Jesus fears the devil

Jesus' perception of the devil

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Satan in the Old Testament

3. The devil in the New Testament

4. First text passage: Q 11.15.17-20
4.1 Text and translation
4.2 Analysis and interpretation
4.3 Summary

5. Second text passage: Q 12.4f
5.1 Text and translation
5.2 Analysis and interpretation
5.3 Summary

6. Third text passage: Lk 10.18
6.1 Text and translation
6.2 Analysis and interpretation
6.3 Summary

7. Theological summary

8. Outlook



Biblical sources

Extra-biblical sources



Secondary literature

1. Introduction

In the New Testament, evil is often personified and - with no discernible difference in meaning[1] - denoted with the lexemes satana / j and dia, boloj. The latter became diabolus / diabulus in church Latin, and in Middle Latin diuvalus, in Old High German "tiufal", in Middle High German "tiuvel / tievel" and finally our current noun "Teufel".[2]

Most people today associate the devil with a superstition that seems old-fashioned, and even theologians like the former Tübingen Old Testament scholar Herbert Haag have been demanding farewell to the devil for several years[3]. Nevertheless, according to an international value study in 1991, 15% of the population in West Germany, and in the USA as many as 65%, believed in a devil.[4] In Catholic theology the question has been asked since the 1960s, "whether the devil is a real, supernatural person or a symbol for sin or a fictional figure that has grown out of a pictorial Hebrew thought"[5].

In any case, even today Christians no longer understand epilepsy and mental illnesses as the result of demonic possession, although Jesus and his followers are portrayed in the Bible as believing that this is so[6]. In our time we no longer believe that sickness overtakes us as a punishment for sins or that healing can be traced back to prayers for God's intervention. God no longer seems to have much to do with diseases and their healing when it comes to viruses, bacteria, leukemia or tumors that are fought with drugs, chemotherapy or surgery. It would appear naive today to turn to the omnipotence of God in such cases.[7]

Our work is particularly about the devil perception of Jesus. Three relevant passages in the New Testament, which presumably reproduce authentic Jesuslogies, are discussed one after the other. First of all, we reproduce the Greek texts from the Nestle / Aland edition, followed by an independently developed German translation. In the two cases, which are synoptic parallels that can be assigned to the source Q, we have undertaken a detailed reconstruction of the Q text.[8]

In this reconstruction, there was such a substantial correspondence with the "Critical Edition of Q" of the International Q Project - and a justification of the individual, often word-for-word decisions for the respective Mt and Lk wording would have been Go beyond the scope of the present work[9] -, so that their best-founded scientific text to date was used for the present work. This is also followed by an independently created translation. The subsequent analysis and interpretation then essentially only refer to the reconstructed Q-text, if any. Finally, a summary is given in each case.

2. Satan in the Old Testament

In principle, the writings of the New Testament are only to be understood from the context of the Old Testament, since this represents the “Bible” of Jesus and his disciples. Since the Old Testament may have had a major impact on Jesus' perception of the devil, we want to begin by discussing the concept of Satan in the Old Testament.[10]

"Satan" occurs 27 times in the OT as a noun (! J "f ') and six times as a verb (! J; f').[11] The basic meaning of the noun is “adversary, opponent”, with the verb “to hostile, oppose, be hostile” or also “accuse, accuse”. Since “Satan” occurs as a noun and a verb, the lexeme cannot explicitly mean the development of evil. The general equation with the devil was only made later - by Christianity.

The noun! J "f 'is mentioned in three places in particular: Zech 3.1-7; Job1f; 1 Chr 21.1. In the vision Zech 3.1-7, the historical person of Yeshua appears first, who ( Post-exilic!) title of high priest against whom Satan appears as accuser, in contradiction to God, who rebukes him.[12]

In the prologue of the Job Book, which is likely to come from the early post-exilic period, the noun Satan appears most frequently with an article. Satan is referred to as one of the sons of God and thus belongs to the court of YHWH, in which he occupies a prominent position. Like an ancient oriental king, God allows his subjects to be monitored, which is why Satan has the task of checking the loyalty of people. Satan is allowed to do the job that is highly valued by YHWH - but with restrictions! (namely on the preservation of Job's life) - attack. Satan is by no means equal to God, but clearly subordinate to God and can only act on YHWH's permission. The definite article suggests that “Satan” in this text is a function, not a proper name.

