23:33).

The serpent in Eden is described as subtle (Genesis 3:1), and he beguiled Eve (2Corinthians 11:3; Genesis 3:13) by getting her to defend God (Genesis 3:1-3), who needs no defense. God is well able to care for himself. The serpent is subtle or cunning (H6175). He formed a cunning plan and “beguiled” Eve. God, however, is greater in power and wisdom (Exodus 4:3; 7:9-12), and his plan cannot be undermined by the tactics of an annoying gnat. Notice what James says in James 3:7-11.

James 3:7-11 KJV For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: (8) But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (10) Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (11) Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

All kinds of beasts, including the serpent, can be tamed (v.7), but a man’s tongue is full of deadly poison (like a serpent, cf. v.8). James compared our tongues with a fountain that sends forth waters, both bitter and sweet. This is impossible. It must be one or the other. In Revelation 8:10-11, a star identified as wormwood (bitter), fell to the earth (cf. Revelation 12:7-12) causing water (people) to become bitter. Ultimately, Satan is the fountain from which we have all sprung. Man is unable to change himself. He is unable to bring good out of evil or to make the bitter taste sweet. Yet, God is able to make the bitter waters sweet (Exodus 15:22-25). He has authority over good and evil, bitter and sweet. He has a thorough understanding of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He created it and is not hindered in the least by its fruit.

The more we look into the Scriptures, the more we find that Satan is not almighty, not omnipresent, not anything like what we have heard from tradition. So who is Satan? The next study in this series, The Devil, Called Satan, Unveiled will unveil to the reader who I believe Satan really is in the Bible.


Posted by on August 5, 2009 in Religion, Satan


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11 responses to “Satan as the Serpent

  1. Robert

    August 17, 2016 at 18:50

    Eddie, that’s all i can ask. If you agree with some points, great. If not, then you already have your own opinion on the matter. At any rate, please let me know what you think one way or another. Be blessed.

  2. Eddie

    August 12, 2016 at 23:24

    I have pondered this. Folks seem to believe that because the idea is so different, I really haven’t given it a lot of thought. I’ve discussed this with folks on the internet when Belief Net was a discussion board. Some folks thought it was ridiculous, but couldn’t offer a proper reply. Some replied back only to say they would no longer discuss the Bible with me. I don’t remember a single agreement, so, yes, I really thought about what I was saying, because I hardly think I am that wise that I can see something absolutely **no one** else sees. If I had a single agreement from a brother or sister in the Lord, I’d be content, but I’ve looked for a better answer and couldn’t find any. Like it or not, this is what I believe. It is mine or the Lord gave it to me (if, indeed, it is true). I often debated atheists when I frequented that board. It was because of the contradiction atheists pointed out to me between Genesis 1:27 and 2:22, that I came to this conclusion. People who put down the word of God tried to exploit a contradiction, but I wouldn’t let them. No one considers my point of view trustworthy, but neither is anyone able to show how or where I am wrong. I find that telling.

    I ordered your book from Amazon. I’m not holding out much hope for agreement, however. This is not because I am so entrenched in my idea that I won’t consider another point of view. Rather, it is because I sense from reading your cover that you spiritualize Adam and Eve away, that they really weren’t real people. I don’t see how you can reconcile that with Jesus and Paul, but I’ll give it a read and see your “biblical proofs” for myself.

  3. Robert

    August 12, 2016 at 21:53

    Eddie, if you are sincere about another point of view, I do point out biblical proofs in the book. It is not a long read. The work only covers the first four chapters of Genesis. I promise you it is not merely a rehashing of what others have said previously. It is my own analysis from studying the text.

    I put in the WOW because I was attempting to show I was floored. It was not meant as an insult. The theory seemed so different from everything else I’ve read, I have trouble believing this is from you. We may not agree on everything, but I like seeing your thought process. Some people hold opinions that they have never really pondered, they have just accepted someone else’s opinion.

  4. Eddie

    August 9, 2016 at 23:02

    I suppose we will have to agree to disagree.

