Accuser of the Brethren Meaning – Who is this Accuser?

Correctly understanding these terms leads to a better
understanding of the character of God and the Gospel.

The accuser of the brethren. The meaning of “accuser” is one who charges another with (in the spiritual context) a sin. In this study, we will look at who “the accuser of the brethren” is and whether God is ever an accuser.

Traditional Legal Model – While Satan is called “the accuser,” God also keeps records of sins, judges and executes the sentence and therefore His heavenly justice system must also include accusing and laying charges.

Biblical Healing Model – Satan alone is the accuser. God has no part in accusing. He does not keep a record of charges against us for the purpose of administering punishment. In fact, He is always on our side doing all He can to clear us of Satan’s accusations.

Anytime God points out sin He does it as gently as possible and only for the purpose of bringing to repentance; never to condemn or punish.

What Does it Mean to Accuse?

 Modern Dictionary

Accuse (verb)
1. to charge with the fault, offense, or crime (usually followed by of): He accused him of murder.
2. to find fault with; blame.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

Accuse (verb transitive)
1. To charge with, or declare to have committed a crime, either by plaint, or complaint, information, indictment, or impeachment; to charge with an offense against the laws, judicially or by a public process; as, to accuse one of a high crime or misdemeanor.
2. To charge with a fault; to blame.

Any accusation, in a legal sense, has to be relative to the breaking of laws.

Who is the Accuser of the Brethren?

“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev 12:9-10)

In the context, this is clearly showing Satan to be the accuser.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Pet 5:8)

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Eph 6:16)

“Satan” and “Accuser” are Related Words

H7853 שׂטן satan saw-tan’   a primitive root; v;

AV-adversary 5, resist 1; 61) (Qal) to be or act as an adversary, resist, oppose
H7854 שׂטן satan saw-tawn’
from 07853, Greek 4566 σαταν; n m;
AV-Satan 19, adversary 7, withstand 1; 27
1) adversary, one who withstands
1a) adversary (in general-personal or national)
2) superhuman adversary
2a) Satan (as noun pr)

An adversary, one who opposes another, would certainly be expected to accuse. There is a similar relation among Greek words:

“And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused (G1225) unto him that he had wasted his goods.” (Luke 16:1)

G1225 διαβάλλω diaballo

from 1223 and 906; v;
AV-accuse 1; 1
1) to throw over or across, to send over
2) to traduce, calumniate, slander, accuse, defame

G1228 διάβολος diabolos

from 1225; adj;
AV-devil 35, false accuser 2, slanderer 1; 38
1) prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely
1a) a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer,
2) metaph. applied to a man who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him

Who Does Satan Accuse?

Satan especially accuses God’s people:

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev 12:10)

In the Garden of Eden, he indirectly accused God of lying by misquoting Him and of being selfish in holding knowledge back from Adam and Eve:

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? … And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:1, 4-5)

Satan accused God in the story of Job of essentially buying Job’s worship:

“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” (Job 1:9-10)

He accused Joshua the high priest:

“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” (Zech 3:1)

Here is some commentary on that verse:

“That is, to be his accuser, as he is called Revelation 12:10. ‘So here he is represented as aggravating the faults of Joshua, the representative of the whole body of the Jews, (see Zechariah 3:2,) by this means to prevail with God to continue the Jews under the power of their adversaries. It was the custom in courts of judicature, for the accuser to stand at the right hand of the accused.'” (Benson Commentary on Zechariah 3:1)

Does God Ever Accuse?

“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom 8:33-34)

Many versions say “Who shall accuse …” or “Who will bring any charge …” God does not do that. His efforts are much more to justify – to set us right with Him and avoid anything that might drive us further from Him.

 There are a number of examples in scripture where God could have accused but did not.

The Woman Caught in Adultery

He did not condemn or accuse the woman caught in adultery:

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

Biblical Forgiveness

He did not even accuse those who unjustly brought her to Him but, rather, the common understanding is that He wrote their sins in the sand – the standard in stone (indicating permanence), the sins in sand (indicating God’s forgiveness). See my booklet (pictured above) and available here.

“This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” (John 8:6)

The result was self-conviction:

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:9)

The Devil

“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)

Simon the Pharisee

When Simon was unjustly accusing the woman washing the Savior’s feet. Jesus did not openly expose him for his hypocrisy but told a parable to get the point across. Read it and the result in Luke 7:40-47.

King David

God, through the prophet Nathan, brought conviction to King David of his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah not by accusation but by using a parable (2 Sam 12:1-7).

Accuse or Plead?

Here is an interesting verse:

“He [the LORD] will not always chide (H7378): neither will he keep his anger for ever.” (Psa 103:9)

Interesting because the word “chide,” in many other versions, is rendered as “accuse.”

“He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.” (Psa 103:9, New Living Translation)

“The LORD won’t always be angry and point out our sins;” (Psa 103:9, Contemporary English Version)

Yet the original Hebrew word is most often translated as to “plead” which sounds more helpful than to “accuse.” Pleading in the sense of trying to get us on His side; much different than accusing!

H7378 reeb

a primitive root; v;
AV-plead 27, strive 13, contend 12, chide 6, debate 2, misc 7; 67
1) to strive, contend
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to strive
1a1a) physically
1a1b) with words
1a2) to conduct a case or suit (legal), sue
1a3) to make complaint
1a4) to quarrel

What About Our Conscience?

We can come under conviction of sin because of our conscience. But God even gives us the option to turn it off – ignore it long enough and the “voice” becomes

inaudible. Notice the parallel within this verse:

“Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” (Romans 2:15)

  • their conscience also bearing witness
  • their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing

Our conscience can accuse us when we have done wrong but that is a good thing. We can still do something about it. We can turn in repentance to God Who is ready and willing to heal us of whatever is bothering our conscience.

See a video of a group study on the meaning of the term accuser.

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