Question: Was the Serpent in Genesis 3 a literal snake? (Reference: Gen. 3:1,14) I cannot understand how a serpent could talk to Eve and then end up being a snake. What is the answer?
Answer: Satan is described as a serpent in Genesis 3, not a literal serpent or snake as some have projected, but, rather as a description of his character.
If God had meant a literal snake, He would have directed the Holy Spirit to inspire Moses to write down Genesis 3:1 this way. "Now the serpent was more subtil that any (other) beast of the field."
The Scripture is merely saying that Satan is more subtil, or crafty, than any "beast of the field," in the same way we would say, "Sly as a fox," "Strong as an ox," or, "Slippery as an eel." The Scripture is describing Satan's character.
Satan is called by many names. Notice in Revelation 12:9 where he is called "dragon," serpent," "Devil," and "Satan."
"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world..."
In Revelation 12:10 he is called the "accuser." In Ephesians 2:2 he is referred to as "the prince of the power of the air." In Ezekiel 28:14, before Satan's fall, he was referred to as "the anointed cherub." These are all descriptions of his character, some before his fall and some after.
In Ezekiel 28 God describes the literal king of Tyre who becomes a picture of the Devil, who was the spirit who deceived the king, therefore causing the king to be the personification of the Devil. Consider Ezekiel 28:13, where we are told,
"Thou (Satan) hast been in Eden the garden of God..."
Let us return to Genesis 3:14 where we are told concerning Satan, that had been in Eden,
"...upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life."
This is usually the verse that brings about the idea of a snake in some people’s eyes. If I am not mistaken, snakes eat rodents, and not dust!
When someone experiences defeat we used to use the phrase, "They bit the dust!" Every time a lost person trusts Christ as Savior, Satan has "bitten the dust," because he has lost claim to them for eternal Hell that was created for him (Matthew 25:41).
Satan would like to see every Christian living bring a disgrace to Christ; BUT, when we put on the "whole armor of God," (Ephesians. 6:11,13) we are "able to stand against the wiles (cunning devices, craft, or deceit) of the Devil." Therefore, Satan has again "bitten the dust" in defeat.
His ultimate end will be in biting the dust in defeat when he is cast into the Lake of Fire, forever! (Revelation 20:10)