We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Friday, June 10, 2016

About “Lucifer”

Back in August 2010 I posted an article explaining the origin of the name “Lucifer” being applied to Satan.   I decided to clean extraneous stuff from it, and explain the information in a more chronological flow.  I also added some clarifying statements, and this much better article replaces that old one.

Satan’s name was never originally “Lucifer.”  Nope, it never was, even though one of the things which KJV Only people say is that the new Bibles have left out “Lucifer’s” name when they change the word in Isaiah 14:12. When you understand the origin of this name, you realize how ridiculous this argument becomes.

Step one:  In ancient days people thought the “morning star” and the “evening star” were two different astrological objects, when in reality they were really both the planet we now call “Venus.”  The Greeks called it “Hesperus” in the evening and “Phosphorus” in the morning, while the Romans (with the Latin language) called in “Vesper” in the evening and “Lucifer” in the morning.  So, “Lucifer” was nothing more than the name Romans gave to the planet we now know as Venus.  The word meant “light bearer” but identified the “Morning Star.”

Step two:  Early Church fathers Origen (died 254) and Tertullian (died 220) spiritualized this passage and incorrectly decided that it was talking about Satan and his rebellion against God (read Jude 6; Matthew 25:41). In fact, the prophet Isaiah was talking about the wicked king of Babylon who claimed to be like God, and who boasted that his throne would lie beyond the stars (Isaiah 14:13-14). The king sought the glory associated with “Helel,” but God had other plans. He would bring this wicked king down to the depths of the Earth where he belonged (verse 11).

Step three:  When Jerome translated the Hebrew book of Isaiah into Latin (while writing the Latin Vulgate Bible), he had only a vague idea what the Hebrew word “Helel” meant.  Helel means something like “shining one.”  Isaiah 14:12 described this “shining one” as “the Son of the Dawn,” so Jerome concluded that Helel was the Hebrew name for Lucifer, the morning star.

Step four:  The people who translated the King James Version in 1611 borrowed heavily from Jerome’s Latin Bible, and when they came to Isaiah 14:12 they didn’t understand the Hebrew “Helel,” so they just kept the Latin “Lucifer” rather than trying to translate “Helel” into English. Their translation of Isaiah 14:12 then went like this: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” 

Step five:  John Milton, in 1667,  put the idea of Isaiah 14 applying to Satan, along with the KJV use of “Lucifer,” into his famous book, “Paradise Lost,” which had Lucifer as an angel who sinned and was cast out of heaven.  And this is how Satan became Lucifer.  

Satan’s name never was Lucifer, so anyone who makes such a claim is basing their belief really on John Milton’s story and NOT on the Bible.  Unfortunately, this has become a well-held tradition in the Church, both the idea that Isaiah 14:12 is about Satan, and that Satan’s name was Lucifer.  Traditions die hard.

Today, in order to avoid this confusion, modern translations use “Morning Star” or “Day-Star” instead of “Lucifer.”  

We have no idea what Satan’s name may have been prior to his fall.  “Satan” (Hebrew) and “Devil” (from Greek) both mean “adversary.”

I had never heard of the Lucifer/Satan connection when I first read the Isaiah passage, and I never would have gotten the connection from the context; this doctrine is disputed by many theologians in commentaries I have read.  

Nevertheless, if Christians quit using this term to name Satan, then we will cease forcing the Scriptures to say something they don’t say.


Anonymous said...

Wow...this is very interesting! Especially since i was just reading Isaiah 14 the other day...I will definitely be doing more research on this! May I have some of those resources?

Ms. B

Anonymous said...

Is Milton's book: Paradise Lost more like a historical fiction?

Ms. B

Anonymous said...

Whoa... nevermind...i read just a couple of paragraphs of the summary & already there are many errors in there...

"The story opens in hell, where Satan and his followers are recovering from defeat in a war they waged against God. They build a palace, called Pandemonium, where they hold council to determine whether or not to return to battle. Instead they decide to explore a new world prophecied to be created, where a safer course of revenge can be planned. Satan undertakes the mission alone. At the gate of hell, he meets his offspring, Sin and Death, who unbar the gates for him. He journeys across chaos till he sees the new universe floating near the larger globe which is heaven. God sees Satan flying towards this world and foretells the fall of man. His Son, who sits at his right hand, offers to sacrifice himself for man's salvation. Meanwhile, Satan enters the new universe. He flies to the sun, where he tricks an angel, Uriel, into showing him the way to man's home.

Satan gains entrance into the Garden of Eden, where he finds Adam and Eve and becomes jealous of them. He overhears them speak of God's commandment that they should not eat the forbidden fruit...."

Ms. B

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ms. B

I don't know what "resources" I could give you. You could look up the meaning of the words "Hesperus," "Phosphorus," "Vesper" (where we get the liturgical "Vespers" from) and "Lucifer" to see that they all refer to Venus.

I don't have the reference sources for Tertullian's and Origen's teachings about Is.14:!2 anymore -- I gathered this information decades ago. But I'm sure if you were to google them and their commentaries on Is. 14:!2 you'd find it.

The Vulgate translation showing "Lucifer" shouldn't be difficult to Google, and seeing it in the Vulgate will certainly explain why KJV has it.

As for Paradise Lost, I guess you'd just have to read the book!

There is an interesting Wikipedia article about "Lucifer" -- which includes some of the information I have on my article, at:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ms. B,

Thanks for that summary of Paradise Lost. Definitely not historical fiction!

Anonymous said...

Yep! No even close!


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much!

Castiron said...

I agree with your research and conclusion. But, there are groups who call themselves Luciferian. There's also groups like Lucis Trust and such. So the enemy too used the term. So I think Christians should be familiar with the term and it's connotations. Even if Christians were to stop using the term, the other side would still uplift the name.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


These other groups use the term BECAUSE of the Christian tradition. Let them have the term as being meaningless when it comes to Satan. Christians should know the background behind the name, of course, but should drop it as a title of Satan.

I use this as a way to prove Mormonism false, since they took "Lucifer" from the KJV and the history of assigning the name to Satan, and claim that Lucifer is a name Satan truly bore! Since we know that Lucifer was never Satan's name, for someone to make up a religion using that name they have to be wrong!