Where Do Demons Come From?

Where do Demons come from?

Everyone familiar with the Bible knows it talks about angels and demons. But most would be surprised to learn that there’s no verse in the Bible that explains where demons came from. Christians typically assume that demons are fallen angels, cast from heaven with Satan (the Devil) right before the temptation of Adam and Eve. But guess what? There’s no such story in the Bible. The only description of anything like that is in Revelation 12:9—but the occasion for that whole episode was the birth of the messiah (Rev 12:4-6), an event long after Adam and Eve. The idea of a primeval fall of angels actually comes from church tradition and the great English poet John Milton in his epic Paradise Lost.

So if the Bible doesn’t record an ancient expulsion from heaven by hordes of angels who then became known as demons, where do demons come from?

There’s actually a straightforward answer to that question, but it’s likely one you’ve never heard of: In ancient Jewish texts like the Dead Sea Scrolls, demons are the disembodied spirits of dead Nephilim giants who perished at the time of the great flood.

I know what you’re thinking—Mike, you’re trying to freak us out because it’s Halloween season. I’ll admit this is great fodder for Halloween, but I’m serious about that being the answer. I’ll briefly sketch the idea below, but if you want all the serious data and high-browed scholarship behind it, you’ll have to read my book, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible.

While I referenced the Dead Sea Scrolls above, don’t be misled. This explanation for the origin of demons has secure links in the biblical text, they just aren’t obvious—to us anyway. To an ancient reader, someone who lived during the time of the Bible, this explanation would have been quite clear. For us to see what they saw, we need to go back to the Bible’s account of the great flood.

The sons of God, the Nephilim, and the Mesopotamian Apkallu

Noah's Ark

The first four verses of the Bible’s flood account read:

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. (Gen 6:1-4, ESV)

The sons of God—angels in more familiar parlance—transgress the divinely-ordained boundary between heaven and earth by producing children with human women. Those children are referred to as Nephilim. The term “Nephilim” doesn’t mean “fallen ones”; it means “giants.” Those who want to read the scholarly data behind that conclusion can read The Unseen Realm. For our purposes, what we need to focus on is that 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.

Apkallu wall relief

Apkallu wall relief.

In Mesopotamian religion, divine beings known as apkallu are a central focus of the Mesopotamian version of the flood story. The apkallu were dispensers of divine knowledge to humanity. They get credited with teaching the people of Mesopotamia what they needed to know to establish human civilization. When the great gods decided humans were too noisy and irritating and needed to be wiped out, the apkallu came up with a plan to preserve the divine knowledge humanity would need—they fathered children with human woman. Sure enough, the plan worked, as the quasi-divine humans who survived the flood—also known as apkallu—rebuilt civilization. They were the mighty ones whose wisdom and exploits led to the greatness of cities like Babylon. These “second generation apkallu” were not only divine-human hybrids, but they were also described as giants in the Mesopotamian epics. Gilgamesh is perhaps the most familiar example. He is called “lord of the apkallu” in a cuneiform inscription on a small clay seal.

Let’s not miss the point. Each element of the biblical story—the divine beings who cohabit with human women and produce giant offspring—are represented in the Mesopotamian story. Both the divine fathers and their giant children are called apkallu in the cuneiform sources. Incidentally, statues of the apkallu have been discovered by archaeologists in boxes in the foundations of walls for protection against evil spirits. The boxed apkallu are referred to by another Mesopotamian term: mats-tsarey, which means “watchers.”

While that’s interesting (and bizarre), you might ask what that has to do with demons. The answer is theology.

The “Anakim, who are counted as Rephaim” (Deut 2:11)

Genesis 6:1–4 was written by Israelites who wanted to make a statement: the apkallu before the flood were not good guys. What they did was wicked, and the giant offspring apkallu produced by their transgression were enemies of the true God of heaven. In fact, their own giant offspring were bent on annihilating Israel many years later.

Later in biblical history, during the days of Moses and Joshua, the Israelites ran into groups of very large warriors called Anakim. Numbers 13:32–33 tells us explicitly that the Anakim came from the Nephilim. The giant clans went by other names as well: Emim, Zamzummim, and Rephaim (Deut 2-3). The wars of conquest for the land required the annihilation of these giant Anakim, which is why Joshua summed up the conquest this way: “There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain.” Those were three Philistine cities. Goliath would come from one of them (Gath) in the days of David (1 Sam 17:4).

The key to understanding how these giants were perceived as demons in the biblical material—an idea that got a lot of focus in Jewish writings produced after the Old Testament—is the term Rephaim. In the Old Testament, the Rephaim are described as giant warlords (Deut 2:8-11; 3:1-11; Josh 13:12), but also as frightening, sinister disembodied spirits (“the shades”) in the Underworld, called Sheol in Hebrew (Isa 14:9; 26:14; Job 26:5). The disembodied spirits of these giants were therefore associated with the abode of the dead, something everyone feared, since everyone feared death.

But the Rephaim also had another awful association. There are nearly 10 references in the Old Testament to a place called the Valley of the Rephaim (e.g., 2 Sam 5:18, 22; 23:13). Joshua 15:8 and 18:16 tell us that the Valley of the Rephaim adjoined another valley—the Valley of Hinnom, also known as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. In Hebrew “Valley of Hinnom” is ge hinnom, a phrase from which the name gehenna derives—a term conceptually linked to Hades/Hell in the New Testament.

Tying the threads together

While this supernatural backdrop has eluded most Christian thinkers in the history of Christianity to the present day, it was well known to the generation of Jews who lived right after the Old Testament period—what scholars call the “Second Temple” period or, more popularly, the “Intertestamental” period. It was during this era that books like 1 Enoch were written, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In the book of 1 Enoch the villainous sons of God of Genesis 6:1-4 are not only called angels—they are called Watchers. The link back to the Mesopotamian apkallu is transparent and unmistakable. 1 Enoch spells out how the Watchers and their offspring were the source of demons:

In those days, when the children of man had multiplied, it happened that there were born unto them handsome and beautiful daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw them and desired them; and they said to one another, ‘Come, let us choose wives for ourselves from among the daughters of man and beget us children.’ . . . And they took wives unto themselves, and everyone (respectively) chose one woman for himself, and they began to go unto them. . . .

Then Michael, Surafel, and Gabriel observed carefully from the sky and they saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all the oppression being wrought upon the earth. . . . As for the women, they gave birth to giants to the degree that the whole earth was filled with blood and oppression. And now behold, the Holy One will cry, and those who have died will bring their suit up to the gate of heaven. Their groaning has ascended (into heaven), but they could not get out from before the face of the oppression that is being wrought on earth. . . . And to Gabriel the Lord said, ‘Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates and against the children of adultery; and destroy the children of adultery and expel the children of the Watchers from among the people. And send them against one another (so that) they may be destroyed in the fight, for length of days have they not. . . .’

And when they and all their children have battled with each other, and when they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them for 70 generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded. . . . But now the giants who are born from the (union of) the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies. Because from the day that they were created from the holy ones they became the Watchers; their first origin is the spiritual foundation. They will become evil upon the earth and shall be called evil spirits.

—1 Enoch 6:1-2; 7:1; 9:1, 9-10; 10:9; 15:8-9; translation from J. H. Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1

1 Enoch calls the giants “bastard spirits”—a phrase used of demons in several Dead Sea Scrolls.[1] 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.[2]

Several threads of this explanation for demons surface in the New Testament, but I’ll mention only one. The excerpt from 1 Enoch notes that the Watchers whose transgression led to the origin of demons were to be bound “for 70 generations underneath the rocks of the ground.” This belief is found in 2 Peter 2:4-5, where Peter, speaking about the days of Noah says, “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.” Peter and the author of 1 Enoch were on the same wavelength—they both understood the original context for Genesis 6:1-4.

