Devils or Demons?
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines OF DEVILS." 1 Timothy 4:1
"But the Pharisees said, He casteth out DEVILS through the prince of the DEVILS." Matthew 9:34
There are a multitude of Bible critics who insist the King James Bible is in error when it translates the Greek word daimonion as "devils". They tell us this word should be translated as "demons" and not devils, because everyone knows there is only one Devil, that is Satan, and not many.
Let's do a little word study to see if there is any legitimacy to their claims.
The late Baptist pastor and King James Bible defender Bruce Lackey wrote a little book titled Why I Believe the Old King James Bible. On pages 44-48 he says regarding the use of the word devils and other alleged errors in the King James Bible: "Rather than treat these places as errors, why not remember that the King James translators were intelligent and reverent scholars, and try to find out why they did a particular thing in the way that they did?"
Mr Lackey writes: "The word ‘Devils’ is another word that the critics delight in pouncing on, as a wrong translation. Everyone knows, they say, that there is only one devil (Satan), but many demons. Also, the Greek word from which ‘devils’ comes (DAIMON, and cognates) is different from that which refers to Satan (DIABOLOS). Again, a little investigation will prove this charge to be foolish, to say the least, and ignorant, at the most. Consider:
"(1) The word translated ‘devil,’ when referring to Satan, does not always refer to him; DIABOLOS is translated ‘slanderers’ in 1 Timothy 3:11, and as ‘false accusers’ in 2 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 2:3. In all three places, it refers to human beings. Again, we see the necessity of translating in a manner which will be understood by the readers.
"(2) Devil in the English language has multiple meanings; it may refer to Satan, demons, a very wicked person, an unlucky person (that poor devil), a printer’s devil (apprentice or errand boy) as any good English dictionary would show. To say that ‘devil’ is an erroneous translation, because it can only refer to Satan, is to ignore the dictionary!" - Mr. Bruce Lackey.
I might add that to affirm there is only one Devil and this is Satan is also incorrect. In the gospel of John, immediately after Peter said: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God", the Lord Himself answered them: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you IS A DEVIL."
The Lord was obviously referring to Judas Iscariot, and mere man, yet He calls him a devil - DIABOLOS.
Let's look at some of the English dictionaries Mr. Lackey referred to.
Dictionary.Com, and the modern Webster's Dictionary define devil:
1. Devil - In many religions, the major personified spirit of evil, ruler of Hell, and foe of God. Used with the. 2. A subordinate evil spirit; a demon. 3. A wicked or malevolent person.
Demon - Likewise these dictionaries give the following definitions for "demon". Notice numbers 2 and 3.
Main Entry: de·mon Variant(s): or dae·mon
Etymology: Middle English demon, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin daemon evil spirit, from Latin, divinity, spirit, from Greek daimOn, 1 a. an evil spirit b. : a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin 2 usually daemon : an attendant power or spirit: Genius 3 usually daemon: a supernatural being of Greek mythology intermediate between gods and men
New Agers today refer to daemons as good spirits who guide us in this life. I have heard some of the lectures on the Power of Myth by the late Joseph Cambell. He frequently used the word "daemon" in a positive way as some sort of spiritual guide. I'm sure he now knows how wrong he was during his lifetime.
Shakespeare also used the word daemon (demon) is a positive way. Therefore, O Antony, stay not by his side. Thy demon, that thy spirit which keeps thee, is Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable Where Caesar's is not. But near him thy angel Becomes a fear, as being o'erpow'red. . . --Antony and Cleopatra, II.iii.18-22.
Basilides, in his book The Seven Sermons to the Dead, translated by Carl Jung (another New Ager) says: "The daemon of spirituality descends into our soul as the white bird. It is half human and appears as desire-thought... The White Bird is a half-celestial soul of man. He bids with the Mother."
Another point I have never seen raised by these modern version proponents who criticize the King James Bible has to do with the New Testament Greek itself. They love to "go to the Greek" to show us their expertise and convince us of the alleged errors in the Holy Bible.
Regarding the Greek words daimon, and daimonion, which are translated as "devils" in the King James Bible, and as "demons" in the NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, several Greek lexicons give us the following definitions.
Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon 17th edition 1878 says the verb daimonizomai means "to be possessed by a DEVIL." It then goes on to define daimonion as "an inferior race of divine beings".
Thayer's Greek Lexicon says daimonion is 1. the Divine power, deity, divinity, and 2. a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to man, in both a good and a bad sense.
Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich likewise tell us daimonion is 1. a deity, a divinity, 2. a demon, an evil spirit.
Kittel's massive work says of both daimon and daimonion that they are first used to denote gods. They can also refer to lesser deities or a protective deity. They also are "messengers between gods and men".
Many modern versions themselves are inconsistent. Versions like the NIV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, and Darby render the noun and verb (daimonion, daimonizomai) as "demons" and yet when they come to the adjective of this word in James 3:15 (daimoviwdns - δαιμονιωδης) they translate it as "devilish" or "of the devil". "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, DEVILISH." - James 3:15.
The Greek New testament, no matter which one you choose with all the textual variations, all agree in Acts 17:18. Here we see from the New Testament Greek itself the relationship between daimonion and the gods.
In Acts 17:18 we read: "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange GODS: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection."
The word here translated as "gods" is daimonion, the very same word translated elsewhere as "devils" in the KJB and many others, and as "demons" in the RSV, NASB, NKJV, ESV, and NIV. Demons = gods.
Another Greek word found in the New Testament shows again this relationship between the daimonion (devils) and religion. In this same chapter (Acts 17:22) the apostle Paul walked around the city of Athens and observed their devotions and altars of pagan gods. Paul says to them: "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too SUPERSTITIOUS."