    As far as “eisegesis” is concerned, Genesis 1:27 clearly states that God created Adam / mankind male and female. Yet, according to Genesis 2 Eve wasn’t formed until later, after Adam’s study of animal behavior and giving each of them names. This couldn’t have been done in a mere few hours of the 6th day. So, yes we disagree.

    That there is tension between Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:22 seems evident in the fact that Jewish folklore claims a woman preceded Eve and was created from the same dirt Adam was. Her name was Lilith. That would be eisegesis. I chose to simply read the text as is and draw my conclusion from there. If Eve wasn’t formed until after the 6th day, and there was no woman before Eve, God created Adam male and female. I used to fear what people thought of what I saw in the Bible, but then I realized that there would be no point in my thinking at all, if I was ruled by what other people thought. I may be wrong about some things, and when I see my error, I change, but I shouldn’t be so afraid of error that I reject the truth simply because it looks odd.

    As for Jesus, of course we are speaking spiritually, not physically. The Church or Bride of Christ is a spiritual matter and she was **in** Christ and shall be presented to him later, just as Eve was to Adam. If the NT fulfills the Old, things have to agree. I anticipated disagreement from you, but the “WOW!” was unexpected.

    Concerning “sound Biblical proofs”, are you just writing a phrase without thinking or do you have “sound Biblical proofs” in mind. If the latter is true, I would appreciate you pointing them out to me, because I would willingly reject my current understanding in favor of “sound Biblical proofs”, because I always meet with rejection, belittling remarks, and the usual brunt of jokes etc. whenever this subject is brought up in conversation or discussion. If I had my choice, I’d much rather believe as everyone else, provided there are “sound Biblical proofs” for whatever everyone else believes.

    Be blessed in your studies, Robert.

  5. Robert

    August 9, 2016 at 22:19

    Eddie, you stated Adam was originally both male and female. In addition, so was Christ. All I can say is WOW!

    There is no way to come up with Adam and Jesus as both male and female without a whole lot of eisegesis. I read your other topics and I can follow your logic, even if I don’t agree with it. But, this is so far out there, it seems like science fiction. Logic should never trump sound biblical proofs and honestly there is nothing logical about the first man being both sexes. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this topic.

  6. Eddie

    August 7, 2016 at 13:02

    Greetings Robert, please don’t concern yourself with the link to your website. It is there in the same manner as a link is there if you write out your email address and send it to someone. We’re good on this.

    You and I interpret Genesis from two different vantage points. This is not necessarily a bad thing, nor must one conclusion be true, making the other false. The creation story isn’t very definitive for a reason. I like to think it is so rich in meaning that one could see it several different ways and draw truth from it. While I don’t mean to say “anything” can be true, I do believe more than one conclusion could be drawn without being contradictory.

    Concerning the word / name Adam, I am aware that mankind is “adam” in the Hebrew, but I believe it is also a name. After all, one cannot understand Genesis 5:4-5 and conclude this means “mankind”. If it did, mankind would have perished 930 years after God created us. The word / name is not that simple to define.

    My understanding is that God made Adam (THE man) male and female, but it was not good for him to be alone. Adam existed as male and female (whatever that looked like, I don’t know, but God has created some creatures ‘male and female’) so that he would understand he “needed” a mate. It was not good for him to be alone—probably because he would emphasize only one side of his identity (just guessing). Eve was formed (not created) later, probably a few years later, after all, one cannot understand the character of the different species of animals and then name them in a few hours. Science is complicated. Adam studied the animals and then named them to define their individual natures. In doing this, he came to understand he **needed** a mate, so God removed something from Adam and formed Eve. It wasn’t a rib. The same Hebrew word is used later to point to a “chamber” in the Temple, so what God removed from Adam to form the female is a mystery to me, but both male and female were present in Adam from at the moment of creation.

    Adam, the individual, was made ruler over all creation. This must be so to reflect that Jesus is the ruler over the Kingdom of God into which all creation must come and be reborn. If Adam (the single man) wasn’t the ruler and the definer of all that came out from him, then being “in” Christ and being born again would have little meaning for us today. While being “in” Christ may mean something for us, it certainly wouldn’t have the rich meaning it has in light of the creation story.

