Mark 1:23-34, John 8:48-59, Daimon, daimonizomai, daimonion
Get ready to tackle our hottest topic yet: the Devil.
The Big Lie – A Biblical word study on the Devil
Daimon – Demons cause illness
Mark 1:23-34, John 8:48-59, Daimon, daimonizomai, daimonion – Demons
Matthew 4:18-25, 8:14-17
Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-37
Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:17-27; Luke 9:38-42
Mark 7:24-30; Luke 4:31-37; John 10:14-21, Daimon, daimonizomai, daimonion – Demons
Reader Question: Is all illness caused by demons?
More of The Big Lie
Copyright information, disclaimers, and sponsors
Return to homepage
– Demons (6/10/13)
A number of years ago I read a commentary that said – rather indignantly, I thought – that Mary Magdalene’s reputation as a sinner and prostitute is completely undeserved. The commentary pointed out that Jesus cured her of seven demons
, and demons are always associated with sickness, not sin. In preparing for this study, I confirmed for myself and for you that the commenter was completely correct: the Devil tempts us to sin, and demons make us sick.
So the first important thing to know is that demons are not little devils. They are almost never associated with sin. Unfortunately, the King James Version translates both diabolos
as “devil,” which has led to much confusion in the English-speaking churches.
This week we’ll study demons by looking at three Greek words. Daimon
both mean demon. Daimonizomai
means to have a demon
or to be possessed by a demon.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a couple of cases where Devil
, or Evil One
are used by different gospel writers telling the same story, e.g., in The Sower. That doesn’t happen for daimon, daimonizomai, daimonion
. Parallel stories in different gospels have one of these words, but never satanas Satan
or diabolos Devil
Furthermore, your translation is probably fairly consistent. The King James Version, unfortunately, always has devil
, although the New King James has Devil
, as appropriate.
Apparently most modern translations have demon
, although I only checked a handful. A couple have evil spirit
, like the Bible in Basic English. (I think “demon” isn’t basic enough.) If anything is interchangeable with daimon
, etc., in Greek, it’s “unclean spirit.”
I want you to notice two things in today’s readings. First, when word gets around that Jesus has cast out an “unclean spirit,” people immediately start bringing him their sick and demon-possessed, not their sinners. They knew the difference between “evil” and “ill.” Second, when some other people are debating with Jesus, they say, “Are you demon-possessed??” in exactly the same way that we would say, “Are you crazy??” Demons cause both physical and mental illness, but they aren’t the Devil.
Today’s reading is from the Bible in Basic English, with a few emendations from me:
Mark 1:23-24 And there was in their Synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he gave a cry, Saying, What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? have you come to put an end to us? I see well who you are, the Holy One of God.
Matthew 4:18-25, 8:14-17 (6/11/13)
25-26 And Jesus said to him sharply, Be quiet, and come out of him. And the unclean spirit, shaking him violently, and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
27-28 And they were all greatly surprised, so that they put questions to one another, saying, What is this? a new teaching! with authority he gives orders even to the unclean spirits, and they do what he says. And news of him went out quickly everywhere into all parts of Galilee round about.
29 And when they came out of the Synagogue, they went into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
30-31 Now Simon's wife's mother was ill, with a burning heat; and they gave him word of her: And he came and took her by the hand, lifting her up; and she became well, and took care of their needs.
32-34 And in the evening, at sundown, they took to him all who were diseased, and those who daimonizomai had demons. And all the town had come together at the door. And a number, who were ill with different diseases, he made well, and sent out daimon demons; but he did not let the daimon demons say anything, because they had knowledge of him.
John 8:48 The Jews said to him in answer, Are we not right in saying that you are of Samaria and have a daimonion demon?
49-51 And this was the answer of Jesus: I have not a daimonion demon; but I give honour to my Father and you do not give honour to me. I, however, am not in search of glory for myself: there is One who is searching for it and he is judge. Truly I say to you, If a man keeps my word he will never see death.
52-53 The Jews said to him, Now we are certain that you have a daimonion demon. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead; and you say, If a man keeps my word he will never see death. Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead: who do you say that you are?
Jesus’ ability to heal the sick made him famous very early in his ministry. In these passages we see no call to repentance and no debates with the Pharisees. Jesus heals the physically and mentally ill and casts out demons, showing again that demons cause sickness, not sin.
Today’s reading is from the Bible in Basic English:
4:18-24 And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their Synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and making well those who were ill with any disease among the people. And news of him went out through all Syria; and they took to him all who were ill with different diseases and pains, those daimonizomai having evil spirits and those who were off their heads, and those who had no power of moving. And he made them well.
