Demons

Evidences of More Than Disease Only

  (1) James 2:14 reads: Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder." It could hardly be said that "diseases" believe and shudder. But demons can do so, and in some instances have communicated their dread through those they possessed. Note the following.

  (2) Matthew 8:28-32: "And when he [Jesus] was come into the country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming fort out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way. And behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the them? Now there was afar off from them a herd of swine feeding. And the demons besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And they came out, and went into the herd of swine: and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep into the sea, and perished in the waters." (Cf. Mark 5:1-17; Luke 8:26-33).

  Diseases do not talk, do not have intelligence, are not endowed with desire and volition, and cannot be tormented.

  (3) Acts 16:16-21 records the following: "And it came to pass as we were going to a place of prayer [in or near Philippi], that a certain maid having a spirit of divination [Gr. a spirit, a Python] met us, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. The same following after Paul and us cried out, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation. And this she did for many days. But Paul, being sore troubled, turned and said to the spirit, I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they laid hold on Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers," etc.

  This is a narrative of something other than a disease. McGarvey comments as follows: "Literally translated, it was a Python spirit by which the maid was possessed, the word python identifying its manifestations with those of the women who gave out oracles at Delphi in Greece; and who were supposed by the heathen to be inspired by the serpent called Python, to whose wisdom these oracles were accredited. Luke’s language cannot be regarded as an endorsement of this supposed inspiration [of the pagan priestesses at Delphi]; but he distinctly recognizes a real spirit in the maid, and styles it a Python for the reason given. The case was undoubtedly one of demon possession, such as so frequently occur in the gospel narratives, and with which Luke’s readers were presumed to have become acquainted through his former narrative [Gospel of Luke]." (New Commentary on Acts of Apostles, 1892.)

  (4) Acts 19:11-20 records also the following later incident in Ephesus: "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: insomuch that unto sick were carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out. But certain also of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took upon them to name over them that had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And the seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, who did this. And the evil spirit answered, and said unto them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and mastered both of them [who were attempting such in this particular instance], and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, that dwelt at Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was glorified. Many also of them that had believed came and confessing and declaring their deeds. And not a few of them that practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed."

  In the foregoing, not only are "evil spirits" distinguished from "diseases," but what the evil spirits said and did to two of the sons of Sceva through the demoniac can hardly be attributed to a disease.

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