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How do we read that Satan had received authority over all the kingdoms of the world? That is, he received them, and so offers them to Jesus in the following verse (and of course he cannot offer something to Jesus that he does not possess).

Luke 4:6-7 (NIV)
6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

How are we to read, "it has been given to me"?

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  • I deleted your reference to the iBook, because we cannot access the book from within the United States. Also, if you do reference a book, what relevance does the book have to your question? You do not want to post your reference (or source) without some qualification as to what and why you make such reference. Nonetheless, thanks for the question! Please feel free to re-edit your question as you deem appropriate in accordance with our guidelines on this site.
    – Joseph
    Jun 26 '14 at 3:45
  • @Dell Welcome to BH! We are a little bit different here, if you read the site guidelines it will help you "Frame" your question correctly. Since the reference was edited out, you may want to add some other research to illustrate your question-although in my opinion it is fine the way it is.
    – Tau
    Jun 26 '14 at 5:12
  • It is possible that Satan once had that authority, but lost it. That he can't accept that he lost it and is living with the fantasy that he still has it. Thus, he would not just be lying to others, but also to himself. Mar 13 at 14:25

11 Answers 11

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This is a good, piercing question that goes to the root of a lot. Unfortunately I have had to conclude [30 years or so of study] that we are not told the full answer to the question. First, there is nothing in the Genesis record that speaks plainly about a "Satan" being given authority over anything. Sticking to the text, we are told of a serpent who is a beast of the field. Answers above rightly underscore what Jesus said about Satan - in fact 90% of the revelation we have of the Malefactor comes from Jesus Himself, and apart from His illumination we would know next to nothing. YHWH put the "nations" [goy] under the authority of the "sons of God". Dr. Michael Heiser has done a better job than anyone of peeling the scriptures [the text - not conjecture and innuendo] on this topic [ http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/DT32BibSac.pdf ]. The implication is that the other "sons of God" lent or ceded their authority to "Satan" at some point for some reason/s but this is not revealed to us. Paul, Ephesians 6:12 speaks of such authority being spread amongst multiple entities. Benson's commentary does a fair job with this: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/benson/ephesians/6.htm Heiser, again, does better, pointing out that all but one of the underlying terms for these malevolent beings is a term of turfdom; territorial authority.

I wish the whole issue were better revealed to us.

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What we must 1st understand about Satan is what Jesus says about him,

"He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.(John 8:44)

Therefore, we must not trust what comes out of a liar's mouth.

Since Jesus doesn't take issue with the devil's statement, we can conclude that the devil certainly 'exercised' authority over the kingdoms of the world, yet there is nowhere in Scripture that records the devil being given authority by God; that authority was given to Adam,(Gen. 1:28)

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

God gave Adam dominion, which in Hebrew : רָדָה(radah) along with : כָּבַשׁ(kabash) means to "reign over and bring into submission". Therefore, man rightly exercising his authority before God, would bring into subjection and submission all of God's creation.

When Adam disobeyed God's commandment,(Gen. 3) they "gave" their dominion to Satan; by accepting his 'offer' to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and become like him, and he, being the "strong man"(Mark 3:27), was able to bring men into "dominion"(reign over and bring into submission). God extended man mercy, prophesying that one day the woman's seed would crush the head of Satan(Gen. 3:15), but until that time worldly government remained under Satan's dominion, although Godly men from time to time have ruled.

Men indeed have subjected themselves to Satan, worshipping him in idolatry and giving themselves over to perversions and evil, in violation of God's commands. Furthermore, as Jesus addressed the Jewish leaders, those that oppose Jesus are of the devil(John 8:44) and whoever is not for Jesus is against Him(Matt. 12:30)

In Summary: Satan obtained "dominion" by taking it away from Adam & Eve. The 2nd Adam, Christ(1 Cor. 15:47)

the second man is the Lord from heaven.

And the 2nd Adam will reign, undoing all the work of Satan(1 Cor. 15:24-25)

"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet"

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  • This is good because it highlights how even though what Satan said is close to being true, how he says it is wrong. His every word is tainted by deception. Distinguishing between exercising and being given authority is important.
    – Joshua
    Jun 11 '15 at 17:11
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Ezekiel 18:4 >>> Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

The Christ-man paid the price to redeem all souls. The Old Testament curse of irredeemable death has been taken off the table by our LORD and savior. All souls belong to God our Father even as we now live, and move and have our being in Christ. Some of us know it, most of us don't. When the great Day of The LORD dawns, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD. Until then, we see thru a darkened glass.

Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them. Satan had no authority to offer Jesus rule over the lives and souls of God's people. There is a definite distinction between a kingdom and the people who inhabit that kingdom.

