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by Phil Edmonds


These notes consider what the Bible means when it uses the terms demon (devil - authorised version) and unclean spirit, and traces their roots in the Old Testament. They then go on to look at what the Bible means when it speaks of "the devil". While considering these subjects, it will also be necessary to identify the meaning of Satan.


They are equivalent sometimes. For example, in Luke 9 v 42 a "demon" threw down a man's son and Jesus rebuked "the unclean spirit". Similarly, in Luke 8 v 27 it speaks of a man having "demons", which resulted in Jesus commanding "the unclean spirit to come out of the man" (v 29).

The link between "unclean spirit" and "demon" is explained by Luke 4 v 33, which speaks of "a man which had a spirit of an unclean demon".

 Demons are unclean, and when they affect a man's spirit it becomes unclean. There will be more about unclean spirits later on in these notes.


In Mark 3 v 22 the scribes say of Jesus, "He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the demons he casts out demons". In responding to this accusation, Jesus says, "How can Satan cast out Satan?".
The scribes were wrongly ascribing the powers which Jesus had to the god Baal Zebub (Lord of the fly), which was worshipped in the Philistine city of Ekron (2 Kings 1 v 3). Scripture makes it quite clear that these gods or idols have no powers, for example it says that the "gods" of the nations that the Assyrians destroyed were "not gods, but a work of man's hands, wood and stone" (Isaiah 37 v 20). Jesus responds to their accusation by saying that both gods made out of man's handiwork like Baal Zebub and demons are "Satan".

[See also note 1 at the end of this study]

Jesus provides a definition of what "Satan" is in Matthew 16 v 23 when he says to Peter

"Get behind me Satan, you are an offence to me, for you do not mind the things of God, but the things of men".

Satan describes the thinking that puts man first, rather than God first. The first instance of this sort of thinking occurs in Genesis chapter 3, where the serpent says to Eve, "You shall not surely die" (v4), when she tells it that she could not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden. Eve "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes ... and did eat; and gave also unto her man with her, and he did eat" (v 6). As a result of considering the things of men in preference to the things of God, the creation became cursed. God told Eve "I will greatly multiply your SORROW, and your conception: in SORROW you shall bring forth children" (v16). God said to Adam "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in SORROW you shall eat of it all the days of your life" (v 17).
Considering the things of men as opposed to the things of God meant that pain, suffering, hardship and death were introduced into the creation. As such, Satan can be considered to stand not only for disobedience to God, but for all the consequences of that disobedience, like disease.

People who are described as being demon possessed in the New Testament exhibit symptoms like deafness (Mark 9 v 25 - the man was demon possessed - see Matthew 17 v 18), dumbness (Mark 9 v 17, Matthew 9 v 32), lunacy (Matthew 17 v 15) and possibly epilepsy (Mark 9 v 18). As demons have this effect, they can be regarded as medical conditions that afflict man, and more generally, all the adverse conditions in nature that afflict man. Our generation gives these conditions names other than referring to them as demon possession, but demon possession will do as well, as long as we are clear what a demon is.

Diseases which are termed "demons" in the New Testament, can be considered to be part of God's curse on the earth which came about as a consequence of the serpent and the first man and woman being Satans. When Jesus says demons are "Satan", he is showing that they have their origins in man's disobedience to God.

Scripture portrays demons as having their own qualities, for example they speak (Matthew 8 v 31), believe in God and tremble (James 2 v 19). In fact, these things are done by those who are demon possessed, but are ascribed to the demons themselves. This may seem an odd way of expressing things in our thinking, but is quite understandable. For example, if a fever makes someone delirious, in scriptural terms the virus causing the fever and the delirium is doing the speaking.

Although demons afflict men, there are no grounds for regarding them as evil forces separate to God's creation which are opposed to God. This is made clear by God's words to Moses in Exodus 4 v 11:

"And Yahweh said to (Moses), Who made a mouth for man, or who made the DUMB, or DEAF or seeing or blind. Have not I, Yahweh?".

As dumbness and deafness come from Yahweh, then so too do demons, which scripture says cause these conditions.


