2 occurrences in 2 dictionaries

Reference: Demoniacs


This word is used to describe men who were possessed by demons, as revealed in scripture. In the N.T. those 'possessed' by demons were certainly under the control of the demons, even to casting them into the fire and into the water.

It has been argued that the persons said to be possessed were really lunatics, who imagined they were possessed; and to meet that fancy the Lord spoke to the supposed spirit and told it to come out! But this is simply an effort to deny the power of Satan and his emissaries over man, and also God's power in the miracles. The Lord spoke of the casting out of demons when he was not speaking to those possessed. The demons also knew the Lord to be the Son of God, answered Him, asked permission to go into the herd of swine, and feared he had come to punish them before the time. Those who were lunatics are mentioned along with, and as different from, those possessed with demons. Mt 4:24. It is true that the father of a lad who was possessed by a demon called him a lunatic, and said the disciples could not cure him, in Mt 17:14-16; but in Mr 9:17 he said his son had a dumb spirit, and in Lu 9:39 'a spirit taketh him.' It was clearly a case of possession: the Lord rebuked the demon, and it departed from him.

In all cases the relief was experienced immediately the demon was expelled; the words used are too explicit to mean aught else than that the persons were possessed, and that the wicked spirits were cast out. The case of Judas Iscariot was somewhat different, inasmuch as it was Satan himself that entered into that wretched man. Lu 22:3. Here it was more than the mere question of power over man, it was the Adversary standing up against Christ.

Besides the permanent possession of men, there was the unclean spirit of lying prophecy. In the O.T. we have a remarkable instance of a spirit influencing 400 prophets. Ahab was to be enticed to go to war, and a spirit said he would accomplish it. He would go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. "Now therefore," said Micaiah, "behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee." 2Ch 18:20-22. We do not know the nature of this spirit, nor how he influenced the prophets.

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This word is frequently used in the New Testament, and applied to persons suffering under the possession of a demon or evil spirit, such possession generally showing itself visibly in bodily disease or mental derangement. It has been maintained by many persons that our Lord and the evangelists, in referring to demonical possession, spoke only in accommodation to the general belief of the Jews, without any assertion as to its truth or its falsity. It is concluded that, since the symptoms of the affliction were frequently those of bodily disease (as dumbness,

Mt 9:32


Mt 12:22


Mr 9:17-27

), or those seen in cases of ordinary insanity (as ill)

Mt 8:28; Mr 5:1-5

the demoniacs were merely persons suffering under unusual diseases of body and mind. But demoniacs are frequently distinguished from those afflicted with bodily sickness, see

Mr 1:32; 16:17-18; Lu 6:17-18

the same outward signs are sometimes referred to possession sometimes merely to disease, comp.

Mt 4:24

with Matt 17:15;

Mt 12:22

with Mark 7:32 etc.; the demons are represented as speaking in their own persons with superhuman knowledge.

Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:41

etc. All these things speak of a personal power of evil. Twice our Lord distinctly connects demoniacal possession with the power of the evil one.

Lu 10:18

Lastly, the single fact recorded of the entrance of the demons at (Gadara

Mr 5:10-14

into the herd of swine, and the effect which that entrance caused is sufficient to overthrow the notion that our Lord and the evangelists do not assert or imply any objective reality of possession. We are led, therefore, to the ordinary and literal interpretation of these passages, that there are evil spirits, subjects of the evil one, who, in the days of the Lord himself and his apostles especially, were permitted by (God to exercise a direct influence over the souls and bodies of certain men.

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