A Study on Demonology

R. Gustason, 6 Apr 2016


This study will explore the role, power, and authority of demons in this world as well as the spiritual realm. It is not intended to be exhaustive but should give the reader some insight into what demons, fallen angels, are capable of. Demonology is the study of demons and their effect on the living. We will explore where they originated from, how they may physically affect an individual, and how they affect humans spiritually as well as intellectually. It should be noted however that their power is not omnipotent, their knowledge is not without limit, for only God is omniscient and their presence is bound to one place at one time for they are not omnipresent. They are mainly a shadow of what they once were.

Origins of demons

Demons are fallen angels. In Revelation 12:3-4,9 we read: “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 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 were once a part of the heavenly orchestra, who worshipped God. Through the pride of Satan, Satan attempted to elevate himself to a position above God. One third of the “stars” who were angels, were cast to the earth because of their being deceived and swearing their allegiance to Satan. The actual term demon is an English Anglicization of the Greek word daemon (δαίμονας) meaning fallen angel, a false god, or an evil spirit. In the King James Version (In England referred to as the Authorized Version) it is translated as devil. BibleSprout1 states that the Greek word for demon appears more than 75 times. A hit analysis (figure 1) for the word demon shows that the synoptic gospels use the word demon more often than anywhere else in the New Testament. Other scriptural references appear to support the premise that demons are fallen angels; for example 2 Peter 2:4 states “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;” and we read in Jude 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.” Both of these passages refer to angels which were cast down. Satan’s fall is illustrated through the fallen king of Babylon in the following passages of scripture: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12–15 KJV) Satan, also known as Lucifer, first attempted to rise above the other angels by exalting his throne above the others, but that wasn’t enough. He then attempted to be like God, and have his throne worshipped as God himself. This arrogance and pride resulted in not only his fall, but the fall of one third of the angels in heaven. Demons are spiritual beings without physical form. They are evil spirits that are opposed to God and His work.2

Accordance Hits graph for demon
Figure 13

Demon rankings

Demons are in ranks, just as angels are. "But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, 'This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.' And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges." (Matthew 12:24–27 KJV) We see in Matthew, referenced above, that Satan is called a prince of the devils. He apparently is the highest ranking of demons. Additionally, passages such as Romans 8:38-394 and Ephesians 6:11-125 refer to principalities and powers. What, if any, hierarchy there is beyond this, the scripture does not tell. There does appear to be demons in charge of geographical areas however. Examine the following scripture: "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Revelation 16:12–16 KJV) Here we see devils going to the kings of the earth and the whole world. There appear to be devils who are sent, just as angels are sent to places. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:1–3 KJV) The prince of the power of the air is Satan, and according to the New Bible Commentary, Satan is but one of two things in this world that supports a life marked by sin, the other being the influence of this world, i.e. the new age philosophy, more recently called the post-modern era. This title is yet another title distinguishing a separation or ranking of evil spirits.

The role of demons

Demons are sent to and fro as roaring lions, seeking to oppress Christians and possess those who foolishly invite them into their bodies. The following list, which was taken from the CARM2 website, describes some of the things demons do.

Demons can only do these things to people who allow them to rule their lives. Examine 1 Timothy 4:1-5. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1–5 KJV) We see in this pericope that in the latter days, i.e. today, there will be those who allow themselves to be deceived by demons, depart from the faith in Jesus Christ, and instead listen to devils and their teachings. This same passage in the New Living Translation amplifies what the KJV states: “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1–5 NLT-SE)

