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THE EXISTENCE OF DEMONS
The word demon or demons is found about seventy-five times in the New Testament, and other designations are employed for them, as well. In no case are they presented as imaginary or fictitious, not even by the Son of God, Himself. In Mark 7:29, Jesus used the term quite literally:
Satan, too, is a demon, and he is mentioned numerous
times in both testaments, as will be seen below.
THE ORIGIN OF DEMONS
Angels were created by God
before He created the heavens and the earth; but one-third of them became
demons when they rebelled against God. Their rebellion will be addressed
THE NATURE OF DEMONS
What Demons Are Not
Demons are not the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race, as at least one writer tried to prove. The Bible speaks of Adam as the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), and its explanation as to the origin of demons contradicts, and therefore nullifies, that writer's claim. What, then, are demons?
Demons are angels; and everything that the Scriptures teach about the nature of angels - except for holiness - is true of demons. Demons are angels, but unholy ones; ones that have chosen to rebel against God and have retained their defiled, sinful nature since that time.
A simple definition of demon is:
The holy angels are referred to as an "innumerable
company" (Hebrews 12:22), and they are but two-thirds of the original
number of holy angels. One-third (Revelation 12:3-4) of the original
number joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Surely their huge number
is made up of all three classes of angels: cherubim, seraphim, and
rank and file angels.
THE ORGANIZATION OF DEMONS
Are the demons organized in ranks?
Three Classes of Angels
As a foundational consideration, it is instructive to
remember that there are rankings among the holy angels: the cherubim
are the highest order, the seraphim are next, and the rank and file angels are next; and each functions in its own realms of service. It is also helpful to remember
that the Anointed Cherub had preeminence over all the other angels
before his fall, and that Michael is the military commander over the rank
and file angels (Revelation 12:7).
Demons of Authority and Lesser Demons
There are scriptures that refer to demon powers in various ways as over against powers of "flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12). They are: Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12; and Colossians 1:16 and 2:15. Combining their designations from these scriptures, they are: principalities, powers in the heavenlies, world rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual wickedness in high places, thrones, dominions, authorities. If there is a chain of command among them I do not see it; nevertheless, each of these designations appears to refer to demons of great authority, indicating that there must be demons of lesser authority.
Other scriptures clarify the picture somewhat. Matthew
12:24 and Luke 11:15 call Satan the prince of demons, Ephesians 2:2 refers
to him as the prince of the powers of the air, and Revelation 9:1-11
states that the demonic horde that will ascend out of the bottomless pit
during the Great Tribulation will have a king over them. This relationship
between Satan and his demons will remain active until the end of the Great
Tribulation, at which time he will be bound in the Abyss for a thousand
years. It will likely be reactivated briefly at the end of the thousand years when
he will be loosed "to deceive the nations" and gather them to battle
against the Lord, after which he will be cast into the Lake of Fire and
Sulfur prepared for him and his angels (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10; Matthew
Demon Rulers Over Nations
Daniel speaks of the Prince of Persia (Daniel 10:13) and the Prince of Greece (Daniel 10:20), demon warriors who battled the archangel Michael.
Parenthetically, this causes one to wonder whether there might be a demon prince over all the world's governments. Would that include Israel? On the one hand, the same passage that speaks of the demon princes of Persia and Greece also names the holy angel Michael as the Prince of Israel. On the other hand, both in ancient times and in modern, Israel has had its share of demonic activity. In this regard it differs from no other nation. Note that Revelation 11:15 does not differentiate between Israel and the other kingdoms of this world:
In the future, the kingdoms of this world will come under the direct dominion of Christ; but for now, they are all under the dominion of Satan and his host. It just may be that Satan has assigned his own prince over Israel just as God has assigned His.
Thus far, we can conclude that there are at least three rankings of angels: Satan the king or prince, rulers over nation (designated in other ways, as well), and rank and file demons. It seems likely that, since there are demonic rulers over nations, there are rulers of lesser authority over cities and other municipalities, as well; but, to my recollection, scripture does not spell this out.
