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Demonology (Part I)

We come to the final topic of the spiritual realm. We’ve done Angels and Satan; now we do demons.

This also closes out STI.

Basic Survey of their Existence:

The Explicit OT data is limited. Not a lot is said.

The NT data is extensive.

There are many summary statements in the Gospels of Jesus’ works regarding demons, including the expulsion of demons. The passages are too legion to list (Matt. 4:24; Mk. 1:32; Luke 4:41, Acts 10:38 etc.)

There are also many statements regarding Jesus’ commissioning that same work through His representatives (i.e., disciples). Again, the references are legion (Lk. 10:17; Acts 5:16, etc.).

False accusations of demon possession:

-- Against John the Baptist (Matt. 11:18; Lk 7:33).

-- Against Jesus (Matt. 9:34; 12:22-32, 43-45).

Specific Demoniacs:

-- Gadarene demoniacs (Matt. 8:28-34).

-- Dumb man (Matt. 9:32-33).

-- Blind and dumb man (Matt. 12:22; Lk. 11:14).

-- Daughter of the Syrophenician woman (Matt. 15:22; Mk. 7:25-30).

-- The boy after Christ’s transfiguration (Matt. 17:14-20; Mk. 9:14-29; Lk. 9:37-43).

-- Man in Capernaum Synagogue (Mk. 1:23-27; Lk. 4:33-37).

-- Mary Magdalene (Lk. 8:2).

-- The girl at Philippi (Acts 16:16-20).

Conclusion: One who accepts the Bible as God’s Word (and Jesus’ testimony about demons) must accept their existence.

Biblical Terminology for Demons:

OT Vocabulary:

שֵׁדִים (Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37)

ANE background: ”Undoubtedly Hebrew shed is to be connected with the Babylonian word shedu, a demon either good or evil. In pagan religions the line between gods and demons is not a constant one. There are demons who are beneficent and gods who are malicious. Generally speaking though, a demon was conceived as being less powerful than God.” (Victor Hamilton).

שָׂעִיר (Satyr (Lev. 17:7; 2Chron. 11:15; Isa. 13:2

Meaning: adj. ‘Hairy,’ noun. ‘He-goat. Satyr may refer to a demon possessed goat, like the swine of gadarene (Mat. 8:30-32). (BDB).

Possibly elohim (Ps. 96:5)

NT Vocabulary:


Pre -- NT development:

In the Homeric period it was used to designate a supernatural power. There was little difference at that time between theos (God) and daimon. However, it appears that Daimon was used to speak of an unknown supernatural power.

In the post--Homeric times it referred to intermediates known as demi-gods, or the spirits of the good men of the Golden Age.

A later rabbinical association was that demons are morally imperfect beings.

In the pseudepigraphical writings, etc. there was an identification with fallen angels.

NT usage:

Only once - Matt. 8:31.

In the Textus Receptus, it also occurs in Mk. 5:12; Lk. 8:29; Rev. 16:14, 18:2.


This term is a diminutive that comes from the one above.

It would mean “lesser deity,” or “inferior deity.”

The Jews preferred this term over daimon because they viewed any other supernatural beings as less than true deity.

63 occurrences in the NT:

There were also derivatives of this world that occurs as well.

Pneuma (as qualified by adjectives or contextual facts, such as a ‘bad/evil’ spirit.’

Matt. 8:16 - just the word “pneuma” is used, but the context lets us know it’s a demon, as the context is speaking of some kind of possession.

Matt. 10:1 - “unclean spirit.”

Matt. 12:34 - “more wicked spirit.”

Mk. 9:25 - “a dumb and deaf spirit.”

Lk. 4:33 - “... spirit of an unclean demon.”

Lk. 7:21 - “evil spirit.”

Lk. 13:11 - “sickness caused by a spirit…”

Acts 16:16 - “spirit of divination…”

1Tim. 4:1 - “deceitful spirit…”

Rev. 16:14 - “spirit of demons…”

Theories on Identification of Demons:

-- The theory that demons are personified diseases.

The assumption is that certain diseases were superstitiously regarded as being the result of demonic influence.


Very frequently the NT distinguishes between demon possession and physical diseases (Matt. 4:24; Mk 1:32, 34; Lk. 4:31-44).

Sometimes physical infirmities are associated with demon possession to the extent that the delivered victim is said to have been ‘healed’ (i.e., Matt. 17:14-18).

But the point to understand is that this is sometimes, and is, indeed, the rare witness of the NT.

The evidence for the personalities of demons is compelling:

-- They have intellect (Mk. 1:24).

-- They are sensible, especially with their emotions (James 2:19).

-- They exhibit a will (Matt. 8:31).

-- They have a moral responsibility (Matt. 8:29).