Notice the use of the word SORROW which occurs in Genesis chapter 3 verses 16 and 17, as it provides a means of understanding why idols like Baal Zebub are called "Satan" by Jesus, as well as the demons that the scribes believed they controlled.

"Sorrow" in Genesis 3 v 16 is a translation of the hebrew word "`eTSeB", and in v 17 of the word "`iTSaBON". Both of them are derived from the same verb, as is the word "`aTSaB", which is translated "idol" in our bibles. The worship of  idolatrous gods was man's way of coming to terms with the hostile environment that he found himself in. Idols were man made representations of the things in nature which afflict him, things like disease, insect infestations and weather conditions (see note 2). By worshipping them, men felt that they could make their living conditions easier. By doing this, however, they only looked to the effects of the problem and not the cause. It is by serving God that ultimately the effects of sin can be overcome, not by worshipping the effects of the curse that God has put on the earth.

Men who worship demons are simply "worshipping and serving the creation more than the creator, who is blessed for ever" (Romans 1 v 25).

It has been seen that one word translated idol (`aTSaB) is related to those which describe the powers that work contrary to man, in the world around us. It is hardly surprising that some other words translated "idol" are derived in a similar way. The next part of the study looks at these other words.

In Isaiah 21 v 3, 4 the prophet says,

"My loins filled with pain; PANGS have taken hold upon me, as the PANGS of a woman that travails: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it. My heart panted, FEARFULNESS frightened me: the night of my pleasure has he turned into fear unto me".

The sufferings of the prophet are likened to a woman travailing to give birth. The hebrew word translated PANGS (TSIRIM) is translated idols in Isaiah 45 v 16, similarly the word translated fearfulness (PaLLaTSUTH) is related to the word translated idol in 1 Kings 15 v 13 (MiPHLeTSeTH). The sort of suffering borne by the prophet is personified by men in the form of idols, which are worshipped by them in an attempt to improve their living conditions. A pointless exercise.

In a similar vein, Jeremiah 50 v 38 says of Babylon:

"A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images and they are mad with idols (hebrew 'EMIM)."

However, the word translated idols also occurs in Exodus 15 v 16, when describing the effect that God's redemption of Israel from Egypt has on the people of Edom, Moab and Canaan:

"FEAR (hebrew 'EMIM) and dread shall fall upon them".

Again, this shows that idols were man's representations of the fear that comes on him as a result of God's actions. This fear may come about as a result of God punishing men, or derive from God manifesting himself to mankind through his mighty works.


The next group of words that will be considered also link "demon" with fearfulness, and show which Old Testament words equate to those in the New Testament translated "demon".

In 1 Corinthians 10 v 19 - 21 it says:

"What shall I say then? that a thing sacrificed to an idol is anything? or that an idol is any thing? But that which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I do not wish that you should have fellowship with demons. You are not able to drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: you are not able to partake of the Lord's table, and of the table of demons."

[See also note 3]

This passage shows that, in some way, sacrificing to idols can be equated to sacrificing to demons. It also provides a link into the Old Testament, because the idea of sacrificing to demons is drawn from passages in the Old Testament.

Three passages might be considered to be the source of the passage in 1 Corinthians 10, either Deuteronomy 32 v 17, Psalm 106 v 37,8 or Leviticus 17 v 7. These passages say:

Deuteronomy 32 v 17:

"They sacrificed unto demons (hebrew SHeDDIM), not God (hebrew 'eLoaH), God (hebrew 'eLoHIM) did not know them, new (things) came from the midst, your fathers did not fear (hebrew Sa`aR) them."

Psalm 106 v 36-8:

"(Israel) served their idols (hebrew 'aTSaB); which were a snare unto them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons (hebrew SHeDDIM). And they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols (hebrew `aTSaB) of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood."

Leviticus 17 v 7:

"And they (Israel) shall no more sacrifice to demons (hebrew Se`iRIM) after whom they have gone whoring".

[See also note 4]

So, in Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 106 the word translated demons is SHeDDIM, whereas in Leviticus 17 it is Se`iRIM (the plural of Sa`iR). The relationship between the two words is shown by noting that the word translated "to fear" (Sa`aR) in Deuteronomy 32 v 17 is the source of the word translated "demon" in Leviticus 17 v 7 (Sa`IR).

