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.