The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
Angels of Evil?
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
What Are Demons?
To “have a demon” was the same as to “have an unclean spirit”, which is a Bible way of saying that something was wrong or “unclean” about a person’s way of thinking or mental capability. In short, a person with a demon was a person with a mental illness.
Satanology of the Apostolic Fathers: The Didache
Scholarly consensus dates the Didache at the end of the first century.¹ Although the Didache shares a Jewish ‘Two Ways’ textual source with the Epistle of Barnabas² (represented in Qumran texts such as the ‘Community Rule’ or ‘Manual of Discipline’ 1QS, 4QSa-j, 5Q11, 5Q13), it has treated this source very differently to Barnabas. Whereas Barnabas adopted and amplified the supernatural evil found in the Two Ways text, the Didache has eliminated it. This is immediately apparent from a comparison of the opening of the Didache to its parallels in 1QS and Barnabas.
When Demonology Fails: Strategies of Denial
It is significant that many Christians who profess a belief in demons, act as if they do not. They usually treat illnesses as if they were natural in origin (rather than supernatural), including those illnesses which the New Testament writers apparently attributed to demonic possession. Additionally, they interpret certain New Testament passages which appear to be speaking of illness caused by demonic possession, as if the passages are speaking of mental illness. This method of interpreting the text is known as ‘demythologization’, and it is ironic that Christians who believe in demons typically denounce such a method as invalid, whilst employing it themselves and denying this undermines their case.
Bible Basics: The Angels
All that we have considered so far in this Study is brought together by a consideration of the Angels:
“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” (Mark. 1:24)
“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.” (Luke 9:1)
“For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.” (Acts 8:7)
Come To Torment Us
“And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Mark 8:29)
Lunatics and the Swine
“So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.” (Matthew 8:31)
Casting Out Devils
“And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.” (Mark 1:34)
My Name Is Legion
“And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.” (Mark 5:9)
“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.” (Luke 8:2)
Satan and the Evil Inclination in Hebrew Poetry
One way to identify Hebrew poetry is through the use of “Thought Rhyme” (also known as “Parallelism”). Synonymous parallelism is where the thought of the first line is repeated in the second line, expressed in different words for emphasis. A good example is found in Psalms 24:2:
Majority of Americans Believe in the Devil
A majority of Americans believe in the devil, especially blacks and women, according to a new national poll about exorcism. The YouGov survey found that fifty-seven percent believe the devil exists (seventy-two percent for African Americans and sixty-one percent for women).
Seizure’s Lament: An Epileptic’s Documentary
Background: A Seizure’s Lament was first commissioned by the 2011 Deep Wireless Festival in Toronto and aired on CBC Radio’s Living Out Loud. It later aired on CBC Radio’s Tapestry and was featured at the Third Coast Filmless Festival in Chicago and PRX’s How Sound show.
The word “devil” in the [King James Version of the] New Testament is also used to represent the original word daimon; and the translation is tainted with the theory of the translators concerning disembodied spirits, or ghosts. The prevalent idea in the days of Jesus was that diseases were produced by “spirits.” Blindness, dumbness, insanity, etc., were all the work of “spirits” possessed by the unfortunate victims. Our language is full of words of heathen origin; but such words no longer mean what they did on the lips of a heathen. Our meaning is well understood now when we call an insane person a “lunatic,” without retaining the theory that the person is moonstruck. One using the word “lunatic” would not thereby be committed to the ancient theory.
Note on Diabolical Possession
In the New Testament, disease, except when it is a special visitation from God (Hebrews 12:6), is regarded as the work of super-natural forces (Matthew 9:32, 12:22; Luke 11:14, 13:16; Acts 10:38, etc.). In particular, nervous diseases and insanity are represented as due to diabolical possession. This was the universal belief of the time, and our Lord, in using language which implies it, need not be regarded as teaching dogmatically that there is such a thing as possession, devils or demons. There were strong reasons why He should seek to ‘accommodate’ his language to the popular theory. (1) The insane persons whom He wished to heal, were firmly convinced that they were possessed by devils. This was the form assumed by the insane delusion, and to argue against it was useless. The only wise course was to assume that the unclean spirit was there, and to command it to come forth. (2) It was our Lord’s method not rashly or unnecessarily to interfere with the settled beliefs of his time, or to anticipate the discoveries of modern science. The belief in demonic possession, though probably erroneous, was so near the truth, that for most purposes of practical religion it might be regarded as true. He, therefore, did not think fit to disturb it. He tolerated the belief and left it to the advance of knowledge in future ages to correct the extravagances connected with it.
