POSTED 04 NOVEMBER, 2017
“And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.’”
reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume I
When many readers of a high Christology see Yeshua make the statement, “I was beholding the Adversary, as lightning from the heaven having fallen” (Luke 10:18, YLT), they automatically assume that this means that there was some kind of a conflict in Heaven, with Satan and an angelic company having fallen from grace, and that Yeshua was present to witness this. This would serve as evidence of Yeshua’s pre-existence, a critical component of His Divinity. Perhaps this is what Luke 10:18 ultimately communicates, but there are details to be evaluated. In the larger cotext, Yeshua talks about seeing Satan fall from Heaven, as various disciples return to Him, reporting how the authority granted to them by the Messiah over demons has been working:
“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven’” (Luke 10:17-20).
From the source text of Luke 10:18, Yeshua is recorded as saying, “I was seeing – Satan like lightning from – heaven having fallen” (Brown and Comfort), etheōroun ton Satanan hōs astrapēn ek tou ouranou pesonta. Some, particularly in reference to the disciples being granted authority over demons, see Yeshua’s statement as a reference to the future war in Heaven (Revelation 12:7-12), and/or the Messiah’s eschatological victory over Satan (cf. John 12:31). From this vantage point, Yeshua would not be speaking of any kind of preexistent conflict in Heaven, but instead was in the middle of having a prophetic vision. The NIV First-Century Study Bible is broadly reflective of this position, and notes how statements appearing in Isaiah 14 are associated to this:
“Some equate this passage with the fall of ‘Lucifer’ in Isa 14:2-15. However, Isaiah had been speaking about the king of Assyria. The connection between Lucifer and Satan was probably the result of English interpreters of the Bible, not first-century readers. In any case, the passage was applied to Satan sometime in antiquity.
“It’s not impossible that Jesus had a kind of vision of Satan’s fall, as the language of this verse suggests. This might have also been a reference to the true battle between Jesus and Satan, already introduced in the temptation story (see Lk 4:1-13). In Jewish thought, the destruction of Satan was thought to follow the coming of the kingdom of God (see Jn 12:31).”
I myself, in writing on Isaiah 14:9-11, 18-20, in my articles “To Be Absent From the Body” and “Why Hell Must Be Eternal,” have argued that these passages are principally about the king of Babylon. In the former article, I have also argued that Ezekiel 28:6-10, 16-19 is principally about the king of Tyre. Like all monarchs in the Ancient Near East, though, whether it be the king of Babylon or the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:9), they all believed themselves to be gods. And so, per a dynamic of self-deification, it is not unreasonable for various statements appearing in direct association with these mortal kings, to indirectly be associated with the character of Satan or the Devil. Isaiah 14:12-17 has statements which one can see, the being we call Satan, speak in the presence of the God of Creation, but contextually are clearly made by the mortal king of Babylon:
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’” (Isaiah 14:12-17).
The Hebrew heileil, “the morning star (or the crescent moon)” (CHALOT), was rendered by the Latin Vulgate as lucifer, in Isaiah 14:12, and from this some theology surrounding Satan would emerge. While the surrounding verses of Isaiah 14 are clearly speaking about the mortal king of Babylon, it should not be dismissed that as a king who considered himself to be a god, that statements about the character and activities of the Devil are embedded in this prophetic taunt against him.
If indeed Yeshua’s statement, “I was watching satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18, TLV), is speaking of the Adversary’s fall from grace—which presumably occurred before the Creation of Planet Earth and humankind—then it can be used as a support for Yeshua’s pre-existence. The nature of Yeshua’s pre-existence is associated with many other statements by the Messiah and claims of His followers, though, requiring further investigation.
 NIV First-Century Study Bible, 1308.
 CHALOT, 79.