What Does Satan Look Like?

There is another common misconception that Satan and demons have horns and a tail. Some have even pictured them wielding pitchforks. But again, no where does the Bible describe demons or Satan this way, at least, not literally.

This misconception actually came about from the Codex Gigas (also called “the Devil’s Bible“), a book created in the early 13th century. It portrayed the devil as having a green face, horns, sharp talons, two tongues, and a tail. This imagery of the devil has stuck ever since. Throughout the medieval ages, the devil was depicted as a scary, grotesque creature.

The misconceptions surrounding the appearance of the devil and demons also stems from misunderstandings of the Book of Revelation, where evil spirits are described using metaphors.


Dragon With Horns.


In Revelation 12, for example, the devil is described as a “dragon” with seven heads and ten horns.

Revelation 12:3 (NKJV)

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon, HAVING SEVEN HEADS and TEN HORNS, and seven diadems on his heads.

Now, this is a FIGURATIVE DESCRIPTION of the devil. It must not be taken as literal (Apocalyptic Literature is known for its heavy use of symbolism). John actually borrows this imagery (of seven heads and ten horns) from Daniel 7.

Daniel 7:3-7 (NKJV)

3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. 4 The first was like a LION (first head), and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a BEAR (second head). It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ 6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads (four heads plus the first two = six heads), and dominion was given to it. 7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth BEAST (seven heads in total, plus this one), dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and IT HAD TEN HORNS. 

So we see these beasts come together to make seven heads and ten horns, just like Revelation 12:3 describes. They all belong to ONE beast—the devil.

Now, what do these heads and horns represent?

The “heads” and “horns” of the beast represent nations of the world, under the beast’s control, which he used to oppose/oppress God’s people (amongst which were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome).

The “head” and “horns” in the Jewish thought represent power and authority. The Jewish people were fond of using different body parts to represent different spiritual truths. For example, the heart represented understanding; the seat of intellect (see Pro 14:33, 1 Kgs 3:12) while the intestines or bowels represented emotions (see Isa 16:11, Jer 31:20, Phi 1:8, 1 John 3:17). In like manner, the horns and the head represent power in the Jewish thought.

The word “head” (“rosh” in the Hebrew, “kephale” in the Greek) was used for honor; to describe those with prominence and authority, who control/lead others. Observe its usage in the following texts:

Micah 2:13 (NKJV)

13 The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head (“rosh” i.e. “the Lord as their leader).”

Deuteronomy 20:9 (NKJV)

9 And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to LEAD (“rosh” i.e. to head) the people.

1 Chronicles 4:42 (NKJV)

42 Now some of them, five hundred men of the sons of Simeon, went to Mount Seir, having as their captains (“rosh” i.e. heads) Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi.

Isaiah 7:8 (NKJV)

8 For the head (“rosh” i.e. capital, place of power) of Syria is Damascus, and the head (“rosh” i.e. prince) of Damascus is Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken, so that it will not be a people.

In the New Testament, Christ is the head of the Church.

Ephesians 1:22 (NKJV)

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head (“kephale” i.e. lord, ruler) over all things to the church.

The husband is head to his wife.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (NKJV)

3 But I want you to know that the HEAD of every man is Christ, the HEAD (“kephale” i.e. chief, lord) of woman (i.e. the wife) is man (i.e. her husband), and the head of Christ is God. 

The word “horn” was also used similarly, in Bible days (“qeren” in the Hebrew, “keras” in the Greek). It was a symbol of strength; an emblem of power, dominion and lordship. Since animals used their horns to defend themselves, the Jews borrowed this imagery from animal life to symbolize strength or might. Observe the usage in this sense, in the following texts:

Psalm 75:10 (NKJV)

10 “All the HORNS (or the strength) of the wicked I will also cut off, but the horns (or strength) of the righteous shall be exalted.”

Jeremiah 48:25 (NKJV)

25 The HORN of Moab is cut off (or his strength), and his arm is broken,” says the Lord.

In the New Testament, Messiah is called “a horn of salvation.

Luke 1:69 (NKJV)

69 And has raised up A HORN OF SALVATION for us in the house of His servant David.

That is, He is the means (or power) by which salvation would come.

Obviously, “horns” in these texts are figurative for might. The wicked do not have horns, literally. Neither is Jesus a literal horn. So “horns” here are non-literal. Same with the devil, him being described with horns is METAPHORICAL. Those horns (in Rev. 12:3) represent nations under his control or power.

Satan is called the god of this world (2 Corin 4:4). He is the prince of the power of the air who influences “the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). He exercises control over this world, its political/civic systems as well as the men who rule those systems (1 John 5:19). One of the things the devil tried to tempt Jesus with was the nations of the world. He says they belong to him!