What’s the take-away from all this? The message to most Bible readers is that, when it comes to the supernatural worldview of the Bible, what you think you know may not be so. Don’t be satisfied with handed down traditions about what’s in the Bible (and isn’t). I’m hoping that even an occasion like Halloween, with its deserved reputation for darkness, can motivate us to make the effort to understand the Bible in light of the worldview of the people who produced it. That’s the goal of The Unseen Realm.

[1] 4Q510 [=4QShira] frag. 1:5; 4Q511 [=4QShirb] frag. 35:7; 4Q204 [=4QEnochc ar], Col V:2–3.

[2] 11QapocPsa[=11Q11], Col V:6.

 

***

The Unseen Realm

For more fascinating insights into Scripture’s supernatural worldview, get Dr. Heiser’s The Unseen RealmPresenting the fruit of 15 years of research, this paradigm-shifting resource shows what the Bible really says about the unseen world of the supernatural. Get it now.

Comments

  1. Doesn't 1 Enoch 6 presuppose fallen angels who wish to have children with the daughters of men?

  2. Doesn’t 1 Enoch 6 presuppose fallen angels who wish to have children with the daughters of men?

  3. Yes – the Watchers (an Enochian term for the sons of God) fathered children with human women (sexually or otherwise – see The Unseen Realm for the distinction). Those offspring were the nephilim, and when a nephilim was killed, its dismebodied spirit = demon.

    That is the unified view of second temple Judaism for the origin of demons, which is hinted at in the OT (and it’s more than a hint if one knows the Mesopotamian apkallu background to Genesis 6:1-4). For all that information, see The Unseen Realm. It’s all documented there with sources (primary and secondary).

    Thanks!

    • So, help me clarify: you’re saying that fallen angels are the progenitors of demons (i.e., the disembodied Nephilim), while not being the demons themselves?

      • The problem here is terminology. The word “demon” in the NT context never occurs in the OT. The word translated “demon” in the OT (two occurrences; shedim) is not a demon as those entities are described in the NT). This terminological problem is discussed in The Unseen Realm.

        More specifically, the sons of God who are the focus of Gen 6 were rebellious (they sinned) when they decided to do what they did. They are referred to in the NT as “angels that sinned” – but not as demons. WE CONFLATE these two ideas in church tradition, which causes confusion when you want to talk about the primary texts and what they say (biblical text or other ancient texts).

        So … yes, the sons of God of Gen 6 were in rebellion and sinful. But they are not the demons of the NT period. The offending sons of God / Watchers of Gen 6 were imprisoned in the Abyss/Tartarus in *all* Jewish traditions, including the NT — they are not free to roam around like demons. They are imprisoned until the time of the end in all the material. Demons, on the other hand, roam the earth seeking embodiment.

        Again, what makes the discussion hard / confusing is the vocabulary of church-talk / tradition not being aligned with the vocabulary of the primary texts.

    • The unified view of Second Temple Judaism carried on in Christianity for some time as well. I’ve found quotes from Justin Martyr and Athenagoras that agree that the “giants” were the source of the spirits we call demons. IIRC (and it’s been a while since I studied the early Church fathers, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong), Tertullian was a fan of the book of Enoch, so he probably would have gone with that view as well.

      The “Watcher” view of Genesis 6 fell out of favor in about the 4th Centurie, and that had more to do with it being considered embarrassing in the face of then-popular philosophies than anything else.

      Shalom

  4. “disembodied”

  5. If angels have procreative power how are we to determine if the "humans" we see today are not mixed species? The assumption in the article is that angels have creative power to perform physical sex with physical "seed" to impregnate human women. That is a more terrifying proposition and not a helpful one except for the Halloween scare. We loase reason to believe that the risen Jesus was the risen Jesus and not a masquerading devil who would imitate his appearance.

    • I think the difference was OBVIOUS. The children of the angels are described as giants so if there were any mixed species, you would easily tell.
      As to your other question, maybe it’s not exactly the same thing but the angel in Luke 1:35 told Mary “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

  6. I don't see a biblical reason to (a) presume the Gen 6 activity / nephilim extend longer than the Bible has it (Masoretic Text = they were killed off in David's day; LXX = they survived no longer than Jeremiah's day); and (b) that this is occurring now.

    Incidentally, the assumption in The Unseen Realm is not necessarily that divine beings physically procreated (though that isn't disallowed, either). There is a second supernaturalist view that (for some reason) no one else seems to have seen.

    Generally (in relation to the procreative option), if the required form of drees for angels (divine beings) interacting with humans is flesh, then flesh can do what flesh can do.

    All of the issues are addressed in the book in some detail, with lots of sources for further research.

  7. Daniel Clewley says:

    Mike, I see you referencing your own book quite a bit, but where else are these ideas of yours coming from?

    • That’s why you need to read the book. There are hundreds of footnotes and (all) peer-reviewed sources in them. My personal bibliography for all the items covered in the book is currently at 4700 entries (240 pp). Naturally, I didn’t append all that in the book (!). For those who read the book, I’ve also given out a website URL with even more bibliography (drawn from the big one). We wanted to watch the page count, so that seemed like the best thing to do.

      The above points to the “dirty little secret” of the book. Nothing in it is unique to me. Every conclusion about the worldview of the writers and providing the exegesis for those conclusions is supported by peer-reviewed scholarship. My role is synthesis of the mountain of material — putting it all into a readable (meta)narrative.

  8. Knowing their origin didn't seem to matter to Jesus who knew their destiny. Regardless, they submit to the name of Jesus and we should be teaching people how to use their authority against them.

  9. Larry Heflin says:

    Mike,
    How do the Nephilim show up in David’s time when they were killed off in the flood and only those on the Ark survived?

    • Genesis 6:4

      You go from that comment to Num 13:32-33, then note the Anakim-Rephaim connection (Deut 2:10-11), then note Joshua’s comment that the remnant of the Anakim settled in the Philistine cities (Josh 11:21-22; one of which was Gath), then note that Goliath was from Gath (1 Sam 17:4).

      And if being a son of Rapha [Goliath’s brothers were so-called; 2 Sam 21:16-22; cp. 2 Sam 21:19 and 1 Chron 20:5] is a connection to the Rephaim, you have another trajectory for Goliath – who was of course in David’s time. But the Rapha issue has text-critical issues.

      This is the biblical-textual trail. If you’re asking how Gen 6:4 is to be explained, you’ll need to read The Unseen Realm. Far too long for a forum.

      • Larry Heflin says:

        Dr. Heiser,
        Thanks for your reply. I’ll try to be clearer. My question is not about the fact that Nephilim and their offspring are described as present pre and post flood, but how did their genetic material turn up post flood when all the genetic lines were destroyed except for those on the ark. It seems that 1) one or more of the eight surviving humans on the ark transmitted the genetic material of the Nephilim, or 2) the angels re-enacted their pre-flood transgression after the flood on uncontaminated human genes, or 3) the post flood phenomenon is something different that is connected to the pre-flood Nephilim in name only and not genetically in spite of their similarities. It seems to a riddle to me for which I have no explanation. Thanks for your time.

        • Larry Heflin says:

          Okay. I bought The Unseen Realm and skipped to the part where you address my specific question. It makes sense now and I’m sure it will make better sense when I read the whole book for greater context.