To sum up, there are three clear ranks of demons, and there
may be more. In descending order of authority, they are: king or prince,
rulers over nations, and all other demons. It is also possible that the
original levels of authority granted to cherubim, seraphim, and rank and
file angels are retained in the demonic realm. Satan certainly has
retained his. Scripture does not appear to make demonic rankings any
clearer than this.
SATAN AND HIS DEMONS
Most of the attention in this study is given to Satan, not to his underling demons, because he is representative of all demons in his nature and goals. It must be understood, however, that the vast majority of all demonic activity is carried out by Satan's underlings, not by Satan himself. In common conversation, when it is said that Satan did a particular work, it almost always means that he was in charge of the work, not that he actually carried it out himself. It is like saying that Hitler killed six million Jews. It is understood that he, personally, did not do the killing, but that he gave the order for it, and that the hands-on work of killing was actually carried out by others under him in rank. Unless Scripture specifically identifies Satan personally as the one carrying out a specific activity, it should be assumed that that activity is carried out by one or more of his underling demons.
In the Scriptures, Satan is identified by various
designations, including names, titles, descriptions and animal-like
representations, which, in themselves, tell quite a lot about him. I felt
it most instructive to sort these out under headings having to do with his
original nature, his original positions, his present nature, and his
THE ORIGINAL NATURE OF SATAN
In reference to the one we commonly call Satan and the Devil, Scripture assigns him no negative designation in his original, sinless state, only positive ones. They are:
The Anointed Cherub. Ezekiel 28:14 begins, "You were the anointed cherub...." As to the nature of his spirit body, Satan was a cherub, and always will be.
Day-Star, and Son of the Morning. These two designations appear in Isaiah 14:12:
The King James translates the original Hebrew word for day-star into the Latin Lucifer which, like other designations of Satan, including Satan itself, hides its meaning. What's more, the designation Lucifer has a most negative connotation, whereas the original Hebrew for Day-Star and Son of the Morning have very positive ones. The only biblical designations that properly apply to Satan before his rebellion are Anointed Cherub, Day-Star and Son of the Morning. Day-Star has also been variously translated as Morning-Star and Shining-Star. According to Dr. Fruchtenbaum,
In addition to his special anointing, which we'll consider shortly, Ezekiel 28:12 reveals how he was the shining one:
He was the shining one by virtue of his special anointing and by the fact that he was filled to angelic capacity with wisdom and perfection in angelic beauty.
The Anointed Cherub that
Covers. Ezekiel 28:14 begins, "You were the anointed cherub
that covers...." In Ezekiel 10:1, we see the throne of God hovering above
the cherubim; but in 28:14, we see the Shining One covering, or
hovering above, or spread out over, the throne of God. His having been
anointed shows that He was especially endowed by God for his
breathtakingly glorious role as the covering cherub.
Ezekiel 28:13b reveals yet another facet of his position as The Anointed Cherub that Covers:
These musical instruments were in him as he hovered above God, above the seraphim (Isaiah 6:2) and above the other cherubim (Ezekiel 10:1). It is the picture of a worship leader who led the entire company of angels in the worship of God.
To sum up, three positions are included in the title
The Anointed Cherub that Covers:
THE PRESENT NATURE OF SATAN
Satan is not a red-skinned humanlike creature with a checkered jacket, horns, forked tail and pitchfork stoking up the flames of hell and tormenting its inhabitants. This is myth except for the fact that he'll be there.
His Basic Nature
Cherub. As noted, Ezekiel 28:14 identifies Satan as a cherub, and a cherub he still is and always will be.
The Evil One. This title is found in Matthew 6:13, John 17:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:3 and 1 John 5:18-19. According to Strong's, the Greek word for evil here is poneyros, which means evil in influence or effect. The title indicates that he is totally evil in everything he influences and does.
Satan. This name of The Evil One is found over fifty times in the Scriptures, and means adversary. Because he is The Evil One, he is the adversary of God, His ways, His works and His people, and indeed, of all people. 1 Chronicles 21:1 shows an example of his adversarial stance against the people of God:
Destroyer. This title appears in Revelation 9:11:
Abaddon (Hebrew) and Apollyon (Greek) mean Destroyer. This Destroyer is named as king over the horrible locusts of Revelation 9:1-10 that will ascend from the bottomless pit. These "locusts" were actually demons, and Destroyer, their king, the king of demons, is Satan. Destroyer speaks of his efforts at destroying God's plans, works and people.