The hebrew word Sa`IR is also translated "kid (as in goat)" and has the basic idea of something which is associated with trembling or shimmering. In Leviticus 17 v 7 the word Sa`IR  can be understood to refer to the natural phenomena that idols portray, which cause men to fear and tremble.
Having established the link between the hebrew words SHeDDIM and Se`IRIM, it is useful to consider what the word SHeDDIM means and the sense of Deuteronomy 32 v 17.

SHeDDIM is closely related to the hebrew word translated "Almighty" in the phrase "God Almighty". In these phrases, "Almighty" is a translation of the hebrew word "SHaDDaI". One aspect of the meaning of "SHaDDaI" is brought out by looking at Isaiah 13 v 6 and Joel 1 v 15. As one is a quotation of the other, only Isaiah 13 v 6 will be quoted.

Isaiah 13 v 6 (addressed to Babylon):

"Howl, for the day of Yahweh is near; it shall come as destruction (hebrew SHoD) from the Almighty (hebrew SHaDDaI)."

The word translated "destruction" (SHoD) is related to that translated "Almighty" (SHaDDaI). In one sense, SHaDDaI represents those who bring destruction. Similarly, the related word SHeDDIM in Deuteronomy 32 v 17 can be regarded as things which bring destruction upon man, which are elevated in the mind of man to become gods in their own right and things which are distinct  from the God who brought the curse upon the earth. The fact that men had lost sight of where their suffering came from, comes out from a closer examination of Deuteronomy 32 v 17:

"They sacrificed unto demons (hebrew SHeDDIM), not God (hebrew 'eLoaH), God (hebrew 'eLoHIM) did not know them, new (things) came from the midst, your fathers did not fear them (hebrew Sa`aR)."

It says that the SHeDDIM worshipped by the Israelites were not God (hebrew 'eLoaH), ie not 'eL SHaDDaI. They were gods that the God of Israel did not know, gods that their fathers did not fear, gods that came out of their own imagination.

Although New Testament demons can be regarded as equating to the things represented by the hebrew words SHeDDIM and Se`IRIM, it is possible that the greek words translated "demon" in the New Testament (daimon and daimonion) may be derived from the hebrew word translated "blood" (DaM). Remember that in Psalm 106 v 37, 38 the Israelites sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons and in the process shed blood (hebrew DaM), and that as a result the land was polluted with blood. This link between demons and blood expands the picture of what demons are. They are the forces in nature that arose from the curse, which men wrongly worshipped as gods. Men represented them as idols and shed blood while attempting to appease them.

The possibility that the greek words translated demon (daimon : daimonion) are related to the hebrew word DaM is supported by Isaiah 15 v 9, which contains a play on words concerning the Moabite town DIMON. It says:

"For the waters of DIMON shall be full of blood (DaM)".

The closeness of the name Dimon with the greek words daimon and daimonion, suggests that the words translated demon in our Bibles are derived from the hebrew word for blood, and highlights the sickening practice of human sacrifice used in an attempt to influence the adverse conditions that man faced around him.

However, is this practice of human offering to influence adverse forces so different to the attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees towards Jesus, who reasoned that "it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation does not perish" (John 11 v 50)?


The reason why Israel were to make a distinction between clean and unclean things, was to remind them that they had been separated from the people around them and were holy to Yahweh. Leviticus 20 v 22 - 26 says:

"You shall keep all my statutes, and all my judgements, and do them: that the land, which I cause you to dwell in, does not spue you out. And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. And I have said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess it, a land that flows with milk and honey: I am Yahweh your God, which have separated you from the peoples. You shall make a separation between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean birds and clean: and you shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by bird, or by any manner of living thing which creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you will be holy ones to me; for I Yahweh am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you will be mine."
One of the things which the nations committed, which Israel were not to copy is set out in verse 2 - 5 of the same chapter. They were not to sacrifice their children to Molech, which was the god worshipped by the Ammonites (1 Kings 11 v 7).