The two books of the Chronicle are a new version of the two Samuel books in theology from around the 4th century BC. While in 2 Sam 24,1 the anger of YHWH flares up and this provokes David to a census, the view of the chronicler did not allow that YHWH first seduces a person in order to punish him afterwards. Hence this “dark side” of YHWH in 1 Chr 21: 1 becomes on Satan[13] transferred, who is now held responsible for the seduction of David. One could speak here of a split-off personality part of YHWH. Satan is independent in 1 Chr 21,1; he does not accept any divine commands and there are no limits to what he can do.

In summary, it can be said that in the older layers of the Old Testament God himself is held responsible for evil. The god YHWH is understood not only as the only god, but also as the only power.[14] Only in post-exilic texts does the Satan figure gradually become evil personified in the course of a stronger ethical transcendentalization. However, Satan does not play a central role in the OT.

3. The devil in the New Testament

The LXX translates "Satan" mostly with the Greek word dia, boloj, which explains the synonymous use of satana / j (Greek transcription of the Hebrew! J "f ') or dia, boloj in the New Testament, as already described in Chapter 1.

Klein give us a first glimpse into the New Testament period:[15]

Where ancient Judaism recognizes the limits of human possibilities, it fears diabolical-demonic forces: in the realm of disease and death, of natural disasters and wars, in general in the face of "others" including the wrongdoers, blasphemers and false teachers. This fear is also shared by the New Testament in all its strata, the historical Jesus no differently from Paul and his disciples.

Wehrle writes about the general New Testament conceptions of evil[16], that you

especially to dine from the apocalyptic tradition of the OT (...). The devil is a fallen angel who becomes the leader of a host of demons. But while the demons are secondary spirits, the devil is the personification of evil itself. His main task is to prevent the kingdom of God as long and as thoroughly as possible.

Ernst emphasizes that the New Testament as a whole has no uniform concept of evil personified.[17] This can already be seen from the different names: In addition to Satan / Devil, the various books also contain demons (Mk 7.26; Lk 4.41 par; Lk 11.15 par, etc.), Beelzebul (Lk 11.15 par u.ö.), Beliar (2 Cor 6:15), God of this world time (2 Cor 4,4), Antichrist / Antichrist (1Joh 2,18.22; 2 Joh 1,7), dragon (Rev 12,3 a. Ö.), Snake (Rev 12,9 and Ö), Pseudoprophet / Pseudopropheten (Mk 13,22; Rev 16,13 and Ö), Pseudochristi (Mk 13,22 par;) and many others for evil.

The devil and his accomplices appear in different contexts: as tempter (Mk 1:13 par), enemy (1 Pet 5,8), accuser of men (Rev 12:10) and having power over death (Hebrews 2:14) . They are seen especially in opposition to the Messiah (2 Cor 4,4; 1 Joh 3,8), partly as political opponents (Rev 17), on the other hand also as religious seducers and false prophets (Mk 13,22 par; 2 Thess 2, 3f).[18] The devil also works diseases by means of demons (Lk 13:16; Acts 5:16).[19]

In connection with the life of Jesus, the devil appears for the first time after Jesus' baptism and tries in vain to seduce Jesus into disobedience to God (Mk1,12f par). Jesus and his disciples encounter the devil as the cause of illness and death in the same way as their contemporaries did with the magical means of ancient medicine: healing miracles and exorcisms. Illness is often directly related to sin (Mk 2.5 par). After all, the devil is also to blame for the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (Lk 22: 3; Jn 13: 2, 27).[20]

Overall, however, one can say that "the New Testament is more interested in experiencing the power of sin and overcoming it than in the questions of whether there is a tempter and where sin comes from"[21].