The account of this event is filled with mystery and portent. Imagine having the power to see all the history and fading glory of this old world "as in a moment of time." The implications toward what we call (today) the quantum of action are very intriguing.

In contemplating this terse passage, remember that Jesus the Christ and Satan the accuser are 2 (two) of the most highly gifted and powerful characters in all of God our Father's creation; or, at least those parts of His Creation that God our Father has revealed to us thus far. Please do not imagine this exchange between God's Christ and God's son of perdition to be anything less than absolutely supernatural and (mostly) beyond the ken of we ordinary mortals. Jesus is LORD!

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Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me (John 14:30). Jesus spoke these words referring to Satan as the Prince of this world.

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  • Can you provide a reference or some other scholarly support for this conjecture? Apr 3 '18 at 13:56
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How can Satan give the authority of other persons to Christ? The idea deals with the decision to choose what controls a person's life, and the controlling principles on offer. The choices are either to live selfishly, like the creatures of the natural world, or to live with consideration for others, which humans know, from the intellect God gives only to them, is better.

When people choose to live selfishly, because they love the darkness, the ignoring of the light of human intellect, they give authority to Satan to enter and control them, like Judas.

Luke 22:3And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.

Of course the reason they love the darkness is because they love to serve self interest, it is pleasurable, is the broad road, easily travelled.

Matthew 17:3Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

The control that people surrendered was offered to Christ, to tempt Him to serve Satan.

All Scripture from the NASB.

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Luke 4:6-7 How do we read that Satan receives authority over the kingdoms of the world?

Luke 4:6-7 (NIV)

6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” How are we to read, "it has been given to me"?

All authority "it has been given to me" shows that Satan exercises his power only by permission.

The question that arises is, "Why God grants this permission?" Remember, in the garden of Eden Satan became jealous of the destined blessing given to Adam and Eve if they obeyed God, and believing that disobedience would bring trouble on them, he maliciously persuaded the woman to taste of the tree of wisdom. So he challenged God publicly in front of all his angelic creatures that Adam and Eve would be better off on their own and that God lied, if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die.

Satan said to Eve.“You surely will not die!

Genesis 3:1-6 (NASB)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from [a]any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

God could have executed Satan and his two followers, but this was a personal challenge to God, so in his wisdom, God allowed Satan and his two followers to live on for a while and at the same time permitted Adam and Eve to have children before they died. The time provided by God has proven that Satan's accusations are false, mankind under Satan-rule or man-rule has not found any peace or happiness.

Conclusion

This is so because mankind as a whole does not accept God's word, and either knowingly or unknowingly they serve Satan as their god.​ John stated, "We know that we are of God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."1 John 5:19 (NASB)

Under God's Kingdom, God will exercise his will on earth and do away with Satan, he will be abyssed. (Revelation 20:1-6 Vs3 abyssed NASB) and the evil men will be no more.

Psalm 37:10 NET

10 Evil men will soon disappear; you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone.

Psalm 14:1 (NET Bible)

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.

Isaiah 11:1-5 (NET Bible)

An Ideal King Establishes a Kingdom of Peace

11 A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s[a] rootstock, a bud will sprout[b] from his roots. 2 The Lord’s Spirit will rest on him— a Spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom,[d] a Spirit that provides the ability to execute plans, a Spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord. 3 He will take delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by mere appearances or make decisions on the basis of hearsay. 4 He will treat the poor fairly, and make the right decisions for the downtrodden of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and order the wicked to be executed. 5 Justice will be like a belt around his waist, integrity will be like a belt around his hips.

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It is very simple: all those who succumb to sin are "children of Satan" (John 8:44), thus we can say that they "have been given to Satan", but given by whom/what? - By the very act of succumbing and by nothing else! The same here: since the riches and power of this world is more often than not coveted by those who want to abuse those riches and power, that is to say, to use them for their egotistic aims, in the manner of Thrasymachus of Plato's "Republic", thus one can say that those riches and political power is given over to Satan, for the pursuers of those things pursue them at detriment of their conscience and health of their soul.

Why? Because, to gain money one has often to cheat, sell bad product at a price of good etc., or to win olympics an athlete can succumb to a temptation of using a doping; or to gain a political power, one has to blacken a political opponent, cheat during elections and use absentee ballots for one's own benefit unjustly etc. etc. As great Heraclitus said "It is hard to fight against [evil] impulse, for what it wants it buys at expense of the soul" ("θυµῷ µάχεσθαι χαλεπόν· ὅτι γὰρ ἂν θέλῃ, ψυχῆς ὠνεῖται"). Thus, those who succeed in worldly riches and power often serve their own passions at detriment of soul/conscience and thus enter into ownership of Satan.