Mark 5:1-17 (6/12/13)
8:14-15 And when Jesus had come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother in bed, very ill. And he put his hand on hers and the disease went from her, and she got up and took care of his needs.
16-17 And in the evening, they took to him a number of people who daimonizomai had evil spirits; and he sent the spirits out of them with a word, and made well all who were ill; So that the word of Isaiah the prophet might come true: He himself took our pains and our diseases.
We read The Sower three times to show that Satan = the Devil = the Evil One. We’re going to read the story of the Gerasene demoniac three times to show that demons = demons = demons. Demons are not little devils, let alone The Devil.
Have you noticed that demons, like the Devil, recognized Jesus right away? Another thing to notice is that Jesus never wanted the demons to identify him. This reason for this is not given in scripture. One speculation is that he didn’t want publicity from demons. Another is that it was too early in his ministry – many people in first-century Judea were expecting and longing for a military Messiah to throw off the Romans, and Jesus probably wanted people to know what kind of person he was before they discovered that he was the Messiah. The fact is that we don’t know why Jesus refused to let the demons talk about him. Your guess about Jesus’ reasons is about as good as anybody’s.
Today’s reading is from the Bible in Basic English, with selections from the King James and Contemporary English Versions:
1 And they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.
Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-37 (6/13/13)
2-5 And when he had got out of the boat, straight away there came to him from the place of the dead a man with an unclean spirit. He was living in the place of the dead: and no man was able to keep him down, no, not with a chain; Because he had frequently been prisoned in chains and iron bands, and the chains had been parted and the bands broken by him: and no man was strong enough to make him quiet. And all the time, by day and by night, in the place of the dead, and in the mountains, he was crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6-8 And when he saw Jesus from far off, he went quickly to him and gave him worship; And crying out with a loud voice he said, What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God's name, do not be cruel to me. For Jesus had said to him, Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.
9-10 And Jesus said, What is your name? And he made answer, My name is Legion, because there are a great number of us. And he made strong prayers to him not to send them away out of the country.
11-12 Now on the mountain side there was a great herd of pigs getting their food. And they said to him, Send us into the pigs, so that we may go into them.
13 And he let them do it. And the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs; and the herd went rushing down a sharp slope into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they came to their death in the sea.
14-15 And their keepers went running and gave an account of it in the town and in the country. And people came to see what had taken place. And they came to Jesus, and saw the man daimonizomai in whom had been the evil spirits seated, clothed and with full use of his senses, and they were full of fear.
16-17 And those who had seen it gave them an account of what had been done to him daimonizomai who had the evil spirits, and of the fate of the pigs. And they made a request to him to go out of their country.
Another notable fact about demons is that there are a lot of them. We saw earlier that there appears to be only one devil, whose name is Satan. Demons can act singly or in groups to make people ill.
From the Bible in Basic English, with selections from the King James and Contemporary English Versions:
Matthew 8:28-29 And when he had come to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, there came out to him from the place of the dead, two who daimonizomai had evil spirits, so violent that no man was able to go that way. And they gave a loud cry, saying, What have we to do with you, you Son of God? Have you come here to give us punishment before the time?
Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:17-27; Luke 9:38-42 (6/14/13)
30-31 Now there was, some distance away, a great herd of pigs taking their food. And the daimon evil spirits made strong prayers to him, saying, If you send us out, let us go into the herd of pigs.
32 And he said to them, Go. And they came out, and went into the pigs; and the herd went rushing down a sharp slope into the sea and came to their end in the water.
33-34 And their keepers went in flight to the town and gave an account of everything, and of the men who daimonizomai had the evil spirits. And all the town came out to Jesus; and seeing him they made request that he would go away from their part of the country.
Luke 8:26 And they came to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.
27-28 And when he had come to the land, there came to him a certain man from the town who had daimon evil spirits; and for a long time he had had no clothing on, and was not living in a house but in the place of the dead. And when he saw Jesus, he gave a loud cry and went down on the earth before him and in a loud voice said, What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Do not be cruel to me.
29 For he gave an order to the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For frequently it would take a grip of him: and he was kept under control, and prisoned with chains; but parting the chains in two, he would be sent by the driving of the daimon evil spirit into waste places.
30-31 And Jesus said to him, What is your name? And he said, Legion; for a number of daimon spirits had gone into him. And they made a request to him that he would not give them an order to go away into the deep.
32-33 Now there was a great herd of pigs in that place, getting food on the mountain: and the evil spirits made a request to him that he would let them go into the pigs, and he let them. And the daimon evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs: and the herd went rushing down a sharp slope into the water and came to destruction.