    We agree in that the story of creation reflects the reality of Christ and the Church. Adam was created first, so the One who became Jesus was alone in God’s Kingdom. Moreover, as Adam was male and female, so was Christ. God caused a deep sleep to come over Adam, reflecting Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Out of Adam God formed Eve to be his mate, and out of Christ will come his Bride, the Church, but we are yet **in** him. However, the day comes when we shall be presented to him, just as God presented Eve to her husband, Adam. The picture is beautiful, but if it wasn’t real in the beginning, I doubt one could draw any concrete hope from this picture of Christ and the Church.

    I believe that Adam as the first sinner, and not just a sinner but a rebel, speaks to the idea of responsibility. I am personally responsible for my sins. Adam was personally responsible for his. I believe, if we try to make the Adam of the Garden a community, we lose the sense of personal responsibility. America can go to war, but I can dissent, demonstrate my disagreement and seek to change to course of the nation. Certainly, many folks would simply go along with the crowd, but dissenters can change their minds, making them conscious of right and wrong. If enough agree with the dissenters, the nation must turn around. If Adam is a community, where are the dissenters?

    Concerning “exegesis” and “eisegesis”, I see “eisegesis” in making the whore of Revelation 17 into the Vatican, while “exegesis” is saying she is Jerusalem. I don’t see Adam = Satan as “eisegesis”, because a logical conclusion can be drawn from Scripture to say that very thing. I am not bringing something **into** Scripture that cannot be seen there. There is no mention of the Vatican, America or a modern resurrection of the Roman Empire. All these things would be “eisegesis” and would reflect only my personal opinion. Adam = Satan is not that way.

    Lord bless you, Robert, and again I apologize for the long reply

  7. Robert

    August 6, 2016 at 22:31

    Eddie, thanks for your reply. I was unaware anyone could see anything, but my name on your blog. When I come to the site all I see are the names of people nothing more.

    Adam is not a proper name, but the Hebrew term means man (really mankind), humans or humanity. It has been translated as a proper name in the garden story, mostly likely because of the introduction of woman (Eve). When Genesis chapter states let us make man (Hebrew adam) in our image. It should be translated, let us make humanity in our image. Look at the end result, God created male and female, not just a man. The gave dominion to them, again not just a man.

    2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
    Gen 5:2 (KJV)

    The Bible clearly states God called their (male and female) name Adam. The term adam was never meant to be a proper name in the Old Testament. It is a classification of our species, by God. Just as Adam named the animals showing their dominion, the Creator named us.

    Adam represents both male and female, there is no need for a literal woman. In the story, it is God who decides it is not good for man (humans) to be alone, not Adam. It is God who creates the woman from the side of Adam. The Lord presents her to Adam as his wife. All of this is a mystery in the Bible, but it pertains to Christ.

    31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    Eph 5:31-32 (KJV)

    The first Adam and the last (second Adam) parallel each other. The Adam of Genesis can only be understood, through the light of the last one. The woman appears in Revelation 12 where we see the enmity played out (Revelation 12 fulfills Genesis 3). The wife of Christ appears in Revelation 21.

    Death reigned because of humanity’s sin both male and female, not because Adam is Satan and is bent on cause humans to sin. Perhaps, I didn’t word it well when I talked about pulling other elements from other places in the Bible. All I meant by that was we need to be careful not to perform eisegesis (reading into) when interpreting scripture, exegesis (pull out) is the only valid method.

    This is already getting too long, which is why I offered the book. Peace brother Eddie.

  8. Eddie

    August 6, 2016 at 19:03

    Greetings Robert and thank you for your reply above. I believe we have a mutual misunderstanding of one another. Let’s see if we can work through it.

    Concerning your book, I understand, and there is no need for you to apologize for mentioning it. Anyone who reads our discussion would need to know you are speaking out of a wealth of information found elsewhere, and anyone who wishes may purchase any one or all of your books. I am not against such a thing, If I were, I would have edited out your reference and deleted your link to your website in your name. I have done it before to people, but I don’t nor have I ever thought of you in that kind of way. I see you as a brother who loves God’s word, but we do disagree on some things—and it so happens that it is our disagreements that are emphasized in our discussion. And, that’s okay.