Luke 4:5-7 (NKJV)

5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, SHOWED HIM ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for THIS HAS BEEN DELIVERED TO ME, and I GIVE IT TO WHOMEVER I WISH. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

So the devil has a certain degree of power over the nations of this world. Hence, this metaphor of heads and horns (representing his influence over men).


Serpent With A Tail.


In Revelation 12:9, Satan is called “that serpent of old.” Literally, the Greek says “that ancient serpent (ophis archaios)” that is, that original serpent, the serpent from the beginning (Genesis 3).

Now, he is called a “serpent” because he is CUNNING.

Genesis 3:1 (NKJV)

1 Now THE SERPENT WAS MORE CUNNING than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

Demons are also described as “serpents” by Jesus.

Luke 10:18-19 (NKJV)

18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS, and (kai- that is) over ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 

The “snakes and scorpions” in vs. 19 are metaphors for “the power of the enemy.” The word “and” in-between “serpents and scorpions” and “all the power of the enemy” is the copulative kai, which explains the previously stated.

In vs. 20, Jesus calls them “the spirits” (or evil spirits), “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that THE SPIRITS are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.

Similarly, in Luke 11, Jesus speaks of “serpents and scorpions” in the same sense.

Luke 11:9-12 (NKJV)

9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him A STONE? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him A SERPENT instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a SCORPION? 

Stone, serpent and scorpion here” (vv. 11-12) refer to evil spirits. Vs. 13 makes this clear, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give THE HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask Him!” So, what we are asking for is the Holy Spirit (represented by bread, fish and egg) and God won’t give us evil spirits instead (represented by stone, serpent and scorpion). This is Jesus’ point here.

So “the serpent” (amongst other imageries) was used to represent unclean spirits in Scripture. This is because the serpent in the Jewish thought represented craftiness. Serpents lie in wait, and camouflage, to kill their prey.

So Satan does not look like a serpent, neither do his demons. They are only called “serpents” because they RESEMBLE serpents, in CRAFTINESS, and TRICKERY. They are calculative and manipulative.

Revelation 12:4 speaks of how the devil, by his tail “drew a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth.” This speaks of how the devil, by cunning (the “snake-tail”) deceived one-third of the angels into joining him. These fell together with him.




Revelation 16 describes evil spirits as frogs.

Revelation 16:13 (NKJV)

13 And I saw three unclean spirits LIKE FROGS coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of THE FALSE PROPHET. 

The word “like” readily reveals the use of a figure of speech by John (similie). Most of the symbols John uses in Revelation are derived from the Old Testament. So to understand them, you would need to go back to Genesis to Malachi.

The mere mention of “frogs” brings one Old Testament story to mind. In fact, only this story speaks of frogs, in the entire Old Testament. It is Exodus 8, which describes the plague of the frogs, in Egypt.

There, Aaron caused frogs to come upon the land, by stretching out his hand.

Exodus 8:1-6 (NKJV)

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory WITH FROGS. 3 So the river SHALL BRING FORTH FROGS ABUNDANTLY, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. 4 And THE FROGS shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants.”’” 5 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and THE FROGS CAME UP AND COVERED THE LAND OF EGYPT. 

But observe that in vs. 7, Pharaoh’s magicians replicate this SAME sign with their sorcery.

Exodus 8:7 (NKJV)

7 And the magicians DID SO WITH THEIR ENCHANTMENTS, and BROUGHT UP FROGS on the land of Egypt.

So we find here TRUE signs (wrought by the servants of God), and then FALSE signs (concocted by the power of the devil, to deceive men). Pharaoh is said to have “hardened his heart” three times, in Exodus.

Exodus 8:15 (NKJV)

15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he HARDENED his heart and did not heed them, as the Lord had said. 

Exodus 8:32 (NKJV)

32 But Pharaoh HARDENED his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.

Exodus 9:34 (NKJV)

34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he HARDENED his heart, he and his servants. 

The word “hardened” means “to make UNRESPONSIVE” (“kabad” in the Hebrew). So Pharaoh was stubborn, unyielding. It is obvious that one of the reasons Pharaoh was so obstinate was that his sorcerers could replicate the SAME signs Moses and Aaron did. So those signs (done by his sorcerers) were a machination of the devil to keep the sinner UNREPENTANT. The devil uses LYING MIRACLES/WONDERS to capture the heart of the unsaved i.e. he sees no need for God, since the miracles God works can also be “replicated” by occult means.