A Roaring Lion. 1 Peter 5:8 says,
This, too, portray Satan as a destroyer of people. In
context, it specifically portrays him as a destroyer of the faith and
walk of believers.
His Means of Achieving His Goals
The Tempter. Found in Matthew 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5, this designation shows Satan as the one who entices people to sin. Matthew 4:3:
The Deceiver. This designation is found in Revelation 12:9, in which Satan is called, "the deceiver of the whole world," showing him as the one who, by deception, deceives the great mass of humanity into rejecting God and His ways. As often as he is able he even deceives believers into rejecting God's good counsel, which is why Ephesians 6:11 exhorts us to "stand against the wiles of the devil."
The Angel of Light. Found in 2 Corinthians 11:14, this designation shows that Satan carries out the work of deception by offering appealing counterfeits of true moral and spiritual understanding, of which this kosmos abounds in its legion of false religions, philosophies, beliefs and opinions.
The Devil. Devil means Accuser or Slanderer, and declares the chief way he seeks to cause division between God and His people, and between God's people. It is used only in the New Testament, and is found there thirty-five times.
The Accuser of the Brethren. Revelation 12:10 designates Satan as the accuser of believers. Job 1:9-11 and 2:5
show him in action, accusing righteous Job to God's face.
How He Employs His Means
The Serpent. Satan is depicted as a serpent in about ten places in the Bible, most notably in Genesis 3:1, the first reference to him in Scripture. This depiction brings to mind his cleverness and cunning in deception, as in his temptation of Eve:
The Dragon. Satan is portrayed as a dragon in Revelation 12, emphasizing the great power and ferocity he employed in his attempt to devour the Child of the woman (Revelation 12:4; Matthew 2), and will employ to destroy the woman, Israel, who gave birth to the Child (Revelation 12:13).
In Relation to Other Demons
The Prince of Demons. This title is found in Matthew 12:24 and Luke 11:15, and obviously shows his authority over all other demons.
The Prince of the Powers of
the Air. This title is found in Ephesians 2:2, and likewise
shows that Satan, who presently abides in the atmosphere, is the ruler of
his subordinate powers of the air, the demons, who also abide in
In Relation to the Present World System
The God of This Age. This title is found in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and emphasizes Satan's control of this age, whose world view is so contrary to that of Christ's.
The Prince of This World.
This designation appears in John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11. In each case,
the Greek word for world is kosmos, which refers to our world
system in regards to its prevailing satanic spirit and the way that it's
consequently arranged and conducted, as opposed to the spirit of the
Kingdom of God and the way that it is arranged and conducted.
The King of Tyre.
This title is found in Ezekiel 28:11-12 and, viewed in the context of
verses 11-19, likewise metaphorically portrays Satan as the demon king of all
VIEWS CONCERNING SATAN
Belial. Belial is found in 2 Corinthians 6:15, and means worthlessness. It describes Satan's net value in God's eyes in terms of his ability to be or do anything good. Nevertheless, Scripture reveals that he, as well as the other demons, are worthy of respect, even as criminals about to be executed are normally handled with dignity in countries having a biblical heritage. Note Jude 1:8-9:
Similarly, 2 Peter 2:10b:
In reference to the Jude passage, Adam Clarke notes,
This is a principle which the author has seen flagrantly violated by people who ought to have known better.
Beelzebub. Beelzebub means Lord of the Flies, and is found in Matthew 10:25; 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; and Luke 11:15, 18, 19. It is a comical term for Satan employed by the rabbis of Jesus' day. Beelzebub is a play on Beelzebul, the Greek form of the original Philistine name, which means Lord of the Royal Palace.
This study will conclude in our next Shofar with a
look at the history of Satan and his demons
For a much fuller treatment of the subject, the author
recommends these radio manuscripts by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, which
may be obtained from
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