However, the Israelites copied the practices of the Canaanites by  worshipping idols and sacrificing their sons and daughters to the demons that the idols represented, as Psalm 106 v 37, 38 shows. Israel would be unclean as long as the idolatrous practices of the nations remained in them. Only when the idols went would the unclean spirit in the land disappear. This is shown by Zechariah 13 v 2:

"And it shall come to pass in that day, says Yahweh of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols (hebrew `aTSaB) out of the land, and they shall be remembered no more: and I will cause the prophets and the UNCLEAN SPIRIT to pass out of the land".

This is the first use of the expression "unclean spirit" in scripture, and can be seen to represent the thinking of godless people, who turn to the idolatrous practices of the people around them. This is different to the definition of "unclean spirit" which has been noted in the New Testament, which was identified as  a way of thinking brought about by someone who is demon possessed.

But is the difference so great? It has been seen that Satan encompasses thinking which is opposed to God, as well as the effects that it causes, like disease and death. Similarly, the term "unclean spirit" can be considered to have the same scope. It represents the thinking of those who choose to disobey the God of Israel, but it also describes the condition of those who are affected by the diseases that have resulted from that disobedience. So, those people who are of Satan exhibit an unclean spirit in their thinking, but additionally, the result of man's original disobedience are illnesses which are also termed Satan and Unclean Spirits.

On the contrary, those who are of God exhibit a Holy Spirit (note the contrast between uncleanness and holiness in the quotation from Leviticus 20). Holy and Unclean spirits are explored some more in the next section.


Some people said of Jesus:

"He has a demon, and is mad" (John 11 v 20)

"He has an unclean spirit" (Mark 3 v 30).

In the second of these instances, which was when the scribes had suggested that he cast out demons by the prince of demons, Jesus responds by saying that "he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation". The scribes considered themselves to be holy, and as Jesus was different to them, they concluded he was mad and had an unclean spirit. The reality, however, was that Jesus was holy and the scribes were unclean.

A similar case of mistaken insanity happens when Paul defended himself before the Roman governor Porcius Festus, King Agrippa and Queen Bernice. While Paul was speaking about the sufferings of Christ and his resurrection, Festus says "with a LOUD VOICE, Paul you are mad, much learning makes you mad" (Acts 26 v 24). Within this context, the fact that Festus speaks with a loud voice has significance, in that this is a characteristic of those who are demon possessed (Mark 1 v 26). The truth is stated by Paul in Acts 26 v 25, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak the words of truth and soberness". The greek word translated soberness (sophrosune) is opposed to demon possession, and this is seen from considering the demon possessed man who lived in the country of the Gadarenes. When the unclean spirits went out of him, it is recorded that he was "in his right mind" (Mark 5 v 15), which is a translation of the greek word (sophroneo) from which "sophrosune" is derived.

For those who are unclean, holy men and women appear mad. However the truth is that the holy are sober or in their right mind, and unclean ones are mad. Instead, it is the unclean thinking of the world with its worship of idols that is madness, as Jeremiah 50 v 38 says of Babylon "they are mad with idols".


From these notes, it is seen that those who worshipped idols sought to appease the forces that were working against them. In these days, the same mentality still pervades the Roman and Anglican churches, who have saints which are meant to look after people with various ailments and to protect people in difficult circumstances.


It has been seen that Satan is a general term which encompasses all the consequences of man's godless thinking. Included within Satan is what scripture terms "the devil". This is shown by the following:

a)   In Mark 1 v 13 it says that Jesus was "in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan", whereas in Matthew 4  v 1 it states that Jesus was "led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil".
[See also note 5]

b)   In Revelation 12 v 9 it says "And the great dragon was cast out, that ancient serpent, called the devil and Satan".

Using the definition of "Satan" in Matthew 16 v 23, the devil represents something which is associated with  the thinking of men and not the thinking of God. More information about the meaning of this term "the devil" can be derived from considering the  meaning of the greek word "diabolos", which is translated "devil" in the New Testament. Diabolos is derived from the word "diaballo", this word only occurs once (in Luke 16 v 1) in the Bible and its use helps us to understand what the devil is. This verse comprises the start of a parable which Jesus told and says:

"There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and this one was accused (greek diaballo) by him as wasting his goods".