But let us now come to our actual topic and examine the New Testament more closely with regard to the question: Who or what was the devil for Jesus himself and what status did he have for him?

4. First text passage: Q 11.15.17-20

4.1 Text and translation

Mt 12: 24-28

24 oi` de. Farisai / oi avkou, santej ei = pon \ ou-toj ouvk evkba, llei ta. daimo, nia eiv mh. evn tw / | Beelzebou.l a; rconti tw / n daimoni, wnÅ

25 eivdw.j de. ta.j evnqumh, seij auvtw / n ei = pen auvtoi / j \ pa / sa basilei, a merisqei / sa kaqV e`auth / j evrhmou / tai kai. pa / sa po, lij h 'oivki, a merisqei / sa kaqV e`auth / j ouv staqh, setaiÅ

26 kai. eiv o` satana / j to.n satana / n evkba, llei (evfV e`auto.n evmeri, sqh \ pw / j ou = n staqh, setai h` basilei, a auvtou / È

27 kai. eiv evgw. evn Beelzebou.l evkba, llw ta. daimo, nia (oi` ui`oi. u`mw / n evn ti, ni evkba, llousinÈ dia. tou / to auvtoi. kritai. e; sontai u`mw / nÅ

28 eiv de. evn pneu, mati qeou / evgw. evkba, llw ta. daimo, nia (a; ra e; fqasen evfV u`ma / j h` basilei, a tou / qeou / Å

24 But the Pharisees, who heard this, said: This one does not drive out demons except with Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.

25 But he knew their thoughts and said to them: Every kingship that is divided against itself will become a desert, and every city or every house, divided against itself, will not endure.

26 And when Satan casts out Satan, he was divided into himself; so how will his kingship endure?

27 And if I cast out demons with Beelzebul, with whom do your followers cast out? That is why they will be your judges.

28 But if I cast out demons with the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has reached you.

Lk 11.15.17-20

15 tine.j de. evx auvtw / n ei = pon \ evn Beelzebou.l tw / | a; rconti tw / n daimoni, wn evkba, llei ta. daimo, nia \ ...

17 auvto.j de. eivdw.j auvtw / n ta. dianoh, mata ei = pen auvtoi / j \ pa / sa basilei, a evfV e`auth.n diamerisqei / sa evrhmou / tai kai. oi = koj evpi. oi = kon pi, pteiÅ

18 eiv de. kai. o` satana / j evfV e`auto.n diemeri, sqh (pw / j staqh, setai h` basilei, a auvtou / È o [ti le, gete evn Beelzebou.l evkba, llein me ta. daimo, niaÅ

19 eiv de. possibly evn Beelzebou.l evkba, llw ta. daimo, nia (oi` ui`oi. u`mw / n evn ti, ni evkba, llousinÈ dia. tou / to auvtoi. u`mw / n kritai. e; sontaiÅ

20 eiv de. evn daktu, lw | qeou / [evgw.] evkba, llw ta. daimo, nia (a; ra e; fqasen evfV u`ma / j h` basilei, a tou / qeou / Å

15 But some of them said: With Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, he drives out the demons! ...

17 But he knew their thoughts and said to them, Every kingdom that is divided into itself becomes a desert, and house falls upon house.

18 But if Satan has also been divided into himself, how will his kingship endure? - Because you say that I cast out demons with Beelzebul.

19 But if I cast out demons with Beelzebul, with whom do your followers cast out? That is why they will be your judges.

20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has reached you.