-- They have speech (Mk. 5:7).


So it’s a bad view.

It’s not wrong to associate illnesses with demonic activity, but it’s wrong to equate sickness as being demonic activity.

Further, physical affliction is not the main way demonic activity is seen in the Scriptures, though we do see some evidence of it in the NT.

-- The theory that demons are disembodied spirits of the evil dead.

[What you see in most movies].

This was the common ancient Greek view. For example, Josephus said that demons were ‘the spirits of the wicked that enter into men that are alive and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them.’”


Human spirits are not free to wander where the want. This is clear from Scripture (Lk. 16:27-31).

Heb. 9:27 says that  it’s appointed once for men die, and then face judgement. 

So there’s no such thing as “haunting” or “vengeful spirits.” All people die and immediately face their Maker.

There are two occasions where this appears to have an exception, but it seems that this occurred for God’s own special purposes (1Sam. 28 [witch of Endor]; Matt. 17 [transfiguration]).

Human spirits are never depicted as having the knowledge, nor the powers, which demons demonstrate in the Scriptures.

So it’s a bad view.

-- The theory that demons are the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race.

Their presuppositions:

-- A gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

-- The existence of a pre-Adamic race.

-- A distinction between demons and angels, arguing that:

Demons and angels are never equated in the bible.

-- Demons crave embodiment, they’ll even settle for ‘pigs,” (e.g., Matt. 12:43, Mk. 5:12). They’ll, then, say that angels are never seen to have such cravings, so there must be a clear distinction between angels and demons.

Acts 23:8-9 differentiates between angels who are spirits and demons.

Evil angels are ‘bound’ (Jude 6).

Demons are stupid and angels are intelligent.

Responses (in order of the assumptions given above):

-- No gap can be documented between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

-- Adam and Eve are consistently presented in the bible as the fountainhead of the race (Gen. 3:20; Rom. 5:12; 1Cor. 15:45).

-- There is no biblical evidence that would forbid the identification of demons with fallen angels.

-- They are never distinguished in the Bible.

-- Craving embodiment is overly emphasized and generalized.

Quite probably it is to accomplish certain purposes.

The situation with the pigs is better understood to be desperation, as an alternative to complete destruction.

Satan, who undoubtedly falls into the class of angels (c.f., we saw this in Satanology), himself entered Judas.

-- In Acts 23:8-9

“Spirit” does not refer to demons in contrast to angels.

“Spirit” is often used of angels as well as of demons.

Not all evil angels are bound (e.g., Satan).

-- There is no indictations that demons are stupid.

-- The theory that demons are the disembodied spirits of the ‘Nephilim’ of Genesis 6.

The nephilim are mentioned in Gen. 6:4 are the “Sons of God” who cohabited with women and produced the mighty men.

So this view states that when God judged them all of the nephilim died, but their spirits were loosed and craved embodiment.


The key problem with this view is that there is no clear statement regarding who the nephilim were prior to their death. Were they men, or some other type of creature similar to angels?

When trying to argue for this position, often 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6 are used. However, if these passages somehow describe disembodied spirits caused by the Flood, then they do not help the position at all. For in both cases, the passages clearly show that these angels are kept in ‘hell’ (2Peter) and ‘eternal bonds’ (Jude). This would obviously keep them from wandering about seeking to possess/inhabit humans.”

-- The theory that demons are fallen angels.

This is the most probable view and possesses the strongest biblical data to support it.

Matthew 12:24 with 25:41:

“But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."

“Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…”

Here, we have Satan as “ruler of demons” and then “Satan and his angels.”

They are used interchangeably.

Matthew 4:6 with 25:41:

“and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'"

“Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…”

Here, note the possessive pronouns in both cases. 

God has “His” angels, and Satan has “his.”

Lk. 9: 26 - "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Here, the term “holy” angels, gives the implication that there are also angels who are not holy.

1 Cor. 6:3 - “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”

So apparently we’re going to judge angels.

If the ones in heaven are holy angels, then what exactly is it that were are judging them for?

Again, the implication is that there are unholy angels.

2 Cor. 12:7 - “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to keep me from exalting myself!”

*Here, the term ‘messenger’ is “angelos.”

1 Tim. 5:21 - “ I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

*“Elect angels” imply that there are those angels who are not elect.

2 Pet. 2:4 - “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment…”

*These are angels who are in hell awaiting their final judgment.

Jude 6 - “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day…”

Rev. 12: 7, 9 - “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.


Next time we’ll talk about: 

The “Sons of God in Gen. 6 and what’s going on with that. We’ll talk about the activities of demons, demon possession, identification of demons, as well as expulsion (or what’s commonly referred to as “exorcism”), and the destiny of demons.

So that’s what’s to come.


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