The Language of Accommodation
John Walton said it particularly well in a lecture: “Nowhere in the Bible does God ever ‘upgrade’ the Israelites’ understanding of the world.” Meaning: He doesn’t tell them the world is a sphere; He doesn’t tell them that the sun is bigger than the earth or that most stars are bigger than the sun. He doesn’t expound the germ theory of disease. He doesn’t explain the causes of mental illness. He doesn’t give them any new technology—including steam engines, but also including, say, soap; etc., etc. He takes them as He finds them, and expounds to them theological ideas only.
Celsus, Origen and Satan
After these matters, Celsus brings the following charges against us from another quarter: “Certain most impious errors,” he says, “are committed by them [the Christians], due to their extreme ignorance, in which they [the Christians] have wandered away from the meaning of the divine enigmas, creating an adversary to God, [i.e.] the devil, and naming him in the Hebrew tongue, Satan. Now, of a truth, such statements are altogether of mortal invention, and not even proper to be repeated, viz., that the mighty God, in His desire to confer good upon men, has yet one counterworking Him, and is helpless.”
The Faust Legend
We frequently hear it said that the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century achieved so much in the direction of enlightenment, in the casting off of superstitions which had gathered around the Christian church, in the elevation of the masses, in the betterment of mankind. Yet Martin Luther, its founder and chief agitator, is shown to have been most intolerant towards those who would not subscribed to every view he held, every doctrine he propagated. Be this, however, as it may, is it true that he and his associates, or even his successors, wholly freed the church from beliefs lowering in character, derogatory to true religion, offensive to a belief in the Omnipotence and Almightiness of God? We can present no more striking illustration to the contrary than the fear of the Devil, who is represented as a superhuman being who influences mankind for evil; who has equal power, and is constantly warring, with God. And yet, we find that in Luther’s age this belief was prevalent to such an extent that the Faust legend arose, about which we are given the following information:
Epilepsy or Demon-Possession?
A Christian who does not believe in the literal existence of demons faces many challenges in making a strong case in light of the first three gospel records. Matthew, Mark and Luke all make frequent reference to “demons” and “evil spirits,” which at first glance seem to make a strong case for their literal existence. Yet there are some disturbing things that should make a believer in demons take a more cautious stance.
Heathen writers used the word “demon” with considerable latitude. In Homer’s writings, where gods are but supernatural men, the word “daimon” ( Greek) is used interchangeably with “theos” (Greek word, translated “God”). Afterwards Hesiod used it to denote intermediate beings — messengers of the gods to men. This became its general meaning, although in poetry and in philosophy “to daimonion” was sometimes used as equivalent to “to theion” for any superhuman nature. Aristotle applies the term to Divinity, Providence. Plato used the word in the distinctly limited sense. It was also believed that the “daimonia” became tutelary deities of individuals, hence “daimonion” was often used in the sense of “fate” or “destiny” of a man. McClintock Strong states:
Demons and Demoniacs Among the Jews in the Time of Christ: Whence the Doctrine was Derived
In regard to the doctrine of Demons, their origin, character, actions, and their power to possess and torment the bodies of the living, and the method of their expulsion, we find the Jews, in the time of the Savior, in perfect agreement with the Orientals, the Greeks, and the Romans. Of course this acknowledged fact provokes the question, Whence did they obtain these notions respecting demonology? We have no accounts of persons possessed with devils or demons, no allusions to casting out unclean spirits from the bodies of the living, in any of the historical, prophetic or poetic books of the Mosaic or the Law dispensation.