So we should expect the devil to be an accuser of some kind. In Revelation 12 v 9, the ancient serpent is equated with the devil, and it is helpful to consider who the serpent in Eden accused. Certainly, it did not accuse Adam or Eve, but by disbelieving what God had said about eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it accused God of lying.

However God is true, every accusation against him must be a lie, which is confirmed by the words of Jesus:

"He (the devil) is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8 v 44).

Another thing which can be learned from considering the serpent is that a lack of belief can influence others and tempt them to do wrong. By disbelieving God, accusers or devils not only are capable of tempting others, but are also trying to tempt God (e.g. Acts 15 v 10, Hebrews 3 v 9). However "God is not tempted of evils" (James 1 v 13), but a man can be when he "is drawn away of his own lust and enticed" (v14). We see that this occured in the case of Eve, who "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise", and "she took of the fruit of it and did eat" (Genesis 3 v 6).

So far, the devil has been identified as someone who does not believe in God's word, and by implication accuses him of lying. This unbelieving attitude in one person can then result in others being tempted to sin, by appealing to their lusts.


Our perception of what the devil is can be expanded by considering Hebrews 2 v 14, which says:

"Since then the children are sharers of blood and flesh, he (Jesus) also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might destroy (greek katargeo) him that had the power of death, this is the devil".

In Romans chapter 6 it speaks of what has been destroyed in different terms. Verse 3 establishes that we are considering the same ideas as in Hebrews 2 when it says that those who "were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death". The argument then continues by drawing more parallels between our baptism and Christ's death and resurrection. Verse 6 says

"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, in order that the BODY OF SIN might be destroyed (greek katargeo), that henceforth we should not serve sin". Our baptisms parallel Christ's death and resurrection, if we can destroy the body of sin, then this is what Christ destroyed as well. As Hebrews chapter 2 states that Christ destroyed the devil, it can be concluded that the body of sin and the devil are one and the same.

The question can be asked, does the body of sin refer to someone who has sinned, or to someone who is capable of sin? The answer is that the latter is meant, because Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4 v 15). When Christ died he had not obeyed sin, although his body was capable of sinning just as ours are.


Passages like Matthew 4 v 1 show that the devil is a tempter, and James 1 v 14 explains that we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts. Romans 6 v 12 establishes the relationship between the body of sin and lusts when it says:

"Do not let sin reign in your bodies that are subject to death, that you should obey it (i.e. sin) in the lusts of it".

Sin, which in this instance means sinful nature, dwells in us. If we obey the lusts that this "sin" engenders, then we are obedient to it and it reigns in us. As such, lusts originate from our sinful natures or from the devil. This is stated by Jesus in John 8 v 44 when he says:

"You are out of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you wish to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and there is no truth in him."


The word translated "destroy" in Hebrews 2 v 14 and Romans 6 v 6 (katargeo) is used several times in Romans 7. It is worthwhile considering some of its uses in that chapter.

In verse 2 it states:

"For the woman which has a husband is bound by the law to the husband while he lives; but if the husband dies, she is LOOSED (greek katargeo) from the law of the husband".

Developing an analogy from the idea of marriage, verse 6 says:

"But now we are loosed (greek katargeo) from the law, being dead in which we were held, so that we should serve in newness of spirit and not by oldness of the letter".

In Romans 6 v 6 it is argued that the body of sin is destroyed or loosed, however in Romans 7 v 6 it says that we have been loosed from the law. This is why Paul says in Romans 7 v 7:

"What shall we say? Is the LAW SIN? May it not be! But I had not known sin, except through the law. For I had not known lust, if the law had not said, You shall not lust".

Sin only exists when it is identified. The law showed what sin was, just as God's commandment in Eden about not eating the fruit demonstrated what sin was. If we were incapable of sinning, we would be free from the condemnation of the law. When Christ rose from the dead, he was no longer able to sin, so was loosed from the law as well as from the body of sin.

Verses 8 - 11 continue:

"But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, loosed (greek katargeo) in me every lust. For without the law sin was dead. And I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came sin lived again and I died. And the commandment, which was unto life, this I found to be unto death: For sin, finding occasion through the commandment, deceived me and through it slew me".