Reconstruction of the text in Q

15 tine.j de. ei = pon \ evn Beelzebou.l tw / | a; rconti tw / n daimoni, wn evkba, llei ta. daimo, nia \

17 eivdw.j de. ta. dianoh, mata auvtw / n ei = pen auvtoi / j \ pa / sa basilei, a merisqei / sa [kaqV] e`auth / [j] evrhmou / tai kai. pa / sa oivki, a merisqei / sa kaqV e`auth / j ouv staqh, setaiÅ

18 kai. eiv o` satana / j evfV e`auto.n evmeri, sqh (pw / j staqh, setai h` basilei, a auvtou / È

19 kai. eiv evgw. evn Beelzebou.l evkba, llw ta. daimo, nia (oi` ui`oi. u`mw / n evn ti, ni evkba, llousinÈ dia. tou / to auvtoi. kritai. e; sontai u`mw / nÅ

20 eiv de. evn daktu, lw | qeou / evgw. evkba, llw ta. daimo, nia (a; ra e; fqasen evfV u`ma / j h` basilei, a tou / qeou / Å

15 But some said: With Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, he is driving out the demons!

17 But he knew their thoughts and said to them: Every kingship that is divided against itself will become a desert, and every house that is divided against itself will not endure.

18 And if Satan has been divided into himself, how will his kingship endure?

19 And if I cast out demons with Beelzebul, with whom do your followers cast out? That is why they will be your judges.

20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has reached you.

4.2 Analysis and interpretation

The extremely sharp reproach in Q 11.15 that Jesus cast out the demons with Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, follows the extremely short exorcism story Q 11.14 - probably the only one in the Logia source[22]. Jesus sees through his opponents and answers with a speech; he brings two parallel images (Q 11:17) with subsequent application (Q 11:18): No kingdom, not even Satan's kingdom, will endure if it is divided. This proves that the charge against him is absurd. Then he shows the contrast between the reproach of the casting out of demons by Beelzebul (Q 11:19) and the casting out with the finger of God (Q 11:20): The rulership of Satan is contrasted antithetically with the rulership of God. In the actions of Jesus the closeness of God's kingdom is shown.

In Q 11.20 we should have an authentic Jesus logion.[23] Luke is most likely reproducing the more original version of the logion; Finally, one can determine that he has a “preference” for the word pneu / ma for the Holy Spirit, which he uses 106 times in Lk and Acts together, about three times more often in his Gospel than Mark. Matthew, on the other hand, had good reason to change in favor of the connection with his context in which the pneu / ma is mentioned both shortly before (Mt 12:18) and shortly after (Mt 12:31) this verse. In this respect evn daktu, lw | qeou / ("with the finger of God") opposite evn pneu, mati qeou / ("with the spirit of God") reproduce the original text.[24]

In the opinion of most exegetes, Q 11.20 is an initially independent logion, which was later formed into the present pericope with the rest of the Q material.[25] The saying reminds neither of Beelzebul nor of the allegations directed against Jesus; so it can be assumed that it originally did not belong in the historical context of the Beelzebul dispute.[26]

The fact that Q 11.20 was not originally connected with the preceding verse Q 11.19 is a little more difficult to show, but is made clear above all by the sudden change of the group of people addressed by Jesus here and there with a form of su: in Q 11:19 means the 2nd person in oi` ui`oi. u`mw / n probably opponent of Jesus; In Q 11.20 it is expressed with e; fqasen evfV u`ma / j to his followers that the kingdom of God has reached them.[27] In addition, if Q 11.19 and 11.20 had originally been connected, Jesus would allow the followers of his opponents to work towards the arrival of the kingdom of God - difficult to imagine, not only in view of the wider context, e.g. Q 11, 23[28] Q 11:19 could have been the first addition to the exorcism report, the first answer to the reproach against Jesus.[29]

Because Q 11,17f was also initially handed down independently. This is supported by the existence of an Mk parallel at least for Q 11,17b-18; Q 11,17a will represent an editorial transition.[30] Against an original connection between Q 11.20 and the following verses stands that Q 11.21f has a parallel to the “parable of the strong”, while this is missing for Q 11.20.[31] All of this suggests that verse Q 11:20, in which Jesus connects his exorcisms with the coming of God's kingdom, was originally passed on freely from the traditional Q context and must therefore also be interpreted separately.

