Note on Diabolical Possession

In the New Testament, disease, except when it is a special visitation from God (Hebrews 12:6), is regarded as the work of super-natural forces (Matthew 9:32, 12:22; Luke 11:14, 13:16; Acts 10:38, etc.). In particular, nervous diseases and insanity are represented as due to diabolical possession. This was the universal belief of the time, and our Lord, in using language which implies it, need not be regarded as teaching dogmatically that there is such a thing as possession, devils or demons. There were strong reasons why He should seek to ‘accommodate’ his language to the popular theory. (1) The insane persons whom He wished to heal, were firmly convinced that they were possessed by devils. This was the form assumed by the insane delusion, and to argue against it was useless. The only wise course was to assume that the unclean spirit was there, and to command it to come forth. (2) It was our Lord’s method not rashly or unnecessarily to interfere with the settled beliefs of his time, or to anticipate the discoveries of modern science. The belief in demonic possession, though probably erroneous, was so near the truth, that for most purposes of practical religion it might be regarded as true. He, therefore, did not think fit to disturb it. He tolerated the belief and left it to the advance of knowledge in future ages to correct the extravagances connected with it.

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Author: John Dummelow

Keywords: Evil spirit, Sickness, Healing, Unclean spirit, Demons, Illness, Devils, Demon posession, Possessed of a demon, Demonology, Demon accomodation, Ancient sickness, Ancient illness, Ancient sicknesses, Ancient illnesses, Lunacy, Lunatic, Demon possessed, Possessed of a devil, Demoniac, Devil possession, Exorcism, Epilepsy, Epileptic, Moonstruck, Moon struck, Casting out demons, Casting out devils, Exorcize, Exorcise, Exorcize demons, Exorcise demons, Mental illness, Mental illnesses, Mental sickness, Mentally ill, Mentally sick, Medicine, Ancient medicine, Language of Accommodation, Language of accomodation, Accomodation, Accommodation

Bible reference(s): Acts 19:15-16, Acts 8:7, John 10:20, John 10:21, John 7:20, John 8:48, John 8:49, John 8:52, Luke 10:17, Luke 11:14, Luke 11:15, Luke 11:18, Luke 11:19, Luke 11:20, Luke 11:24, Luke 13:11, Luke 13:32, Luke 4:33, Luke 4:35, Luke 4:41, Luke 7:33, Luke 8:2, Luke 8:27, Luke 8:29, Luke 8:30, Luke 8:33, Luke 8:35, Luke 8:36, Luke 8:38, Luke 9:1, Luke 9:42, Luke 9:49, Mark 1:23-24, Mark 1:26, Mark 1:32, Mark 1:34, Mark 1:39, Mark 16:17, Mark 16:9, Mark 3:15, Mark 3:22, Mark 3:30, Mark 5:2-18, Mark 6:13, Mark 7:25-30, Mark 9:25, Mark 9:38, Matthew 10:8, Matthew 11:18, Matthew 12:24, Matthew 12:27-28, Matthew 12:43, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 17:18, Matthew 7:22, Matthew 8:16, Matthew 8:31, Matthew 9:33, Matthew 9:34

Source: Commentary on the Bible, Matthew 4 (edited).

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