The Biblical "Destroyer" Isn't Satan, It's Abaddon, God's Right-Hand Man

John was an apostle of Jesus Christ who wrote many of the texts that inspired the Book of Revelation after he received a preview of the end of days. It's from John's writings in Revelation that we learn the angel of death is not the devil, but Abaddon, the leader of fallen angels tasked by God to torture Earth and humanity as punishment for the sins of humankind.

Abaddon's role in the Old and New Testaments provide a horrifying look at the part archangels are said to play during judgment day, and the function of such angels and demons doesn't sit well with the Christian view of an all-loving and merciful God.

Even more disturbing, in the Gnostic texts, Abaddon is pivotal in the creation of humankind, gathering the dirt from which God created Adam. So it's perhaps fitting that Abaddon will also gather souls and carry them to the place of God's final judgment. While the concept of Satan is frightening, it's nothing compared to an angel of death commissioned by God to torture sinners.

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  • His Name Means 'The Angel Of Death' In Some Translations

    His Name Means 'The Angel Of Death' In Some Translations
    Photo: William Blake/Rogers Fund, 1914 / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

    While Abaddon means "the destroyer" or "the destruction," many consider Abaddon to be the angel of death. While some believe Abaddon to be a location, he is most often considered a fallen angel. His function is to oversee the destruction of Earth on Judgment Day.

    In Job 28:22, Abaddon is mentioned along with death when Abaddon is first identified as an actual being and not merely a place.

  • For Others, Abaddon Is Not Lucifer, But They Share A lot Of Imagery

    For Others, Abaddon Is Not Lucifer, But They Share A lot Of Imagery
    Photo: Francis Barrett, R. Griffith / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Some biblical interpretations even treat Lucifer (Satan) and Abaddon as the same figure. However, many theologians point to specific passages in the Book of Revelation and other biblical passages as evidence that Abaddon is a distinct entity. For instance, one verse states: "They have over them as king the angel of the abyss." This verse arrives after God unleashe the locusts to torture Earth during the end of days.

    Some scholars read this in conjunction with Proverbs 30:7, where the locusts have no king. So, while Lucifer functions as the king of Hell, Abaddon is the leader of the locust of demons unleashed to torture those who do not bear the seal of God. Many also point to Ephesians 6:12, where it's described that Satan has underlings. While Abaddon might not be synonymous with Lucifer, he shares similar traits.

  • Some Biblical Translations Claim Abaddon Is A Subordinate Of Satan, Not An Angel Of God's Army

    Some Biblical Translations Claim Abaddon Is A Subordinate Of Satan, Not An Angel Of God's Army
    Photo: H. C. Selous and M. Paolo Priolo / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Those familiar with the Torah or the Bible know that Satan seeks to destroy the works and creations of God. While Satan doesn't receive as much exploration in the Torah, his existence is undoubtedly present in the text. During the end of days in Revelation, God releases the demons of Hell. Humans who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads will suffer at the hands of Satan and his demons.

    Here, Satan functions as the primary antagonist of God, and it's Abaddon who serves as the leader of the plague of demons to torture Earth. Abaddon is a controversial figure for some, as the interpretations differ on whether Abaddon is a minion of Satan or an angel of death authorized by God.

  • Abaddon Is The Ruler Of An Abyss Of The Same Name

    Abaddon Is The Ruler Of An Abyss Of The Same Name
    Photo: Luca Signorelli/The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    In both the Jewish and Christian traditions, Abaddon is not only the personification of a fallen angel but an actual place of destruction. In Job 31:12, Abaddon is described as a hellish abyss, "for it would be a fire that consumes to Abaddon."

    Some believe that Abaddon is both a manifest being as well as the bottomless pit that he oversees.

    John writes of this abyss in Revelation, describing that "after the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, a star falls from heaven and opens the bottomless pit. A storm of smoke arises, and from the smoke, a plague of locusts emerge to torment, but not kill, men who lack the seal of God on their foreheads."

  • In Some Texts, Abaddon Is Merely A Place For Lost Souls

    In Some Texts, Abaddon Is Merely A Place For Lost Souls
    Photo: Limbourg brothers/user:Petrusbarbygere / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Some believe that Abaddon is merely a term for a hopeless pit like Hell. Such theories point to the fact that Satan is the ruler of Hell and Abaddon (which means destruction or place of destruction) is only synonymous for the kingdom of torture where Satan has dominion.

    Such understandings focus on that passage of Job 31:12, in which Abaddon is described as a place of fire.

    This argument does gain some support in Psalm 88:11, which states, “will Your loving kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Abaddon?” However, it's also in Job where Abaddon first gets identified as a conscious being. In Job 28:22, Abaddon can speak and hear and is the personification of death. Many also point to Biblical Antiquities of Philo, which describe Abaddon as a place.

  • Abaddon Is Described As Present During Jesus's Resurrection In The Gnostic Text

    Abaddon Is Described As Present During Jesus's Resurrection In The Gnostic Text
    Photo: Rembrandt van Rijn/awaisaftab.blogspot.com / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Abaddon is used interchangeably with death in many passages, but those who study the Gnostic texts point out that Abaddon was present at the tomb of Jesus Christ at the time of his resurrection. His role as either an angel in God's army or an underling of Satan becomes more confusing in the Gnostic documents.

     In the Gospel of Bartholomew, Abaddon approaches Jesus in the underworld after his death. But Jesus laughs in the face of Abaddon, which terrifies him and his sons. When Jesus rises from the dead, Abaddon and his son, Pestilence, seek to protect the underworld. However, Jesus had departed from Hell, and according to Bartholomew, he left only three souls there: Herod, Cain, and Judas.