Of course, that does not mean that there are no honest and successful businessmen, Olympic champs or honest and God-pleasing politicians and they are not given to Satan to be sure. In this verse of the Bible Satan simply speaks about majority of corrupt cases of worldly riches, successes and power - and those cases are given to him, but, again, given by nothing else than abuse of human free will. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is not against riches, political power or Olympic champs, but against those who gain those things at detriment of soul, through damaging of conscience, for nothing temporal and transient can be commensurate with the eternal value of human soul, "for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

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Remember that Satan has a habit of claiming or taking that which is not rightly his.

The idea of a Satanic kingdom is acknowledged in scripture very plainly.

Luke 11:18 [1]

If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

As far as the authority, I do not find scriptural support for the idea that there was a mechanism whereby because of The Fall, Earthly authority was transferred from Adam to the Lucifer. I do however find support in the principle that Satan's Kingdom was his ability to influence mankind and corrupt us. Whether that be through govt., false prophets/chruches, cults. In Revelations 13:1-2 we see that there are multiple Kingdoms established throughout the world, but we know that they are all of the Kingdom of Satan.

Revelations 13:1-2 [2]

1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

The statement that the Kingdom has been given to Satan, I can only imagine to explain that as at best an assumption, that by God not removing his authority/power it was being granted, God being Omnipotent. Alternatively, that it was just a lie, one that was used to assist in his attempt to corrupt the Savior. Let's not forget who the father of lies is.

John 8:44 [3]

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

[1]https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/11.18?lang=eng#17 [2]https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/rev/13.2?lang=eng#1 [3]https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/8?lang=eng#44

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The first-century Christian understanding of the cosmic forces surrounding us was far more complex than in modern belief. John 12:31 does quite clearly speak of Satan as the ruler of this world who will be defeated and driven out: "Now is the time of judgement on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out." John 14:30 and 16:11 also speak of the evil "ruler of this world."

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 talks about the rulers of this age, who knew nothing of God's glory, because if they had, they would not have crucified Jesus: "Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Paul says the real blame for Jesus' crucifixion lay with the powers of evil, who could influence events on earth.

Ephesians 3:10 tells us a little more about early beliefs in the powers that ruled the world from their place in the lower heavens, who were separated from God and knew nothing of his wisdom: "so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens." Ephesians 6:12 tells us "our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens."

As ruler over the whole world, he could indeed offer Jesus authority over all the kingdoms of the world.

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May I suggest that there is a difference betwern authority and rule. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), but the scriptures affirm Satan has been granted (temporary) rule over the kingdom of the world (those who do not abide in Christ) - Jn 12:31; Jn 14:30; Jn 16:11; Eph 2:1-2; Eph 6:12; 1 Jn 5:19). When Satan promised to give Jesus "their" authority, might that authority be the right of free choice that people have? Isn't that the authority people have been given? (which is different from whatever dominion we may have). Again, Satan is offering Jesus "their" authority. Satan is not saying he has authority over people, rather, that he will give Jesus the authority people themselves have to make free choices. How can this be? Well, this infers that Satan does have some power to control (influence) the choices people make, which, in effect, makes him the ruler of this (fallen) world, for as someone as stated: he who captures the mind captures the man. The Good News is that by the cross of Christ Satan's rule is canceled over those who abide in Jesus (Colossians 2:14-15).

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In order to fully unpack Luk.4:6-7 we need to have knowledge and understanding of what transpired, before, during and after the creation account. As a son of God, Adam was created perfect, in his Father's image and likeness (Luk.3:38). The only visible difference, I believe, was that this man (Adam) occupied a physical body (flesh) which was subject to his soul, and his soul, in turn, subject to his spirit man. We are told in Rom.8:16 that the two fold witness is God's Spirit speaking to man's spirit.
Father gave His son to rule and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over ALL the EARTH. It is important to note that the ownership of the earth was not given away to man, only its management. The earth belongs to the Lord and the fullness thereof. In all things, Adam's spirit dominated, until Eve arrived on the scene. She seduced him in his soul dimension with the fruit. By allowing their spirit man to be subjected under their soul dimension, both man and woman realised their nakedness, and hid away. They both lost their spiritual covering and their sonship of the Father, to become "orphan sons". As orphan sons they were both driven out of the garden and from then on had to rely on their environment (earth) for survival. Satan now obtained management of the earth, and as the earth got populated it became the "world", as we know it today. A world system can only produce orphans, who are disconnected from their heavenly Father. Another Son had to come to reconcile orphans back to the Father. The definition of "reconcile" is to restore to the exact position that somebody previously enjoyed. The kingdoms of his world are beastly systems. Rev.13:1 speaks about the beast with ten horns and ten crowns, which denote kingdoms, that will come out of the sea. In scripture "sea" represents multitudes or nations. The beast is already here and people, including christians, are carrying his mark on their foreheads. This is a teaching for another time!

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