Does the Bible teach that Satan is a fallen angel?
Many people believe that Satan is a fallen angel-- but is that what the Bible actually teaches?
What is a fallen angel?
The term “fallen angel” is never used in the Bible. Angels are either good or evil based on the context of the verse and it is usually obvious:
“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment ...” (Jude 6)
These angels which have violated God's will are what we refer to as “fallen”.
Is Satan fallen?
But is Satan a “fallen” or wayward angel? In a verse credited by most scholars as referring to Satan in his original state we read of his downfall:
“Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth;” (Ezekiel 28:17)
Satan was at one time in a position of honor, but due to the sin of pride he has been thrown to the earth. He is, without a doubt, fallen.
Is Satan an angel?
But is Satan an angel? The only verse in the Bible that comes close to indicating this is “...for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Cor 11:14) The Greek word used for “masquerade” here is “metaschmatiz” which means to transform oneself to something other than what one is. If we attend a masquerade ball as pink bunny, does that mean in reality we are some other kind of bunny? Not necessarily. This verse does not prove Satan is not an angel, but it doesn't prove he is... only that he can masquerade as one. And that is the only verse possibly connecting Satan as an angel.
We do learn from Revelation that the dragon, who is Satan, has angels: “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back...He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Rev 12:7,9) Satan is described as a dragon, distinctly different than his minions.
So what is Satan? Back in the Ezekiel passage we read that: “So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub...”(Ez 28:16) Satan is a cherub!
Maybe you think cherubs are angels. This is an easy enough assumption to make from seeing Renaissance paintings adorned with the little nude chubby babies with wings flitting around the top of the scene. In actuality these are Greek putti that were revived in the Renaissance. Their description and function in these paintings has no bearing on the truth of what the Bible teaches about cherubs.
To learn what the biblical description of a cherub is we see Ezekiel 10. In this chapter Ezekiel describes a vision of cherubs that have multiple sets of wings, four faces, covered in eyes all over and are intimately associated with fire. They surround the throne of God and their function appears to be one of guardians (ref. also Gen 3:24).
In contrast, the function of angels is primarily is as messengers of God.
Also Ezekiel identifies the cherubs as the “living creatures” he saw in a different vision. (Ez 10:24) Fast-forward to Revelation and the living creatures make another appearance. They also have multiple pairs of wings, covered with eyes and encircle the throne of God. In a very telling verse we learn:
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, They encircled the throne and the living creatures...”(Rev 5:11) The angels are encircling the living creatures, which Ezekiel tells us are cherubs.
Angels are not cherubs.
Hence Satan is not a fallen angel but a fallen cherub.