Several modern versions have united to translate this verse so as to make it a compliment rather than a rebuke of their false religion. Among these are the NKJV, NASB, NIV, and the ESV. The NKJV reads: "I perceive that in all things you are VERY RELIGIOUS". Likewise the newer Catholic bible called The New Jerusalem bible of 1985 says: "extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters."
Some older translations show the relationship of demons here: Rotherham's Emphasized bible 1902 has "how reverent of the demons you are." The Emphatic Diaglott of 1865 translates the phrase as "worshippers of demons". The Living Oracles of 1835 has "you are addicted to the worship of demons" and the Etheridge Translation of 1849 reads: "you exceed in the worship of demons."
Not only does the King James Bible say "ye are too superstitious" in Acts 17:22 but so also do Tyndale 1525, Miles Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 - ", Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745, the Douay-Rheims version 1582, the Spanish Reina Valera of 1909 "en todo os veo como más superticiosos", Luther's German Bible 1545, the Portuguese de Almeida of 1681 "em tudo vos vejo um tanto supersticiosos", the Revised Version of 1881, Webster's 1833 translation, the Douay version 1950, the KJV 21st Century 1994 and the Third Millenium Bible 1998. Even today in modern Greek, the word deisidaimonesteros means superstitious and not "religious".
For a more complete study on this verse and why the King James Bible is correct, please see my article -
Acts 17:22 "too superstitious" or "very religious"?
The word translated as "too superstitious" in the King James Bible is composed of two elements - Deisi and daimonesterous. The first part is the verb deido which means to fear, and the second part is an adjective from the noun daimon, which means devils or demons.
What we see here in the Greek language is that the words daimon, and daimonion can both carry the idea of a positive and beneficial spiritual entity. The King James translators were aware of this, and correctly translated these words as "devils" rather than as "demons". The word "devils" is directly related to the Devil and we are in no doubt as to which side they are on.
Martin Luther was not confused about this issue when he composed his famous song, A Mighty Fortress is Our God. One of the lines of this great song is: "And though this world with DEVILS filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed, His truth to triumph through us."
Most modern versions have removed the word "devils" when it refers to unclean or evil spirits. These include the NKJV, RSV, NASB, NIV and the ESV.
"Doctrines of DEVILS"
However there are many Bible versions both before and after the King James Holy Bible that correctly translate this word as devils. Among these are the following:
Wycliffe 1395 - ", Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza N.T. 1599, John Wesley's N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770 (Mat. 9:34 etc.), Haweis N.T. 1795, Webster's 1833 translation (Deut. 32:17; 2 Chron. 11:15), the Hammond N.T. 1845, Hussey N.T. 1845, the Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, the Calvin Bible 1856, the Kenrick N.T. 1862, the Alford N.T. 1870, the Revised Version 1885, the Dillard N.T. 1885, The Corrected English N.T. 1905, the Clarke N.T. 1913, the Douay Rheims 1950, The New English N.T. 1961, Jerusalem Bible 1968, New American Bible 1970, Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1933, the New English Bible 1970, J. B. Phillips 1969 (14 times) - "You cannot drink both the cup of the Lord and the cup of DEVILS. You cannot be a guest at the Lord’s table and at the table of DEVILS.", 1 Cor. 10:20, The Living Bible 1971, the KJV 21st Century 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the 2001 Easy to Read Version (Psalms 106:37 "God's people killed their own children and offered the children to those DEVILS."), the modern 2002 paraphrase called The Message - Isaiah 34:14, Matthew 12:27, 45; Luke 11:19 "but if you're slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out DEVILS, doesn't the same mud stick to your own exorcists?" and the Jubilee Bible 2010 (18 times) -"Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto DEVILS." Psalm 106:37.
Other English Bibles that translated this word as DEVILS in 1 Timothy 4:1 and the other places - "doctrines of DEVILS" - are The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, Bond Slave Version 2009, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 and The Holy Bible, Modern English Version 2014 - “Now the Spirit clearly says that in the last times some will depart from the faith and pay attention to seducing spirits and DOCTRINES OF DEVILS.”.
Those who criticize the King James Bible for using the word devils instead of demons apparently do not understand either the Greek or the English language very well. They are like those described in 1 Timothy 1:7 "Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
At the beginning of this little study we quoted 1 Timothy 4:1 where the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
Without exception, I have found that those who criticize our beloved King James Bible do not believe that any single text or Bible version, be it in Hebrew, Greek, English, Swahili or whatever, is the complete, inerrant, inspired, and pure words of God.
In regards to the Bible version issue, the modern version scholars have adopted the methods and beliefs of liberal apostates who tell us the Hebrew Masoretic texts have been corrupted and the Greek texts are uncertain and in need of constant research and updating.
They have no infallible Holy Bible to give us and they ridicule those of us who believe God has preserved His pure words and that today and for almost 400 years they are found in the King James Holy Bible.
I have personally been called an ignorant fool, a false teacher, an apostate, the spawn of Satan, demon possessed and even worse because I believe God meant what He said about heaven and earth shall pass away but His words would not pass away.
There are two basic views hotly debated among Christians today concerning the Bible version issue. You are on one side or the other.
#1. Believing God has kept His promises to preserve His words and has given us an inerrant Holy Bible we can give to anyone who wants a copy, or
#2. Believing there is no such thing as a complete, inerrant, and perfect Bible on the face of this earth in any language, translated or untranslated.
Now which of these two views is a doctrine of devils and is like with the first question recorded in the Bible when Satan asked Eve "Yea, hath God said...?"
All of grace, believing the Book - the Authorized King James Holy Bible,
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