Devils ( δαιμόνια )
The Rev., unfortunately, and against the protest of the American committee, retains devils instead of rendering demons. See on Matthew 4:1. The New Testament uses two kindred words to denote the evil spirits which possessed men, and which were so often east out by Christ: διάμων , of which demon is a transcript, and which occurs, according to the best texts, only at Matthew 8:31; and δαιμόνιον , which is not a diminutive, but the neuter of the adjective δαιμόνιος ,of, or belonging to a demon. The cognate verb is δαιμονίζομαι to be possessed with a demon, as in Mark 1:32.
The derivation of the word is uncertain. Perhaps δαίω , to distribute, since the deities allot the fates of men. Plato derives it from δαήμων , knowing or wise. In Hesiod, as in Pythagoras, Thales, and Plutarch, the word δαίμων is used of men of the golden age, acting as tutelary deities, and forming the link between gods and men. Socrates, in Plato's “Cratylus,” quotes Hesiod as follows: “Socrates
: You know how Hesiod uses the word? Hermogenes:
Indeed I do not. Soc.:
Do you not remember that he speaks of a golden race of men who came first? Her.:
Yes, I know that. Soc.:
He says of them,
But now that fate has closed over this race,
They are holy demons upon earth,
Beneficent, averters of ills, guardians of mortal men.'”
After some further conversation, Socrates goes on: “And therefore I have the most entire conviction that he called them demons, because they were δαήμονες (knowing or wise )Now, he and other poets say truly that, when a good man dies, he has honor and a mighty portion among the dead, and becomes a demon, which is a name given to him signifying wisdom. And I say, too, that every wise man who happens to be a good man is more than human ( δαιμόνιον ) both in life and death, and is rightly called a demon.” Mr. Grote (“History of Greece”) observes that in Hesiod demons are “invisible tenants of the earth, remnants of the once happy golden race whom the Olympic gods first made - the unseen police of the gods, for the purpose of repressing wicked behavior in the world.” In later Greek the word came to be used of any departed soul.
In Homer δαίμων is used synonymously with θεός and θεά , god and goddess,
and the moral quality of the divinity is determined by the context: but most commonly of the divine power
like the Latin numen,
the deity considered as a power
rather than as a person
. Homer does not use δαιμόνιον substantively, but as an adjective, always in the vocative case, and with a sorrowful or reproachful sense, indicating that the person addressed is in some astonishing or strange condition. Therefore, as a term of reproach - wretch! sirrah! madman!
(“Iliad,” 2:190,200; 4:31; ix., 40). Occasionally in an admiring or respectful sense (“Odyssey,” xiv., 443; xxiii., 174); Excellent stranger! noble sir!
Homer also uses δαίμων of one's genius
or attendant spirit, and thence of one's lot
. So in the beautiful simile of the sick father (“Odyssey,” 5:396), “Some malignant genius has assailed him.” Compare “Odyssey,” x., 64; xi., 61. Hence, later, the phrase κατὰ δαίμονα is nearly equivalent to by chance.
We have seen that, in Homer, the bad sense of δαιμόνοις is the prevailing one. In the tragedians, also, δαίμων , though used both of good and bad fortune, occurs more frequently in the latter sense, and toward this sense the word gravitates more and more. The undertone of Greek thought, which tended to regard no man happy until he had escaped from life (see on Matthew 5:3
)naturally imparted a gloomy and forbidding character to those who were supposed to allot the destinies of life.
In classical Greek it is noticeable that the abstract τὸ δαιμόνιον fell into the background behind δαίμων , with the development in the latter of the notion of a fate
connected with each individual, as the demon of Socrates; while in biblical Greek the process is the reverse, this doctrine being rejected for that of an overruling personal providence, and the strange gods, “obscure to human knowledge and alien to human life,” taking the abstract term uniformly in an evil sense.
Empedocles, a Greek philosopher, of Sicily, developed Hesiod's distinction; making the demons of a mixed nature between gods and men, not only the link between the two, but having an agency and disposition of their own; not immortal, but long-lived, and subject to the passions and propensities of men. While in Hesiod the demons are all good, according to Empedocles they are both bad and good. This conception relieved the gods of the responsibility for proceedings unbecoming the divine nature. The enormities which the older myths ascribed directly to the gods - thefts, rapes, abductions - were the doings of bad demons. It also saved the credit of the old legends, obviating the necessity of pronouncing either that the gods were unworthy or the legends untrue. “Yet, though devised for the purpose of satisfying a more scrupulous religious sensibility, it was found inconvenient afterward when assailants arose against paganism generally. For while it abandoned as indefensible a large portion of what had once been genuine faith, it still retained the same word demons
with an entirely altered signification. The Christian writers in their controversies found ample warrant among the earlier
pagan authors for treating all the gods as demons; and not less ample warrant among the later
pagans for denouncing the demons generally as evil beings” (Grote, “History of Greece”).
This evil sense the words always bear in the New Testament as well as in the Septuagint. Demons are synonymous with unclean spirits
, Mark 5:15
; Mark 3:22
, Mark 3:30
; Luke 4:33
). They appear in connection with Satan (Luke 10:17
, Luke 10:18
; Luke 11:18
, Luke 11:19
); they are put in opposition to the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:20
, 1 Corinthians 10:21
); to the faith (1 Timothy 4:1
). They are connected with idolatry (Revelation 9:20
; Revelation 16:13
, Revelation 16:14
). They are special powers of evil, influencing and disturbing the physical, mental, and moral being (Luke 13:11
, Luke 13:16
; Mark 5:2-5
; Mark 7:25
; Matthew 12:45