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In the Gospel of John we read of Jesus' condemnation of the Devil:

John 8:44: "[The Devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."

This is especially strong language. Some might characterize it as reviling angelic majesties — assuming that Satan is/was an angel of some kind. However, this seems to be expressly forbidden, as implied in the Letter of Jude:

Jude vss. 8-9: "Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'"

How do we reconcile these two sets of passages?

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  • The sovereign will of God.
    – Dottard
    Sep 23 at 22:51
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    Jesus was not reviling. He was speaking the truth about that personage. Reviling is speaking evil. There is no 'reconciling' to be done.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 24 at 0:16
  • @Lucian - if you wish to indicate that a question is low quality, please leave a Downvote and some constructive feedback. Sarcastic jabs at other community members is unkind and a violation of the CoC.
    – Steve Taylor
    Sep 25 at 11:44
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To revile is to "Call by ill names, abuse, rail at" according to my dictionary. Modern-day language might say, "to rant at". We all know what a rant is! It is a verbal attack of the worst kind, usually employing a litany of accusations that go way-over-the-top. Contrast that with a rebuke, which is to protest or censure regarding a fault - it involves reproof. It is measured, considered criticism, and a person who is superior to the one being reproved (in respect of what the fault is) can rightly give the reproof. A Judge in a court case is entitled to reprove a person found guilty of some crime and to issue penal judgment.

This instantly shows that Jesus was in no way "reviling Satan" in John 8:44. He, as the one appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead, rightly stated the truth about Satan's wicked tactics.

Contrast that with Jude's statements, starting at vs. 4 which identifies the men who he was warning against. These were men who denied the only Lord God, "and our Lord Jesus Christ". Jude reminded Christians of angels which did not keep their first estate and who are now reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day (Jesus being the Judge for that). Jude added that these men he was warning against in his day "despise dominion and speak evil of dignities." At that point, he refers to Michael the archangel, to show that not even the archangel had the authority to retaliate after Satan's no-doubt provoking and derogatory remarks about the body of Moses. "May the Lord rebuke you," was all he said.

This shows that Jesus DID have the authority to rebuke Satan, for Jesus is the Lord! Even when he walked on earth, Jesus cast out demons and raised the dead, for Jesus is the Lord! When the disciples returned to him, rejoicing that demons fled when they used the authority of the name of Jesus, he said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18). At his transfiguration, Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). Jesus has all of that authority because Jesus is Lord! He is not the archangel, Michael, who had to refer Satan to God. Hebrews chapter 1 shows the superiority of the Lord Jesus over all created angels. Therefore, when he walked on earth, Jesus rightly told the truth about the hideousness of Satan, without a word of a lie, or any ranting. The revolting truth about Satan is fully known to Jesus, who revealed the true nature of his arch-enemy in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to the apostle John.

Therefore, there is no contradiction between those two verses, for Jude spoke of the self-control of the archangel as an example to us humans not to rant, rage or slander authorities; not even to express a tirade against Satan. Jesus did not do that either. But he has supreme authority to deal with Satan, to condemn and judge him. Just read the last book in the Bible to see that!

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Jude is about respecting authority. The issue being that the devil was put in authority over the world, as the Prince of this World. Therefore an angel did not rebuke him but asked YHWH to rebuke him.

Now it's a good thing that YHWH was made flesh and came to us to give us the Father's words:

John 12.49

For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. [ESV]

And these words included words of rebuke from the Father just as the angel asked for, the Father being in authority over Satan even as the angel was not.

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