There is a common misconception that Satan is in charge of hell and that he and his demons live there and use their pitchforks to torment souls for eternity. This concept has no basis in Scripture whatsoever. In fact, Satan will be one of the tormented in the lake of fire, not the tormentor.
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”Revelation 20:10
Where does the idea that Satan is the master of hell come from, if not from the Bible? Much of the false thinking may come from Dante Alighiere’s epic poem The Divine Comedy. Many other works of art, and literary pieces such as Dan Brown’s novel Inferno, follow Dante’s lead and picture Satan as the one in charge of hell.
Dante’s poem describes the brutal descent of sinners into the underworld. Dante journeys through different levels of hell and purgatory and eventually arrives in paradise. The poem itself was an amalgamation of myths, Catholic ideas (like purgatory), and Islamic traditions about Muhammad’s “night of ascension” (lailat al-miraj). Dante’s medieval view of hell is influenced more by the Qur’an than the Bible.
Dante’s literary vision of hell is depicted by Botticelli in his painting Map of Hell as a subterranean funnel of suffering—a wretched underground landscape of fire, brimstone, sewage, and monsters, with Satan himself waiting at its core.
It’s all very disturbing, and effective as a work of art, but it is based on the imaginations of men, not the Word of God.
Satan is not the ruler of hell. It is God alone, who is in charge.
“And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” Luke 12:4–5
Jesus is referring to God here. He alone has the power to throw someone into hell. Who holds the keys of death and hades? Jesus has absolute control over that domain (Revelation 1:18). Jesus assures all believers that not even the gates of hades can overcome His church (Matthew 16:18).
The lake of fire, mentioned only in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10, 14–15, is the final place of punishment for all unrepentant rebels, both angelic and human, although hell and the lake of fire was never intended for mankind, its our participation in sin that got is this judgment. (Matthew 25:41). The universal punishment for all who reject Jesus the Christ as Savior is to be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
The Bible speaks of hell as a place of “outer darkness” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13). Satan the false prophet and the Antichrist will NEVER go to Hell itself. The false prophet and Antichrist have the distinction of being cast into the lake of fire alive. They never see physical death or experience the great white throne judgment. Their sins are so egregious that they are judged instantly.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Revelation 19:20
Satan does not rule hell or lead his demons in tormenting those who are banished there. In fact, the Bible does not say that
Satan has not been to hell yet. Rather, “eternal fire” is awaiting Satan; the place was originally created to punish Satan and the demons (Matthew 25:41), not to give them a kingdom to rule.
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10
The story of the rich man and Lazarus, as told by Jesus, gives a snapshot of the transition man makes at death.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:19–31
Since the fall of Adam in the Garden. man has gone to hell awaiting the final judgment at the Great White Throne. Hell’s first inhabitants are unknown.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11–15
Until Satan is condemned and thrown into the lake forever, he spends his time between heaven (Job 1:6–12) and earth (1 Peter 5:8). He will not always have freedom of movement, and he knows it.
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Revelation 12:12