From my first post in this series we looked at a very brief introduction to the subject of demonology. In this post we’ll take a pretty broad overview of demons: their origins and traits.
I should also note that we will only be looking at the topic of demonology through the lens of Christianity.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16
Remember that God has created everything. That includes the angels. They were created, at least from what I can gather, right before Creation – think of it as Genesis 1:0, if you’re feeling spry. Angels are, in their most simple, biblical definition, “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14). The word, “angelos” in Greek simply means “messenger.”
They were created to serve God and bring about His purpose. They are organized in a pyramid if you will, and fall into a few categories.
Messengers, which is perhaps the largest group, who do God’s will both in Heaven and on the Earth.
Cherubim, which come on the scene in Genesis 3:24, and are also mentioned as a “part” of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:18-22). These are the guys Ezekiel is talking about – you know, the angels having the four faces (Ezk. 1:3-28; 10:22). This is most likely the group that is also synonymous with Archangels. Some scholars even speculate that these are the “four creatures around the throne” in Revelation 4:6, but I’m not sure there’s enough evidence to make a definitive statement on that one.
Then there are the Seraphim. This group is mentioned most notably in Isaiah 6. When we find these guys in Scripture, they’re usually the heavenly worship leaders or heralds of God’s goodness.
That’s the three definitive groupings that I find in Scripture, but there are also angels mentioned specifically by name. Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer.
Historical note: In patristic church histories and theologies as soon as one generation after the death of the Twelve, most early church fathers, like Clement of Alexandria (direct disciple of Jesus by Paul) tell us the angels are arranged in “nine choirs.”
So why did I spend that much time on angels? Well, because that’s where demons originate. One giant characteristic of angels that is often overlooked is that they also, like people, have free will, thus they were angels who chose to follow Lucifer (now called Satan) in rebellion against God. They had the same characteristics of angels, but when they were cast out of Heaven with Satan they were no longer good. From there on out they became “evil spiritual entities” that Scripture refers to as ‘demons.” Check out Revelation 12:7-9 for that.
Now, we need to do a little Myth busting here. A lot of people purport that demons ARE NOT fallen angels, but we see that there can be no other biblical example or explanation given as to why they exist. As Fr. Jack Ashcraft writes, “Satan cannot create anything, so how could he create an army of ‘demons?'” Remember, ALL things were created by God and it was all originally good! (Gen. 1-2;John 1:3, Col. 1:16)
So what are the characteristics and traits of demons that we can glean from Scripture? Fr. Jack Ashcraft, in his book Ecclesiae Militantis sums it up nicely:
- Are spirits (Matt 8:16; Luke 10:17, 20)
- Can manifest visibly (Gen. 3:1; Zech. 3:1; Matt. 4:9-10)
- Can speak audibly (Mark 5:9, 12; Luke 8:28; Matt. 8:31)
- Believe in God (James 2:19)
- Exercise their will (Luke 11:24; 8:32)
- Exercise intelligence (Mark 1:24)
- Have emotions (Luke 8:28; James 2:19)
- Have recognition of people or events (Acts 19:15)
- Have supernatural strength (Acts 19:16; Mark 5:3)
- Have supernatural presence (Dan. 9:21-23)
- Are eternal beings (Matt. 25:41
- Have their own doctrines and teachings (1 Tim. 4:1-3)
- Are pure evil (Matt. 10:1; Mark 1:27; 3:11)
Just like their good angel counterparts, demons also have different names in general and actual names in specific. They are called evil spirits six times and unclean unclean spirits 23 times in the New Testament. They are also called devils (Mark 1:32) and “the devil’s angels” (Matt. 25:41).
Historical Note: Chapters 7 & 8 of The Book of Enoch which is cited by Jude and alluded to by Paul gives the names of other angels who fell separately in a ‘second casting out’ for a rebellion in which they lusted after women (alluded to in Genesis 6:1-3, 1 Cor. 11:10; Jude 1:14-15). Did this actually happen as a second fall? I don’t know, but it is something you need to be aware of as a theory.
In the Book of Enoch there are actually specific names and the activities that each demon taught, and again, Fr. Jack Ashcraft sums it up nicely:
- Shemyaza – Taught the occult science of root cutting and enchantment
- Azaziel – Taught the making of weapons, use of makeups, dyes, precious metals and stones
- Amazarak – Taught sorcery
- Armaros – Taught the occult removal of curses and hexes
- Baraqel – Taught Astrology
- Kokabel – Taught astronomical calculations for occult purposes
- Ezeqeel – Taught Hydromancy
- Arakiel – Taught Geomancy
- Shansiel – Taught Solar worship
- Sariel – Taught Moon Magick
- Akibeel – Taught Occult Symbolism
- Tamiel – Taught Astronomy
- Penemue – Taught the use of parchments and inks
- Kasdeja – Taught abortion
- Gadreel – Taught combat arts
Others mentioned are Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Saraknyal, Asael, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomvael, and Urakabarameel.
You’ll learn this later, but every demon has a name, and knowing that name enables you to deal with it more adequately, but only through the power and authority of Christ.
So we see that as with everything, it was created by God for good, but when Satan fell and took the others with him, they were perverted and went from good to evil.
These are the origins of the demonic.
In the next post we’ll look at how demons are organized and grouped biblically.