But before we devote ourselves to this individual verse in more detail, first once again on the entire pericope Q 11.15.17-20. First of all, we can see from her that it is not the outstanding peculiarity of Jesus that he worked as an exorcist - so did others. However, Jesus made a special claim, namely the connection between his exorcisms and the coming of God's kingdom. He had to defend himself against the charge of practicing magic, i.e. H. to have the power of satanic and not divine powers (cf. also the text parallel Mt 9,32-34).[32] From the criticism of his opponents and their jealous accusation of the devil's alliance, it is also clear that Jesus was quite successful as a Jewish exorcist. The pericope is, so to speak, an apology for Jesus' exorcisms.[33] These are likely to have had a major impact on his self-image. Theissen / Merz write: "The exorcisms gave him the consciousness (or confirmed it) that he was standing on the threshold of a new world in which evil was finally defeated."[34]

From the alternation between Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, and Satan from v. 15 to v. 18 and back in v. 19, one can infer an extensive synonymy of the two terms of evil.[35] In general, it emerges from the pericope that neither Luke nor Matthew, but also not Jesus and his disciples, doubt the reality of the devil and the powers that surround him.[36] In no way is the existence of the devil or a similar figure denied; In Q 11.20 Jesus himself speaks of demons which he casts out (cf. also chapters 1 and 3). However, it does not explicitly grant power to devils and demons.

Now Q 11.20 should be discussed separately from the context. Precisely because we have an authentic Jesus word here, we can see some details from this verse regarding Jesus' perception of the devil. Jesus presents himself as an instrument of God.[37] As an exception, he includes himself in the talk of the kingdom of God: evgw. evkba, llw.[38] He interprets his exorcism miracles eschatologically.[39] The basic statement of v. 20 is the closeness of the kingdom of God in the actions of Jesus.[40]

Through the Semitic evn (cf. in Hebrew B.), which cannot be understood instrumentally, God is indicated as the author of the miraculous power of Jesus.[41] The “finger of God” does not appear anywhere else in the New Testament and is not a common expression in the Old Testament[42] (cf. the few text passages Ex 8.15; 31.18; Dtn 9.10[43] ). The metaphor probably refers to the clear parallel in Ex 8.15[44] and is to be understood as direct intervention of God himself in this world[45] - through Jesus. With this saying Jesus places himself next to Moses and Aaron, who were recognized as messengers of God to work symbolic miracles in connection with Israel's liberation from slavery. It is implied that Jesus, who proclaims the coming of the kingdom of God, is now empowered like it and that his casting out of demons has a liberating effect.[46]


[1] See Klein et al., 2002, 117f. “A comparison… clearly teaches that there is no meaning difference between Satan and the devil. Obviously Mt 4,1; Lk 4.2; 8.12 literally translates the Hebrew 'Satan' as 'devil' for their readers ”(118). Also Ernst, 1967, 269: “arbitrary; there is no discernible difference in content ”.

[2] See Drosdowski, 1989, 742 and Kluge / Seebold, 1995, 823.

[3] See, inter alia. Hague, 1980.

[4] See Klein et al., 2002, 137.

[5] Klein et al., 2002, 132.

[6] Compare about Mk 5.8; 9.25. See also Meier, 1994, 646f.655.

[7] See Spong, 2004, 22f.

[8] For this purpose, we mainly used Lührmann, 1969 and Schulz, 1972, as well as the Gospel commentaries Luz, 1990 and Bovon, 1996.

[9] The text reconstruction is also too much on the edge of the actual topic to be dealt with.

[10] For the entire chapter, unless otherwise noted, see Wehrle, 2001.

[11] The individual positions can be found in Wehrle, 2001, 195.

