devil

Derivation

  • Greek: diabolos, slanderer, accuser, or traducer

Article

The word is used as a name for a fallen angel or evil spirit, especially for the chief of the rebellious angels, Lucifer or Satan (Matthew 25). In both the Old and the New Testament he is represented as a personal being cast off by God and hostile to men, going about like “a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5). Adorned at his creation with sanctifying grace, he sinned by pride, and with many other heavenly spirits was denied the’ beatific vision. His abode is hell, and he cannot enjoy the benefits of the Redemption. Yet he remains a rational spirit, possessed of the knowledge he had before the fall, and in the administration of the universe is permitted, for God’s own purposes, to exercise some influence upon animate and inanimate creatures. Cases of diabolic obsession, possession, and infestation are numerous. Christ drove out devils, and empowered the Apostles to do so. In the Church the institution of the order of exorcists testifies to belief in a personal devil.

Their personal existence is clearly taught both in the Old Testament and in the New. Satan slandered Job to God, incited David to number the people, and opposed Josue the high priest.

We gain fuller information from the New Testament. There we are told that the devil is a spirit (Ephesians 2:2); that he is a prince with evil angels subject to him (Matthew 12:24-26, 25:41); that the demons were not originally evil, but fell through sin (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6); and it is at least a plausible inference from Saint Paul’s words (1 Timothy 3:6), “not a neophyte, lest, being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil,” that Satan fell by pride. All spiritual evil and error (2 Corinthians 11:14,15), all which hinders the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:18, Apocalypse 2:10), is traced ultimately to him. Moreover, although Christ’s death was intended to destroy the works of the devil, and has in fact done so to a great extent, still Satan has a terrible power over the world and its votaries, so much so that he is called the ruler and even the “god” of this world (John 12:31, 2 Corinthians 4:4); and hence Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 5:5) regards exclusion from the Church as tantamount to a deliverance of the excommunicated person into the power of Satan. At last this power will be destroyed. Satan and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where their torments will be everlasting.

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MLA Citation

  • “devil“. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 November 2019. Web. 15 November 2019. <>