Case Study: Resheph
I now want to bring together much of what I’ve been saying by considering a widely believed in demon called Resheph. He is mentioned by name in documents found in such widely separated places as Mari, Ugarit, Egypt, Cyprus and Carthage. This indicates the popularity of belief in him amongst Israel’s neighbours—neighbours who constantly tempted Israel to accept their beliefs, hence God’s allusion to Resheph in the prophets. He was thought to be responsible for plague and violent death. A dictionary defines him as: “Probably a War God. Lord of the Arrow. Has gazelle horns on his helmet. He destroys men in mass by war and plague. He is the porter of the sun Goddess Shepesh (this seems to resemble Khamael of the Hebrews). He is also called Mekal (annihilator), and could be related to the Hebrew Michael (Mikal) who is also a War God (archangel)”. He was thus set up as the pagan demonic equivalent to Michael, the angel that stood for Israel (Daniel 12:1). This demon was widely believed in throughout the nations surrounding Israel¹. So common was this belief that we might expect a specific denunciation of his existence from Yahweh. But not so. We read of Resheph in the Hebrew text of the Bible; and always Yahweh is demonstrating that what Resheph is supposed to do, actually He is responsible for. The miracles of plague and destruction wrought by Yahweh at the Exodus would have been attributable by the surrounding nations to the demon Resheph; in their eyes, such things were exactly his calling card. But the Biblical record is at pains to emphasize that the nations were brought to realize that Yahweh God of Israel had done these things, they came to fear His Name—and thereby Resheph was shown to be non-existent and powerless. Commenting on the Exodus miracles, Habbakuk 3:5 describes how “before him (Yahweh manifest in the Exodus Angel) went the pestilence, and Resheph (AV “burning coals”) went forth at his feet”. To be at someone’s feet is a Biblical idiom for humiliation and destruction. Israel were being taught that at the Exodus, the credibility of Resheph’s existence had been destroyed; the things (e.g. pestilence) he was supposed to do had so evidently been done by Yahweh God of Israel. Notice how in Habakkuk 3:4 it is God, as manifest in the Angel Michael who brought Israel out of Egypt, who has “horns” and who was responsible for the mass destruction of Egypt and the Canaanite nations.
‘Casting Out Demons’: A Curing of Psychosomatic Illness?
Another approach to the question of demon possession is provided by recognizing the psychological basis behind many of the apparently ‘physical’ afflictions which Jesus healed. I began thinking about this because of the extensive experience my wife and I had with a deeply traumatized woman whom we counselled and virtually lived with for several months. She had been made pregnant by her father, and then gave birth to a stillborn, in very difficult circumstances and little medical attention, with the dead body of the baby disposed of in a particularly awful manner before her eyes. Her trauma afterwards was such that she at times lost the use of her legs, lost her speech and at times even her sight. After each such episode, we shared with her the comfort of God’s love, in words and so far as we could in practical ways, and the symptoms would go away, sometimes instantly. One moment she couldn’t walk, she was as if paralyzed; and then she could, perfectly well. This was nothing to do with demons nor our possession of any miraculous gift of healing; it was an outcome of her encounter with Jesus through the Gospel and in our faces, as members of the body of Christ.
Demons Refer to Idols
In 1 Corinthians Paul explains why Christians should have nothing to do with idol worship or believing in such things. In Bible times people believed demons to be lesser gods who could be worshipped to stop problems coming into their lives. They therefore made models of demons, which were the same as idols, and worshipped them. This explains why Paul uses the words “demon” and “idol” almost interchangeably in his letter: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons…if anyone says to you, ‘This was offered to idols,’ do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you…” (1 Corinthians 10:20,28). So idols and demons are effectively the same. Notice how Paul says they sacrificed “to demons (idols) and not to God”—the demons were not God, and as there is only one God, it follows that demons have no real power at all, they are not gods. The point is really driven home in 1 Corinthians 8:4: “Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol (equivalent to a demon) is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one”. An idol, or a demon, has no existence at all. There is only one true God, or power, in the world. Paul goes on (vv. 5,6): “For even if there are so-called gods… (as there are many gods and many lords, [just as people believe in many types of demons today—one demon causing you to lose your job, another causing your wife to leave you, etc.]) yet for us [the true believers] there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things [both good and bad, as we have seen from the earlier references]”. Galatians 4:8,9 says the same thing when translated properly. Paul challenges the Galatians: “You who were enslaved to those who were not really gods… How can you turn back again to those weak and beggarly spirits (stoicheia), whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:8,9). Here he parallels demonic spirits with “gods who are not really gods”. But note how Paul argues [under Divine inspiration]—“even if there are” such demons/idols… for us there is to be only one God whom we fear and worship. This in fact is a continuation of the Psalmists’ attitude. Time and again the gods/idols of the pagan nations are addressed as if they exist, but are ordered to bow down in shame before Yahweh of Israel (Psalms 29:1,2,10; 97:7). Whether they exist or not becomes irrelevant before the fact that they are powerless before the one true God—and therefore it is He whom we should fear, trusting that He alone engages with our lives for our eternal good in the end. “Yahweh is a great King above all gods” (Psalms 95:3) shows the Divine style—rather than overly stressing that the gods/idols/demons don’t exist, the one true God isn’t so primitive. Neither were the authors and singers of Psalms 95. The greatness of His Kingship is what’s focused upon—not the demerits and non-existence of other gods. To do so would be altogether too primitive for the one true God. And likewise with the Lord’s miracles—God’s gracious power to save was demonstrated, this was where the focus was; and its very magnitude shows the relative non-existence of “demons”.