[12] See Wehrle, 2001, 198f. According to another thesis, Satan does not act as an adversary of God, but as God's "official", who represents justice and whose role has to make clear that in this case God will allow grace to be justified, cf.

[13] According to Wehrle, 2001, 201 the word can be understood here as a proper name, since it does not have a definite article.

[14] See Klein et al., 2002, 115.

[15] Klein et al., 2002, 119.

[16] Wehrle, 2001, 203.

[17] See Ernst, 1967, X-XII and passim.

[18] See Ernst, 1967, 269f.293.295.

[19] See Klein et al., 2002, 119.

[20] See Klein et al., 2002, 119f.

[21] Klein et al., 2002, 136.

[22] Cf. Meier, 1994, 648.656, who deals with 656f and 661 with the question of whether the narrative goes back to a historical event or represents a literary creation as the introduction to the following Beelzebul debate. Lührmann, 1969, 32 also ascribes the “healing story” to Q, since it has no parallel in Mk. Further discussion, with the same result, is Schulz, 1972, 204.

[23] See Lührmann, 1969, 33, Meier, 1994, 416f and Bovon, 1996, 174 as well as Bultmann, 1970, 174. Luz, 1990, 256 thinks it is possible.

[24] See Lührmann, 1969, 33, Meier, 1994, 410f, Luz, 1990, 255, Bovon, 1996, 167.175 and finally Schulz, 1972, 205, who in note 218 names a wide range of supporters and opponents of this thesis. Even if we do not follow them, the arguments cited there against the originality of evn daktu, lw | are not uninteresting qeou / von Harnack, Luke has a certain preference for anthropomorphisms, and von Schlatter, Luke changed because of the OT.

[25] See Meier, 1994, 407-411, whose arguments predominate in our eyes. For independence see also Bovon, 1996, 168.174f and Luz, 1990, 256. Schulz, 1972, 206 considers Q, 11, 18-20 to be not originally independent, but inconsistent; He justifies the togetherness with the three introductory eiv in each verse - which can just as easily be editorial editing. Compared to Q 11,17 the verses are added later, but presuppose the same reproach.

[26] See Bovon, 1996, 174f.

[27] See Meier, 1994, 409f.

[28] See Meier, 1994, 410. Also Bovon, 1996, 260 with note 62.

[29] See Bovon, 1996, 168.174.

[30] See Meier, 1994, 408f and Bovon, 1996, 168 and Luz, 1990, 255f.

[31] See Meier, 1994, 408f. Cf. also Bovon, 1996, 168.177, who traces the independence back to the parallel of Q11,21f in EvThom 35.

[32] Cf. Bovon, 196, 164. 170, note 26: “In Jewish tradition, Jesus is then accused of sorcery ...” The success of Jesus' exorcisms is not questioned in the debate; Nowadays, if there is any doubt about the effectiveness of the exorcisms, hostility should be sought, cf. 170 and note 30 there.

[33] See Bovon, 1996, 168.

[34] Theissen / Merz, 2001, 266.

[35] To identify Beelzebul / Satan Bovon, 1996 first (170): "The fact that Beelzebul is called the 'chief of demons' does not necessarily mean that he has to be identified with Satan." After a long argument he also comes to the conclusion (171) : "The opposing group undoubtedly identifies Beelzebul with this apocalyptic competitor of God, who must be Satan himself."

[36] See Bovon, 1996, 173.

[37] See Bovon, 1996, 167.

[38] See Bovon, 1996, 175.

[39] See Klein et al., 2002, 120 and Schulz, 1972, 219.

[40] See Lührmann, 1969, 33.

[41] See Schulz, 1972, 208f.

[42] See Meier, 1994, 411.

[43] Cf. also as a parallel to this Semitic way of speaking, for example, “Voice of God” (Dan 9:10) and others.

[44] See Meier, 1994, 411.

[45] See Schulz, 1971, 207.209 and Meier, 1994, 411.

[46] See Meier, 1994, 411.

End of the reading sample from 33 pages