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Seventh-Day Adventists/Azazel the Scapegoat: Christ or Satan?


Who is prefigured by the "scapegoat" of Lev 16:10,21 on the Day of Atonement? SDA traditionalists claim it is Satan. Is this correct? What are the implications if this interpretation is wrong or correct? Is this even important since we have no clear message from the NT about the scapegoat's fulfilment?

The Scapegoat:  Jesus or the Devil?

Adventist History is complicated and intriguing.  It is full of both myths and surprising insights.   Following the great disappointment of 1844, a 24-year-old Millerite preacher and publisher, named Owen R. L. Crosier claimed that Satan is the antitypical scapegoat, springing into action at the time of the Second Advent only to be destroyed by Christ.   

Crosier was greatly influenced by the older Hiram Edson, a farmer, who first taught that the sanctuary in heaven was the fulfillment of Dan 8: 14.   This doctrine was called the Cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary, which later morphed into the Investigative Judgment.  Both the scapegoat and the sanctuary teachings were anchored to Old Covenant shadows, which the SDAs developed into doctrines that survive to this very today.


O. R. L. Crosier, “The Law of Moses,” The Day-Star Extra, Feb. 7, 1846, 37-44.

Crosier’s 8 Reasons Why the Scapegoat is Satan, -Not Christ:

Ellen White embraced Crosier’s scapegoat position for many years.  However, after the 1888 debates, there is strong evidence in the White Estate that she changed her mind; just as she did about the Law in Galatians and other views during this same decade.   This scapegoat doctrine is just one more example that shows how the White Estate has not been honest about Ellen White.  They do not want to admit that she was ever wrong; much less that she changed her views.  

This is all wrong.  Ellen White grew and matured as a Christian.  More than that, she became involved in the 1888 debates, taking the minority position, which lost.  As a result she was exiled far away from Battle Creek to Australia, where she continued to push for doctrinal reform.

Ellen White

The White Estate should be ashamed for hiding so much information about Ellen White all these years.  And for failing to explain that Ellen White changed many of her views in the 1890’s, such as the Law in Galatians, the Gospel, Tithe, and the Scape Goat doctrine.  She also claimed during this time period that more truth would surface about the Sabbath.  Thus paving the way for a new version, which failed to emerge from the disruptive 1888 debates.

White Estate- Hidden Documents

Today, few SDAs have been informed that the decade of the 1890’s was one of great theological debate and change in Battle Creek, one that ended in a great schism and retreat to Takoma Park.  Because of the 1888 debates, which were not over until 1891, the majority of SDAs questioned the Sabbath as well as Adventist eschatology.   Legalism was under attack in Battle Creek all during the decade of the 1890’s, even as Uriah Smith, the long time Review editor, was demoted so AT Jones could promote Gospel Reform; a new emphasis on Jesus and a lowered focus on Law, judgment, and eschatology.  

This was also the same time that Ellen White wanted to change her view of the scapegoat, a fact that puzzles the White Estate today.  But it should not.   Ellen White was changing her mind about many doctrines during this decade, and the White Estate should know these historical facts, which they have been hiding all these years.  

Let everyone understand; after 1888, Ellen White changed her view of the law in Galatians, the Two Covenants, and the Gospel, and thus it makes perfect sense for her to also view Jesus as the scapegoat.  This is the correct Gospel position, supported by Calvin and others.  The SDA claim that Satan is the scapegoat is utter nonsense and myth; worthless speculation by uneducated legalists and farmers.

Today, the history of Battle Creek and Takoma Park has not been honestly told.  The White Estate has never correctly explained the 1888 debates or Ellen White’s many changed positions that resulted from this well documented theological controversy.  Moreover, the leaders hid this material in Takoma Park, misleading generations into believing a false view of Adventist history and doctrine.  Shameful!  

Ellen White would be livid at how her writings have been manipulated, suppressed, and made to say the opposite of what she meant.  When the Gospel is better understood, many SDA doctrines will turn into worthless sand.  The scapegoat teaching is no exception.  

Information for further study:

The scapegoat[

Adventists teach that the scapegoat, or Azazel, is a symbol for Satan. They believe that Satan will finally have to bear the responsibility for the sins of the believers of all ages, and that this was foreshadowed on the Day of Atonement when the high priest confessed the sins of Israel over the head of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:21).

This belief has drawn criticism from some Christians, who feel this gives Satan the status of sin-bearer alongside Jesus Christ. Adventists have responded by insisting that Satan is not a saviour, nor does he provide atonement for sin; Christ alone is the substitutionary sacrifice for sin, but holds no responsibility for it. In the final judgment, responsibility for sin is passed back to Satan who first caused mankind to sin. As the responsible party, Satan receives the wages for his sin and the sins of all the saved—namely, death. Thus, the unsaved are held responsible for their own sin, while the saved are no longer held responsible for theirs.[142]

Ellen White Declares Christ the Scapegoat!