    I can see logically where you are going with the Adam concept, but scripturally speaking there is no foundation to substantiate this line of thought.

    If you limit me to the ‘Garden story,’ I would have to agree with you, but, if we let Scripture interpret Scripture, we would need to expand our search for wisdom to other parts of the Bible.

    We cannot pull elements from other places in the Bible and explain the Garden story. We must take the story for what it is and seek it’s meaning

    I would have to disagree with this understanding. I see the Garden of Eden like I see the Holy of holies in the Temple of God. Mankind in Adam and Eve lost full and clear access to God when Adam was cast out, and this is symbolized by the second curtain in the Temple, separating the Holy of holies from the Holy place. The fact that God made Adam and Eve ‘skins’ implies a sacrifice or at least bloodshed, and this points to an altar within the realm of Adam’s permissible territory as it concerns the Most Holy Place. However, when Cain sinned he was driven eastward (Genesis 4:16) and away from the presence of the Lord, which points to the Garden being the Most Holy Place during the creation account. None of this can be ‘seen’ without looking at Scriptures elsewhere. Of course, you may have an entirely different interpretation, but for better or worse, this is mine.

    In the story Adam is never portrayed as the enemy of God or his wife. Therefore, we cannot use other scriptures to make him one.

    In the story Adam rebelled, and the land was cursed because of him. This is not what is done by or between ‘friends.’ Something has occurred that results in Adam being cast out of the presence of God, and the land, over which God had made Adam ruler, is cursed, and Adam must labor long and hard to gain what it had yielded to him without labor.

    Adam had rights while alive on earth, but no where do we see anyone dead exerting any influence on the world.

    Influence from the grave is easily proved through the disciples of that one who once preached his theories, truth or not, while he walked the earth. Who could say Charles Darwin has no influence today, or Karl Marx. What about this world’s religions, they were begun by someone, and such a one still exerts his influence from the grave. He may not be conscious of any of it, but it is there nonetheless.

    As far as Adam is concerned, even if he wasn’t living (as a disembodied spirit) during the days of Jesus’ ministry, his rebellious influence permeated mankind. No one in all human history ever escaped his influence, except Jesus, and even he was ‘tempted’ by Adam’s rebellious heart through the scribes and Pharisees and chief priests of his day, even the crowds of common people couldn’t serve as a place where Jesus could be at peace. He was continually confronted with opposition on all sides, and that opposition had its roots in Adam’s rebellion.

    Adam is never depicted as evil in the story, to make him so in essence is rewriting the story in order to make it work.

    I don’t know what you would consider ‘evil’ in the story. Certainly Adam didn’t behave well, or ‘good’ in the sense that he was righteous. Paul said sin entered the world through him and death through sin. Sin is evil and Adam not only sinned, but sinned in such a manner that he took mankind away from God. Moreover, when he did this Paul tells us that he wasn’t deceived, as Eve was. Adam’s sin was deliberate. He knew what he was doing. Perhaps we disagree on our vocabulary, as to what might be termed ‘evil’, but nothing I’ve said in this paragraph about Adam can be denied without denying Scripture. If I’m wrong, point it out.

    Concerning Eve, if the ‘serpent’ merely represents ‘wisdom’ – whose wisdom is the text speaking of? I can point to Adam, his wisdom, because he instructed Eve about what God told him. However, I see no other wisdom mentioned, unless we bring into the story a third sentient being. I don’t see one there, but the ‘wisdom’ that tempts Eve must come from somewhere.

    Concerning the identities of Adam and Eve, Jesus spoke of them as real people, as did Paul, who blames Adam for bringing death and sin into the world. At least from where I stand, it seems wrong not to look at Scripture elsewhere in order to interpret the Garden story.

    Sorry for the long reply, but you brought out things above that needed to be addressed, if our discussion should continue. Lord bless you Robert in the love you have for his word.

