A common image of the devil, red, with horns and a tail

In some religions, the devil is a bad spirit or supernatural being that tries to create problems for people and distance them from God. Some people also use the words "the Devil" or "Satan" for the most powerful devil. The word "devil" comes from the Greek word "diabolos" which means "someone who tells lies to hurt you". ("Diabolos" is translated to the English word "slanderer.") The New Testament uses "diabolos" as a title for Satan, and so "The Devil" became another name for Satan in English.

In the Old Testament, there is the serpent and the shaitan, who may be two different characters. "Shaitan" in Hebrew means "adversary", an enemy or opponent. Shaitan is also the word used for the devil in the Koran, who often appears as an animal and tries to get people to do the wrong thing.[1]

In Christianity the Devil was originally an angel in heaven called Lucifer. But he refused to love the humans as much as his father, God, as he was instructed, and so he revolted against Heaven. After a hard fight he was defeated and thrown out of heaven. Some other angels who helped him were also thrown out.

After the Devil was thrown out of heaven, he started doing bad things on the earth. He wants people to worship him instead of God. Sometimes he tries to trick people by giving them false promises.[2]

The other angels who were thrown out of heaven became evil spirits called demons. They obey the Devil and help him do evil things.

The Book of Revelation says that God will punish the Devil and his demons by throwing them into a Lake of Fire that burns in Hell. This will happen in the future.

Artists draw pictures of the Devil that show him as ugly and evil. But nobody knows what he may look like. Usually he is a spirit that nobody can see, but he can make himself look like a real person in order to trick people. Many modern depictions of the devil portray him as a red human-like being with horns and a pointed tail, carrying a red pitchfork or trident.

Not all religions believe in the devil. For example, some forms of Buddhism do not believe in the devil. In Wicca, the concept of the Devil and demons is also rejected, simply because, in Wiccan tradition, the creative energy is neither positive nor negative. According to Wiccans: "We are the ones who use this energy for good or evil. Therefore, the consequence of this action is our entire responsibility, not of an evil supernatural being." The corniferous god Cernunnos of Wicca was confused with the Christian Devil, for having horns (in antiquity, given the horns were phallic, they were associated with virility (fertility)), and were soon symbols of ancient European religions. He was already worshipped by pagan religions before Christianity arrived in Europe and the British Isles. Many satanists believe in the devil or Satan only as a metaphor, not an actual being or person. In the Bahá'í Faith, the devil as a malevolent, supernatural entity is not believed to exist. These terms do, however, appear in the Bahá'í writings, where they are instead used as metaphors for the lower nature of man.


  1. "shaitan". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  2. "The Devil". Gospel Mysteries. Retrieved 17 February 2010.