Saturday, March 1, 2008

Satan: Accuser of the Brethren? (John 12:31)

Continuing from my last post, we're going to continue to look at Johannine theology as it pertains to Satan. Last post we saw that Revelation 12 can arguably be historic, rather than prophetic, in nature. But one passage is not enough to base a theology of Satan (really angelology).

The context surrounding this verse shows that Christ is speaking about what kind of death He would die (verse 33). Preceeding this Christ asks the Father to glorify His Name, and the Father replies from heaven that He has, and He will. All of this seems to point towards Christ on the cross. With this context in mind, tucked in the middle of the explanation that Christ gives concerning His Father's declaration, we find this verse:

Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

What is this? A pronouncement upon Satan? This is unusual, but cool. The immediate questions are: who is the ruler of this world? What will he be cast out of? The first question should be apparent. If we stay within John's writings, we find the same description in John 14:30 and 16:11. In both of these passages the "ruler" is not explicitly named. But historic understanding, plus other events that we see in John (Satan's coming upon Judas in 13 and the connection with 14:30, for example). Thus, it is safe to say that the "ruler" is indeed Satan, both from historic theology and Biblical theology.

So if it is Satan, where is he cast out of? Here we begin to look at the word εκβληθησεται as a form of ἐκβαλλω, or "casting out". The form is future, which may just be a literary convention (especially since John uses "now" to describe when Satan is cast out). If you look at all the other uses of ἐκβαλλω in John's writings, we see that every other usage except one is used of someone being cast out of a holy place. See John 2:15; 9:3, 9:34; 3 John 10; Revelation 12:2.

This is my thesis then: Jesus here is speaking about the present (for Him), or approaching banishment of Satan from God's throne. This is due to the sacrifice of Christ (remember in Revelation 12 they cast Satan out "by the blood of the Lamb") which prevents any accusation from being made against us. Satan would be futile... like banging his head against a wall... if he continued to come and accuse, knowing that he would yield no results.