        • Larry,
          I read the book but I don’t remember this question being definitively answered one way or the other. Possibilities were given, but not direct answers from what I can remember. (But there is also the possibility that my memory is faulty here. There was a lot to absorb.)
          It would seem to me that there are only two possibilities for WHY Nephilim are mentioned again after Genesis 6.
          1) A SEPARATE group of “sons of god” cohabitated with “daughters of men” AFTER the flood. In other words there was a “second fall” of the remaining “sons of god” who had not yet been confined to Tartarus.
          2) The only other possibility in my mind is that the “Nephilim” mentioned post Gen 6 are not the original Nephilim of Gen 6 but rather “Nephilim” is merely a name given to describe the formidable people that lived in the region of Canaan.

          • Hello again Larry,
            Just saw and read the responses to your OP. (I overlooked them previously.)
            I think you hit it on the nail with your three possibilities. The only problem I have with number one is that this would seem to negate the reasoning behind the flood. If the point of the flood was to rid the human race from its contamination, then surely God would not have allowed ANY tainted human genetic material to survive. (Apparently Noah,his sons, and daughters-in-law were untainted by the hybrid race.)
            So for me, the only plausible scenario as to why the Nephilim turn up again after Gen 6 are your possibilities 2 and 3. These are the same scenarios I was mulling over as well.

    • John Olubobokun says:

      Excellent question.
      I wondered the same thing.
      “Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.” (1Pet 3:20b NLTse)

  10. And this is what passes for "high browed scholarship"? Maybe its not such a bad thing that I never attended seminary!

    • Stephen DeNagy says:

      Yes. It is. And the latter statement is a maybe. Read the book, and then refute it, if you can. Shalom!

  11. Hi Mike, thank you for your interesting insights. I’ve just started reading your book and I enjoy it so far. If I may ask, why is God punishing man by limiting the number of its life if the “sons of God” are the ones sinning? Are the daughters of men also considered guilty or are their fathers for giving them willingly to Angels ? Why doesn’t Leviticus forbid relationship between men (women) and the spirit world ?
    Thanks in advance for your answers.

  12. Why does the Genesis 6 account not mention any spiritual beings when it came to the punishment metered out for the actions of the sons of the gods and the daughters of men? If the text meant spiritual beings surely God who is a just God would have punished the Spiritual beings and the human females who had been involved. However he doesn't he punishes the whole of humanity by limiting their life firstly to 120 years and then he proceeds to wipe them out with a flood?

  13. Mike, I’m just glad this is all finally getting published and that the book is doing well. I’ve taught some from your divine counsel articles for several years. Hoping the success of the book will reduce the number of, “You’ve been listening to too much George Noory” looks that I get. ;-) Blessings

  14. In order to hold this view – a very weak weaving of barely related subjects – one has to:

    1. Deny a global flood
    2. Hold a near inspired status of the intertestamental writings that are barely alluded to, and certainly are not quoted theologically on this matter.
    3. Place a great deal of trust in pagan theological texts.

    Eisegesis of pagan religion into Christianity. Logos is better than this.

    • Also – please don’t use the word metanarrative again, you clearly have no concept of its meaning.

    • Jesse,

      argumentum ad consequentiam (for an example read your statement above), attempts to attack an inference by suggesting the undesirable consequences to finding that inference to be more likely true.

      So if you had taken a class in Biblical interpretation (just undergrad not, grad, or Ph.D.) you would have learned that when you start engaging texts trying to force them to fit a preexisting view you eisegete rather than exegete a passage or group of passages.

      Three last points. Michael was clear that he is not teaching doctrine. Secondly, that there is no scriptural support for the classical view (which you haplessly confirmed in your post without textual references). Finally, I didn’t use the word meta-narrative! Opps I guess I did.

      Dr. Heiser and Logos have materials that can improve your scholarship immensely. And I mean Immensely. Best of luck.

  15. youi might want to do a proper study and this time dont ignore the passages that you dont like because they blow holes in your story line…. fallen angels are mentioned many many times in scripture dude…. either read and interpret scrtipture rightly or dont do it at all

  16. Not hard to find so called ' facts' to prove your talking points, to help sell your stupid book when you only look in one direction for resources…. the evolutionist believes the evolutionary theory to be true for this very same reason ….

    • Dan Lemagie says:

      Tony, I must say, I think it would be more productive to come to the table with a little more respect and humility. I have read Mr. Heiser’s book and can confidently say it is not stupid, as you put it. It is very thought provoking, and much of what it says goes against my traditional Christian sensibilities. However, the arguments put forth are very well thought out and presented in a manner that even the lay person can grasp. I have seen within Mr. Heiser’s writings a high esteem for the inspiration, sufficiency and authority of Scripture, yet, at the same time, a willingness to engage with writings and cultures which it sometimes seems we as Christians are taught to fear. I have never seen an instance where Mr. Heiser has elevated extra biblical texts above Scripture, but has always kept them in their proper place and understood the value they have to help aid us in the understanding of the ancient context of Scripture.

      I firmly believe a better approach here would be to bring the relevant passages of Scripture you allude to to the discussion so that we may all be able to look at them in light of what Mr. Heiser has put forth. The reality of this type of situation is that God can use these times to cause us to study deeper on something and either be confirmed in our convictions or corrected where we may have gone astray.

      During Jesus’ time on earth the religious leaders were seen as the ones who were righteous, the ones who had been taught and therefore were the possessors of knowledge and understanding in all things pertaining to the Scriptures and the law, yet Jesus revealed to them that they were so bound up in their traditions that they did not understand the writings they professed to be proficient in. They were deceived by their traditions and were consequently deceiving others. I can appreciate what Mr. Heiser is doing in the challenges which his writings bring to the table. Remember to test all things and then hold fast to that which is good.

  17. Marc Schwartz says:

    Thank you very much for writing this blog post. I have been deeply searching for data and roots on this very subject for a long-time, and as expected, you have given me a new perspective. Please continue this series, and if you can, would it be possible to explain what a Vatican trained exorcist is drawing upon in his curriculum of demonology in light of biblical truth. I know how you feel about traditions, but if you have knowledge of this area, please share. Many Blessings Dr. Heiser.

  18. The book of Enoch is not in the bible but explains some of what the Bible doesnt.

  19. If the book of Enoch isn't in the bible then it's not credible to explain truth….correct?

    • Dan Lemagie says:

      Shane, as others have already said, the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal writings, according to the Protestant tradition (to which I belong), are not accepted as inspired Scripture. However, many of the writings have been recognized as good sources to help illuminate points of history as well as ancient Jewish thought.

    • John Olubobokun says:

      Correct!

