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The claimis made is that Satan in the OT is only a shadow of the Satan in the NT. In between, it is said, some outside influences (usually Persian religion, it is said) transformed Satan from a prosecution attorney intoto the incarnation of evil.
Is this the case? Not really.
Out data pool from the OT will be from Job alone. 1 Chr. 21:1 we will discard as we maintain that the "Satan" here may not be the personal being but another adversary. We will also leave out Gen. 3, for though I think the serpent was indwelt by Satan, Gen. 3 would add little to the data pool not already found in Job.
Ps. 109:6 will be ignored for the same reason, and Zec. 3:1-2 add nothing not found in Job. (A secondary idea, that Job itself is from the Persian period, we do not consider viable, but it is beyond the scope of this article.)
Our process will be to identify where Satan is found in the NT, then see if what he does is any different than what is in the OT. We will find that all of the cites are answered in one of two ways:
- They show a distinct parallel to what is found in Job.
- They show what is actually a universal motif for ANY evil being or any person doing evil, whether the Persian devil Ahriman, Screwtape, or Jesse James.
Now for relevant NT citations.
- The Tempter.
Satan's role is as a tempter, and he claims to own the world (Matthew 4:9 and parallels).
The former is obvious in Job -- Satan's whole purpose was to tempt Job to forsake God. That leaves his claim to be able to turn the world over to Jesus, which has no parallel in Job at all. Is this a problem?
I think not. If it isn't bravado on Satan's part (hubris, an element that IS clearly visible in Job), then it is if nothing else an offer to turn over those persons who are under his sway.
Now let me ask critics a question: In Job, Satan says that he has been "going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Now given his character, what is it that critics suppose Satan to have been doing while he was wandering around the earth? He was undoubtedly looking after his own interests. And since his primary interest in Job is to turn Job away from God, isn't it logical in context that whatever else he was doing was intended to serve the same interest?
And that means that Job implies directly that Satan had been out swaying people over to his side already. Satan's own profession in Job is to be doing what Peter says he is doing as "a roaring lion, [who] walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Satan's role as a deceiver in the NT also comes under this rubric.
- Head Over Demonic Powers.
We see this first in the NT in Matthew 12:26 and a few times more after this. In Job Satan has no obvious entourage, and here is where one might argue that later influence played some part.
However, this is rather best understood as one of the universal motifs grounded in a reality. There is no leap in supposing that any figure or person would or could gather helpers or assistants. There is a difference here, but it is a "no big deal" difference that is meaningless.
- General Power.
In the NT Satan has titles like Prince of the Power of the Air and "god of this world." Is this a promotion from the OT figure in Job?
Not at all. Once again, when we realize that Satan in Job was probably engaged in activities to benefit his own agenda, it's obvious that these titles are not promotions but rather recognitions.
So in conclusion, there is no need to go wandering around to Ahriman or any other being to explain Satan's (non-)differences in the NT. The Satan of the OT is the same figure -- the NT is simply more theological in orientation and has a great deal more ideological space to talk about him.
Objection: What was Satan doing in the presence of a holy God, making requests at that?
Satan makes no "request" in Job but issues a challenge of honor, and there is nothing at all, Biblically, against Satan being able to be in God's presence at this point in history, any more than it is a problem that sinful men can be in the presence of the Shekinah.