The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Origen on the Salvation of the Devil

, Robin Parry"]Did Origen believe in the salvation of the devil? He clearly believed that all rational souls were able to be saved (*Contra Celsum *4.99) and this would, on Origen’s view of the nature of demonic forces, have included the devil and his demons. So the accusation was stirred up that he taught the salvation of demons. But, in a letter to his friends in Alexandria he explicitly denied that he thought the devil and his demons would be saved. So did he or didn’t he? Tricky.

Perhaps the following passage explains how he could maintain both positions:

3.6.5 (trans. Marguerite Harl, Gilles Dorival, and Alain Le Boulluec. Paris, 1976, p.67)"]For the destruction of the last enemy must be understood in this way, not that its substance which was made by God shall perish, but that the hostile purpose and will which proceeded, not from God but from itself, will come to an end. It will be destroyed, therefore, not in the sense of ceasing to exist, but of being no longer an enemy and no longer death. For to the Almighty nothing is impossible, nor is anything beyond the reach of cure by its maker.
In this case, it might be that Origen denied that Satan would be saved for “Satan” is to Lucifer what “the sinful nature”/“the flesh”/“the old man” is to us. For God to save us “the old must pass away” and there must be new creation (2 Cor 5). So perhaps, for God to redeem fallen angels he must annihilate their demonic aspect. Thus it would be that Satan and his demons would be lost forever — damned — even as God saves Lucifer and his angelic followers.

Gregory of Nyssa was even more bold than Origen on this issue: He maintained that "the originator of evil himself will be healed” (Catechetical Orations 26. The Catechetical Oration of Gregory of Nyssa. Edited by James H. Srawley. Cambridge, 1903, p. 101).

Again, it partly depends on what you think of the ontology of “the demonic.” If you do not think that Satan and evil spirits are individual persons, created good yet now fallen (and there are various ways in which one may try to make that move), then they are essentially evil forces and thus irredeemable. But if you do take the classical view that demons are rational souls — non-human persons — then there is something to be said for the approach of Origen and Gregory. Food for thought.I tend to agree with Gregory of Nyssa.

accepting the premise of a literal devil and literal demons, i fully agree too. if they aren’t real, then it doesn’t matter, but if they are, then the last prodigal son coming home i guess will be him…and we’ll meet him with forgiveness and rejoicing. what a triumph for God that will be!

That’s an excellent point. Someone was mocking me on FB a few days ago about the possibility of Hitler being saved, but my wife pointed out that that would be an amazing triumph, a true miracle, showing God’s power & glory more than any live demonstration of never ending punishment. That’s just Hitler, a fellow sinner like us! Imagine what it will be like when the devil, the author of evil, repents & is converted!!! :astonished: Possibly the most amazing triumph ever (the triumph over death is up there too).

If the devil is the personification of human evil, he cannot be saved. If this view is true, his destruction is in fact the flip-side of the universal salvation of humanity. When human evil is totally destroyed, humanity is totally redeemed.

yep, exactly what i mean, Alex! the salvation of the “chief of sinners” is a victory, so the salvation of the father of lies would be gigantic…

AllanS, that’s a good way to put it! :mrgreen:

Yeah, that’s pretty much my understanding, too. I believe “the devil” in Scripture often (though not always) refers to those human desires that lead to sin, and that “sinful desire” is going to be universally destroyed/abolished by Christ in the same sense that death is going to be (i.e., by its ceasing to be a part of human existence). When “the devil” is abolished and all desire to sin (i.e., intend what is contrary to love) is absent from human experience, all people will be able to ask the rhetorical and triumphant question, “O death, where is your sting?”

Some thoughts on Lucifer - From the Bible, looks like Lucifer was made good and have fallen. Any thoughts?
`Son of man, lift up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, And thou hast said to him: Thus said the Lord Yehovah: Thou art sealing up a measurement, Full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. In Eden, the garden of God, thou hast been, Every precious stone thy covering, Ruby, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle, and gold, The workmanship of thy tabrets, and of thy pipes, In thee in the day of thy being produced, have been prepared. Thou art an anointed cherub who is covering, And I have set thee in the holy mount, God thou hast been, In the midst of stones of fire thou hast walked up and down. Perfect art thou in thy ways, From the day of thy being produced, Till perversity hath been found in thee. By the abundance of thy merchandise They have filled thy midst with violence, And thou dost sin, And I thrust thee from the mount of God, And I destroy thee, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire. High hath been thy heart, because of thy beauty, Thou hast corrupted thy wisdom because of thy brightness, On the earth I have cast thee, Before kings I have set thee, to look on thee, From the abundance of thy iniquity, By the perversity of thy traffic, Thou hast polluted thy sanctuaries, And I bring forth fire from thy midst, It hath devoured thee, And I make thee become ashes on the earth, Before the eyes of all beholding thee. All knowing thee among the peoples Have been astonished at thee, Wastes thou hast been, and thou art not–to the age.’
(Eze 28:12-19)

How hast thou fallen from the heavens, O shining one, son of the dawn (Lucifer)! Thou hast been cut down to earth, O weakener of nations. And thou saidst in thy heart: the heavens I go up, Above stars of God I raise my throne, And I sit in the mount of meeting in the sides of the north. I go up above the heights of a thick cloud, I am like to the Most High. Only–unto Sheol thou art brought down, Unto the sides of the pit. Thy beholders look to thee, to thee they attend, Is this the man causing the earth to tremble, Shaking kingdoms?
(Isa 14:12-16)

hi Kelly, personally i feel that the first scripture is talking about the King of Tyre and i think the 2nd is similar! i’m not convinced by that of the existence of satan. also, looked into a bit deeper, most references to satan or the devil can be attributed to other things. even the great beast with 10 heads in Revelation is actually a human monster: each head is a human government, which, if it were an actual demonic thing, would imply humans commanded it.

but it’s hard to prove a negative, so i concede the personal devil as traditionally taught may exist. i just personally don’t see a need as i’ve enough sin in me without needing a devil to stir it up.

Yes, I do see what you mean. I believe what you are talking about has a literal/spiritual meaning. The king of Tyre is both a literal entity and a spiritual entity. The principalities and powers over this world sit on spiritual thrones which, are also literal thrones in our physical world. Much like we are ambassadors, kings and priests unto God now, we are seated in the “other” realm with Christ yet, we are physical and He has given us spiritual power to change things in this physical world. Is there spiritual power in us working in this world? Yep. So, it is with the rulers of this age and those who now serve them.

I don’t know about a “personal” devil. I don’t know if demons are that exclusive. I do know, you don’t know what sin can be like until you are aided by a demon or two.