One of the most common beliefs about demons is that they are fallen angels, but scholar Michael S. Heiser says those are myths and misconceptions. Here’s what the Bible says demons really are…
Many of us have been told that demons are fallen angels. We have been told that they are part of the third of the angels that fell from heaven along with Satan before humanity’s fall.
But the Bible doesn’t say this. It says:
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
– Revelation 12:9
The idea that a third of the angels fell from heaven is inferred from an earlier verse:
“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.”
– Revelation 12:3-4
This idea came about because angels are often referred to in the Bible as stars.
However, numerous Bible scholars differ on whether stars in the above passage are referencing angels. The scholar Ellicott believes they refer to “light bearers,” the illustrious earth who work for good. Other scholars draw similar conclusions.
Heiser says the event described in Revelation 12 is the birth of the Messiah. Indeed, this should be clearly evident to most readers, as it hints at the infanticide ordered by King Herod after Jesus’ birth.
According to Heiser, the answer to what demons are can be found in the ancient Jewish texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Heiser says: “Demons are the disembodied spirits of dead Nephilim giants who perished at the time of the great flood.”
This explanation is found in Genesis 6:
“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.”
– Genesis 6:1-4
This Bible passage refers to angels incarnating in human flesh, something found in many passages throughout the Bible. In human form, these angels produced children with human women.
“Those children are referred to as Nephilim,” says Heiser.
Further scholarly data about this event can be found in another book by Heiser entitled: The Unseen Realm.
Heiser clarifies: The term “Nephilim” doesn’t mean “fallen ones”; it means “giants.”
“Scholars of ancient cuneiform—the wedge-writing on clay tablets known from ancient Mesopotamia—have recently uncovered new evidence in those tablets that provide clear, explicit parallels to Genesis 6:1-4 that validate what I’m presenting—and explain why this weird story was included in the flood story,” Heiser continues.
Another source of information about demons is the book of Enoch. The book is ascribed to authorship by Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. Enoch offers some of the most detailed information on angels and demons.
While this book is considered an apocryphal text that was left out of the Bible, nonetheless, the book was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and it is cited in the New Testament in the book of Jude and in Deuteronomy of the Old Testament.
“Enoch calls the giants ‘bastard spirits’—a phrase used of demons in several Dead Sea Scrolls,” Heiser points out. “A non-biblical psalm found among the Dead Sea Scrolls calls demons ‘offspring of man and the seed of the holy ones,’ a clear reference to the disembodied spirits of the divine-human offspring from Genesis 6:1-4.”
“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;”
– 2 Peter 2:4
Heiser concludes by saying: “Peter and the author of 1 Enoch were on the same wavelength—they both understood the original context for Genesis 6:1-4.”