The New Testament Doctrine of Demons -- By: Charles R. Smith

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 10:2 (Spring 1969)
Article: The New Testament Doctrine of Demons
Author: Charles R. Smith


The New Testament Doctrine of Demons

Charles R. Smith

Registrar, Miami Bible College

The Bible clearly teaches the existence of certain personal beings called “demons.” In the Authorized Version the word “demon” itself does not occur but these beings are variously designated by such terms as: “devils” (Matt 7:22), “spirits” (Matt 8:16), “unclean spirits” (Matt 10:1), “foul spirits” (Luke 9:25), and “evil spirits” (Luke 8:2). In all, there are about eighty references to demons in the New Testament.1 On a number of occasions Jesus attested to the existence of demons by His statements concerning them (Matt 12:27, 28). A significant part of His ministry involved ministering to those who were demon possessed (Mark 1:34). Consequently, one who accepts the Bible as God’s Word and Jesus as God must admit the existence of demons.

The New Testament Names for Demons

Daimōn.—This is the root from which the English word “demon” is derived (through Latin and French).2 In the critical editions of the Greek New Testament the word occurs only one time—Matthew 8:31. This is the occasion where the daimones in the Gadarene demoniacs requested permission to enter the pigs. On four other occasions the word appears in the Textus Receptus (Mark 5:12; Luke 8:29; Rev 16:14; 18:2).

The derivation of the term daimōn is uncertain. “Plato indeed derives it from daemon, an adjective formed from daō and signifying “knowing,” or “intelligent.”3 If this is correct then the name is apparently derived from the fact that the demons have knowledge that is superior to that of humans. Many modern scholars, however, do not accept Plato’s derivation and derive the name from the root dai, with the basic meaning of “divide,” “assign,” or “disrupt.”4 ...

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