Vol.VII No.II Pg.7
Queries And Answers
Robert F. Turner
Does the Bible teach that Satan has ever exercised any degree of supernatural power, and if so, does the Bible indicate that it is still possible for him to do so today?
The Egyptian magicians with their enchantments (f. n. , secret arts) changed their rods into serpents, turned water to blood, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. (Ex. 7:8:) Jesus said false prophets shall show great signs and wonders; (Matt. 24: 24) and Simon of Samaria, with his sorceries amazed the people. (Acts 8: 9-11) I believe these wonders were deceptions — things that astonished and dumfounded because the method of performance was hidden.
But here were signs and wonders that come to pass( Deut. 13:1-f) and it was necessary for God to point out that it was the word, not the sign, by which a prophet was to be judged. (See 1 Jn. 4: 1-6) Perhaps fulfillment of these signs was coincidental, or explainable upon other bases, but they were real enough to witnesses that they needed another grounds for testing. More difficult to explain, and outside my knowledge, are those cases of demons — where to cast out was to challenge and overthrow the power of Satan. (Matt. 12: 22-29)
It has been suggested by some that Satan exercised some direct and arbitrary power (seemingly supernatural) prior to the death of Christ, which power has been taken from him. (See Lu. 10: 17-20) I do not see that this necessitates actual supernatural power on Satans part — deceptive works, and the overthrow of Satans sway in the hearts of men, seems equally an acceptable interpretation — but I must admit that demons seem the most likely examples of some direct power on the part of Satan. However, the fact that Christ overcame this power shows that it was not of the same nature as divine power — for divinity is not divided against itself.
The most appropriate text of all is 2 Thes. 2: 8-12 where the working of Satan is described as power and signs and wonders of falsehood (f. n. of RV). Lenski says, Our versions make the genitive adjectival and construe it only with wonders: lying wonders. But Paul means: lie-signs and lie-wonders. The genitive is qualitative and stronger than an adjective. It does not denote source: derived from what is lie; nor effect: producing what is lie; or a combination of these two ideas. These signs and wonders are themselves, in their own quality, lie.... We may translate: pseudo-signs and pseudo- wonders. Lenski also says the singular power is no equivalent of the plural powers (power works) used elsewhere to designate works of divine omnipotence.
Genuine super-natural power is power above or beyond the laws which God established to control His universe. There is something incongruous in thinking that Satan ever had power superior to Gods power, in any way. That Satan, and man, might use natural laws to work wonders — even to deceive — is believable; but I would not call this supernatural.