  20. I heard most of this from the late Dr. Gene Stott of Faith Center in Glendale California back in the early 1980s. It wasn't until I studyed under Dr. Scott that I learned the ABC's of Faith. If anyone out there is familiar with Dr. Scott, hello

  21. No not correct

  22. Shane Muse wrong… the Book of Enoch is not in all Bibles but is in the Ethiopian Bible that means it is credible …. did you know until 1611 in english Bible ( KJV ) was more books than are now ? They took out few of them so call Apocrypha ….regarding Enoch book, in times of Yeshua and beiond this book was read and believed …. you can do your home work if you want, you don't got to believe me

  23. Shane Muse Well, I wouldn't put it that way exactly. There is some scholarly debate as to the palce of books like this in the Bible. Some list of the text include them others do not (there is an entire field of study on this subject which you are free to study up on) which is why the Catholics have extra books and Protestants generally do not unless they have been to seminary or had other formal theological and biblical education, and thus have had to use them for study. For Protestants, generally speaking, books like this are Apocryphal text that illustrate stories of faith and God working with others detailing mysterious bits and historical documentations. Still there are some called pseudopigraphal text that are written to mislead or show no credible authority for faith or instruction. What Enouch does is offer us insights into the minds and stories of Jewish cultures and the understandings they had of origins and other matters, I'd suggest you consult a Jewish scholar to discuss things further on their extra cannonical text and their influence on their culture.
    The problem with the position it seems you are taking is that anything outside the English Bible is not authoritative and somehow misleading or demonic, this is not the case. In Christian faith there are at least three sources of theological authority Scripture, Tradition, and Reason some consider Experience also. While Scripture might be said to be primary, it cannot be solely authoritative for all things, for it does not answer all things nor is the Scripture the final authority on all things, but Jesus.
    Enoch helps us to understand and culture and subject and sources of origins on these supernatural beings. I'm sure Mike cites and goes over much of this in his book as I would expect anyone in scholarship to do. I'd enoucrage you to do some serious, in depth research on the matter.

    • Jim Vickers says:

      For Lutherans “Grace alone, faith alone, and scripture alone” is our motto. Tradition, reason and experience may help to interpret scripture, but that is all.

  24. Jim Vickers says:

    The stories in these extra canonical books are just that, stories. Stories are made up for various reasons. Some are made up to explain things not well understood. Some are made up to pass on wisdom. Some are made up to entertain. Some have elements of several reasons in them. So what authority should we give these stories?
    I think it is clear that these books (the apocrypha) are not included in the “canon” accepted by the church because the authorities in the church in the 4th century decided they were not essential to the proclamation of the Gospel. The Jewish authorities who decided what was in the Hebrew scriptures also had a standard to measure what should be in their scriptures. They chose what they thought revealed the history of God’s dealing with the Hebrew people. The rest form part of the popular religious culture of the time.
    The realm of the spirits has always been fascinating for people whose lives are not going well. Blaming and exorcising evil spirits is one way of dealing with that part of life. Frankly, most of these stories are not that helpful for Christians in living their lives following Jesus. I would say it can be a big waste of time focusing on the origins of evil spirits when we need to be focussing on Jesus’ commandment of loving God, loving our neighbours, and loving ourselves. 1 John 4:1 said to test the spirits and know that “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” The Good News of God’s forgiveness that leads us into God’s kingdom has a fleshly dimension that we deny at our peril.

    • When these stories influence NT writers to write what they did, they can’t be dismissed (and shouldn’t be). A book does not have to be canonical to be important. Consider 2 Peter’s reference to the “angels that sinned” winding up in Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4). The only place you’ll find that kind of specificity is in Hellenistic literature of the 2nd temple period — books like Enoch and Jubilees. Peter was well acquainted with these works. (1 Enoch’s influence shows up in other NT passages).

      So, appealing to their non-canonical status is sort of meaningless. And when a NT writer imports an idea from them into the inspired text, that stuff is more than just a story.

    • Except it wasn’t the Jewish authorities that formed the canonical scriptures. It was Constantine and his clergy who sought to unify pagans and christians in order to gain more power. It is his authority in which you place your assessment of what is divine and what is not.

  25. I also wonder how Nephilim appeared on earth post-flood. (I am not challenging the notion that they did. The Genesis account, however, is quite clear that nothing living on the earth – with the exception on Noah and his family- survived.)

  26. According to Arnold Fructenbaum, the Nephilim are a particular group of "fallen angels" who have been forever confined to "tartarus" ( 2 Peter 2:4). If this is the case, then the demons of the gospels (as well as the "principalities and powers" we are currently fighting against) must be a DIFFERENT set of fallen angelic beings and NOT the Nephilim. (Just thinking out loud here…)

    • The nephilim aren’t fallen angels. That conflates two separate categories (sons of God, nephilim). The nephilim (and their descendants, like the Anakim) were corporeal beings — at times referred to as “people” (Hebrew: ‘am) or “men” (Hebrew: ‘adam). Again, you’ll have to read The Unseen Realm for the data and research references.

      • Thank you, Dr. Heiser. I did read the book and enjoyed it very much. Perhaps, I phrased my question poorly and should have used the term “sons of god” and not “fallen angels”. I read the book on kindle where it is difficult to refer back and forth between specific subjects and pages…so perhaps I missed the distinction of WHICH particular beings have the capacity to “demonize” humans.
        It seems there are many catagories of spiritual beings. But the only catagory of “HYBRID beings” that we know of are the nephilim.
        Are you saying that the ONLY “spirits” capable of embodying human beings are spirits of these now dead hybrid beings (aka: Nephilim)??
        It would seem to me that the other fallen “principalities and powers” likewise have this capability. Don’t we see “the dragon” givng power (even embodying) “the beast” in the book of Revelation?
        The “sons of god” who cohabitated with “daughter’s of men” before and after Gen 6 however are in a permanently confined state. Am I understanding you correctly here??

      • Correction:
        I misstated Dr.Fruchtenbaum’s position. It is NOT the Nephilim who are confined to Tartarus; it is the “sons of god” who “left their first estate” (Jude 1:6). Sorry for the confusion created.

  27. For those interested, I was interviewed one The Blaze about this essay and topic.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/10/30/bible-scholar-explains-why-everything-many-christians-have-been-taught-about-demons-is-completely-wrong/

    I'm thankfulf to Billy Hallowell for the interview.

    I found it humorous at the end of the Blaze article where Billy quoted GotQuestions.org about the nephilim. Their response is illustrative of how the theology of this topic is relentlessly unscriptural. GotQuestions.org notes: “The most biblically consistent explanation for the origin of the demons is that they are the fallen angels, the angels who rebelled against God with Satan.”

    Biblical consistent? The nephilim and the sons of God are not the same thing — this answer conflates them. Nephilim are never called angels or fallen angels. The Nephilim were corporeal warriors of unusual height, traits they passed on to their descendants, the Anakim (Num 13:32-33). In fact, as I point out in The Unseen Realm, their descendants are called "people" (Hebrew: 'am; ) and "men" (Hebrew 'adam; ). To quote my book, The Unseen Realm:

    Despite their unusual size, the biblical text is clear that the giant clan members were human. For example, the word ʾadam (“humankind”; cf. Gen 1:26–27) is used to describe the victims of the conquest in cities associated with giant clans (Josh 11:14). Arba is called “the greatest man (ʾadam) among the Anakim.” The generic Hebrew word for people (ʿam; i.e., human populations) is also used of giant clans: Deut 2:10 (the Emim); Deut 2:20 (the Zamzummim); Deut 3:1–3 (Og’s people); Deut 9:2 (the Anakim).

    These passages show conclusively that nephilim and their descendants (Anakim, Num 13:33) weren't fallen angels. And guess what else? There is no verse that connects them to Satan — zero. And of course the GotQuestions.org response doesn't incorporate any of the recent re-evaluation of the cuneiform tablets that provide the point-for-point Mesopotamian analogy to Gen 6:1-4 — which aligns perfectly with everything I talked about in "Where Do Demons Come From". You’ll only get that in The Unseen Realm.

    So what's "biblically consistent" about their answer? Nothing. It's a textbook example of doing biblical theology without the Bible getting in the way.

  28. I read “The Unseen Realm” and appreciate Dr. Heiser’s research and willingness to “think outside the box”. There is a lot of valuable material to be gleaned.