34-36 And when the men who took care of them saw what had come about, they went quickly and gave news of it in the town and the country. And they went out to see what had taken place, and they came to Jesus and saw the man out of whom the daimon evil spirits had gone, seated, clothed and with full use of his senses, at the feet of Jesus; and fear came on them. And those who had seen it gave them an account of how the man who daimonizomai had the evil spirits was made well.
37 And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes made a request to him to go away from them; for they were in great fear: and he got into a boat and went back.
I was reading a novel the other day about a nun who gets involved in some detective work. When the bad guys pretend to haunt the house where the sisters are staying, they simply respond, “In the name of Jesus Christ, go away!” several times, knowing that a ghost will be forced to go away. This is sound theology, because Jesus cast out demons by his own authority, and he passed on his authority to his disciples so that they also could cast out demons.
However, the disciples were having trouble with the particular demon we read about today. I don’t know whether it is significant that it is a daimonion
rather than a daimon
, although I suspect not. Notice that Mark just calls it a “spirit” or “unclean spirit.” Anyway, a very ill child was brought to the disciples, and they couldn’t do anything about it. I like the extra details that Mark gives, and I’m a bit surprised that Luke the Physician doesn’t repeat them. Jesus doesn’t cast out the demon immediately; instead, he first asks the father a few questions to determine exactly what the demon is doing to the child.
The other thing I like about Mark’s account is the father’s plea – “If you can help...” – and Jesus’ response, “ ‘If you can help…’!” Jesus seems to be saying, “If you didn’t think I could help, why did you come??” But Jesus does
help, not only with the demon but with the father’s unbelief. Jesus will use whatever faith you have to give you whatever help you ask for (always providing that what you ask for is within the will of God).
From the Bible in Basic English, with selections from the King James and Contemporary English Versions.
Mark 9:17-18 And one of the number said to him in answer, Master, I came to you with my son, who has in him a spirit which takes away his power of talking; And wherever it takes him, it puts him down violently, streaming at the lips and twisted with pain; and his strength goes from him; and I made a request to your disciples to send it out, and they were not able.
Mark 7:24-30; Luke 4:31-37; John 10:14-21, Daimon, daimonizomai, daimonion – Demons (6/17/13)
19 And he said to them in answer, O generation without faith, how long will I have to be with you? how long will I put up with you? let him come to me.
20 And they took him to him: and when he saw him, the spirit in him straight away became violent; and he went down on the earth, rolling about and streaming at the lips.
21-22 And Jesus questioning the father said, How long has he been like this? And he said, From a child. And frequently it has sent him into the fire and into the water, for his destruction; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us, and give us help.
23 And Jesus said to him, If you are able! All things are possible to him who has faith.
24 Straight away the father of the child gave a cry, saying, I have faith; make my feeble faith stronger.
25 And when Jesus saw that the people came running together, he gave orders to the unclean spirit, saying to him, You, spirit, who are the cause of his loss of voice and hearing, I say to you, come out of him, and never again go into him.
26-27 And after crying out and shaking him violently, it came out: and the child became like one dead; so that most of them said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, lifting him up; and he got up.
Matthew 17:14-16 And when they came to the people, a man went down on his knees to him, saying, Lord have mercy on my son: for he is off his head, and is in great pain; and frequently he goes falling into the fire, and frequently into the water. And I took him to your disciples, and they were not able to make him well.
17-18 And Jesus, answering, said, O false and foolish generation, how long will I be with you? how long will I put up with you? let him come here to me. And Jesus gave orders to the daimonion unclean spirit, and it went out of him: and the boy was made well from that hour.
19-20 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, Why were we not able to send it out? And he says to them, Because of your little faith: for truly I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Be moved from this place to that; and it will be moved; and nothing will be impossible to you.
Luke 9:38-40 And a man from among them, crying out, said, Master, I make a request to you, give a thought to my son, for he is my only child: And see, a spirit takes him, and suddenly he gives a cry, twisted in pain and streaming at the lips, and when it goes away from him at last, he is marked as from blows. And I made a request to your disciples to send it out of him, but they were not able to do it.
41-42 And Jesus said, O generation without faith and false in heart, how long will I have to be with you and put up with you? let your son come here. And while he was coming, he was pushed violently down and twisted by the daimonion evil spirit. But Jesus gave sharp orders to the unclean spirit, and made the boy well, and gave him back to his father.
