I was laying in front of the t.v., watching Cinderella (shut up) with my daughter, when I heard our heroine address the household cat as, "Lucifer." I know, I know - the name of the Devil! Or is it? (That's right, I am convinced that there is a Devil; but if you're looking for the skinny on why you're going to have to wait until I get a larger piece I've written online; I can't reinvent that wheel.)
I started scanning my memory for different Scriptural mentions of Satan (a name which means adversary), or the Devil (deceiver), but I couldn't recall anyplace where this fallen angel was actually referred to by the name Lucifer. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) use the term Beelzebul, but again, that is a title meaning "lord of the flies" (death). So when did Christians start referring to the Devil by the name Lucifer, and more importantly, why?
Well, a couple of minutes of research in the Catholic Encyclopedia (online at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09410a.htm) told me that lucifer is simply Latin for "brilliant light." It was applied to the Devil because of St. Jerome's Latin translation (about 400 A.D.) of Isaiah 14:12-15:
How are you fallen from heaven, O Day Star [Lucifer], son of Dawn!
How are you cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; above the stars
of God. I will set my throne on high...I will make myself like the
But you were brought down to Sheol, to the depth of the Pit.
In the context of Isaiah, these words are addressed to the King of Babylon who would answer to the Lord for his proud behavior and crimes against the nations. Christians have seen the words as being applicable to the Devil as well though - the "power behind the throne" of Babylon you could say. (As an aside, this same principle has been employed when reading the prophet Ezekiel's words to the King of Tyre, "You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering...You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you...so I cast you as a profane thing from the mount of God." Ezekiel 28:12-16)
Long story short, Lucifer is not the Devil's proper name. It's a title, just like the other terms used to identify this fallen angel. Given that, I think it was a great name for Cinderella's cat; and my daughter and I were both glad when that thing bought it in the end.