Demonology: The Doctrine of Fallen Angels or Demons (Part 1)

Do fallen angels or demons exist or are they simply ‘emanations’ or ‘powers’ that have no personalities? Are demons responsible for every sin and infirmity? Where do demons come from? We commence a series of three articles about the topic, partially summarising an article by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum (Ariel Ministries) called Demonology: The doctrine of demons.

Do Demons Exist?

The English word ‘demon’ comes from the Greek word ‘daimonia’, which is used 60 times in the New Testament. Every New Testament writer mentions the existence of demons, except the writer of Hebrews (but who mentioned Satan). For example, see Matthew 4:24; 12:22; John 8:48-49; Acts 16:16-18; Ephesians 6:12; James 2:19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6 and Revelation 8:10-11.

A second way to see that demons exist, is by the fact that Jesus recognised their existence and cast demons out of people (Matthew 7:22; Mark 7:29; Luke 10:20; 11:18-20).

Thirdly, Jesus’ apostles also recognised the existence of demons (Luke 10:17). The Bible clearly teaches the existence of demons.

Are Demons ‘Emanations’ Or Some Abstract Power?

If it can be shown that demons or fallen angels have intellect, emotion and will, then they have the attributes of personality. That demons have intellect is shown by them knowing who Jesus is (Mark 1:24), they know their future doom (Matthew 8:28-29), who Paul is (Acts 16:16-17; 19:15), that God is one (James 2:19) and demons even have a counterfeit system of doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1, 3) — all these facts show that fallen angels or demons have intellect.

As for emotion, demons have anger, fierceness and fear (Matthew 8:28; James 2:19). And demons each have a will, be it to make requests (Matthew 8:31), to obey commands and orders (Mark 1:27; Luke 4:35-36) as well as the will to leave a person (cf. Matthew 12:43-45). Demons have all the attributes of personality (intellect, emotion and will) and therefore they are not emanations or just some power.

Names For Demons

The Bible gives various names for demons. In the Old Testament they are called the ‘angels of evil’ (Psalm 78:49), thus they are messengers of Satan.

While the name ‘sons of God’ (Genesis 6:2, 4) refers to the fact that God created all celestial beings directly, in context one can discern whether this name refers to good/holy angels or to fallen angels/demons. Another name is the Hebrew word ‘shedim’, which refers to a demon’s desire to be lord over or to rule over a person. Another Old Testament name for demons is ‘seirim’, which refer to animal-like features of demons, such as the form of goats (cf. Leviticus 17:7; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Isaiah 13:21).

Demons are also called ‘demons of the night’ (Isaiah 34:14), evil spirits (1 Samuel 16:14-16) and lying spirits (1 Kings 22:21-22). Another name, familiar spirits (Deuteronomy 18:11; Isaiah 8:19; 19:3), is used of demons that reveal themselves through mediums, wizards, witches and spiritualists. The Old Testament provides more names for demons (see Psalm 91:6; 96:5; Isaiah 65:11).

Four Descriptive Categories of Demons

The New Testament uses four categories to name or describe demons. The first category uses names containing the same Greek root for ‘demon’ and is used 79 times in the New Testament. The meaning of the root for demon is ‘intelligence’, because demons are intelligent beings. In the Greek, you find the words ‘daimon’ (Mathew 8:31), ‘daimonion’ (Luke 4:33), ‘daimoniodes’ (James 3:15), ‘daimonizomai’ (Matthew 4:24), ‘deisidaimonesteros’ (Acts 17:22) and ‘deisdamonis’ (Acts 25:19).

The second category of names of demons contains the word ‘spirit’, used 46 times in the New Testament. For example, demons are described as ‘evil spirits’ (Luke 7:21), unclean spirits (Matthew 10:1), wicked spirits (Luke 11:26), seducing spirits (1 Timothy 4:1) and spirits of demons (Revelation 16:14).

A third category of names of demons is the word ‘angels’. The word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’. Demons do the bidding of Satan so they are messengers of Satan (Matthew 12:24; 25:41; Revelation 12:7-9).
A fourth name is ‘destruction’, as noted in Revelation 9:11. The demon of the abyss is called Abaddon in Hebrew and Apollyon in Greek. This name means ‘destruction’.

Celestial Beings: Holy and Unholy

When God created the celestial beings (cherubs, seraphs and angels), they were all created holy but with the power of contrary choice (cf. Mark 8:38; Jude 6). This means they had the ability to choose in a manner contrary to their created nature. If they chose holy in conformity with God’s will, these celestial beings were confirmed in their holiness. This is what two-thirds of the celestial beings did. Having been confirmed in their holiness, these holy and elect celestial beings do not have the ability of contrary choice anymore — in other words, they cannot sin. But as it turned out, Satan and a third of all celestial beings chose to make an unholy choice (cf. Revelation 12:4). So demons all have the same origin: they are angels who fell with Satan.


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