1 Corinthians 2:8 says:

the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory

Mark 8:31-33 says:

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Here are some statements based on the NT:

  1. Satan is ruler of this world
  2. The demons which Jesus casts out from people recognize him as the Son of God
  3. Peter is called "Satan", which probably means that Peter was influenced by Satan's thoughts, as he opposes Jesus mission to be killed for the sins of the world

Even if Peter's case was just metaphorically getting called Satan, without Satan's influence, how hard would it be for Satan to command his demons or even himself to stick around Jesus and listen his teachings, so Satan could ultimately understand the plan? After all Satan is portrayed as an extremely intelligent evil being - the ruler of this world.

Therefore it is logical to conclude that Satan knew that Jesus's crucifixion is not beneficial for him (Satan).

So, why would Satan allow the Pharisees (who are called "children of the devil") and even Pilate, to kill Jesus, when this would bring Satan's defeat?


3 Answers 3


The architect of treachery wanted Jesus to fail as Savior.

Satan’s goal hadn’t really changed since before he was cast out of heaven. Understanding Isaiah 14 to teach about Satan through the allegory of the King of Babylon, Satan made the same blunder he made before:

6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. …

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. …

27 For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

Satan wanted to disannul God’s purposes and make Him fail in His word. Satan wanted to rule, to smite people down, he wanted the glory and the power, he wanted to be better than everyone else—and he thought he could outsmart God.


Satan’s end-game

What ultimately was Satan hoping to accomplish through the betrayal of Judas, the envy of the Sanhedrin, and even the temporarily misplaced devotion of Peter? Luke understood:

And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. (Luke 23:35)

Talmage put it poignantly well:

The dominant note in all the railings and revilings, the ribaldry and mockery, with which the patient and submissive Christ was assailed while He hung, ‘lifted up’ as He had said He would be, was that awful ‘If’ hurled at Him by the devil’s emissaries in the time of mortal agony; as in the season of the temptations immediately after His baptism it had been most insidiously pressed upon Him by the devil himself. That ‘If’ was Satan’s last shaft, keenly barbed and doubly envenomed, and it sped as with the fierce hiss of a viper. Was it possible in this the final and most dreadful stage of Christ’s mission, to make Him doubt His divine Sonship, or, failing such, to taunt or anger the dying Savior into the use of His superhuman powers for personal relief or as an act of vengeance upon His tormentors? To achieve such a victory was Satan’s desperate purpose. (Jesus the Christ pp. 658-659)

Satan wanted Jesus to be crucified so he could put Him in that terrible, tempting situation--in hopes of getting Him to do something that would disqualify Him from His perfect salvific role.



Satan wanted to disrupt the plan of God by getting Jesus to fail in His mission. There was only one Christ (the Anointed One); there was no backup Savior. God gave His Only Begotten Son. The atonement of Christ was the showdown between the Greatest the Father sent and the worst Satan could muster. Satan was blinded by his arrogance then as he was before.

The Father allowed Jesus to be crucified because He was confident Jesus would succeed. Satan encouraged the crucifixion because He was confident Jesus would fail. As usual, the Father was right. God had Satan beat since before the foundation of the world.

  • If you read the whole Isaiah 14 chapter as it is written clearly, you will see that it is talking about the king of Babylon who conquered many nations and get pride, thinking that he was becoming like God. Isaiah 14:16 "Those who see you stare at you, they look at you carefully, thinking: ‘Is this the man who shook the earth, the one who made kingdoms tremble?" Is Satan called a "man" here, or is it just the King of Babylon, who is a man? :)
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 22:34
  • @CuriousGuy the cited passages in Isaiah 14 are about the King of Babylon. And they are about Satan. Such is the nature of allegory. The Bible also has metaphors where trees clap and inanimate objects speak. If the poetry here (or in Isaiah in general) is of interest, I highly recommend Isaiah Prophet Seer and Poet by Victor Ludlow. Commented May 3, 2023 at 23:08
  • Quick question - did God anywhere said that this is allegory to Satan, or this is people's conclusions? How hard is it for God to say it explicitly and unambiguously in the OT, as it is clearly expressed in the NT?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 23:11
  • @CuriousGuy only using passages without symbolism would eliminate a large fraction of the Old Testament; only using parables with the interpretation provided would eliminate much of the New. If your interest is why God would allow symbolism & ambiguity in sacred records, this would be best served by a separate question on the site. Note that the motives I suggest in my post offer an answer to the question that was asked even if you disagree with the use of Isaiah 14. Commented May 3, 2023 at 23:24
  • 1
    @CuriousGuy just a friendly heads up - I see your recent posts here and on Christianity (welcome!). The site discourages debating in the comments - you probably don't want to get a reputation as a user who only asks questions in order to start a debate in the comments. The easier way to have a debate is to post an answer to the question wherein you can critique the arguments used in other answers. Commented May 3, 2023 at 23:27

First, in 1 Cor 2:8 "rulers" is plural and thus refers to the many human rulers of the present age, not Satan (singular), even if Satan inspired those human rulers.

Second, 1 Cor 2:8 said that these rulers crucified Jesus because they did NOT understand either what they were doing, or the consequences of their actions. That is, they acted, at least in part, out of ignorance.

Third, the OP's alluded reference to James 2:19 about the "demons who believe and shudder" is presumably concerning at least in part, what they now realize, after the event, that the crucifixion of Jesus was (ultimately) a self-defeating act!

Thus, God allowed Jesus' crucifixion, at least in part, to demonstrate the sinfulness and abhorrence of Sin and its perpetrators. By crucifying Jesus, Satan revealed his true character and thus will justly deserve his final fate as described in Matt 25:41 and Rev 20.

  • Who are the "rulers" in plural that did not understand Jesus? Wasn't it just Pilate, although he was a ruler of just Judea? Pharisees were not rulers of the world, they were just a sect within Judaism, so doesn't seem that they are part of the "rulers of the world".
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 22:29
  • @CuriousGuy - "rulers of this world" must include Pilate, the Jewish authorities and those agitating to kill Jesus such as the Sanhedrin, etc.
    – Dottard
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 22:44
  • the world is very small then, if this is all that it means :)
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 22:50
  • @CuriousGuy - we are talking about a very small part of the world and its rulership - those that killed Jesus. Obviously, the world and its rulership is vastly greater than Pilate and the Jewish leadership, but only this small group killed Jesus!
    – Dottard
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 22:53
  • 1
    Your conclusion is that Satan as the most intelligent enemy of people and of God, was not able to fully understand or hear the conversations of Jesus with his disciples where he explains the plan?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 23:08

Satan was allowed to try to get Christ to die in some other way: Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13.

And we can look into crucifixion. A person can hang on rather long, but Jesus chose to go rather quickly, He let Himself die. Perhaps there would have been forces on the way if He would have stayed on longer.

And what did the Pharisees cry out while Jesus was dying?

Likewise the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders said, ... If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him Matthew 27:39-42

In Revelation 1:18 Jesus says "I have the keys of Hades and death". Revelation 20:13 describes Hades and death as places along with the sea. Therefore we can conclude that Jesus went to the place Hades and took the keys. Surely the devil would have thought he could best Jesus in his own turf, but Jesus took the keys and resurrected.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.