Demons and Sickness
Yet in the New Testament we read of demons being cast out—in fact, the New Testament is written as if the common idea of demons is correct. I suggest that the answer to this paradox lies in an understanding of the way in which God uses language in the Bible. George Lamsa comments: “Cast out” is an Aramaic phrase which means to restore to sanity”¹. The evidence given above is proof enough that demons do not exist. If the New Testament speaks as if they do exist, and the Bible does not contradict itself, it follows that surely the answer is to be found in an analysis of the way in which God uses language. If we are clearly told that God brings our problems and that He is the source of all power, then the Bible cannot also tell us that demons—little gods in opposition to the one God—bring these things upon us. It seems significant that the word “demons” only occurs four times in the Old Testament and always describes idol worship, but it occurs many times in the Gospel records. We suggest this is because, at the time the Gospels were written, it was the language of the day to say that any disease that could not be understood was the fault of demons. “So far as the [1st century] populace was concerned, any disease involving mental disturbance, delirium or spasms was attributed to demons, believed to swarm in the air”². If demons really do exist and are responsible for our illnesses and problems, then we would read more about them in the Old Testament. But we do not read about them at all in this context there.
Demons: Why Didn’t Jesus Correct People?
God isn’t so paranoiac or primitive as to need to “cover His back” all the time when He speaks, endlessly footnoting, as it were, His statements, lest they be misinterpreted. He speaks and writes quite calmly in the language of the time. In Digression 3, I pointed out how God alludes to mistaken ideas about demons, sinful gods etc. and corrects them by employing the language used about them in relation to Himself as the ultimate source of all in human life. Thus we saw the way God’s word deconstructs error without as it were primitively confronting it in a “I am right, your ideas are wrong and pitiful” kind of way. I find this bears the stamp of the Divine and the ultimately credible. Cassuto has a very fine comment upon this, made in the context of his view that Genesis 6 is deconstructing Canaanite legends about sinful gods, demons and giants: “The answer contradicts the pagan myths, but without direct polemic. This is the way of the Torah: even when her purpose is to oppose the notions of the gentiles, she does not derogate, by stooping to controversy, from her ingrained majesty and splendour. She states her views, and by inference other ideas are rejected”¹. This has bearing on why the Lord Jesus didn’t in so many words state that “demons” don’t exist; rather by His miracles did He demonstrate “by inference” that they have no effective power or existence. We see something similar in how the Old Testament initially presents Yahweh as “the greatest of all gods” (e.g. Exodus 18:11)—without specifically stating that those other gods don’t exist. But as God’s relationship with Israel unfolds, the later prophets declare Yahweh as the only God and the other gods as no gods, mocking them as utterly non-existent.
