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I have a question about Satan. I understand that Satan sinned and that he and his angels have been consigned to hell — “a place prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). But God says that those who repent and ask for forgiveness will be forgiven. If Satan were to be truly sorry and sincerely repent, obey God's commands, and ask forgiveness would God accept and forgive him?

The above question was asked at a Christian camp session we were privileged to be a part of recently. This is an important question because it gets into what the nature of God is, what angels are, and what it means for humans to be “in the image of God.” Other questions such as: “Who created God?,” “How God can hear everyone's prayers at once?,” “Why did God create humans?” and “What is it like to die?” are all related to this issue. There are four understandings vital to being able to answer the question of Satan's repentance, and we would like to discuss those in this article.


There was a creation before time, space, or anything physical existed. There are numerous biblical passages that refer to events and things that happened before time was created (see John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20). Angels and the heavenly beings that are not physical were also created before time began. This creation is described in Hebrews 1:7 and 14 “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants as flames of fire. … Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve … .” These beings were not physical, could not die, and were not limited in space as physical beings are. These angels had the ability to choose between good and evil because without that choice they could not have loved God. Love can only exist if there is a choice. They could choose to love God and to serve him, or they could choose to reject God. We are told in 2 Peter 2:4 that “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell.” Jude 6 adds that “the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home … .” Psalm 8:5 tells us that humans were created lower than angels. In other words angels are not good humans who have passed from this life, and they are not physical beings. Mark 12:25 portrays angels as beings that are not sexual nor do they engage in human relationships such as marriage.


God created space/time after the creation of angels, so angels remain outside space/time. The very first verse of the Bible uses the Hebrew word reshith, which is translated “in the beginning.” It then goes on to tell us that God created space (shamayim in Hebrew) and the earth (erets). In Revelation 22:13 Jesus declares “I am Alpha and Omega, … the beginning and the end.” In 2 Peter 3:10 — 12 we are told that at the end “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. … all these things will be dissolved …” (emphasis mine). The Greek word used for melt is luo, meaning dissolve, break up, melt.

God's creation of space/time requires incredible wisdom and planning. First Corinthians 2:7 tells us that the wisdom of God is “hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world … .” Titus 1:2 tells us God had promised eternal life “before the world began.” In Proverbs 8:22 – 23 we read wisdom speaking, and she says, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” This section of Proverbs goes on to describe the creation process of God from when there was nothing to the finished product.

It is important to understand that any being created prior to the creation of space/time is not limited by space/time. Angels cannot die because they are outside of space and time. Aging does not exist for beings created before space and time existed. Satan is able to be destructive in China and Mexico at the same time because he does not experience time. That is also why he cannot repent. Repentance and being born again to begin a new life (Romans 6:1 – 10) requires time. Satan cannot repent because he does not experience the passage of time. It is important for us to understand that when we die we too will have no choice. We need to take advantage of the time-dependent being God has allowed us to be, because the day will come when we will no longer be time-dependent. Like Satan, all of our choices will be gone. No amount of begging and pleading will do any good.


After space/time had been created, God created matter/energy. Everything we have described so far is referred to only in general references in the Bible. Proverbs 8 tells us of the complexity of the creation process. It strongly suggests the same kind of cause and effect that we see in quantum mechanics, but very little is spelled out for obvious reasons. That kind of detail is not essential to the Bible's message, and most of the readers over the thousands of years would have been incapable of understanding it anyway.

Genesis 1:1 leads us to the next step in the process — “God created the heaven and the earth” (KJV). The Hebrew word bara is used in this verse to indicate a process that only God can do. Bara is used 42 times in the Bible, and all of those are creation processes peculiar to God.

Today we know that matter and energy are not different things. They are just different forms of the same thing. Mass can be turned into energy, which is what happens in the atomic bomb. In recent years, we have been able to take energy and turn it into matter. The equation E = mc2 describes what is going on here. The Bible tells us that “God is light” (1 John 1:5) and light is a form of energy. God simply took some of his own substance and turned it into mass. If you had been watching that process, what would you have seen and what would you have concluded? I suggest you would have seen a singularity burst forth with an infinite amount of light, heat, and nuclear force producing all that we see in the creation around us. You might have referred to it as a “big bang.”


God created humans in a special way, with both the spiritual dimension of the angels and the physical dimension of the physical world. God himself became physical and dwelt among us (John 1:14) to complete the perfect union of man's spirit with God. Romans 8:16 tells us, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” In Genesis 1:27 we are told, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them” (emphasis mine). The Hebrew word used here is bara. Genesis 2:7 tell us that God took the elements of the earth and formed a body and gave it animal life. The Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:7 is the Hebrew yatshir (to mold into shape) referring to something a potter might do in shaping clay into a vessel.

In Psalm 139:13 – 16 the writer tells about God having a relationship with us before we were born. Our real existence as a spiritual being takes place before we enter the physical world, and when we die our spiritual being can be united once again with God. This is a future unique to man because of our having been created in God's image. It is unique, and it sets us apart. When we sin, unlike the angels, we have the capacity provided by Jesus Christ and his death on the cross to erase our mistake, and be reconciled to God. Being saved is not just a cliché, but rather a description of a wonderful process unique to humans.

It is vital that we not reduce God to the level of a human when we approach these difficult questions. The media and many public speakers, both atheists and believers, tend to make Satan a little man in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. They also make God an old white man with a beard and an angry expression. God is a spirit and understanding this enables us to be able to get a better understanding of what we are, why we are here, and what we need to do to restore our broken relationship with God. For more information on these subjects, please write us.

— John N. Clayton

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