We’re still looking at scriptures demonstrating that demons are not little devils, but rather spirits that cause illness. John 10:21 is especially telling. The question asked by some of the crowd may be in your Bible as “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” Actually, the question in Greek expects the answer “no”: A demon can't open the eyes of the blind, can it? They were making the point that demons can’t cure
people – demons make people sick.
Therefore if Jesus cured
someone, it didn’t make sense to accuse him of being possessed by a demon.
From the Bible in Basic English, with a word or two modified by me:
Mark 7:24 And he went away from there to the country of Tyre and Sidon. And he went into a house, desiring that no man might have knowledge of it: and he was not able to keep it secret.
Reader Question: In your opinion, is all illness caused by demons? For example, is my good friend who has terminal cancer possessed by demons? Is my friend's daughter who has epilepsy possessed? What role do doctors play in curing illness? Very confusing. (6/20/13)
25-26 But a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having had news of him, came straight away and went down at his feet. Now the woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by birth: and she made a request to him that he would send the daimonion demon out of her daughter.
27 And he said to her, Let the children first have their food: for it is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs.
28 But she said to him in answer, Yes, Lord: even the dogs under the table take the bits dropped by the children.
29 And he said to her, For this saying go your way; the daimonion demon has gone out of your daughter.
30 And she went away to her house, and saw the child on the bed, and the daimonion demon gone out.
Luke 4:31-32 And he came down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee; and he was giving them teaching on the Sabbath. And they were surprised at his teaching, for his word was with authority.
33-34 And there was a man in the Synagogue who had an unclean daimonion demon; and he gave a loud cry and said, Let us be! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? have you come to put an end to us? I have knowledge who you are, the Holy One of God.
35 And Jesus said to him, Be quiet, and come out of him. And when the daimonion demon had put him down on the earth in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no damage.
36-37 And wonder came on them all and they said to one another, What are these words? for with authority and power he gives orders to the unclean spirits and they come out. And there was much talk about him in all the places round about.
John 10:14-16 I am the good shepherd; I have knowledge of my sheep, and they have knowledge of me, Even as the Father has knowledge of me and I of the Father; and I am giving my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep which are not of this field: I will be their guide in the same way, and they will give ear to my voice, so there will be one flock and one shepherd.
17-18 For this reason am I loved by the Father, because I give up my life so that I may take it again. No one takes it away from me; I give it up of myself. I have power to give it up, and I have power to take it again. These orders I have from my Father.
19-21 There was a division again among the Jews because of these words. And a number of them said, He has an daimonion demon and is out of his mind; why do you give ear to him? Others said, These are not the words of one who daimonizomai has a demon. It isn’t possible for a daimonion demon to make blind people see, is it?
Regina’s Response: In my opinion, informed by both science and scripture, no. Although we haven’t been paying much attention to this part, people brought Jesus their loved ones who had (1) illnesses and (2) demons. They are always named separately, which implies that 2000 years ago, people could tell the difference. I’m neither a medical doctor nor a demonologist, but I am a risk analyst. In my opinion, most disease is caused by bacteria and viruses and most of the rest by lifestyle factors such as smoking or genetic factors such as a susceptibility to cancer. For any of those, you need a doctor and God’s great gift of medical science. But once in a while there seems to be no medical explanation or treatment for some horrible malady, and for that you need prayer and possibly exorcism. And what should we make of the horrible maladies that go away and leave the doctors shaking their heads in puzzlement? A few years ago I was reading about some prominent case in the newspaper, and the only explanation I could think of at the time – well before this study – was demon-possession. So I don’t think demon-possession is common, but I’m inclined to think it exists.
More of The Big Lie
The Son of God and the Father of Lies
The OT satan is always an adversary, but not always the Devil.
The Hebrew satan is translated various ways.
In the New Testament, both satanas and diabolos normally refer to the Devil.
Sometimes satanas and diabolos are used figuratively to refer to someone acting like the Devil.
Poneros – Evil in the New Testament
Demons cause sickness, not sin.
Sometimes Satan and demons cooperate with each other.
Neither Baalzebub nor Lucifer is a Biblical name for the Devil.
Belial means "worthless," and once it's used as a nickname for the Devil.
Satan's job description: Temptation and Lies
Our job description: Resist him!
Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
St. John's Music Ministries now has a YouTube channel, bringing you free concerts and choral music. Check it out!
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.
are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
Storm Dragon SoftwareTM
Get a free demo of our computer adventure game, full of hidden-object puzzles, tiling and jigsaw puzzles, cycling puzzles, and more. Plus computer games that children can play all by themselves
Ducks in a Row, Inc., developers of
Keep It SafeTM
- Home inventory software so easy anybody