Christian culture is unique in that it has many characters and people that are revered by followers of the faith. This is especially true when we read the Bible. Among the verses of Scripture, we can find many characters that exemplify outstanding faith, bravery, and courage. Just as in the Garden of Eden, there are also those who are not so exemplary.
One such name is Beelzebub. This name is not mentioned in Scripture frequently, but it is a name that we need to know more about. This article strives to reveal who, or what, Beelzebub is and how this name affects every Christian in the world.
Beelzebub, The Pharisees, and Jesus Christ
In Matthew 12, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of "Beelzebub, the prince of demons." Read the full exchange here: "Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matthew 12:22-28)
Who Was Beelzebub?
Bible readers will encounter the name Beelzebub first in 2 Kings 1:2. In this passage, we read the account of Israel’s King Ahaziah falling through a window in his upstairs room in Samaria. He sends messengers to inquire of an entity we know as Beelzebub.
Beelzebub was also known as the god of Ekron. Ekron was a city inhabited by the Philistines and one of the capitals of the Philistine pentapolis. Ekron was torn down by many rival people groups but was destroyed by the Babylonians in 603 B.C under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar.
What Does the Name Beelzebub Mean?
Beelzebub means “lord of the flies.” In Hebrew and Jewish literature, the name is translated to mean “lord of dung” or “lord of filth.” Images of Beelzebub portray him as a fly or flying insect. Scholars have learned that the image of the fly as Beelzebub derives from either the thought that he is a sun god that brings the flies, or he is the god invoked to drive flies away from the sacrifice.
We should also note that Beelzebub is the Greek form of the word Baal-zebub. There are strong connections to Baal worship in conjunction with the worship of Beelzebub. Baal was a Canaanite fertility god in the Old Testament. The term zebub means “exalted dwelling.” When we put those two terms together, we have the name prince of demons.
Is Beelzebub Satan?
In Scripture, Satan is referred to as Lucifer or the devil, to name a few. The evolution of the Beelzebub as a reference to Satan is linked to the Pharisees. The name became a bitter, scornful word and Jews began to use it as a reference to Satan.
In Judaism, the word Satan is used as a verb. It does not refer to a person, rather it refers to temptation or difficulty to overcome. The Old Testament uses the name Beelzebub to speak of the god of Ekron. We do not see it being used as a name for Satan until the writings of the New Testament.
Where is the Name Beelzebub Mentioned in the Bible?
As previously mentioned, we only find this name referenced once in the Old Testament by King Ahaziah when he is injured from a fall. This reference is found in 2 Kings 1:1- 16. There is not a description of Beelzebub given in the text, most likely because this deity was well known in the land.
Beelzebub is referenced only in the Gospels of the New Testament. In the book of Matthew, we find the Pharisees using this term to describe Jesus. They were mocking him for the miracles he had done. Jesus also uses this term in chapter 10 to teach the disciples as he sends them out to the mission field. Again, in the book of Mark, the Pharisees use this term to describe how Jesus was driving out demons. Luke chapter 11 is another instance where we see this term used.
What Does Beelzebub Do?
In ancient religions, Beelzebub was associated with sacrifices. He was invoked to drive away the flies that always came as sacrifices were made and blood was shed. During the time of Jesus, Beelzebub becomes a prince of demons. The name becomes a reference to Satan and a distinct insult to Jesus.
Beelzebub was believed to be someone that could perform exorcisms. This deity had control of all the devilish behavior in the world. It could even possess people itself. Today, we lean toward the thought that Beelzebub is another name for Satan and has all the powers of Satan.
Why Does Satan Have So Many Names?
Satan is one of many names for the evil Christians fight every day. Other names include Prince of Darkness, Lucifer, Prince of demons, Father of Lies, Moloch, and Antichrist. All these names refer to the same being. There is only one God with one name, yet Satan has many. Why?
Satan is considered the author of confusion. Having so many names solidifies that to be true. If Satan can use a different name in any given situation, humans are more likely to become confused and commit sin. Satan is cunning and uses his various names to play tricks on us and convince us that we are not doing the devil’s bidding.
Satan’s many names also describe his identity and actions. For example, the name devil means “false accuser” or “deceitful nature.” Satan is a false accuser and deceives even those who love God. He is the tempter because he often leads us into temptation. He tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Satan is the serpent, and a snake can slither into places without us realizing it’s there. It can hide itself well and make itself known in surprising ways.
Satan’s many names are his weapons. He uses them against those who love the Lord and to keep those who don’t know the Lord in the dark.
Should We as Christians be Worried About Satan?
Christians know that Christ has already won the war. Even so, we should still be concerned about the cunning, deceitful, and sly behaviors of Satan.
Satan can lead Christians into temptation. He can lead us to sin and cause us to stay in sin much longer than we want. He can cause division among Christians that ultimately leads to conflict in homes, churches, and families.
While Christians should be aware that Satan is real, we should not be consumed by the fear and worry of Satan. We should always remember what Scripture tells us about the God we serve. Our God has already provided the ultimate sacrifice for us. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and actions. God has already given us the ending to the story in Revelation.
More important than worrying about Satan, we should be burdened for the people that Satan has taken hostage. Our worries should be directed toward what we, as Christ’s children, can do to lead them and humanity to Christ.
The name Beelzebub is just one of the many names for Satan. It is the name of the one that delivers mayhem to the world we live in. Christians should be aware of this name, but not worry about Satan’s power. Satan will always be working to separate humanity from the God that created it. Our focus should be on the fact that our God is victorious and as His children, we are safe from Beelzebub’s efforts to separate us from God.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Alex Raths
Ashley Hooker is a freelance writer who spends her time homeschooling her two children, ministering alongside her husband as he pastors a rural church in West Virginia, and writing about her faith. Currently, she is a contributing author for Journey Christian magazine. She has taken part in mission trips with the NC Baptist Men during the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey in Mississippi and Texas. In her local church, she has served on various committees focusing in the area of evangelism along with traveling to West Virginia and Vermont to share the Gospel. Her dream is to spend her time writing and sharing the love of Christ with all she meets.