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Don Stewart :: Where Did Demons Originate?

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Don Stewart
The Bible makes it clear concerning the reality of demons - they are real personalities. Yet there is no information in the Bible regarding their origin. Though Scripture does not tell us specifically where they came from, a number of theories have been put forward.

1. Disembodied Spirits Of A Pre-Adamic Race

A popular theory is that the demons are disembodied spirits of some race that existed before Adam - spirit-beings that are separate from fallen angels. It is argued that demons existed at another place and time in bodily form, but are now disembodied spirits looking for bodies to possess. The following Scriptures are used to support this theory.

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order (Matthew 12:43,44).

When Jesus was about to exorcise the demons out of the two men at Gadera, one of them responded in this manner.

He begged Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged Him, "Send us into the swine; let us enter them." So He gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea. The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened (Mark 5:10-14).

There is another passage that seems to make a distinction between spirits and angels.

(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees' group stood up and contended, "We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" (Acts 23:8,9).

There are others who do not find passages such as these as convincing evidence that demons formerly existed in some period in bodily form. All the Bible is saying is that they now wish to possess either man or beast - not that they formerly had bodies.

No Race Before Adam

In addition, Scripture knows nothing of any race that existed before Adam. The Bible says that the sin of Adam brought the present chaos in the world, not some race that existed before him.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned - (Romans 5:12).

2. Spirits Of The Evil Dead

Some feel that demons are the disembodied spirits of the evil dead - they are wandering around the realm of the dead seeking bodies to inhabit. This view has no biblical support. It is contradicted by the story the Lord told of the rich man and Lazarus. When the rich man died, he was in the unseen world in a place called Hades awaiting judgment. He was also told that he could not go back to this world.

Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us (Luke 16:26).

The spirits of the evil dead go to Hades, the unseen world, waiting for the last judgment. At the Great White Throne judgment, they, as well as Hades, are thrown into the lake of fire.

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

3. Offspring Of Angels And Earthly Women

There is the view that holds the demons resulted from the relationship between angels and earthly women. The demons did not exist before this point. This view takes Genesis 6 as referring to the unlawful marriages between fallen angels and human women. Their offspring was the Nephilim whom some believe to be half-human, half-angelic. There are many problems with this view - not the least of which Jesus said angels do not marry.

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30).

After Their Kind

In addition, God created various life-forms to reproduce only after their kind.

And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so (Genesis 1:24).

Since God has placed a limitation on reproduction-dogs cannot mate with horses, pigs with cows, humans with apes - it seems impossible that angels could mate with humans. This is especially true when we discover that the Bible says that angels have an entirely different nature than humans (For a detailed look at this question see our course Answering Bible Difficulties, Genesis, Volume 2)

4. Fallen But Not Confined Angels

The best view, with respect to the identity of demons, is that they are "fallen angels." Some of the angels who fell were bound while others became demons. These angels are doing the bidding of Satan by causing evil and possessing human beings. Satan, the ruler of the angels, is also called the ruler of the demons.

But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons" (Matthew 12:24).


Scripture makes it very clear that demons exist, it does not, however, tell us where they came from. Though various theories have been put forward, no one knows for certain about their origin. The Bible simply does not tell us. The best answer seems to be that demons are fallen angels, since the same titles are applied to both of them.
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