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Why is Satan Called Abaddon and Apollyon?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
These names reveal his all-consuming lust to destroy God's works and God's people. But Christ came to destroy the works of the Destroyer.

Part five of a series. Read part four.

Satan's names reveal his all-consuming lust to destroy the works of God and the people of God. But Christ came to destroy the works of the Destroyer.

In previous articles, we discussed Satan's origin as Lucifer, and his essential nature as the adversary of God and the saints, and the father of lies. Today we turn to a third category of Biblical data revealed through Satan's names - his specific role as destroyer.

One of Satan's key aims is to destroy the creation and work of God. Satan especially seeks to destroy mankind generally, made in the image of God, and the redeemed saints of God in particular, who bear the name and image of Christ. We have already seen that Satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Today we shall explore Satan's all-consuming lust for destruction in greater detail.

The Serpent

Of course the very first mention of Satan is in Genesis chapter three, where he took the form of the serpent to tempt Eve. Revelation chapter twelve identifies the Serpent of the beginning of time and the Dragon of the end of time (see below) as one and the same: "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9). The serpent, as we shall see, is a destroyer.

The Murderer

In our last article we looked at John 8:44 from the standpoint of Satan's essential nature as a liar and the father of lies. In the same passage, Jesus declares that Satan "was a murderer from the beginning." Satan is the great slayer of humanity, and that murderous pursuit began in Eden with the words, "Has God indeed said...?" Man's rebellion against God makes him Satan's prey.

The Dragon

The identity of Satan as the Dragon is associated with the visions of the Book of Revelation. Revelation chapter twelve identifies Satan as the Dragon who attempted to destroy the male child (Christ), and as the persecutor of "the woman who gave birth to the Child," which is understood by most commentators to represent Israel. Satan indeed attempted to destroy the incarnate Christ through the temptation in the wilderness, and he is the destructive enemy of both the physical and the spiritual seed of Abraham.

In Revelation chapter thirteen, Satan is identified as the Dragon who gives the Beast "his power, his throne, and great authority" to rule the entire world (13:2). All the unsaved of the earth will "worship the Dragon who gave authority to the Beast" as well as the Beast himself. Empowered by the Dragon, the Beast will make war with the saints of God and put them to death.

Abaddon or Apollyon

The fifth trumpet of Revelation chapter nine heralds the release of a horrible end-time plague upon "those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads," tormenting them in such an excruciating way that "men will seek death but will not find it" (9:4-6). The creatures described as locusts who are the instruments of this horrific plague are under the authority of Satan, "the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon [Destruction], but in Greek he has the name Apollyon [Destroyer]."

The name Abaddon also appears several places in Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, and is consistently translated "destruction." Job speaks of "Destruction" (Abaddon) as a person (28:22), who knows of the infinite wisdom of God but does not have a full understanding of it (28:12-28). Although Job was not aware of the events of Job chapters one and two that resulted in his temporary sufferings, Job understood that Abaddon has his limits.

The Thief

Although Jesus did not identify Satan by name in the parable of the Good Shepherd in John 10:6-18, He clearly had Satan in mind when He said that, in contrast to the Good Shepherd, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (Greek appolumi, a verb from the same root word as the name Apollyon).

The Triumph of Christ Over the Destroyer

The Christian can praise God that Christ came into this world to destroy the works of the Destroyer. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested [came to earth in human form], that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The Cross of Calvary was the scene of Christ's triumph over the enemy of our souls, and our release from his bondage.

Next: Satan's Relationship to This Present World

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