It is written:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15-For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
In this passage of Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us that false apostles can appear as ministers of Christ, and that this should not surprise us.
Simply because Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light-and so it should not be surprising if Satan’s followers also appear as ministers off righteousness!
What is especially interesting is that Paul here seems to be drawing on a book known as the Life Of Adam And Eve. According to Lumpkin:
“The First Book of Adam and Eve is an apocryphal story, written in a midrash style, detailing the life of Adam and Eve from the time God planted the Garden of Eden to the time that Cain killed his brother, Abel. The story is a fanciful embellishment of the Genesis story up to the point of the cursing of Cain for the murder of Abel. Of the numerous apocryphal works that were written regarding Adam and Eve this text seems to have most influenced early theologians. This is evident in the widespread popularity of the book from the third to the thirteenth century. Even though the book was widely read in the Middle Ages, and considered to shine light on what actually took place in the time of creation, today it is considered fiction and thus relegated to a collection of texts called the Pseudepigrapha, or “false writings.” The text shows some cobbling together of various works, combined into a single storyline. Although the foundation of the text can be traced to combined oral traditions thousands of years old, the primary story was likely created around two or three hundred years before Christ.” (Joseph B. Lumpkin, The First and Second Books of Adam and Eve: The Conflict with Satan, 1 (Kindle Edition); Blountsville, AL; Fifth Estate Publishers)
With that in mind, notice how the First Book Of Adam And Eve describes Satan:
The First Book Of Adam And Eve 27:1-18 (Lumpkin’s Translation)-“1 Satan, the hater of all that is good, saw how they continued in prayer, and how God communed with them, and comforted them, and how He had accepted their offering. Then Satan made a phantasm. 2 He began by transforming his hosts. In his hands was a shining, glimmering fire, and they were in a huge light. 3 Then, he placed his throne near the mouth of the cave, because he could not enter it due to their prayers. And he shown light into the cave until the cave glistened over Adam and Eve while his hosts began to sing praises. 4 Satan did this so that when Adam saw the light he would think to himself that it was a heavenly light and that Satan’s hosts were angels and that God had sent them to watch at the cave, and give him light in the darkness. 5 Satan planned that when Adam came out of the cave and saw them and Adam and Eve bowed to Satan, then he would overcome Adam and humble him before God a second time. 6 When, therefore, Adam and Eve saw the light, thinking it was real, they strengthened their hearts. Then, as they were trembling, Adam said to Eve: 7 “Look at that great light, and at those many songs of praise, and at that host standing outside who won’t come into our cave. Why don’t they tell us what they want or where they are from or what the meaning of this light is or what those praises are or why they have been sent to this place, and why they won’t come in? 8 If they were from God, they would come into the cave with us and would tell us why they were sent.” 9 Then Adam stood up and prayed to God with a burning heart and said: 10 “O Lord, is there in the world another god besides You who created angels and filled them with light, and sent them to keep us, who would come with them? 11 But, look, we see these hosts that stand at the mouth of the cave. They are in a great light and they sing loud praises. If they are of some other god( s) than You, tell me, and if they are sent by you, inform me of the reason for which You have sent them.” 12 No sooner had Adam said this, than an angel from God appeared to him in the cave, who said to him, “O Adam, fear not. This is Satan and his hosts. He wishes to deceive you as he deceived you at first. For the first time, he was hidden in the serpent, but this time he is come to you in the likeness of an angel of light in order that, when you worshipped him, he might enslave you in the very presence of God.” 13 Then the angel went from Adam and seized Satan at the opening of the cave, and stripped him of the false image (lie / pretense) he had assumed and brought him in his own hideous form to Adam and Eve who were afraid of him when they saw him. 14 And the angel said to Adam, “This hideous form has been his ever since God made him fall from heaven. He could not have come near you in it. Therefore, he transformed himself into an angel of light.” 15 Then the angel drove Satan and his hosts away from Adam and Eve and said to them, “Fear not. God who created you will strengthen you.” 16 And the angel left them. 17 But Adam and Eve remained standing in the cave and no consolation came to them as they were divided in their thoughts. 18 And when it was morning they prayed and then went out to seek the garden, for their hearts were seeking it, and they could get no consolation for having left it.”
Notice several things with me.
First of all, Paul’s references in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 to Satan and his host transforming themselves into an angel of light and ministers of righteousness are clearly drawn from this text.