Manuscript 112, 1897, titled “Before Pilate and Herod,” is a 19-page typed document with typical editorial corrections by Ellen White’s secretaries (most of which were made by Maggie Hare), and stamped with “E. G. White” after the end of the content of page 19. This was the usual procedure in her office when making multiple carbon copies of an Ellen White manuscript. There are only three original typewritten copies of this manuscript. One of them contains all 19 pages, and the other two, including the file copy, end on page 17, with the last paragraph of page 17 cut off, and pages 18 and 19 omitted.

The overall content of the deleted pages is not unusual except for the first paragraph of page 18, dealing specifically with the “scapegoat.” That paragraph reads as follows:

Some apply the solemn type, the scape goat, to Satan. This is not correct. He cannot bear his own sins. At the choosing of Barabbas, Pilate washed his hands. He cannot be represented as the scape goat. The awful cry, uttered with a hasty awful recklessness, by the Satan inspired multitude, swelling louder and louder, reaches up to the throne of God, His blood be upon us and upon our children. Christ was the scape goat, which the type represents. He alone can be represented by the goat borne into the wilderness. He alone, over whom death had no power, was able to bear our sins. 18

This 1897 statement departs completely from everything else Ellen White wrote on the subject either before (as confirmed by the quotations above); or later (as presented in the 1911 edition of The Great Controversy).

In the 1911 edition, prepared under her own supervision, 19 she still spoke of the post-1844 era as the “antitypical day of atonement” 20 that will culminate with the final destruction of Satan, at the end of the 1,000 years of Revelation 20, as the antitypical “scapegoat.” 21 So there is no convincing reason to believe that she ever changed her mind on the subject.

See also:

Leviticus 16:10

What is the meaning of Azazel / the scapegoat?

The Atonement and the Scapegoat: Leviticus 16

The Scapegoat and the Sanctuary



The Day of Atonement and the Scapegoat

Your Scapegoat: Satan or Jesus?
I believed for thirty-seven years as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that Satan was my scapegoat and that Jesus would put my confessed sins on Satan’s head and he would be punished and die for them because Ellen G. White (EGW) said so. I made the mistake of trusting her as my authority. The result of using her as an authority "the lesser light" to the Bible, gave me a false understanding of the work of my Savior in saving me. I have received a great blessing in learning that Jesus is my Scapegoat and it has given me a greater love and admiration for Jesus’ atonement to save me. I hope you will enjoy this research.

ELLEN G WHITE: By The White Estate

The identification and eschatological meaning of the scapegoat of Leviticus 16 has generated much discussion in academic circles. Within ancient Jewish tradition, the scapegoat was always seen as a demonic being. 1 But since the post-apostolic period, many Christian expositors have tried to identify it with Christ and His sacrificial death. 2 Seventh-day Adventists have stressed a clear distinction between “the goats” of Leviticus 16:8, considering the one “for the Lord” as a type of Christ, and the one “for the scapegoat [Heb. Azazel]” as representing Satan. 3 This is also the view expressed in Ellen White’s writings.

An Unusual Statement

Seventh-day Adventists accepted O. R. L. Crosier’s biblical arguments that Satan is the antitypical scapegoat that comes into action at the time of Christ’s second advent. Ellen White not only shared the same views, but also taught them consistently throughout her writings. The existence of a single typed paragraph of questionable origin, speaking of Christ instead of Satan as the antitypical scapegoat, should not be used as evidence that she changed her mind on that subject. If that were the case, we would expect to find such a change reflected in her post-1897 writings. It would have changed her entire eschatological framework, shifting both the antitypical scapegoat from Satan to Christ, and the antitypical Day of Atonement from the post-1844 era back to the cross. But none of her writings reflects such a change.

Regardless of how this questionable passage became part of Manuscript 112, 1897, the statement should be viewed as exceptional. It does not provide a reason for anyone to fall into the dangerous fallacy of “generalization,” 22 by which one or a few exceptions are generalized as the overall rule. Ellen White’s writings provide enough evidences that, up to the end of her life, she continued to identify Satan as the eschatological scapegoat.

Yet, we are left with some obvious questions: Did Ellen White herself write that unusual paragraph? How did it become part of one of her manuscripts? And when was it cut from the fuller manuscript? We know only that the shortened copy is what was on file when the collection of her unpublished writings was microfilmed for safekeeping in 1951. But no additional information has been found to help answer those questions. Therefore, any attempt to answer those questions remains in the speculative realms.

