In Luke 10:18, we see the 72 appointed by Jesus returning from their ministry journey. They bring good news of success and authority over demons, to which Jesus replies, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.” He may have been referring to literally seeing Satan fall from Heaven before the creation of the world, or He could be simply drawing a metaphor to highlight their victory.
Luke 10:18 is an awesome verse within a great story about the life and ministry of Jesus. It’s full of hope and should be an encouragement to followers everywhere. But what exactly does Luke 10 18 mean? We’ll take a look at its context and explore two possible interpretations of the verse.
The Context Around Luke 10:18
In order to fully grasp the meaning of Luke 10:18, we need to understand where the verse fits into the story (or pericope) at hand. Luke chapter 10 begins with Jesus commissioning the 72 (or 70 as some earlier manuscripts note). He calls some of His closest and most committed followers (one might have been Zebedee) and sends them out two-by-two on a journey to carry the good news of the Kingdom and heal the sick.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.Luke 10:1-4
When the seventy-two return, they bring news of great success. They tell Jesus, “Even the demons submit to us in your name.” They’re astonished by their authority, which was given by Jesus. The Kingdom of God was invading earth through Jesus’ followers.
Luke 10:18 Explained
After his followers express their surprise and astonishment, Jesus delivers the verse in question, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18-19)
In essence, Jesus is telling His followers, “You shouldn’t be surprised. I have all the authority in the world, and I gave it to you. Satan is a fallen enemy and has always been subject under our feet. Of course the demons submitted to you, because they submit to me.”
He then goes on to say, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
Jesus knows His followers are pumped about their new authority and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. But He draws them back to something even more important – their own salvation and communion with God. It’s almost a reminder that who they are is more important than what they will do. The inside comes first. Be before you do. He lets them know it’s possible to love and be great at ministry, but miss Jesus. It’s easy to miss the big picture. This is a common principle throughout Jesus’ teachings.
So as cool as it is that the demons are submissive to them and that they have the authority of Jesus over the enemy, it’s even cooler that they’re called sons and daughters of the Most High God.
All that said, it doesn’t fully answer our question, “What exactly does Luke 10:18 refer to?” Let’s look at two possible interpretations.
Two Possible Interpretations of Luke 10:18
The first and most common interpretation of Luke 10:18 is that Jesus is referencing an actual event He saw take place, depicted in Isaiah 14:
How you have fallen from heaven,Isaiah 14:12-15
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned
on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.
We also see a similar reference in Revelation, which may be referencing a past event or something that takes place in the future:
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”Revelation 12:9
God is referencing Satan here, who, according to Isaiah, was cast down from Heaven due to his rebellion and pride. So many assume Jesus is referencing this very colorful past event.
His followers come back to Him surprised they have authority over demons, and Jesus reminds them that He literally saw Satan fall. He was there when the enemy was vanquished. Of course you have authority.
The second and less common interpretation of Luke 10:18 is that Jesus is speaking metaphorically here. In other words, He isn’t calling back to the actual event, but saying in effect, “As you were casting out demons and exercising your authority over the enemy, it was as if I watched Satan fall.”
Seeing Satan fall like lightning is an illustration of Jesus’ victory over the enemy. It’s a picture of His followers exercising their authority over him.
Jesus and His Followers Have Authority Over Satan
Regardless of which interpretation of Luke 10:18 you hold to, we can be certain of this: Jesus has victory and authority over Satan. And because He has commissioned us through the Holy Spirit, and our union with Him, we do as well. We can walk in this victory today. There’s no need to fear the enemy or demonic forces. They submit to us – not the other way around.