    Dr. Heiser,
    Please could you answer here for me the question I found MOST nagging at me as I was reading your book? Much of your hypothesis seemed to hinge on the view that the “elohim” in verse one of Psalm 82 are not human beings but rather the seventy members of YHWH’s heavenly council.Yet the REST of the verses in Psalm 82 would seem to make this an impossibility. Specifically regarding verses 2-4 of Psalm 82 how can FALLEN angelic beings have even the remotest possibility of “ruling righteously”? They may possibly be able to “lessen” their eternal sentence, but even this seems far fetched. Once in rebellion, aren’t they already at the point of NO return?

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to provide an answer. :)

    Here is ny original question posted on Amazon as a review of “Unseen Realm”:

    If the “elohim/spiritual imagers/70 heavenly council members” are being addressed in Psalm 82 verse 1 (as oppose to YHWH’s “human imagers”/earthly rulers), and we take these “spiritual imagers” to be ruling in an ALREADY FALLEN STATE how is it that they can STOP doing unjustly and START doing justly??!! Verses 2-4 would then be suggesting that fallen “spiritual imagers” can possibly be REMEDIATED/redeemed (something NOT supported by other Scripture). OR… is there perhaps a MIStranslation in verses 2-4??

    • Merrill, having read Dr. Hesier’s book after years of following his work, I can tell you that while Psalm 82 is a key passage, particularly in that reading it in the Hebrew started him thinking along these lines, Dr. Heiser doesn’t single-source his view to it. Rather, he demonstrates that the existence of other elohim and the definition of the term encompassing any being which dwells in the spiritual (unseen) realm is the consistent teaching of Scripture from start to finish.

      • Thank you Michael.

        Maybe you can help me with this because I am still confused. I specifically remember Dr. Heiser saying that “ye will die like men” (Psalm 82:7) DOESN’T make sense WITHOUT understanding that the “gods” in verse 1 are “divine spiritual imagers” (NOT human). But again, HOW can this be when taking verses 2-4 into account??!! I am at a loss here. HELP!!

        Psalm 82 (NKJV)

        A Psalm of Asaph.

        1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
        He judges among the gods.

        2 How long will you judge unjustly,
        And show partiality to the wicked? Selah

        3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
        Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

        4 Deliver the poor and needy;
        Free them from the hand of the wicked.

        5 They do not know, nor do they understand;
        They walk about in darkness;
        All the foundations of the earth are unstable.

        6 I said, “You are gods,
        And all of you are children of the Most High.

        7 But you shall die like men,
        And fall like one of the princes.”

        8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
        For You shall inherit all nations.

        • Sorry for the delay, Merrill. I keep Sabbath, and your question came too late on Friday for me to get to it earlier.

          Dr. Heiser points out quite rightly that you don’t use the word “like” (in Hebrew, the letter kaph used as a prefix) to indicate complete likeness. That is, I wouldn’t point at my car and say, “That runs like a car” or my wife and say, “She takes care of me like a wife.” Therefore, when the Lord says to the elohim of Psalm 82, “You will die _like_ men,” that indicates that whatever they are, they aren’t human beings. That pretty much leaves spiritual entities.

          He also points out that Jesus’ use of Psalm 82 doesn’t make a lot of sense if the “elohim” of the psalm were just human judges. He has a whole paper here dealing with that subject: http://www.michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/SBL%20Psalm%2082%20in%20John%2010%20paper.pdf

          Psalm 82:2-4 isn’t confusing if you understand the Biblical teaching that there are spiritual powers controlling the nations (see Dan. 10:13, Eph. 6:12, or Deu. 32:8 in the Septuagint or the Dead Sea Scrolls). These spiritual powers were apparently ordered to act justly, but instead chose to oppress mankind and elevate themselves as gods worthy of worship in place of the Eternal Creator. That’s only a step removed from the old Christian idea of the rebellion of Satan and his demons in heaven leading to pagan worship, if you think about it.

          Shalom!

          • Shavua tov, Michael. Thank you for your response. The paper was helpful. I understand that Psalm 82 verses 1 and 6 make more sense with the divne council interpretation in mind, particularly as Jesus uses it in John 10 to hint that he is more than a human being.

            Here is what I am having trouble with. Leaving aside John 10 entirely, and looking STRICTLY at Psalm 82 alone, I am puzzled by verses 2-4. How can ALREADY CORRUPTED divine “sons of elohim” STOP “judging unjustly” (verse 2) and START “DOING JUSTICE” (verses 3 and 4)???

            Can FALLEN divne beings REVERSE their corruption (or allegiance) thereby AVOIDING the sentence to “die like men” (verse 7) once they have ALREADY DEFECTED from YHWH??

            Is there redemption for fallen elohim or other fallen “principalities and powers”??

            This is what I am having trouble reconciling in my mind.

          • Gotcha, and I see your point. One of the thing that Dr. Heiser brings out in his book is that the assumption that the fallen angels fell all at once and irrevocably before the creation of man does not appear anywhere in Scripture. We might read Psalm 82 as recording a long, slower descent into evil as they became corrupted by their power over mankind. Ergo, the injunction to judge justly might have been issued before they reached the point of no return.

            I’d also point out that vv. 6-7 speak in final terms. That is, the sentence has already been passed and repentance won’t turn it back. The previous verses could therefore be read not as a call to repent, but a rhetorical way of rendering a guilty verdict.

            Shalom

          • Thanks Michael. I was thinking about it last night after I wrote my last post ….that their wasn’t/isn’t one monolithic “fall” of the divine beings (as you point out), but that this is happening as a process even until Messiah returns. This is not a comforting thought because it then means we have yet to see the full defection of enemy forces. There will be much havoc on earth once this comes to fruition.
            (By the way I mentioned this possibility in my review on amazon. If your interested here are the rest of my queries:https://www.amazon.com/review/R41667QT7EBM3/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv)

          • PS: As you can see from my review, the thought that there wasn’t one monolitic past fall of “principalities and powers” was running through my mind as I was reading through Unseen Realm. ( I read it on kindle and it was hard to refer back to previous chapters. So apparently I missed Heiser’s proposal that “principalities and powers” are still in the process of defecting.)

            Regarding Psalm 82 verses 2-4, it could be that when this Psalm was written only SOME of the “sons of god” had defected, but not yet all of them. If YHWH is addressing the “sons of god” AS A WHOLE (where some had already defected but others hadn’t) then the words “how long” (verse 2) and the admonition to the not yet fallen elohim to “do justice” (verses 3-4) make sense. Thank you for helping me to think this through. I think I get it now. :)

  29. Max Nicholas says:

    Everyone talks about the infinite, but nobody seems to be doing much about it.

    Dr Heiser has the goods on this concept. He has been at it for years. Solid brick-on-brick scholarship. In his more candid moments he points out that this material is, “a privileged glimpse of the obvious”. All this information has been at our feet since the 1st and 2nd Century.

    End-of-the-Day.
    Every human owes their allegiance to God. Every human has the absolute, free-will choice to decide up or down. Whom will you serve? Your call.

    A fictional character once said, “Come, the games afoot Watson!” Dr Heiser’s “The Unseen Realm” gives us the rock solid, Biblical background to our faith and the cosmic geometry to help us understand who we are and were we stand.

    The Unseen Realm can be a challenging read on many levels. I highly recommend it for the faint o’ heart. Such as myself.