Second, the Apostle Paul here follows the same pattern he has shown throughout his writings in regards to non-inspired works. Not only is Paul familiar with the writings of non-inspired works, he has no problem accepting what they say when they are true and encouraging others to study from them as well. As Heiser points out regarding the non-canonical book 1 Enoch:
“I don’t consider the book of 1 Enoch to be inspired and canonical, but that is no excuse for neglecting it in the study of Scripture. Frankly, this entire book is testimony to the folly of this inattention. The assumption that uninspired ancient books aren’t valuable for understanding Scripture is deeply flawed. Biblical writers in both testaments show detailed knowledge of ancient writings now known to the modern world. That this material wasn’t inspired didn’t bother biblical writers. It is well known among scholars, for example, that Old Testament covenants follow the structure of different types of ancient Near Eastern treaties,[ 7] that prophets and psalmists quote from the Baal Cycle (e.g., KTU 1.5. I; Psalm 74: 13), and that Solomon borrowed material from the Wisdom of Amenemope for Proverbs 22: 17–23: 11. In the New Testament, Paul’s quotations of Greek poets are well known (Acts 17: 28, Epimenides and Aratus; 1 Corinthians 15: 33, Euripedes or Menander; Titus 1: 2, Epimenides) as is the use of the apocryphal (“ deutero-canonical” to Roman Catholics) Wisdom of Solomon in Hebrews 1: 2 (Wisdom of Solomon 7: 26). These are far from the only instances.” (Dr. Michael S. Heiser, Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Mission Of Jesus Christ, 127-138 (Kindle Edition))
Christians need to be willing to study and learn from non-biblical works. Yes, the Bible is the criteria for testing truth claims (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must not, however, neglect the study of non-inspired books when the Bible itself encourages us to study outside of Scripture.
Third, Paul clearly understood that Satan is not some eternal counterpart to God (i.e., dualism). While Satan would like us to believe that he is God, he certainly is not! Geisler has pointed out numerous difficulties with dualism:
“Dualism. In metaphysics dualism is the belief that there are two coeternal principles in conflict with each other, such as matter and form (or spirit) or of good and evil. Platonism is an example of the former and Zoroastrianism, *Gnosticism, and Manichaeism are examples of the latter. Dualists believe in creation ex materia, that is, out of preexisting matter or stuff. This is in contrast to theists, who believe in creation ex nihilo, out of nothing, and with pantheists (see PANTHEISM), who believe in creation ex Deo, out of God (see CREATION, VIEWS OF) Difficulties with Dualism. As *Thomas Aquinas observed (see Aquinas, passim), not all first principles, such as good and evil, are eternal. Short and tall are opposites, but it does not follow that there must be eternally short and eternally tall beings. Thus, good and evil can be opposed to each other without both being eternal. He reasoned that the problem is the assumption that “because all contraries seem to be compressed under the headings of good and evil, in that one of them by comparison is always deficient, they reckon that the primary active principles are the Good and the Evil.” So “there is not one first principle of evil as there is of good.” One reason for this is that “the original principle of things is essentially good. [But] nothing can be essentially bad. Every being, as being, is good; evil does not exist except in a good subject” (Aquinas 1.1). In dualism neither principle can be supreme, since each is limited by the other. But, it would seem that something must be ultimate. As C. S. *Lewis observed, “the two Powers, the good and the evil, do not explain each other. Neither… can claim to be the Ultimate. More ultimate than either of them is the inextricable fact of their being there together. Each of them, therefore, is conditioned—finds himself willy nilly in a situation; and either that situation itself, or some unknown force which produced that situation, is the real Ultimate” (Lewis, God in the Dock, 22). “You cannot accept two conditioned and mutually independent beings as self-grounded, self-comprehending Absolute” (ibid.). In the moral sense, one principle cannot be pronounced “good” and the other “evil,” unless they are measured by something outside either of them. But, as Lewis noted, “the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to.” However, since “the two powers are judged by this standard, or the Being who made this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God” (Mere Christianity, 49) “Dualism gives evil a positive, substantive, selfconsistent nature, like that of good.” But “If evil has the same kind of reality as good, the same autonomy and completeness, our allegiance to good becomes the arbitrary chosen loyalty of a partisan.” But “a sound theory of value … demands that good should be original and evil a mere perversion; that good should be the tree and evil the ivy; that good should be able to see all round evil (as when sane men understand lunacy) while evil cannot retaliate in kind … ” (Lewis, God in the Dock, 22–23). As *Augustine concluded, evil is the lack of good and not the reverse. For when we take all the evil out of something it is better. But when we take all the good from something there is nothing (Augustine). Hence, good is the ultimate and evil is a limitation in or privation of evil” (Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Baker Reference Library), 206-207 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Fourth, notice the ancient belief that prayer offered by the people of God has the ability to hinder Satan and his host. This is an important consideration, one that is often taught in Scripture (Daniel 10:12-13; Matthew 6:9-13; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:31-32; Ephesians 6:10-18; Revelation 8:1-6).
Through Christ, we have victory over Satan.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.