What are Demons?
Aren’t demons just another name for fallen angels? Most people today think that demons and fallen angels are the same thing, but in reality, that idea is only half right. A demon is a being who is half-angel, half-human.
We know that demons and fallen angels cannot be the same thing because of the way each is spoken of in Scripture. In the book of Jude, we read, And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these [God] has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great day (Jude 6). And Peter says, For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment… (2 Peter 2:4). So, we see that the fallen angels who willingly left Heaven are already in Hell, awaiting God’s final Judgment Day.
The Satan himself is a different story. In Job 1:7, we read: The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
And 1 Peter 5:8 says, Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
The devil, apparently, is not in Hell with the fallen angels. And neither are the demons. They are still roaming the earth.
Matthew 8:28-29 says, When [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
It is these demons who possess and tempt us, not fallen angels. So, who are these demons?
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown (Genesis 6:1-4).
The “sons of God” were marrying “daughters of men.” Some have thought that both of these terms refer to humans, but the most ancient authorities claim that the “sons of God” were angels and that the “Nephilim” was the term used to describe the children born as the result of the intercourse between these angels and human women.
The Books of Enoch were never chosen to be included in the Bible as Scripture, but they were quoted by other books in the Bible and by early Christian teachers and so, therefore, may be viewed as useful to us, if not as authoritative as Scripture. 1 Enoch says, “It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, ‘Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.’
“Then their leader Samyaza said to them; ‘I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of this enterprise and that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime.’
“But they answered him and said; ‘We all swear and bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking.’ Then they swore all together, and all bound themselves by mutual execrations. Their whole number was two hundred, who descended upon Ardis, which is the top of mount Hermon. That mountain therefore was called Hermon, because they had sworn upon it, and bound themselves by mutual execrations. These are the names of their chiefs: Samyaza, who was their leader, Urakabarameel, Akibeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Saraknyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomyael, Arazyal. These were the prefects of the two hundred angels, and the remainder were all with them.
“Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees. And the women conceiving brought forth giants. The giants brought forth the Naphelim, and the Naphelim brought forth the Elioud. And they existed, increasing in power according to their greatness. The giant’s stature was each three hundred cubits. These devoured all which the labor of men produced;until it became impossible to feed them. When they turned themselves against men, in order to devour them, and began to injure birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, to eat their flesh one after another, and to drink their blood. Then the earth reproved the unrighteous” (1st Enoch 7).
The Nephilim, then, were giants, “men of renown,” as Genesis 6 calls them, because, as children of angels, their physical height and strength would have been that much greater than normal men.
So, what happened to these giants, these Nephilim? Enoch says, “Then the earth reproved the unrighteous” and the next thing we read about in Genesis 6 is the Flood. Enoch 9 provides the account of God sending an angel to Noah and instructing him to build the ark before the Flood begins.
Meanwhile, we read, “To Gabriel also the Lord said, ‘Go to the biters, to the reprobates, to the children of fornication, and destroy the children of fornication, the offspring of the angels, from among men. Bring them forth and excite them one against another. Let them perish by mutual slaughter, for length of days shall not be theirs. They shall all entreat you, but their fathers shall not obtain their wishes respecting them, for they shall hope for eternal life, and that they may live, each of them, five hundred years.’
“To Michael likewise the Lord said, ‘Go and announce his crime to Samyaza, and to the others who are with him, who have been associated with women, that they might be polluted with all their impurity. And when all their sons shall be slain, when they shall see the perdition of their beloved, bind them for seventy generations underneath the earth, even to the day of judgment, and of consummation, until the judgment, the effect of which will last for ever, be completed. Then shall they be taken away into the lowest depths of the fire in torments, and in confinement shall they be shut up for ever. Immediately after this shall he, together with them, burn and perish. They shall be bound until the consummation of many generations” (Enoch 10:13-17).
So, before the Flood begins, the Nephilim giants are apparently going to war amongst themselves and will kill each other off. Their angel fathers, however, are being sent to Hell (as we read in Jude and 2 Peter) to await the Judgment for their crimes.
The next question, then, is what happened to the Nephilim after they died?
“Now the giants, who have been born of spirit and of flesh, shall be called upon earth evil spirits, and on earth shall be their habitation. Evil spirits shall proceed from their flesh, because they were created from above. From the holy angels was their beginning and primary foundation. Evil spirits shall they be upon earth, and the spirits of the wicked shall they be called. The habitation of the spirits of heaven shall be in heaven, but upon earth shall be the habitation of terrestrial spirits, who are born on earth. The spirits of the giants shall be like clouds, which shall oppress, corrupt, fall, content, and bruise upon earth. They shall cause lamentation. No food shall they eat and they shall be thirsty. They shall be concealed and shall rise up against the sons of men, and against women, for they come forth during the days of slaughter and destruction” (1 Enoch 15:8-10).
The giants became evil spirits, or demons, as we call them, and are set against normal humans. It’s interesting to note that these evil spirits are denied food and drink, as if they still wanted it but can’t have it. This may be why demons desire to take possession of a human body. They were physical once and still desire to partake of the physical pleasures. They still want to eat and drink but are unable to in their strictly spiritual form. They may, however, be able to partake so long as they are doing it through someone else’s body.
Commodianus, writing in the third century A.D., agrees with Enoch in writing, “When Almighty God, to beautify the nature of the world, willed that that earth should be visited by angels, when they were sent down they despised His laws. Such was the beauty of women, that it turned them aside; so that, being contaminated, they could not return to heaven. Rebels from God, they uttered words against Him. Then the Highest uttered His judgment against them; and from their seed giants are said to have been born. By them arts were made known in the earth, and they taught the dyeing of wool, and everything which is done; and to them, when they died, men erected images. But the Almighty, because they were of an evil seed, did not approve that, when dead, they should be brought back from death. Whence wandering they now subvert many bodies, and it is such as these especially that ye this day worship and pray to as gods” (Against the Gods of the Heathen, section 3).
It’s also interesting to note that the Bible speaks of the descendants of the Nephilim later in the Bible, after the Flood. When Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to explore the land, this is what they said: “We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are. The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:31-33).
How are these descendants of the Nephilim still alive in Moses’ day? We know that everyone on earth was killed during the Flood except for Noah and his family, but it may be that someone in Noah’s family (possibly one of his daughters-in-law) had some Nephilim DNA in her that she passed on to her children after the Flood.
The point is that demons are not fallen angels. The fallen angels are in Hell, whereas the demons continue on earth. Demons are the children of angel fathers and human mothers, and they are the ones whom Satan uses to deceive us. One of the ways they try to deceive us is by appearing as ghosts and distracting us from the reality and the finality of Heaven and Hell.
This blog post is included in my book, Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times.
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Read the answers to more interesting questions on my Theology 101 - Simple and Surprising Answers to Your Questions! page.