Possession versus oppression

To be possessed is to be completely taken over by a demon, so much that your will is completely dominated by the demon. Oppression means to be influenced or physically attacked by a demon, but you still have control over your actions and your will is dominate. God will not dwell with evil. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. (Psalms 5:4 KJV)”. Additionally, we know that a Christian, i.e. one who obeys the plan of salvation and leads a holy life, is a dwelling place of Christ’s Holy Spirit. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11 KJV)”. It is not possible to be possessed if you are a Christian because you have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within you. God will not suffer an evil spirit to take over in His dwelling place. It is, however, completely possible to be oppressed. By this I mean a devil can attempt to influence a Christian through lies and half-truths into error and sin. It is also completely possible for a demon to physically attack you. I had one such encounter with a demon where the demon attempted to crush the breath from my body. I cried out to Jesus and the demon left. Another pastor who is a friend of mine was physically scarred by a demon on his arm. He felt it grab him as he was entering a vehicle and he swatted it away with his bible. As a Christian, we cannot be possessed by a devil or demon. We are the temple or dwelling place of God in these last days. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)”. This scripture clearly states that a Christian, full of the Holy Ghost is the temple of God. Insomuch as we are the temple, we are also not our own. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19 KJV)”. When God dwells in us, He is the master of the house. We have invited Him in and told our spirit and our soul to obey Jesus and put down the will of the flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of the eye. The house does not master the person, but the person masters the house. Likewise, the person does not master Jesus, but Jesus masters the person when we submit our will unto His will. It is His Holy Spirit that leads and directs a Christian’s path. Demons may attempt to oppress you. They attempted to oppress Jesus as well. In his temptation after His forty days of prayer and fasting, the devil came and attempted this oppression. "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered (Luke 4:1–2 KJV)". Additionally, we see the Apostle Peter being called Satan by Jesus. “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23 KJV) People open up themselves to possession by a spirit by falling into sin. In the case of Judas, he fell into the sin of greed as told in John 12:67. Another way is people actively worship demons as seen in passages such as Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20.

Defeating demons and devils

Demons can be defeated. Jesus defeated the devil’s attempt at oppression by answering the devil with scripture.

Secondly, we need to be sure, every day, that we put on the whole armor of God. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10–18 KJV) This is the things God has given us to protect us not only from demons, but from the world’s influence, often called our carnality or carnal mind. It is described by John as: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16 KJV) Lastly, we need to pray. Pray for the binding of the strong man as Jesus said. This is how demons are cast out. “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.” (Matthew 12:25–29 KJV) In Ecclesiastes, the preacher says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:1–7 KJV) This is important to remember as well when fighting the enemy. If we remember God in our youth, and build a solid foundation laid upon the word of God from our youthful and strong days, we will be able to resist the devil. If we win that race, then we win eternal life through Jesus Christ.

  1. BibleSprout website http://www.biblesprout.com/articles/hell/demons/ accessed 4/5/2016.
  2. CARM website https://carm.org/demons accessed on 3/20/2016
  3. Chart from Accordance Bible Software version 11.1.4rc1
  4. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38–39 KJV)
  5. "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:11–12 KJV)
  6. In v 2 Paul attributes this life marked by sins chiefly to two related factors—the influence of this world (i.e. the present fallen creation and the forces it generates in society, seen as standing in rebellion against God and in contrast to the 'new age' or 'new creation' awaited), and the influence of Satan, described here as the ruler of the kingdom of the air. The aer denoted the lower heavens, closest to the earth, and was often thought to be the abode of the evil spiritual beings. The idea of Satan being at work in those who are disobedient is found elsewhere in Jewish literature. For example in The Ascension of Isaiah he is said to have 'rejoiced in Jerusalem because of Manasseh and strengthened him in his leading to apostasy and in the lawlessness which was spread abroad in Jerusalem' (2:2-4; cf. 2 Ki. 21; 2 Ch. 33). This could all sound like a determinism to evil for which we are not responsible, but v 3 puts the blame equally fairly on our own rebellious nature with its corrupt desires and thinking. All this made us what Paul calls 'children of wrath' (NRSV correctly); that is, those condemned to suffer God's holy anger directed against sin. Max Turner, Ephesians (New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition; ed. D. A Carson et al.; Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1228.
  7. "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." (John 12:6 KJV)

Filed under: angelology, hamartiology