Answering my son's question about Satan's motives


My 20-year-old son asked a question that I could not answer. It goes like this:

“So, the angels can see into eternity and know future events. Satan saw that, after his rebellion, Jesus would come into the world as Savior, and Mary would be crowned Queen of Angels. If he was so angered by this future, and did not want to serve Mary, why didn’t he just prevent those things from happening by deciding to not rebel against God?”

My son takes the faith very seriously and I’m proud of him for that, especially in this day and age. Thank you for your replies… - Rob in Oregon


Have I answered my own question? I thought of this: Satan was so proud that he didn’t want to serve ANYBODY, God the Father included. He preferred Hell to serving the Father, and wasn’t willing to prevent the arrival of Jesus in the world, or the queenship of Mary, by remaining in service to the Father. Does this make sense? Thanks… - Rob


To borrow from Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven”.

Satan refused to serve. In Latin the phrase used to descibe their rebellion is, “Non servium” meaning,“I will not serve.” The angels had a choice to serve or not serve. Some chose not to serve.

And while Jesus did come to save us, if humanity not fallen, God the Son still might have come to earth through the Incarnation. Jesus spoke about how the “greater serve the least”. The fallen angels didn’t want to serve humans or the humble God Who became human at the fullness of time.


Before some angels fell from grace, none of the angels could see into the future. However, it is said, as a common theological speculation, that God showed the angels his plan for the future, that God would become man in Christ and die for us. They were then told to worship God-made-man in Christ.

Some angels refused to worship Jesus Christ out of pride, since human nature is less than angelic nature (being part base matter). Those angels fell from grace and became devils, because they rejected Christ. The angels who accepted Christ then entered into Heaven, where they have the beatific vision of God (and therefore can know the future). The fallen angels cannot see the future at all.

The fallen angels rebelled out of sinful pride. Failure to rebel would not have prevented Christ from becoming human, nor Mary from being crowned Queen of heaven.


The Church doesn’t teach this. Aquinas refutes this idea in the Summa, part 1, question 57

The Church doesn’t teach this either.

Certainly there is theological speculation on the sin of the angels, but nothing has been revealed specifically on that subject.

I’d suggest sticking to what the Church actually teaches, rather than being confounded by something it doesn’t.


How would Satan or any other demons ‘reign’ in hell? If they are sent there, they would be enduring the same if not more suffering than any human soul.

Ive always thought this is one of those things we just do not have all the details about, there is likely more to ‘the fall’ than God gives us knowledge about. We already know there is a lot of information we are not privy to, this is just one of those. The fact that Satan was able to convince 1/3 of the angels to take his side convinced me there HAD to be more to this story than we think, that fact alone proves however many 1/3 is, whether it be thousands or millions, there is a large number of angels who were convinced to the point they rejected God and thought Satan stood a chance of winning.


Satan’s sin was this: he rejected God because he rejected the reality that he, satan, would not always be the zenith of all pure creation, but rather, that he would lose his place to the Blessed Virgin. Now, I’m not sure that we know the details of all of the knowledge that was infused into satan’s intellect about this. God might very well had planned to make Mary the crown of his creation regardless of satan’s choice, and satan may have been aware of this.

But what we do know is that: (a) satan’s choice, whatever the future, was stupid, and was infinitely worse than what God had in mind for him; (b) satan knows all of this, and there is nothing about the consequences he may have overlooked, no way in which experience may have altered his thinking, no way in which we could say he did not freely choose what he did; © we know from exorcists that demons admit that their decisions were foolish, and they nonetheless stand by them.


Sin always opposes reason-or Reality- in one way or another. Pride involves the obstinate refusal to accept what is-and to place oneself in the position of God-despite the absurdity of that notion to begin with. It simply wants what it wants. So Satan’s already not playing with a full deck regardless of his intelligence. That, BTW, is also the situation with man since the Fall. We also live apart from the truth to one degree or another in this world, not always necessarily comfortable or happy with it, preferring *our *way to God’s way, obstinately holding on to our own “truths” if we think they’re beneficial to us.


Much of it is conjecture and speculation.

What are Satan’s motives? If I had to guess, hatred, envy and spite.

There is a theory that a prime motivation for Satan’s rebellion was his outrage at the place of human beings in God’s plan. Here was Lucifer, Star of the morning told he was inferior, less worthy of love than the mortal, weak creatures called “humans.”

Even if he knew his eventual fate, and fruitlessness of his cause he may not have cared. “Better to reign in Hell than serve in heaven” is quite an accurate statement.

All the temptation he influences are a way to spite God, sort of like “If I am going down, Im taking your creatures with me!”

This is what I believe, based on what I have read.


Satan tried to prevent it from happening; that’s why he tempted Jesus in the desert. But as we all know, he failed miserably.

It turns out that while Angels are hyper-intelligent, they still are not nearly as intelligent as the being that created them.


But how would he have come to the conclusion he was going to ‘reign’ over hell?

Beyond that, how would he have come to the conclusion some kind of domain (hell) was going to be created as a result of this…When someone rebels against another, its pretty strange for one to suddenly create a new ‘place’ for the one who rebelled, would be similar to this…

A assistant manager decides to rebel against the top manager of a company, he thinks he would be better at running everything, but when the top manager is all powerful, the assistant fails and is banished, but the top manager still buys a new island as a home for the assistant who tried to overthrow him, and the assistant expects to be ‘the top person’ in charge of this island…??..this would make no sense??

Oh yea, forgot about the demons…so the assistant manages to convince 1/3 of the employees to side with him in the rebellion, upon failure, the manager allows the 1/3 of ‘stolen’ employees, to live with the assistant on the island he bought for him…makes less sense now.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit