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The Book of Job

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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job.  Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job.  His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]


Job 1:7-8 (part 2) - Satan’s Answer to God,

by Joseph Caryl (1644)


7And the Lord said unto Satan, “Whence comest thou?” Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” 8And the Lord said unto Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (KJV)


Now let us examine Satan’s answer:  “Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it’” (vs. 7).

“If I am enquired” (says Satan), “whence I come, I answer, ‘I come from walking up and down in the earth, from going to and fro in it.’

Here again it may be questioned as to how Satan speaks to the Lord (just as before it was questioned about the Lord’s speaking to Satan). 

The speaking of Satan and all spirits is according to the manner before explained of God’s speaking.  So, Angels speak one to another or to God when they direct or intend such or such things to be known.  Like a thought, a conception in the mind is a word in the mind; so the directing or putting forth, or an intending to put forth that word or that thought, is the speaking of the mind.  That is how the the mind speaks.  So we know in ourselves:  As a man meditates he conceives such and such things; he forms them all in his spirit under some words into such notions, and he can put forth these as he desires, though he does not speak.  And so we are said often in Scripture to speak to God in our hearts, when the mouth does not speak at all, as Moses, in Ex. 14:15, is said to “cry unto God”:  That was nothing but the directing or actual intending of such and such secret desires unto God; that was “crying unto God.”  So it is said of Hannah, in I Sam. 1:13, that “she spake to the Lord in her heart.” 

After this manner do Angels and spirits speak.  As we can speak to God in our spirits, by our hearts, when we intend or lift up such and such thoughts to God, so they speak in the same manner by making known and revealing so much of their minds to God, as they desire He should take notice of.  For if a man have such and such thoughts, and only reserve them to himself, he is said to speak to himself, to speak within himself.  So Angels, though they have such and such thoughts, they do speak to themselves, and not to God, while they keep those thoughts within themselves.  Despite that God knows all thoughts, yet an Angel is said to speak no more to God than he does intentionally and obediently (as some express it) make known and declare to God his desire, that God may take notice of it. 

So here Satan answers and says to God, or he speaks to God these things, that is, he does actually intend that God should know this much of him what he had been about, that he was come now, “from going to and fro in the earth, from walking up and down in it.” 


“From going to and fro…”:  It may be doubted how Satan can be said to “go to and fro in the earth, and to walk up and down in it”, whereas it is express in the Epistle of Jude, vs. 6, that “the Angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”  Now if Satan, if the Angels that fell be in “chains”, and in “chains of everlasting darkness”, and reserved to the judgment of the great day.  How does Satan here speak of himself as being at liberty, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it?

I answer:  though the devil goes up and down, yet he is ever in “chains”.  He is in a double chain, even when he goes and circuits the whole earth abroad, he is in a chain of justice, and in a chain of Providence.  He is in a chain of justice, that is, under the wrath of God, and he is in a chain of Providence, that is under the eye of God, he can go no further than God gives him leave, than God lets out and lengthens his chain.  So still, he is reserved under chains, even chains of darkness. When he goes abroad, he goes like a prisoner with his fetters on his heels.

But it may be here inquired further, if Satan be thus under the wrath of God, and be a condemned spirit, if he be in such darkness, how can he intend or attempt, plot or execute those designs of temptation for the overthrow of souls, and disturbance of the Churches of God throughout the world.  Will not such torment and horror of darkness, disable and unfit him for such curious methods of doing mischief?  Can he have his thoughts upon anything but upon his own woeful condition and miserable estate?

For this likewise (to clear it) we may conceive, that Satan, although he be at the present under the wrath of God, yet he is not under the fullness of the wrath of God, he is not yet in extremity, he is not yet in the degree of judgment which hereafter he shall receive.  Satan is now as full of discontent as he can be, but he is not so full of torment as he can be.  This we see expressly in Matt. 8:29, where the devils say to Christ, “Art thou come to torment us before our time?”, noting that there will be a time wherein they shall have more torment, their fill of torment; such torment, as what they now endure, compared with it, may pass for no torment, if not for pleasure.  Then they shall drink the very dregs of the cup of God’s wrath, now they do (as it were) but sip or taste it.  The devils, though they are already cast down from their glorious estate, yet they are not cast into such a woeful state as hereafter they shall be; therefore they may walk up and own in the world, and incessantly set themselves about the destruction of others.

For the words, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it,” Satan here speaks like a prince.  Therefore some conceive that this is the prince of devils that is here mentioned in this text—Beelzebub the chief of the devils—for here he speaks of himself as some great prince that had gone about his countries to view his provinces, his kingdoms and cities.  “I come,” says he, “from visiting my several places and dominions, ‘I come from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it’

These expressions are not to be understood properly, for properly spirits such as Satan is cannot be said “to go or to walk.”  A spirit moves, that is proper to a spirit:  but properly a spirit does not walk or go that is proper only to bodies.  But the word which we translate, “from going to and fro,” is translated by some, “from compassing the earth,” or “from compassing about in the world,” and then it is proper:  the original signifying to compass or circuit about by any kind of motion as well as by going.

Further, for the understanding of Satan’s “going to and fro in the earth”:  We must not conceive that this is all that Satan does, to walk up and down in the world, to go to and fro.  He is no idle peripatetic, but by going to and fro in the earth is noted.