Our human natures are defined as being sinful by the law. They "loose" lusts within us which lead to death, however in Christ we are "loosed" from its power.

We note that in verse 11 it says that sin "deceives" (greek exapatao) us. This provides another link back to the serpent in the garden of Eden. In 2 Corinthians 11 v 3 it says:
"But I fear, lest by any means the serpent deceived (greek exapatao) Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the singleness and the purity that is toward Christ".

The serpent and our sinful natures with its lusts are both deceiving powers, tempting us to disobey God. This opposition to God, not only accuses him of falsehood, but is also a corrupting lie.

The serpent deceived Eve and brought about corruption. Without the gospel we will remain in this corrupt, deceived state, which scripture terms the "old man". The meaning of the "old man" is shown by Ephesians 4 v 22, which also shows us how to correct this state of affairs:

"PUT OFF ... the OLD MAN, which is CORRUPT according to LUSTS of DECEIT".

It has already been noted that Romans 6 v 6 speaks of the body of sin being loosed, however it also makes reference to the old man as well:


"Our OLD  MAN is crucified with (Christ), in order that the body of sin might be loosed".

The "old man" is one which obeys sinful lusts, and in baptism we become new and crucify the old. The body of sin should ideally cease to have an influence on us at this stage, just as Christ's body of sin died when he was crucified. However the unfortunate reality is that baptism is only the start of a personal war with sin. The loosing of the body of sin will only finally be accomplished when we share in Christ's resurrection at the last day. For now, we share the struggle that Paul spoke of:

"But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself with the mind serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin" (Romans 7 v 23 - 5).


In Matthew chapter 9 vs 2 - 6 it says:

"And behold, they brought to (Jesus) a paralytic, lying on a bed. And behold Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, Child be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven. And behold, some of the scribes said in themselves, this man blasphemes. And behold, Jesus knowing their thoughts, said, Why do you think evil in your hearts. For what is easier, to say your sins are forgiven, or to say rise and walk? But in order that you may know that the son of man has authority on the earth to forgive sin (then he said to the paralytic), Arise, lift up your bed and go to your house".

Jesus links the healing of disease with the forgiveness of sin. The scribes saw disease and sin as separate, however we know from scripture that they are the same, in that they are both Satan. Sin is a manifestation of a mind which is opposed to God, and disease is a result of the first sin. Jesus has broken the hold of sin, disease and death, and will bestow eternal life to all those who have had their sins forgiven at the judgement day. By healing the paralytic, Jesus was showing that God had given him authority over Satan, whether in the form of disease or sin. We can have confidence that he will use that authority to our benefit if we are obedient to the gospel.


In 1 John 3 v 8 it says:

"For this the son of God was manifested, in order that he might loose (greek luo) the works of the devil".

The greek word "luo" is used in a similar context in Acts 2 v 24 when Peter says that God raised up Jesus, "having loosed (greek luo) the birthpangs (greek odin) of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it (death)".

The birthpangs of death can be equated with the works of the devil, as they are both descriptions of what Jesus loosed (greek luo). We saw earlier that several of the words translated "idol" in the Old Testament were related to other words associated with birthpangs. When men made idols they were representing the adverse conditions or "sorrows" (see Genesis 3 v 16, 17)  that they had to endure, these were "the birthpangs of death" which sprang up from the serpent's accusation and the sin of Adam and Eve.

However, Jesus has loosed these birthpangs, which are the result of the serpent's accusation and the lusts of Adam and Eve, or to put it another way he has loosed "the works of the devil". Acts 2 v 24 says that it was not possible for Jesus to be held by death. The word translated "held" (greek krateo) is related to that translated "power" in Hebrews 2 v 14, which says

"that through death (Jesus) might destroy him that had the power (greek kratos) of death, this is the devil".

Jesus could not be held by death, and the holding power that death has comes from the devil. As we have seen, Jesus overcame the effects of his sinful nature or "the devil", with the result that death had no power over him.


