Mk 1:32-34 - "demons, demon possessed", "spirits cast out"

Came across an interesting section in Mark 1. Perhaps some here know more about these matters ?

Mk 1:32-34

32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

What is meant in te context of Scripture with terms like "demons", "Demon possessed" or "spirits cast out"?? Quite often these expressions are in connection with someone being "sick" and the cause of the sickness relating to demons ...

Did this only occur during Bible times? or does it also occur today (perhaps nowadays different terminology is used)??


  • C McC Mc Posts: 4,319
    edited November 2019


    In responding to your request in the OP, I am burden or if not, driven to give some background and definitions to the aforementioned terms. I know you don't care for it, but the truth be told, I am not posting just for you. So, bear with it.

    In the OT:

    Demons (שדים (Deut 32:17) are only mentioned once in Deuteronomy-Kings. They are unworthy of worship. Demons are real supernatural beings. God's people are prohibited from worshipping/sacrificing to them. Demons are linked with idolatry.

    Within Deuteronomy, these practices are also linked with the occult: divination and consulting the dead. These are all unacceptable practices, and thus the religions of the other nations are dangerous (Deut 18:9-12). The Israelites are warned to avoid demons, or they will be lured away from YHWH. It is likely that this concern kept the text relatively quiet regarding a celestial conflict between good and evil [See God at War, 83; Heidt, Angelology of the Old Testament, 101-102].

    While Deuteronomy affirms the existence of sub-divine beings, it forbids the Israelites to worship them. There are also numerous references to other “gods,” whom the LORD denounces. Israel must accept that YHWH is the only true God, and their savior. This makes sense within the argument of the book against idolatry. This theology lays the groundwork for the subject of sub-divine beings in relationship to both God and man.

    Within the framework of Joshua-Judges, there is an awareness of sub-divine beings and their roles as warriors, messengers, and tormentors. All of these consistently operate under the direction of YHWH and do his bidding. These passages also lay the foundation for themes that appear in later biblical material. The host of heaven with a commander (Josh 5:13-15) correlates with Dan. 8:11.

    Demons are plentiful in the NT.

    At times they are interchangeable with “unclean spirits” and are frequently linked with possession in the NT (Mark 5:1-18; 7:25-30; Luke 4:33-36, 8:27-29, 9:42; Rev 16:13-14, 18:2), which is very similar to the accounts of the “evil spirit” which plagues Saul in 1 Sam 16, 18 and 19. They are also connected with idolatry in 1 Cor 10:20, which seems to be a direct reference to Deut 32:17 [Beale, We Become What We Worship, 225-226.]

    Demons in the the extra biblical books:

    • First Enoch equates spirits and demons (1 En. 69:12), and Jubilees states that demons led people astray to destruction (Jub. 7:27, Jub. 10:1-2).
    • Both books associate demons with idolatry (1 En. 19:1, 1 En. 99:7, Jub. 1:11), as does the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, in which Judah compares following demons to idolatry (Testament of Judah 23:1).
    • These ideas are quite similar to OT statements about demons, especially in Deut 32:17-21 (Cf. Lev 17:7).

    Wolfgang, given the above information, you and any reasonable thinking person should be able to answer most of questions above. However, I will make some comments later on the text. CM

    PS. Don't wait on me, share. CM


    • Boyd, Gregory A. God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.
    • Heidt, William G. Angelology of the Old Testament: A Study in Biblical Theology. Studies in Sacred Theology 2/24. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1949.
    • Beale, G. K. We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008.
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