Colossians 1:15-20 says:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven."
On the face of it this passage might seem to be stating in unambiguous terms that all men will be saved. It is certainly a fair rendering of the passage, and many take it to mean precisely that. Others, however, cannot take it that way. That’s because the passage says “all things” will be reconciled and they do not believe Satan will ever be reconciled. I am one of those people. I don’t believe Satan will ever be reconciled to God. I also don’t think that’s any reason to limit the “all things” in this passage. That’s because I don’t think Satan has ever been estranged from God in the first place. I believe he is one of two things:
1. A figurative personification of evil
2. An actual personification of evil
James says: Let no man when he is tempted say “I am tempted by God” for God does not tempt . . . But we are tempted by our own lusts."
Three things deserve notice. First, it says God does not tempt. But notice what it doesn’t say after that. It doesn’t follow this up by saying: It is Satan who tempts. Instead, it identifies the source of temptation as something that resides in man himself. Secondly, what would it mean to say God does not tempt us if he simply created someone who does? Isn’t that just a matter of semantics? Thirdly, if temptation arises through means of our own flesh, then why the need for Satan? There’s nothing for him to do, except to try and get us to do the bad things we already want to do and to decline doing the good things we don’t.
I would like to propose a different understanding of Satan. I would like to suggest he is simply a name God gave to evil. Perhaps he is even a literal being God created to correspond to that evil. Peter Heitt writes:
How do you make darkness?
Well, I think this is the best I could do: Imagine if I turned on a spotlight – a
spotlight shining on me. “Let there be light!” Imagine that. And imagine the shadow.
What if I pointed at the shadow and asked: do you see it? Do you see the shadow? Do
you see the darkness? If you were to answer “yes,” you’d be wrong. No one ever “sees a
shadow. What you “see” is the light and a place where there is less light. You perceive an
absence of light, because you see the light around the absence of light – the shadow. But
a shadow is what is not.
Now imagine if I danced in that spotlight and I asked, “Did you see the shadow
move?” Correct answer, “No, it’s not there.” You would have seen the absence of light
move. Isn’t that weird? My shadow would look alive.
Is it alive? NO.
It’s the shadow of the living.
My shadow looks like a living person.
Is it a person? NO.
It’s the shadow of a person. (about p 117)
The Word is a parable and “without a parable He does not speak” (Mark 4:34). With that in mind, let us try to imagine that great Author of all things, eons ago, as He prepared to inspire holy men of old to craft a book that would chronicle the drama of human existence. Every good drama needs a protagonist and an antagonist. The bible, too. The bible, especially. Now, there was hardly a need to craft a protagonist, for who else could it be but God Himself? But what about the antagonist? Who would be the antagonist, given the fact that all things are from God. Could God serve as both protagonist and antagonist? Well, sure, he could have. But where would be the drama in that? What kind of a parable would that be? God had to give a name and a positive personality to the negative realm of “things” that result when He withholds His light. He had to personify the darkness that He Himself created. And the name He gave was Satan.
It does not matter if he’s real or not. What matters is what he is and what he is not.
Satan was not created in God’s image.
God didn’t die for him.
God didn’t justify him.
God does not will that he be saved--only that he be destroyed (1 Jn 3:8; Heb 2:14)
The fact that he is not in the “all things” of Colossians has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not all men are in it. We were created in God’s image--Satan is the negative of God’s image. He is what God isn’t. He will not be reconciled; he will be destroyed. How? Well, how do you get rid of darkness? By turning on the light, of course.
Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming (2 Thess 2:8)