The authenticity of the biblical Book of Job is sometimes questioned, particularly with regard to whether or not Job was a real person, but also with regard to whether not there were face-to-face discussions between Satan and God about Job. If the Book of Job is just an allegory, then there is no compelling reason to believe that Job was a real person and that there were actual face-to-face discussions between Satan and God. Conversely, if the Book of Job is not an allegory, then it is reasonable to believe that Job was a real person and that there were actual face-to-face discussions between Satan and God. This article will attempt to make this determination with regard to both matters.
Was Job a Real Person?
Job 1:1 states, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.”
[Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, except when we are quoting a source that uses a different translation.]
So, was Job a real person or just a fictitous person in an allegory?
On page 235 of the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason L. Archer asserts,
If [the Book of] Job is part of the sacred canon of Scripture, it logically follows that the same credibility must be granted to its opening historical statement as is accorded to . . . any other book in Scripture that affirms the historical existence of a character whose career it records.
[T]he historicity of Job is definitely confirmed by the references to him found elsewhere in Scripture. In Ezekiel 14:14 he is grouped with Noah and Daniel as a paragon of godliness and an effective intercessor before God. . . . If, therefore, no such person as Job ever lived, the historicity of both Noah and Daniel is likewise called in question.
Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible asserts with regard to Job 1:1,
There was a man – This has all the appearance of being a true history. Many have regarded the whole book as a fiction, and have supposed that no such person as Job ever lived. But the book opens with the appearance of reality; and the express declaration that there was such a man, the mention of his name and of the place where he lived, show that the writer meant to affirm that there was in fact such a man.
In reference to the same scripture, David Guzik’s Enduring Word Bible Commentary says, “It is . . . a true and real history that we here have of him [Job], and not a fiction or a moral parable, as some have believed. . . .”
A number of other Bible commentaries that we consulted do not specifically state that Job was a real person, but their commentary indicates that they do regard him as a real person. None of the commentaries that we consulted questions whether or not Job was a real person.
Did Satan Actually Have Face-to-Face Discussions with God about Job?
Job 1:6-12, which pertains to the first conversation that God has with Satan in the book of Job, states,
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
In regard to God’s discussions with Satan, Archer declares on the same page of his previously-cited book, “If the Bible cannot be regarded as trustworthy in such matters . . ., it is difficult to say in what respect it retains any authority or credibility as a document of divine revelation.”
Job 1:6-12 certainly seems to indicate that Satan is talking with God as if the two of them are on affable terms, despite Satan’s ongoing opposition to God, so there must be some logical explanation as to how or why this situation could be possible.
Some people believe that Isaiah 14:12 supports the belief that Satan was once in heaven but subsequently was cast out of heaven. This scripture says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” If this scripture pertains to Satan, then perhaps he had not yet been cast out of heaven, so it could have been normal for Satan to converse with God during that time.
However, a footnote in the NIV Bible states in reference to Isaiah 14:12,
Some people believe that Isaiah is giving a description of the fall of Satan (cf. Luke 10:18 – where, however, Jesus is referring to an event contemporary with himself). But the passage clearly applies to the king of Babylon, who is later used as a type (prefiguration) of the “beast” who will lead the Babylon of the last days. . . .
Furthermore, almost all of the Bible commentaries that we consulted support the point of view that Isaiah 14:12 indicates Lucifer is a reference to the king of Babylon, not to Satan. Although some other sources express the belief that one or more other scriptures indicate that Satan was cast out of heaven, we do not think there is credible evidence to support this belief.
In this regard, David Guzik, in his Enduring Word Bible Commentary, states the following in response to the question “When were Satan and his angels cast out of heaven?”:
That’s an interesting question, and my most direct answer would be, “not yet.” But I think there is a lot of explanation in order. The most direct reference to Satan being cast out of heaven comes from Revelation 12:7-10.
[Verse 7] “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.”
[Verse 8] “Nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.” This shows us that up until this happens, Satan does have access to heaven, where he accuses God’s people before the throne (as seen in the book of Job 1:6-12, and Revelation 12:10).
[Verse 10] “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’”
It troubles some [people] to think that Satan has access to heaven, because of the mistaken teaching that God can allow nothing unholy in His presence. But the Bible clearly says that while Satan appears on earth (Luke 4:1-13), and describes him as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2); it also says that Satan has access to heaven, where he accuses God’s people before the throne (Job 1:6-12).
So, we can say that in some way, Satan has access to both heaven and earth. The passages such as Job 1 and Revelation 12:10 show that he has access to heaven, and passages like the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4 and 1 Peter 5:8 show us that he has access to earth. . . .
Although we would like to have more and stronger evidence that all the events in the Book of Job were real occurrences, we are reasonably confident that the evidence that we have presented is sufficient to justify the belief that the Book of Job is not just an allegory.