  30. The more I read stuff like this, the more the whole thing sounds like a fairy tale.

  31. i’ll never get that 10 minutes back

  32. Way to ad hominem there, pal.

  33. Way to ad hominem there, pal.

  34. Shane Muse Lots of books aren't in the Bible's canon, but are still credible in their subjects. "Canon" simply means that we accept a given book as the "standard" by which we can measure the truth of other sources. We can regard Enoch as useful commentary that gives us the early Jewish understanding of the Genesis 6 event without considering it to set the standard.

  35. all this sounds like it was plagarized from Perry Stone!!

  36. I would be interested in hearing which verses you would add to the study. You shouldn't throw out such divisive comments without providing any textual evidence.

  37. I bet you give non-Christians who see your comments a really low opinion of Christians, on both an ethical and intellectual level. Why don't you provide some argument that proves that Mike is wrong on some point?

  38. The book of Enoch is not inspired, but it does help us to see how the early Jews and Christians thought. If you disagree, then you need to wrestle with the fact that both 2 Peter and Jude reference it.

  39. Fairy stories….interesting mythologies but thankfully science rescues us from such silliness

  40. I'm really not convinced of the author's treatment of Revelation 12. I mean, just look at the passage: "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him" (7-10, NIV).

    The author of this article blows past this to conclude, "the Bible doesn’t record an ancient expulsion from heaven by hordes of angels?" Wh… what?! Really? Did he even read the passage or did he see the Christ story nearby and somehow figured that negated anything around it concerning heavenly realms? In fact, this is a direct elaboration of a narrative mentioned BEFORE Christ's birth occurs earlier in the chapter. In Revelation 12:3-4, we read, "Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." Chapter 4 concludes saying, "And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child," clearly placing this heavenly battle before Christ's birth and continuing with the fallen angels led by Satan after being thrown to the Earth. The parallel between the two "dragon cast out of heaven and his angels with him" is impossible to ignore. It's the same story. In fact, the story of Christ is sandwiched between the story of Satan's fall, starting with a general overview and followed with a full elaboration, so what the author suggests about context is completely backwards: the narrative of angelic war isn't in the context of Christ's birth; rather, Christ's birth is in the context of angelic war.

    The author then goes on to assume that angels were porking human females in Genesis, which seems kind of strange, since Jesus hinted at the non-sexual nature of angels in Matthew 22:30 ("For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven"). The phrase "sons of God" alternatively can be understood to refer to the favored descendants of Seth, one of Adam & Eve's sons that didn't get caught up in the whole murder mess of Cain and Abel (Genesis 5:4 and Deuteronomy 14:1). In fact, Genesis 6:4 repudiates the pagan belief concerning a race of giants by insisting that the children born to the “sons of God” were no more than “men” (v. 4), not semi-divine beings.

    I'm all for understanding the cultural worldview of the biblical writers' contemporaries to understand the Bible, but what the author of this article is doing is tossing away clear biblical description of the origin and current status of fallen angels in favor of non-canonical source material.

    • Marc Schwartz says:

      Brace,

      Are you familiar with the two streams of tradition that identify a leadership group amongst the angels on which the blame of the rebellion is placed? These traditions are: the Asa’el motif and the Shemihazah motif.

      Thank you.

      Marc

    • John Olubobokun says:

      Well said Brace.
      Thanks.

  41. Correction! I misstated Dr. Fruchtenbaums position. It is the "sons of god" who are confined to Tartarus, not the Nephilim. However this doesn't emiminate the possiblitiy that other fallen "divine spiritual beings" (along with the dead spirits of the Nephilim) can be the demons mentioned in the NT does it?

  42. Fair tail of old time. It a twisting of Gen. 6. One needs to understand who "the Sons of God" are and they are not angles. One needs to truly do the studies of Scripture which is never wrong and stop adding man's opinion to it from any ancient source which is not Scritpure.

  43. One third of the angels falling with Satan is also recorded in Hebrews, among other places, so there is Biblical reference to fallen angels. Also, the sons of God and daugters of men referred to in Genesis do NOT refer to angels (fallen or otherewise) breeding with humans. It is a reference to the mixing of two bloodlines, Cain and Seth. Heiser has written some good stuff, but he missed the mark on several key point on this one. The spiritual reealm is very real and making light of it is dangerous. But so is making assumptions based on trdition and superstition instead of Scripture.

  44. They are fallen angels. Angels have rules from God. They broke the rules.

  45. Right..Heiser versus you….I'll put my money on the PhD

  46. Dr. Heiser, just curious if you address the following topics in your book (please pardon me if they are only tangential to your thesis): (1) the beings that accuse God’s people in Zechariah 3 and Job 1; (2) the deceiving spirit in 1 Kings 22. Perhaps I’m just unsettled about their apparent relationship with God, but I would think, in the very least, that any expulsion of angels from heaven would have to post-date the OT narrative, given that Satan et al. retain access to God’s court, which seems to be the place where they “accuse.” So without reading your book, the contrarian opinions seem to raise more problems than their adherents realize and at least pull the above passages into the discussion because they suddenly need a [crafty!] resolution if you are incorrect. While the development of the Satan/serpent tradition may not be your focal point, it would certainly be relevant to a full picture of the unseen world, hence my question about whether you address it. And (3), I’m also wondering what you make of the episode in Luke where Jesus describes Satan falling. In my opinion, this is a far more compelling way to read Revelation 12 than any OT narrative, and as you point out, John himself links the expulsion with the Messiah’s birth. So again your detractors seem to prioritize their assumptions above the text, which gains layers of complexity if you’re incorrect. Jesus’ teaching about “binding the strong man” would also suggest that the strong man, clearly “demons,” was free to roam during his ministry, even to ascend to heaven, else Jesus could not have witnessed any fall. So I think the more belligerent comments in this thread are far too reductionist, even if intended with sincere piety.

    Also, I would challenge anyone who discredits such study by virtue of its sources to learn more about the canonization process and how arbitrary it might have seemed to New Testament authors.

  47. Reading these comments is a hilarious activity. It’s like watch a group of toddlers argue about which Froot Loop color tastes best. Anyone unintelligent enough to believe that these myths are real is simply not qualified to debate literature with a literary scholar. Demons, God, Zeus, Osiris, Darth Vader — all products of the imagination of humans. Anyone who tries to claim otherwise is simply incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

  48. The writer is not talking about fallen angels, he is speaking of demons. They are 2 different things.

  49. There are way to many things science cannot explain, so I think your statement is so very wrong.

  50. "One needs to understand who "the Sons of God" are and they are not angles." No they are "fallen angels". Look at the context and the word used in the Hebrew text; "בֵּן bên, bane; from (Strong's) H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like father or brother), etc.):—afflicted, age, (Ahoh-) (Ammon-) (Hachmon-) (Lev-) ite, (anoint-) ed one, appointed to, (+) arrow, (Assyr-) (Babylon-) (Egypt-) (Grec-) ian, one born, bough, branch, breed, + (young) bullock, + (young) calf, × came up in, child, colt, × common, × corn, daughter, × of first, firstborn, foal, + very fruitful, + postage, × in, + kid, + lamb, (+) man, meet, + mighty, + nephew, old, (+) people, rebel, + robber, × servant born, × soldier, son, + spark, steward, + stranger, × surely, them of, + tumultuous one, valiant(-est), whelp, worthy, young (one), youth. While I absolutely agree with your assertion about studying Scripture, I'm missing YOUR definition of the "sons of God". When you read the context of the passage in Genesis 6, the nĕphiyl are the result of the co-joining of the sons of God and the daughters of men. The word nĕphiyl is only used three times in two verses; Gen. 6:4 and Num.13:33. Both are narratives surrounding "giants" and can only be interepted as literal. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on an alternative definition and explanation.