Exorcism of Demons
Throughout Old and New Testament times there was the belief that by calling the name of a god over a sick person, demons could be exorcised (cp. Acts 19:13). The name of the god was held to have some mystical power. The true worship of Yahweh also placed great importance on the power of the Name of Israel’s God, e.g.: “May the name of the God of Jacob defend you. Save me, O God, by Your Name” (Psalms 20:1; 54:1). The fundamental difference between the Name of Yahweh and that of other gods was that the Yahweh Name was both a declaration of His character and also a prophecy of His people’s eternal future; therefore it was a means of real salvation. However, Yahweh evidently did not devise a system of worship for Israel which shied as far away as possible from using the language of contemporary beliefs. He revealed Himself in a way which showed His supremacy over those beliefs. Understanding this paves the way for a correct grasp of the New Testament language of demons. Christ spoke as if pagan exorcists had power (Matthew 12:27); it was only indirectly that He taught His superiority over them. There is much emphasis on the use of the name of Christ to cast out demons/heal diseases (Mark 16:17; Acts 3:6; 4:10; 16:18; 19:13-16; James 5:14). This has some similarity with the way in which the pagans repeated the names of their gods to exorcise what they believed to be demons. We can therefore come to the conclusion that in the demonstration of His power as being greater than that of other ‘gods’ and so-called ‘demons’, Yahweh is very indirect about it, and does so through alluding closely to the style and language which those false systems used. If this is truly appreciated, it will be evident that just because the New Testament sometimes uses the style and language of the surrounding paganism, this is no proof that those pagan beliefs have any substance.
Legion and the Gadarene Pigs
Mark 5:1-17 (Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-38) “They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region”.
Satan from the Reformation Onwards
The Reformation led to the divide between Protestant and Catholic Christianity. This divide was bitter, and both sides eagerly demonized the other as in league with a superhuman Devil, because they were convinced that God was on their side, and their enemies therefore were of the Devil. This justified all manner of war, persecution and demonization. Protestants insisted that the Pope was Antichrist, whilst Catholics spoke of exorcising the demons of Protestantism. Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation, was obsessed with the theme of the Devil, throwing ink at him, breaking wind [passing gas] to scare him away, and ever eager to vent his obsession about the Devil in terms of his demonization of the Catholics¹. Significantly, even Luther recognized that the passage about “war in heaven” in Revelation 12 didn’t refer to anything that happened in Eden, but rather was a description of Christian persecution at the hands of their enemies. Luther believed the common idea about Satan being hurled out of Heaven in Eden, but he recognized that Revelation 12 couldn’t be used to support the idea². We discuss Revelation 12 in more detail in section 5-32. Catholic response was no less obsessive; the catechism of Canisius, a Catholic response to Luther’s Greater Catechism of 1529, mentions Satan more often than it does Jesus (67 times compared to 63 times)³. The Council of Trent blamed Protestantism on the Devil.
The Devil After the New Testament
The New Testament reveals the same God as in the Old Testament. God is still presented as the source of our trials, of judgment, and the origin of sin is even more repeatedly located in the human mind. God’s supremacy is emphasized just as it was in the Old Testament. Even the beast of Revelation 17:17 ‘fulfills His will’. Those persecuted by it “suffer according to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:19). But the history we’re now going to consider reflects yet once again how God’s people have an endless desire to add to and change the most basic teachings of God’s word.
The Devil, Satan and Demons
It has been explained earlier that the Devil or Satan is not a personal being or monster. We’ve explained that the words simply mean ‘the adversary’, or ‘false accuser’. Sometimes these ideas are used in a metaphorical sense to refer to the sinful tendencies innate within human nature. If we accept that there is no such being as ‘Satan’, then it surely follows that demons, who are held to be the servants of the Devil, also do not exist. Many people seem to think that God gives us all the good things of life, and the Devil and his demons give us the bad things, and take away the good things which God gives us. But as we approach the specific issue of demons, let’s recap some of the basic Bible principles covered earlier.
The Language of the Day
We have demonstrated that in New Testament times, it was the language of the day to describe someone as being possessed with demons if they were mentally ill or had a disease which no one understood¹. The contemporary Roman and Greek cultural belief was that demons possessed people, thereby creating mental disease. Those Christians who believe in the existence of demons are effectively saying that the contemporary pagan beliefs in this area were perfectly accurate². The first century Jews definitely thought that ‘demons’ were ‘immortal souls’³. But the Bible knows nothing of ‘immortal souls’. Therefore we must conclude that the Bible speaks of contemporary ideas which are doctrinally wrong without highlighting the fact that they are wrong.
The Psychology of Belief in Demons
Demons are never described in the Bible as trying to tempt people or corrupt them; demons in the sense of demon possessed people often express faith in Christ. This is in sharp contrast to the assumption commonly made that demons are fallen angels intent on tempting people to sin—in Pentecostal churches we hear of a shopping demon, a smoking demon, a speeding demon, etc. But this simply isn’t how ‘demons’ are referred to in the New Testament. The Bible speaks of demons as being the idols which had been built to represent them; and it is stressed that these idols and the demons supposedly behind them don’t exist. And therefore “be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil”, nor have they any capacity to in fact do anything (Jeremiah 10:3-6; Psalms 115:2-9).