 The term Satan stands for the godless thinking of man, as opposed to the thinking of God. It is a term which includes the consequences of that thinking, including illnesses and adversities which scripture calls demons. Also part of Satan is the attitude which accuses God (and the godly) of falsehood, by contradicting his word, and this is called the devil. This accuser is the sinful nature residing in our flesh which tempts ourselves and others to sin.

By living a sinless life, Christ has loosed himself from the devil and its consequences, and from the domain of Satan. By believing the gospel we are attempting to put off the old man and to break the reign of sin in our lives. This body of sin or the devil will not be completely overcome until the resurrection, for the time being we need to "resist the devil and he WILL flee from us" (James 4 v 7).

a)   Exodus 32 v 4 gives an example of how gods were made.

b)   One of the idols worshipped in Babylon was the god BeL. In the Old Testament, one of the hebrew words    translated  "nothing" is BaL. Once the vowels are taken away, as they were not in the original text, there is no difference in the way BeL and BaL are written. An idol is nothing, or perhaps BL (Bel) is BL (BaL)?

In some respects, idols represent the effects of demons exactly. It has been seen that demons cause dumbness and deafness, and these qualities are things that false gods manifest very well. For example, in Psalm 115 v 4 - 7 it describes idols (hebrew `aTSaB) in this way:

"Their idols are silver and gold, a work of the hands of man. They have a mouth but do not speak, they have eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear, a nose they have but do not smell. Hands but do not handle, feet but do not walk, they do not mutter with their throat".

See also Jeremiah 10 v 5 which describes false gods (v 11):

"They are hardened (?) like a palm tree, and do not SPEAK, they must be borne, for they do not go. Do not fear them, for they cannot do evil, and doing good is not in them".


In Isaiah 65 v 4 it speaks about the people in Israel who "dwell in graves and lodge in kept places, eating flesh of swine". This description fits the demon possessed man who dwelt in the country of the Gadarenes (Mark 5), who dwelt  in the tombs (v3) and lived in an area which reared swine (v11).  Isaiah 65 v 11 throws light on why he lived in the country of the Gadarenes. It says that the Israelites "prepared a table for a troop" (i.e. the demons that they worshipped). The hebrew word translated "troop" is Gad, and the land of the GADarenes can be regarded as the place where a Gad or troop of demons were worshipped. How appropriate then that the demon possessed man which  Jesus came across in the country of the Gadarenes had many demons (Mark 5 v 9). The links between Isaiah 65 and Mark 5 leads to the conclusion that the GADarene people worshipped a number of demons, and it must have been particularly galling to them to see the adverse conditions of nature that they revered so much being expelled from the local madman. By casting the demons out of the man, Jesus demonstrated that he could take the "Gad" out of Gadarene and showed that he had power over the things of the curse that the locals respected so much. Isaiah 65 then continues by speaking about the new heavens and earth that God will establish. When Jesus healed the Gadarene man, it was a case of the man who will bring about the new state of affairs overcoming the old corrupting order of things.
The table of demons referred to in 1 Corinthians 10 v 21 can be equated with the table that was prepared for a troop in Isaiah 65 v 11. As disciples are part of the new creation, they must not get involved with the worship of things that will be done away.

 Revelation 18 v 2's allusion to Isaiah 13 v 19 - 21 may provide another link between the hebrew word Sa`IR (translated satyr in Isaiah 13 v 21 and the greek word daimon (translated "demon" in Revelation 18 v 2)].


Who was the devil that tempted Jesus? Was it his own sinful nature or was it another person? There are problems with both approaches. If it was his own sinful nature, then he would have known that he would not rule all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4 v 8) by disobeying his Father. However, if the tempter was another person, who would have had the power to tempt him? It is possible that the tempter may have been someone similar to Satan in the Book of Job. Satan said to God "Does Job fear God for nothing ... put forth your hand and touch all which he has, and will he bless you to your face?" (Job 1 v 9 - 11). In the light of that challenge, God said to him "All (things) which are to him (are) in your hand" (v12). Satan then afflicts Job using power that God gave him in order that Job can be perfected. It may be that the tempter of Jesus in the wilderness was someone who disliked him, and who was given power by God for a while in order that Jesus could demonstrate that he was obedient to the will of his Father.


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