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Passages in the Bible about....


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The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament):

The King James Version of the Bible often used the term "devils" which some readers assume are Satan's demons. Other translations use  "heathen gods," "idols," etc. In reality, they simply refer to the Gods worshiped by Pagan tribes (or the idols that represented those Gods):

bullet Leviticus 17:7: "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, [literally "hairy ones"] after whom they have gone a whoring."
bullet Deuteronomy 32:17:  "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up..."
bullet 2 Chronicles 11:15: "And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the [statues of] calves which he had made."
bullet Psalms 106:35-37: "But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils."

Evil spirits which cause mental disturbances are mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. But they were not dispatched or controlled by Satan; they were sent by God to torment people:

bullet Judges 9:23: "Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem..."
bullet 1 Kings 22:23: "...behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets..."
bullet 1 Samuel 16:14:  "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him." (KJV)
bullet 1 Sam 18:10: "And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul..."
bullet 1 Sam 19:9: "And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul..."

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The Christian Scriptures (New Testament):

The belief in Satan and his army of demons first appears in Jewish writings after 300 BCE. At the time of the 1st century CE, it is a well developed concept in Palestine. There are literally dozens of passages referring to demon possession causing mental and physical illnesses. A major feature of Jesus' ministry is portrayed as curing people of demonic possession through exorcism.

bullet Matthew 4:24: "...they brought unto him [Jesus] all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy..."
bullet Matthew 8:16: "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils..."
bullet Matthew 8:28-34: "And when he [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce..." (KJV; devils are normally translated as demons in other Bible versions).
bullet Matthew 9:32-33: "As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil."
bullet Matthew 10:1: "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."
bullet Matthew 12:22: "Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb..."
bullet Matt 12:43-45: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none."
bullet Matthew 15:22: "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil."
bullet Matthew 17:14-18: "There came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed...And Jesus rebuked the devil; "
bullet Mark 1:23: "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out..."
bullet Mark 3:11: "And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried..."
bullet Mark 3:22-26: "And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils."
bullet Mark 5:2-20: "...there met him [Jesus] out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones."
bullet Mark 6:7: "And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;"
bullet Mark 7:2: "For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:"
bullet Mark 9:17-25: "I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away:... and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming...[Jesus] rebuked the foul spirit..."
bullet Mark 9:38: "...Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us..."
bullet Mark 16:9: "...Jesus...appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils."
bullet Mark 16:17: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils..."
bullet Luke 4:33: "And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice..."
bullet Luke 4:41: "and devils also came out of many, crying out..."
bullet Luke 8:2-3 "And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others..."
bullet Luke 8:33: "Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked."
bullet Luke 9:38-42: "...a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him....And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit..."
bullet Luke 10:17: "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
bullet Luke 11:14: "And he [Jesus] was casting out a devil, and it was dumb..."
bullet Luke 11:15: "But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils."
bullet John 7:20-21: "The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?"
bullet John 8:48-49: "Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?"
bullet John 10:20: "And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?"

A number of references relate to the final destiny of Satan and his demons. They are to be thrust into Hell, described as  a lake of fire. In these passages, Satan's angels apparently refer to his demons:

bullet Matthew 25:4: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
bullet 1 Peter 2:4: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."
Jude 1:6: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."
bullet Revelation 12:9: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

Demons are also mentioned elsewhere in the Christian Scriptures:

bulletActs 19:13-16: "And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."
bulletJames 2:19:  "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
bulletRevelation 9:20: "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk"
bulletVarious passages describe how Satan can adopt a spirit form, reside inside a person, and influence their thoughts and behavior in the same way as a demon can:
bullet Ephesians 2:2 describes him as a spirit who works within "the children of disobedience."
bullet John 13:2 describes how Satan "put into" Judas Isariot's mind the decision to betray Jesus.
bullet Acts 5:3 describes how Satan filled Ananias' heart with the decision to lie to the Holy Ghost about the proceeds of a real estate sale.

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How these passages are interpreted:

bulletFundamentalist Christians generally believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. They regard the text, as originally written, as inspired by God. Thus, they are drawn to several beliefs:
bullet That Satan and his demons exist.
bullet That they are continually in spiritual warfare with humans.
bullet That some people can become indwelled by a demon and exhibit symptoms of mental illness.
bullet The indwelling demons can often be removed through exorcism.
bullet That when non-Christians worship their own Gods and/or Goddesses, they are actually worshiping demons.

The alternative to these beliefs is to regard the Bible as inaccurate and mistaken; and this is unthinkable.

bulletThe Roman Catholic church has abandoned its belief that mental illnesses are generally caused by indwelling demons. However, they still believe that in rare cases, demon posession can happen. They also retain their existing beliefs in Satan, his demons, and spiritual warfare. Their rituals of exorcism no longer stress the presence of Satan or a demon spirit within people.
bulletReligious liberals have long abandoned belief in:
bullet Satan as a living entity
bullet An army of fallen angels who do the bidding of Satan
bullet Demonic possession causing mental and physical illnesses
bullet Exorcism

They also accept that various non-Christian religions teach beliefs about their Gods and/or Goddesses that are at variance with Christianity. However, they feel that those beliefs should be respected as meaningful to other people.

They see an all-evil Satanic entity and his army of demons as symbols by which a pre-scientific society attempted to explain natural occurrences. Now that we know the causes of thunder, lightening, hurricanes, movement of the stars, mental disorders, physical illnesses, epilepsy, and many thousands of other phenomena, we can relegate Satan and demons to the status of myth -- a very beautiful fable, but not descriptive of the real world.

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Associated menus:

bullet Demons: Liberal and conservative beliefs
bullet Satan: overview; Satan in the Bible; development of the concept of Satan.

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 Home page > Christianity > Christian personalities > Demons > here

Home page > Christianity > Bible themes > here

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Copyright © 1999 to 2013, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original written: 1999-JAN-26
Latest update: 2013-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson
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