Jesus warned about this, in Matthew 24:24. He says, “For false christs and FALSE PROPHETS will rise and SHOW GREAT SIGNS and wonders TO DECEIVE, if possible, even the elect.

Acts 8 speaks of one Simon, who dazzled the people with great feats of magic.

Acts 8:9-11 (NKJV)

9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously PRACTICED SORCERY in the city and ASTONISHED THE PEOPLE OF SAMARIA, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom THEY ALL GAVE HEED, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him BECAUSE HE HAD ASTONISHED THEM WITH HIS SORCERIES for a long time.

Acts 13 speaks of one Elymas (or Bar-Jesus), who was a sorcerer. He is called a “false prophet.

Acts 13:6 (NKJV)

6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain SORCERER, A FALSE PROPHET, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus.

This Elymas tries to prevent the proconsul of Paphos from believing the Gospel, in vv. 7-8, “who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and SOUGHT TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) WITHSTOOD THEM, SEEKING TO TURN THE PROCONSUL AWAY FROM THE FAITH.

Usually, this is the aim of magic and sorcery; to give people something supernatural to believe upon, other than the true God. The spirit(s) behind these false miracles/spells/signs is not a new one. It is the SAME in Exodus 8 and Revelation 16. Notice what Exodus 8, Matthew 24:24 and Revelation 16:13 all have in common—false prophets. So there is a spirit working in all these so-called prophets, to perform lying signs.

Throughout the Old Testament, when the Bible speaks of frogs, it refers back to Exodus 8.

Psalm 78:45 (NKJV)

45 He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them, AND FROGS, which destroyed them.

Psalm 105:30 (NKJV)

30 THEIR LAND ABOUNDED WITH FROGS, even in the chambers of their kings.

So frogs became a METAPHOR pointing back to the plague in Egypt, as well as the spirits who perform false miracles (just like they did, in Exodus 8). This is why John’s vision uses frogs.

Revelation 16:13 (NKJV)

13 And I saw THREE UNCLEAN SPIRITS LIKE FROGS coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE FALSE PROPHET. 

John explains WHO these frogs are and WHAT they do, in the next verse. Vs. 14 says, “For they are SPIRITS OF DEMONS, PERFORMING SIGNS (similiar to Exodus 8), which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

John’s vision uses “frogs” because these demons are doing EXACTLY what they did in Exodus 8—deceiving men with false signs. They gather men together to fight against God Almighty.

So demon spirits do not resemble frogs. Revelation 16 uses the imagery of frogs, pointing back to the plagues of Egypt; how demon spirits try to imitate true miracles, to distract and deceive. Just as they did in Egypt (with the frogs), so these demons (represented by frogs) continue to do; deceiving men with LYING signs and miracles.

To reiterate: evil spirits do not have horns or tails, neither do they do not look like serpents or frogs. All these Biblical descriptions are metaphorical, to represent power and deceit.


Satan, the Master Shapeshifter.


Being angels, Satan and his demons would look just like the angels.

Hebrews 1:7 (NKJV)

7 And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels SPIRITS and His ministers A FLAME OF FIRE.”

Angels do not have horns or tails! So demons won’t look that way (they would look just like any other angel). The Christian should therefore not speculate, or get OVERLY CONCERNED with how evil spirits look, beyond the revelation found in the pages of Scripture.

Also, note that the devil is a shapeshifter, same with his demons. This means they take whichever form is EASIEST, to deceive a man with. This is why Paul warns Christians not to confuse demons for angels. Demons CAN look like angels of light.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NKJV)

14 And no wonder! For Satan himself TRANSFORMS HIMSELF INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

This means that Satan would usually come how you least expect him to. The word “transforms” (vs. 14) literally means “to change one’s clothes” i.e. to change one’s outer appearance, to disguise or masquerade (“metaschématizó” in the Greek). Satan uses whatever form is best suitable to lure/hoodwink the man he is dealing with, per time.

This therefore means that if you saw Satan or demons today, they would not have horns or a tail. These are all figments of man’s imagination. Here, Satan comes through those pretending to be “ministers of righteousness” (vs. 15). He appears in a holy form.

Here’s a secret for you: Satan is not obvious. His operations in a person or place are not usually noticeable. He thrives in secrecy; staying in the dark. So to spot him, look out for subtle manifestations. He comes through a man in a suit, who preaches every Sunday (that false prophet whom millions adore). He comes through that politician on TV, who advocates for evil, ungodly policies etc. He takes on different shapes and forms, to suit different situations, and to mask himself—he looks like whatever you won’t suspect him to look like. So be discerning. Again, Satan is not OBVIOUS. If he was, he would not be called a “deceiver” (Rev 12:9).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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