A fallen angel; and particularly the chief of them, the devil, or Satan. He is the great principle of evil in the world; and it is his grand object to counteract the good that God desires to do. He exerts himself, especially with his angels, to draw away the souls of men from embracing salvation through Jesus Christ.
His name signifies the calumniator, or false accuser; as the Hebrew Satan means the adversary. But the Scriptures give him various other appellations descriptive of his character. He is called, "The prince of this world," John 12:31; "The prince of the power of the air," Ephesians 2:2; "The god of this world," 2 Corinthians 4:4; "The dragon, that old serpent, the devil," Revelation 20:2; "That wicked one," 1 John 5:18; "A roaring lion," 1 Peter 5:8; "A murderer," "a liar," John 8:44; "Beelzebub," Matthew 12:24; "Belial," 2 Corinthians 6:15; "The accuser of the brethren," Revelation 12:10. He is everywhere shown to be full of malignity, cruelty, and deceit, hating God and man. He is ceaselessly active in his efforts to destroy souls, and uses innumerable devices and wiles to adapt his temptations to the varying characters and conditions of men, enticing wicked men, and even good men at times, as well as his own angels, to aid in his work. Almost the whole world has been under his sway. But he is a doomed foe. Christ shall bruise the serpent’s head; shall dispossess him for the world, as he has done from individuals, and at length confine him for ever in the place prepared for him and his angels, Matthew 25:41.
The word "devils" occurs frequently in the gospels; but it is the translation of a different Greek word from that used to denote the devil, and might be rendered "demons." The Bible applies the other word only to Satan-"the devil", and his angels, who are like their leader in nature and in actions. There are many examples in the New Testament of persons possessed by demons. These are often called demoniacs. Some have argued that these were afflicted by natural diseases, such as epilepsy, insanity, etc., and were not possessed by evil spirits. But our Savior speaks to and commands the demons who actuated the possessed, which demons answered and obeyed, and gave proofs of their presence by tormenting those whom they were obliged to quit. Christ alleges, as proof of his mission, that the demons are cast out; he promises his apostles the same power that he himself exercised against those wicked spirits. Campbell says, "When I find mention made of the number of demons in particular possessions, their actions so particularly distinguished from the actions of the man possessed, conversations held by the former in regard to the disposal of them after their expulsion, and accounts given how they were actually disposed of-when I find desires and passions ascribed particularly to them, and similitudes taken from the conduct which they usually observe, it is impossible for me to deny their existence."
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'DEVIL'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".