First, consider the exact discovery which Satan makes of all things in the earth.  The wording signifies to inquire, to search diligently into a thing.  It is not a bare going about, but it is a going about as a spy, to search, to inquire, to observe and consider diligently all things as one passes along.  The same word is used in Dan. 12:4 for discoursing; we translate it thus:  “Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased.”  Now, we may wonder how knowledge should be increased by running to and fro, up and down. They that would increase knowledge should rather sit still and consider, and debate things; but the word (so some translate it) signifies to discourse or dispute of things: They shall discourse or go about to inquire into things and knowledge shall be increased.  Thus Satan’s going to and fro in the earth is a discoursing upon everything, a disputing upon every point and person. 

He does as it were debate every man’s condition as he goes, and every man’s estate, every man’s temper, and every man’s calling; he considers what is fittest to be done against him, and how he may assault him with greatest advantage.  That is the running or going to and fro which is here meant in the text:  It is a going to and fro to increase his knowledge, and inform himself of all things as he goes. 

The same word is used concerning the good Angels, in Zech. 1:10.  It is said there, that they were sent “to walk to and fro through the earth”; it was not a bare passing through the earth, but a curious observing and prying into all things as they went.  We translate it as walking to and fro, but it is a walking as to bring God in intelligence, for these were sent out as Christ’s intelligencers, to bring Him in a report of the state of things abroad:  for so there in the vision it is expressed after the manner of men.  Though Christ needs not to inform Him about the estate of His Church and people, yet He alludes to the custom of princes, who maintain intelligencers in all courts and kingdoms, to advise them how the affairs of other nations are transacted.  The very same original word is used of God Himself in Zech. 4:10:  “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth.”  He is His own intelligencer, exactly discovering and taking notice of everything that is done in the world.  So then, this is the meaning of “‘I have been going to and fro in the earth,’ says Satan”, that is, “I have fully and thoroughly taken notice of all passages, of all persons in all places, of all conditions and sorts of men.  That is the thing I have been doing.”  Thus, Mr. Broughton translates, “From searching to and fro in the earth”, noting his exactness of inquiry in his travels.

Then secondly, it notes the unquietness of Satan.  He is unquiet, a restless spirit, and being cast out of Heaven, he can rest nowhere.  A soul that is once displaced and out of the favor of God, has no place to repose in afterward.  Now says he, all my business is walking to and fro, going up and down, Satan has no rest.  As the sentence of Cain was, in Gen. 4, when God had cast him out of His presence, “Thou shalt be a fugitive and a vagabond”:  You shall do nothing but run up and down the world as long as you live.  Satan is such a fugitive, a vagabond, one that runs up and down in the world; he is an unsettled, an unquiet spirit.  They who are once departed from God, can never find rest in any creature, but running to and fro is their condition and their curse.

Thirdly, some understand it thus, that Satan makes (as it were) a recreation of his tempting and drawing men to hell.  Satan cannot possibly, in a proper sense, take any comfort or be refreshed, but as one does well express it, he himself being lost, undone and damned, seeks to comfort himself by undoing and damning others.  It is a joy to some to have companions in sorrow.  All Satan’s delight (if we may conceive he has any delight) is in this, in making others as bad and miserable as himself.  Therefore it may be he calls his trade of seduction and destruction, “walking up and down in the earth”, as men are said to walk up and down for refreshing and recreation; he speaks of it, not as of some toilsome hard journey, but as of walking for delight.  But I conceive the former to be more proper.

Take two or three notes from this:

First, here we may observe, that there is no place in the world that can secure a man from temptation, or be a sanctuary from Satan’s assault.  For Satan goes to and fro through the earth; he is a ubiquitary; he stays nowhere but runs everywhere.  It is folly to think one can shut oneself up in walls from the temptations of Satan.  Cloisters are as open to Satan as the open field.  “Satan walks to and fro through the earth.”

Secondly, we may note here the diligence of Satan; Satan is very active to do mischief. “He walks to and fro”, as Peter expresses it in I Pet. 5:8:  “[Satan] goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  There is his diligence, and there is his intent.  Satan speaks nothing of his intent here; he conceals that.  He speaks only as if he went about like a pilgrim walking through the earth; his main business that he went about to devour souls is kept in silence; but the Holy Ghost unmasks him and discovers the design of his walking to and fro: “he seeks whom he may devour.” If Satan be thus diligent, going about to tempt, we ought to be as diligent standing always upon our watch, to prevent his temptations.  Mr. Latimer, in one of his sermons where he taxes clergy, especially the Bishops of those times, for their idleness, proposes to them the example of the Prophets and Apostles and of Christ Himself.  Their diligence in going about to preach should quicken those idlers;  but (says he) if you will not follow their example, follow the example of Satan:  he goes about in his diocese to and fro continually.  Take example from him in doing evil, on how to do good; we may take example thus far from Satan, to be as forward to do good as he is to do hurt, to be as watchful against him as he is watchful against us.  If this be his business, to go to and fro through the earth, and his intent be to devour souls, then wherever we go in the world up and down, we ought to be careful to keep our own souls and gain the souls of others.

Thirdly, we may observe from it, that Satan is confined in his business to the earth.  He can get no farther than the earth or to the aerial part; he is called the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2).  Satan being once cast out of heaven can never get into heaven evermore.  There is no tempter in heaven; there is no serpent shall ever come into the celestial Paradise; there was one in the earthly Paradise, but there shall never be any in the celestial.  Therefore when we are once beyond the earth, we are beyond the reach of all temptations.  We are then at rest from Satan’s snares and practices, as well as from our own labors.




This article is taken from:  Caryl, Joseph.  An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Job. London: G. Miller, 1644.  A PDF file of this book can be downloaded, free of charge, at