  51. Respectfully I would say your analysis of Rev 12 is inaccurate.

    “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”
    Revelation 12:5-10 ESV

    War arises in heaven after the ascension of Christ.

    Notice: "there was no longer any place for them in heaven." – Why?

    “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

    No place is found for them because Satan's role in heaven is now redundant.

    He was the accuser of the brethren and he can no longer bring an accusation against the saints due to the atonement.

    This places the context of this verse after the resurrection.

    You're right in that there has been an open conflict since Adam & Eve, but there was no open warfare until the Cross.

    As for angelic beings cohabiting with women. Jesus said they aren't given in marriage, not that they cannot marry or fornicate against God's command. If they were allowed to marry, it wouldn't have been a transgression would it?

    The Jews never understood the sons of God as referring to the line of Seth. Otherwise you would have the line of Seth entering the throne room of God in Job 1-2.

    Secondly, how would you explain this passage:

    Jude 1:6-7 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    Jude says that Sodom & Gomorrah committed sexual sin after the likeness of the Angels. Where in scripture do we see angelic beings committing sexual immorality?

    1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

    What spirits sinned in the time of Noah? How do you account for this without Genesis 6?

    2 Peter 2:4-10 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; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard; then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

    Again, what record do we have of angels sinning other than Genesis 6?

  52. The text of Genesis 6 never actually states that anyone is punished for what the sons of God did. But if this were merely human marriage, why would they be punished?

    We know the angelic beings are punished because Jude and Peter tell us so. They wrote with the understanding that the sons of God were angelic beings:

    2 Peter 2:4-10 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; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard; then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,

    1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

    Jude 1:6-7 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    How do you explain these outside of the context of Genesis 6?

  53. @ Mike Heisler and Larry Hefflin. The reason that they are also "after the flood" is because at least 1 of Noah's daughter in laws had to have Nephallim blood in her. That also accounts for why post flood giants are smaller than preflood giants. Their DNA was watered down. If you go back and look at the geneology, most likely, the culprit was the wife of Ham.

  54. Stephen Davis But you're starting off at Revelation 12:5. Why there? Why did you skip past the beginning of the chapter where the fall of Satan is clearly described before Christ was born? As I said before, angelic war is the context of Christ's birth; not vice versa.

    You suggest a difference between "open conflict" and "open warfare," but I don't see how you distinguish between the two in a biblical context.

    I really don't see how Satan fell just because he was laid off in Heaven; that the position of "accuser" was rendered obsolete and Heaven was downsizing. We know very well that Satan was in open rebellion against God well before Christ's birth, as evidenced by his inciting Adam & Eve into rebellion. He's not on God's payroll in Genesis 3; Satan is actively encouraging creation to rebel against God. This isn't just some prosecutor helping God consider all the bad things people have done; he's actively encouraging them to do bad things. Huge difference. If this is so, then by the time we reach Genesis 3, Satan has already fallen, as described by Jesus in Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12.

    As for Jesus’ description on angel sexuality, He actually did say they didn’t marry: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” They don’t marry, which means their sexuality is, at the very least, different from humans’. I suppose you could say they could operate outside the boundaries of Heaven and marry anyway or that sex is present in Heaven with marriage absent, so that Heaven is one big orgy.

    I don’t deny that the phrase “sons of God” can refer to angels, but I question whether or not it “must” refer to angels. Clearly, the context of Job’s introduction refers to angels, but what about Deuteronomy 14:1 when the Hebrews were told, “You are the sons of the Lord your God?” The same relationship is drawn here between God and the subjects being addressed, but clearly in this case, the subjects are mortal men.

    Jude 6-7 seems to reference sexual immorality of angels, but doesn’t give us specific examples. While it may be reasonable to assume the reference is Genesis 6, the line isn’t drawn for us, so we’re left assuming that connection on our own.

    Your use of 1 Peter 3:18-20 doesn’t support your claim very well, as it’s too vague about its reference. Which spirits? Dead humans? Fallen angels? Sexually deviant angels? It doesn’t say and everyone except Noah and his family were wicked enough during that time for God to wipe them out. If so, assuming sexually deviant angels are the reference is unwarranted; the reference isn’t that specific.

    2 Peter 2:4-10 is very similar to Jude 6-7, but makes no parallel between the sort of sin committed by the angels as being the same committed by mankind – the offense is simply left at being “ungodly” or “immoral.” If you’re going to insist on angels getting horny, Jude 6-7 is a much better text to support your position than 2 Peter 2:4-10, which uses much more general terms.

    You ask what account we have of angels sinning outside of Genesis 6, but have you not read Genesis 3? Later identified as Satan in Revelation 12, the serpent is involved in active rebellion against God by encouraging Adam and Eve to rebel and rebellion against God is the very definition of sin. In fact, you suggest that the “sons of God” were transgressing when they took human females as wives in Genesis 6, but there’s no such condemnation in that chapter for their doing so. The only condemnation God expresses is not at the “angels” for getting it on with women, but at mankind for becoming corrupt and consequently limiting their lifespans. No punishment whatsoever is mentioned against these “sons of God” for marrying these women.

    Simply put, Satan was in open rebellion on Earth against God as early as Genesis 3. If this is so, then by this point, he had already lost the war in Heaven and been cast down to Earth, as described by Jesus in Luke 10:18 and in Revelation 12. This means that the angels who followed Satan have also been on Earth since then, together working in rebellion against God by encouraging the fall of His crowning jewel of creation: humanity. Give these fallen angels whatever name you like, but scripture is very clear about their origins, how long they’ve been here, what their purpose is, and their ultimate fate.

  55. You don't seem to be understanding the argument.

    The argument is not that Satan wasn't in rebellion until after the ascension.

    The argument is that Satan wasn't cast out of heaven until after the ascension.

    If you're going to be consistent, insisting that Satan WAS cast out of heaven before Christ was born, you have a problem…Israel is mentioned before you believe Satan was cast out.

    If you claim Satan was cast out by Genesis 3, that places the existence of Israel before Genesis 3.

    What these first few verses also tell us that Satan cast angels to the earth, not that HE was cast out of heaven and not allowed back.

    Here's how I distinguish between conflict and open war: Satan served a function in Yahweh's heavenly court. So did his angels. They were the gods who ruled over the gentile nations.

    They were placed over those nations to uphold and preserve righteousness. Why? Because God has disowned the nations at Babel but planned to one day regather them to Himself through Israel.

    These sons of God failed to do so as told in Psalm 82:

    Psalm 82:1-8 God has taken his place in the divine council;in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustlyand show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy;deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding,they walk about in darkness;all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods,sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die,and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth;for you shall inherit all the nations!

    At the Cross, the power these sons of God held over the nations was bound.

    All those appointed to eternal life were set free and no longer could a charge be brought against them in heavens courts.

    So then war broke out openly in heaven.

    There was not open animosity between Satan and Yahweh until this point.

    If you wish to argue otherwise you can, but you will have to explain the absence of Satan from the Old Testament.

    The New Testament is written post-Cross, once this open warfare had begun, hence why Satan is more clearly identified as not only the present enemy, but an enemy who has been around from ancient times.

    On the sons of God cohabiting, you concede that they could disobey and marry on earth which is exactly what they did.

    Context is key when identifying who the sons of God are. There is no contextual reason for you to label the sons of God of Genesis 6 as the "line of Seth"

    That's not how Jude or Peter understood it. They clearly are making allusions to what was the unanimous view of the time: the sons of God in Genesis 6 were angelic beings who committed sexual immorality with human women.