What is known is that everywhere else in Ellen G. White’s comments she identifies the scapegoat as Satan. And the other known fact is that Ellen White never incorporated this passage in her published works, although other lines from the manuscript were used. 23 Thus, although we do not have clear answers about the actual origin of this unique paragraph, there is no uncertainty regarding Ellen White’s lifelong understanding of the identity of the antitypical scapegoat.


Today, the White Estate still pretends that Ellen White has not changed her mind about doctrine.  But the facts are clear, she made many changes after 1888, including about the scapegoat.   Let everyone understand: the official story promoted about Ellen White is false and very misleading.  No one should trust anything from the White Estate.  The Ellen White marketed to the world is fiction; the White Estate has been promoting the greatest publishing fraud in modern history.  Shameful!  Ellen White would not be pleased and neither should anyone else.

As for the scapegoat, John Calvin, as well as Wesley, Spurgeon, etc., are correct to say that BOTH goats represent Jesus.  And so too Ellen White, who understood the Gospel after the 1888 debates. The Scapegoat is Christ, not Satan!  Crosier was an uneducated farmer, not a theologian or scholar.  Who cares what he speculated?  Why would anyone today follow such nonsense?

Listen to John Calvin correctly explain that BOTH goats represent Christ.

A twofold mode of expiation is here presented to us; for one of the two goats was offered in sacrifice according to the provisions of the Law, the other was sent away to be an outcast, or offscouring.

The fulfillment of both figures, however, was manifested in Christ, since He was both the Lamb of God, whose offering blotted out the sins of the world, and, that He might be as an offscouring; His comeliness was destroyed, and He was rejected of men.

A more subtle speculation might indeed be advanced, viz., that after the goat was presented, its sending away was a type of the resurrection of Christ; as if the slaying of the one goat testified that the satisfaction for sins was to be sought in the death of Christ; whilst the preservation and dismissal of the other showed that after Christ had been offered for sin, and had borne the curse of men, He still remained alive.

I embrace, however, what is more simple and certain, and am satisfied with that; i.e., that the goat which departed alive and free, was an atonement, that by its departure and flight the people might be assured that their sins were put away and vanished.

This was the only expiatory sacrifice in the Law without blood; nor does this contradict the statement of the Apostle, for since two goats were offered together, it was enough that the death of one should take place, and that its blood should be shed for expiation; for the lot was not cast until both goats had been brought to the door of the tabernacle; and thus although the priest presented one of them alive “to make an atonement with him,” as Moses expressly says, yet God was not propitiated without blood, since the efficacy of the expiation depended on the sacrifice of the other goat.

As to the word Azazel, although commentators differ, I doubt not but that it designates the place to which the scape-goat was driven. It is certainly a compound word, equivalent to “the departure of the goat,”…

Calvin's Complete Commentary, Volume 1: Genesis to Joshua

It is time for Adventism to grow up and repent of their many Old Covenant doctrines and myths, including their error about the scapegoat.  They must reposition themselves to follow Jesus and his Gospel, not Moses and the Law.  The SDAs must repudiate the Old Covenant with both hands, including the 4th Commandment, replacing their false doctrines with the New Covenant teachings of Christ.

Mark 4:23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Tom Norris, for All Experts & New Covenant Adventism

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Tom Norris


I can answer most any question about church history and theology, starting from 1818 when William Miller articulated the 1st Angels Message that became the foundation of the Adventist Movement. While this first prophetic message terminated in the spring of 1844, it was followed by what Adventists refer to as the 2nd Angels Message, which dates from the spring of 1844 until the great disappointment of October 22, 1844. By 1847, the 3rd Angels Message had been developed and this Sabbatarian theology represents the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Moreover, I can explain the historical and theological development of the SDA denomination from its beginning and on through the great Battle Creek schism that forced the SDA's to retreat to Takoma Park. Here the 20th century church recovered from their internal battles that had erupted at the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis over the definition of the law and the Gospel. Fearing another repeat of this disaster, President Daniels, determined to hide this debate. However, this policy led to more conflict, especially over the role and authority of Ellen White, a unique and accomplished religious writer that had remarkable spiritual gifts. However, by the decade of the 1970`s, the church once again erupted into debate. The hierarchy settled the turmoil in 1980 with the trial of Dr. Desmond Ford at Glacier View. Here Dr. Ford was exiled because he supposedly disagreed with Ellen White over the Fundamentals. But this controversial action resulted in another major schism that is still in progress today.


Tom Norris was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist in Takoma Park, Md. He attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate. Over the years he has also interviewed a number of prominent Adventist scholars, theologians, and Pastors ranging from the late Arthur White to the exiled Dr. Desmond Ford. In addition, he has amassed a large private library, which includes numerous rare books and manuscripts about Adventist theology and history. He is presently the online editor of Adventist Reform, and can be found at Adventist for Tomorrow answering questions online about SDA theology and history as well as promoting Adventist Reform.

Tom Norris attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate.

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