  9. Robert

    August 6, 2016 at 16:54

    Eddie, I only recommended the book because it is too much information for the blogs and some of the ideas must be built upon in an orderly fashion. My intent is to give you something else to consider with the Adam and Eve thing. I am not trying to sell books via your blog, so please don’t take it that way. I simply love studying and I am always looking for other people that love to study, in order to gain different perspective and to bounce ideas off of them.

    I can see logically where you are going with the Adam concept, but scripturally speaking there is no foundation to substantiate this line of thought. We cannot pull elements from other places in the Bible and explain the Garden story. We must take the story for what it is and seek it’s meaning. In the story Adam is never portrayed as the enemy of God or his wife. Therefore, we cannot use other scriptures to make him one. Adam had rights while alive on earth, but no where do we see anyone dead exerting any influence on the world. Adam is never depicted as evil in the story, to make him so in essence is rewriting the story in order to make it work.

    Eve’s conversation with the serpent is explainable and logical. Serpents in ancient stories depict wisdom. If we were telling this story today, an owl would speak to Eve. However, we also need to understand who Adam and Eve really represent, then everything becomes clearer. Very little in this story is meant to be taken literally. Genesis, chapter explains the creation of the world and everything in it. Chapters two and three explain the origins of sin and more importantly the relationship between God and humanity before and after sin. Everything in the garden account should harmonize with scriptures without reading other things into the account.

  10. Eddie

    August 6, 2016 at 06:49

    Greetings Robert, thank you for mentioning your book, but I’ve been to your website and am aware of the books you have for sale. Should I buy one, I’ll let you know that I’m reading it (them), and, since you request it, I’ll let you know what I think about your conclusions.

    Concerning Satan / Adam, if Adam is Satan, he certainly doesn’t live on physically, so if Satan is a sentient being, Adam’s ‘living on’ would have to be explained somehow. A ‘disembodied’ spirit seems to fit nicely, since this seems to have been his mode of existence before the Fall, and before God made skins for both him and Eve. Moreover, if there was no rebellion before Adam’s rebellion, we need to explain Eve’s conversation with a serpent. Serpents don’t speak, but Scripture does refer to men as serpents, when they show they have clandestine plans, which they hope to use against the innocent. Adam was the only intelligent, sentient being with Eve at the time of the Fall. He is, therefore, the logical choice for the one with whom she spoke. While Scripture never comes out and claims Adam is Satan, logical conclusion from Scripture does.

    Concerning Adam’s rights, God gave him his right to rule over all God created, and God never recants on what he does. He simply deals with what has occurred and shows himself willing to pay the price to make it all come out, as he had originally planned.

    Once one concludes that Satan isn’t an angel or an archangel etc., one must interpret his existence in the Scriptures some how. Adam is the logical choice, because the word ‘satan’ means ‘enemy’, and since Adam rebelled against God, he made himself God’s enemy / satan.

    It is clear that Adam didn’t trust God. Plus, no one loves anyone he doesn’t trust, and since ‘faith’ is the evidence of things hoped for, Adam couldn’t have ‘hoped’ in God for anything. In other words, Adam had none of the virtues necessary to live at peace and joyfully in eternity. Under such circumstances, what would keep him from rebelling against God? What would keep him from “fooling his wife and then the world”?

  11. Robert

    August 5, 2016 at 21:24

    Eddie, I read your four part series on Satan. I agree that Satan is not an archangel. But, I am not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that he is Adam. This development led to Adam tricking his wife and causing her death. Then afterwards he becomes a disembodied spirit that is free to deceive humanity. I am not sure why Adam would have the right to continue fooling people after his death.

    You point out and rightly so there is no biblical proof of Satan being an angel. However, it is equally true there is no scriptural evidence of Adam becoming Satan, fooling his wife and then the world.

    I wrote a book called, “In the beginning: Understanding the truth behind Genesis”. The work covers the first four chapters of Genesis. I give ample scripture references to all of my conclusions. If you truly want to find out the truth about Adam and Satan, this should clear everything up. Should you decide to check it out, let me know what you think.

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