What Does Jesus Mean When He Speaks About Satan?

by Andrew Forrest

Jesus sends out 72 of his followers on a mission trip. When they return, they enthusiastically tell him all the cool stuff that happened:

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’”

Luke 10:17

Jesus replies,

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Luke 10:18

What does that mean?

I found this passage from one of my commentaries on Luke to be helpful:

“Jesus’ vision of Satan’s downfall can be a mental image…for what has happened or is happening in his own mission and that of the seventy-two….

“Jesus, therefore, can put his followers’ success in a heavenly perspective that is hidden from them. He projects the limited defeat of demons onto the broader screen of the cosmic conflict between God and the forces of evil. What is happening is not simply the expulsion of random demons that they might come across in their travels but the beginning of the complete overthrow of Satan’s rule. The disciples only see the battle picture from the limited perspective of their hand-to-hand combat in the trenches. They have charged into the line of demons and routed them in various skirmishes. Jesus sees the whole war map. Satan has been knocked off his throne in ‘heaven,’ representing the ‘summit of his power,’ and is in full retreat. He is still kicking and will unleash woes, but he will assuredly be vanquished. His final defeat with be consummated at the end of time….

“The vision of Satan’s fall does not make Jesus’ death and resurrection superfluous, and the final victory does not even come in Jesus’ death and resurrection because Satan continues to work damage in Acts (13:4-12, 26:18). But the cross and the resurrection do mortal damage to the satanic realm (Heb 2:14).”

David Garland, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 3

Pretty cool!

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 10: 17-24

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