I received this question today and thought it is worth sharing:
“I have a question, hope you can answer this for me. I know that in the Bible it doesn’t come right out and say Lucifer is Satan, but yet describes it to be him in different places. I hope you can clear this up for me!”
This is one of those subjects that due primarily to it’s translation in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, many have a misunderstanding.
The Hebrew word that is translated as “Lucifer” in the King James version of the Bible is , “helel“. This word occurs only ONCE in the Scriptures. It is in Isaiah 14:12.
Isaiah 14;12 (KJV)
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isaiah 14:12 (TNIV)
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
However, the meaning to Jewish audiences at the time Isaiah was written (as well as before and after that time) was not of a fallen angel, but was a light-bearing object in the sky…..a morning star or day star. The Bible does not name the Satan as Lucifer.
The use of this name in reference to the devil stems from an interpretation of Isaiah 14:3-20, in which the King of Babylon, in an apparent reference to Canaanite mythology, is tauntingly called ‘Day Star, son of Dawn’ because he has fallen from his lofty but temporary position of power. It saw it best said like this, “The Babylonian king had desired to be above God and so fell from heaven.”
Isaiah 14:3-20 (TNIV)
3 On the day the LORD gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! 5 The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, 6 which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression.
7 All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. 8 Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you and say, “Now that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us down.” 9 The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you— all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones— all those who were kings over the nations.
10 They will all respond, they will say to you, “You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us.” 11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. 12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. 16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 17 the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?”
18 All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. 19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the word, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, 20 you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again.
In the Christian church, this passage from Isaiah came to be connected with Jesus’ saying in Luke 10:18: ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’ Thus the connection was made (erroneously) between Lucifer and Satan, and Lucifer was popularly understood as another name for Satan. But not so. I would also note that the actual word, “Lucifer” comes from that Latin words, “lucem ferre” which mean “light-bearer”. Revelation 12:7-10 also describes Saten being cast out of heaven.
Luke 10:18 (TNIV, Jesus Speaking)
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
I saw it best said like this, “The Hebrew expression was probably never meant to be a name, but it has come to be used thus because the verse in which it occurs is applied to Satan. This apparently was done first by two of the church fathers, Tertullian and Origen. However, the popularity of Lucifer as a name for Satan may be attributed to its use in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.”
REFERENCES: Easton Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible