There are three levels of enmity in the curse on Satan:
- Enmity between Satan and the woman: Since redemption does not occur immediately, “the woman” likely does not refer specifically to Eve, but generally to womankind (although not necessarily all women).
- Enmity between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman: The seed of the woman may refer generally to mankind, but in Gen. 4 we see the seed of Satan (Cain) kill the seed of the woman (Abel). In 1 John 3.12, Cain originates from “the evil one.” John the Baptist calls the Pharisees and scribes a “brood of vipers” (Luke 3.7), a reference to their seed relationship to Satan. Jesus refers to his opponents as enjoined to their “father the devil” (John 8.44). So while the seed of Satan could be the angels (though not descended from him, they are associated with him; cf. Matt. 24.41; Rev. 12.7-9), the seed of Satan is likely referring to mankind that is not saved from its depraved condition and thus opposed to the seed of woman, or that portion of humanity that is redeemed.
- Enmity between a masculine singular (“he”) and Satan: The seed of the woman is also singular masculine, so “he” may refer to the same seed, which in the second enmity is understood to refer to a plurality (cf. Rom. 16.20). However, in this third enmity the plurality of the seed of Satan has been narrowed to one – Satan himself. Therefore, it is appropriate to narrow the seed of the woman to one who stands in place of God’s people. This appears to be the view of the translators of the Septuagint. In Greek the word “seed” is neuter, so if “he” stood exactly for the “seed,” the neuter word “it” would have been used. But they purposely used “he,” a masculine pronoun in Greek.
- By the way, curiously the Latin Vulgate uses “she” to uphold the view that Mary would crush the serpent’s head. There’s no support for this.
There is no word of blessing to Satan as there is to the woman and man – he stands condemned under the curse.
The woman is blessed with childrearing – this is not taken away. But not only is her agony multiplied, but she will be at odds with her husband. She shall desire to domineer her husband, just as immediately after sin desires to dominate Cain. In response, her husband will rule over her – while not necessary grammatically, in context it appears that the husband’s response is oppressive.
Man has brought death upon all mankind, but God blesses him with continued life and sustenance. His labor will be fraught with frustration and death looms.
Why do some men receive the gospel while others reject it? We can see that God sets enmity against Satan in the hearts of some, while others remain at enmity to God.