Matthew 12:43-45: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth if empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”
The synoptic gospels recount a considerable number of occasions when Jesus cast out demons or unclean spirits. In addition there are further references in John’s gospel, Acts and the Epistles. As a class these incidents constitute one of the biggest problems of interpretation in the New Testament. It can hardly be said that the answers usually supplied are completely satisfying.
The Demoniac in the Synagogue at Capernaum
In normal circumstances the “ruler” of a Jewish synagogue had a free hand to invite whom he chose to discourse to the people. The one exception was that he could take that duty himself only by special request of the congregation. It is easy to understand Jesus being invited, on his first sabbath (Mark), to act as teacher in the only synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:21: the synagogue; cp. Luke 7:5 RV). Both his open-air teaching and his miracles in recent days had made the people eager to hear more. So synagogue preaching throughout Galilee became the Lord’s settled policy for a while to come (Luke 4:44 Gk.).
A Biblical Exposition of that Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan: Chapter 5
It is a common opinion that Jesus and his disciples cast out “devils.” Such a statement is very frequently recorded in the Common Version of the New Testament; and, yet it is a fact, astounding in relation to a translated work (the very words of which translation are regarded with a peculiar reverence) that, not once, in the original Greek Scriptures, is Christ said, or are his disciples said, to have cast out either “a devil” or “devils.”
Manifestations by Those Supposed to be Possessed
Possessions, daimonia, must have been indicated by certain signs, otherwise such possessions could never have been inferred. Some deviations from the usual habits of the individual must have been presented to have induced the belief that the individual was influenced by some “supernatural” power. What then were the indications that the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews, beholding in an individual, ascribed to possessions?
Daimones are Demons and not Diaboloi (Devils)
It has been demonstrated that the daimones, and the daimonia, are not diaboloi, “devils,” “false-accusers.” It has been demonstrated that the first term (daimon) is expressive of a “departed human spirit,” and the second term (daimonion) of such “spirit” supposed to be in possession of living human beings. It has been shown that the belief in possessions prevailed amongst almost all the nations, the Jews included, at the time of Christ and of his apostles; while the assertion that such beings existed was a lie palmed upon mankind by an enslaving priesthood; and Paul, when referring to such “departed human ‘spirits’” deified and worshipped by the Gentiles, as plainly as words can express, declares them to be nothing: declares them to be delusions of the imagination: to be a lie.
The Gadarene Swine
Mark 5:1-19. How are the various details in this incident to be understood? Did “something” pass out of the man, and pass into the swine? If so, what? What is the origin, and the significance, of the words recorded in verse 7?
Hell and the Devil from a Jewish Point of View
Commenting on the decision of the Dean of Arches (that the denial either of the eternity of punishment, or of the personality of the evil one, is sufficient to justify a clergyman in refusing the “Holy Communion” to a parishioner), the Jewish Chronicle says, “We Jews may congratulate ourselves upon the different reading of our own Scriptures. Our God is mercy itself. He inflicts punishment for the expiation of sin, not from revenge. With the expiation of the sin the punishment ceases. The object is attained, why continue the torture? Further, what else is the belief in God and Satan, but the belief of the ancient Persians in Ormunzd and Ahriman, the former the god of light and all that is good, and the more powerful of the two; the latter the god of darkness and evil. Surely the name does not make the difference. Yet the God of Israel declared, ‘I form the light and create the darkness; I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.’ Here we alight upon another of the errors of Christianity, which even as it personified the Spirit of Holiness, transforming this abstract noun into the Holy Ghost and the memra ( ארממ ) of the Targum; the logos of Philon into the Son of God, so it took a mere figure of speech—a poetic abstraction called the adversary—Satan—for a real being, converted him into a kind of rival god, always fighting with the second person of the Deity, just as Ahriman is constantly in antagonism with Ormunzd. Has a Jew not occasion to thank God for having been born in a community free from these darkening and mischievous errors?”
Wrested Scriptures: Prince Sin (John 12:31, 14:30 & 16:11)
“Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
Healing the Demon Possessed