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NLT Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, and “Satan Falling Like Lightning” (Luke 10:18)

Luke 10 presents a fascinating story about the 70 (or 72) being commissioned to preach the kingdom of God to lost Israel. When the 70 return, they exclaim to Jesus that they were even able to cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus responds to them with: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18; ESV). Let’s see what the study Bibles have to say about this statement.

NIV Study Bible:

10:18 Satan fall. Even the demons were driven out by the disciples (v. 17), which meant that Satan was suffering defeat.

ESV Study Bible:

10:18 I saw Satan fall can also be translated, “I was watching Satan fall” (imperfect tense of Gk. theoreo, “to see”). It is not clear whether Jesus is speaking of a vision by which he saw something in the spiritual realm or if this is simply a graphic declaration of what has been happening, but in either case Jesus indicates that Satan’s authority and power over people has been decisively broken. Like lightning describes the suddenness of the fall (cf. Isa. 14:12).

NLT Study Bible:

10:18 I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! See Rev 12:7-12.

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Initially, I was pretty disappointed in the NLT Study Bible. I went to Revelation 12:7-12 expecting some study notes there relating back to Luke 10. But that was not the case. The Luke 10:18 note is simply asking to student to read Revelation 12:7-12. The ESV Study Bible does a nice job noting that the point is Satan’s authority and power have been shattered. Also, the ESVSB does a good job pointing out the symbolism of “falling like lightning” being a reference to sudden nature of the loss of power. 

But the more I contemplated what the NLTSB had done, the more I appreciated the connection. Revelation 12:7-12 is often understood to be referring to Satan literally being thrown out of the heaven at the beginning of creation for his rebellion against God. However, the NLTSB implies that Revelation 12 is not talking about Satan being literally cast from heaven, but about this point in time in Luke 10 when Satan’s power was constrained (see also Matthew 12:29).

Perhaps, again, the combining of these two study notes would be ideal. The ESVSB presents very useful information and gets right to the point, but does not give any consideration to Revelation 12:7-12. The NLTSB makes a great parallel study note to Revelation 12:7-12 (one that perhaps many would miss), but does not explain how these two passages connect. The NLTSB does not answer the question: what does it mean that Satan fell from heaven like lightning?