    My friend, if you concede that Jude 6-7 tells us Angels committed sexual immorality, any valid argument against Angels marrying and committing sexual immorality in Genesis 6 vanishes.

    1 Peter 3:18-20 is not as vague as you claim.

    What other spirits were believed to have been disobedient in the days of Noah and were subsequently imprisoned?

    Jude 1:6-7 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    Angels, committed sexual immorality, imprisoned in chains under gloomy darkness which sounds just like:

    2 Peter 2:4-6 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; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

    Notice again the parallels drawn. Angels sinning, Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot. All associated with a time of grave sexual immorality.

    And again you concede its similarity to Jude 6-7.

    I didn't say what texts do we have of Angels SINNING outside of Genesis 6, I said Angels committing sexual immorality.

    So I must ask, if you concede the sexual immorality mentioned in Jude, admit the parallel with 2 Peter 2:4-7, if 1 Peter 3:18-20 specifically refers to disobedient spirits in the days of Noah, and no contextual reason is given to identify the sons of God in Genesis 6 as different from the sons of God of Job 1-2 or Psalm 82, what reason do you have to argue that Genesis 6 isn't talking of angelic beings cohabiting with women?

  56. Soooo, don't believe one theory because it is supported in a non-canonical book, but believe mine because it is supported….in a non-canonical book. Oh, and by the way, buy my book. :(

  57. Stephen Davis And the argument that Satan wasn’t cast out of Heaven until after the ascension is falsified when Jesus said, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” in Luke 10:18. He spoke in past tense. Jesus is talking about Satan’s fall before the ascension happened. I don’t see how this can even be in dispute.

    As for “Israel” being mentioned, the name appears only 4 times in all of Revelation: 3 times in the phrase “sons of Israel” and once in a title that appears only in the NASB (the title is either different or absent altogether in the NIV, ESV, ASV, and KJV). Not one of those times is it used in a chronological narrative. Only in one translation of the Bible does it even appear as a title (“The Woman, Israel” introducing Chapter 12). The titles themselves aren’t even part of the narratives, but were added later for easier reading. I’m looking at the original Koine Greek of Revelation 12 and there is no mention whatsoever in any way, shape, or form in the Greek text of the word “Israel.” So no, there’s no conflict of chronology here in believing Jesus when He talked about the fall of Satan before Christ’s ascension.

    At no point in all of scripture are we told that Satan cast ANYONE out of Heaven, making your claim here highly questionable. The imagery used in Revelation 12:1-4 is clearly elaborated upon in verses 7-9. It’s not a separate episode; it’s the same one. What’s the point of casting Satan out of heaven as Jesus described if he could just walk right back in? Is Heaven’s security so inept or does victory in angelic war mean nothing?

    I understand a lot of people think Satan was part of God’s prosecution team (especially in Job), but this is betrayed completely by Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve to rebel against God. This isn’t the behavior of a prosecutor ensuring all evidence is examined in a trial; this is the behavior of someone defying God and subverting His plans.

    I'm inclined to view Job as a theophany written by the Hebrews to explain why a good God would allow bad things (like the Babylonian exile) to happen rather than historic pros, but I could be mistaken. Even if it is literally historic in its descriptions, Satan's place is still not with God in Heaven. God questions him being there by saying, "Where have you come from" and Satan replies, "From roaming through the Earth and walking around on it," which seems like a smug reply after Satan had been cast out, as if God is saying, "You were cast out and don't belong here; you stick out like a sore thumb, so remind everyone here where you came from again" and Satan's reply comes as essentially, "You know very well where I came from and I'm quite busy down there." So the only possible explanations I have for this meeting are (A) the gate keeper at the Pearly Gates forgot to lock the gates of Heaven that day and Satan waltzed right in after being cast down to Earth, (B) this gathering doesn't take place within Heaven itself, or (C) this is just a fictitious story to illustrate a real concept of God being aware of yet allowing evil. Either way we look at it, even within this narrative, Satan's fall has already occurred as God specifically questions why he's even there, which would be really strange if Satan hadn't yet fallen and was among the other angels the whole time.

    Psalm 82 makes no reference whatsoever of angels ruling over pagan nations. The phrase "God has taken His place in the divine assembly; He judges among the gods” in no way necessitates that “gods” (‘elohim’) refers to angels. Look at the context of the writer to understand how this phrase is used. It can either be seen as opposition to the Canaanite polytheistic gods (“our God judges while yours don’t”) or could even refer to powerful men (Exodus 7:1, John 10:35-36), in this case corrupt judges who were not dispensing justice as they ought to (v. 2-4).

    As for the absence of Satan in the Old Testament, he’s right there in Genesis 3; he steps in to screw things up shortly after creation gets started! If it’s a scholarly approach you’re looking for rather than one of systematic theology, then Satan’s heavier emphasis in the New Testament is simple: Hebrew/Jewish theology hadn’t fleshed out a very detailed concept of Satan until the interbiblical period. Theologians call this progressive revelation. Even so, Satan’s there in Genesis with Adam and Eve and is mentioned by name in Job. He’s not “absent” simply because the story doesn’t focus on him.

    As I said before, I’m open to the idea of angelic deviations. Satan and his angels are primary examples of that. What I’m explaining to you, however, is that the case for angel procreation with humans in Genesis 6 isn’t solid. It’s speculation: speculation that the angelic sins mentioned in Jude are a direct and specific reference to Genesis 6, speculation that angels in Heaven are not sexual but somehow become sexual outside of Heaven, and that if this was, in fact, angels procreating with humans, that doing so is sinful even though no condemnation whatsoever was charged against the “sons of God” for marrying the daughters of men in that chapter of Genesis; if what they did was sinful, why wasn’t it condemned in that narrative? The only way we deem them condemned is if we assume Jude is specifically referencing Genesis 6 (which prompts the question of why Jude thought it was bad when no such condemnation was in the text). The links made here between Jude and Genesis are assumptions, not biblical exposition.

    But, suppose for whatever reason, that angels really were going around porking human women. One wonders why angelic beauty wasn't enough for them and they had to settle for mortal women (perhaps these were the social outcast angels that couldn't find an angelic date?). That still doesn't deny the clear narrative of Satan's fall and the fall of the angels that followed him and their continued rebellion against God on Earth. The author of this article needs Jesus' descriptions of angels to be misleading as well as the double narrative in Revelation and Jesus' description of Satan's fall to be ignored. The intellectual gymnastics required to make that all work just aren't plausible, imo.

  58. Painting in broad strokes here, but a lot of the above argumentation falters on one significant point: the thesis of the blog is to clarify obscure passages in the “canon” by reference to expanded traditions in “non-canonical” (according to whom?) texts. Thus, there is no attempt, and thus no failure, to harmonize 66 books. I do infer an implicit respect for the Protestant canon, but any points of disagreement are with the traditions of people of whom we have no doubt a few extant texts of many in circulation at the time. Thus, reference to sources, some of which may have undergone translation [and/or back translation] into several languages means that a reconstruction of the whole picture will always elude us, but glimpses are possible and can illuminate obscure passages in Genesis, Psalms, whatever. So the only relevant critique here is one that (a) demonstrates false handling of non-canonical sources; (b) limits itself to the degree to which some of these traditions are explained in the 66 books. Of course, the discussion can proceed to other areas, but not all of them will be valid as refutation of the post that spawned the discussion. Respectfully.

  59. You claim Jesus was speaking of something that had already happened in Luke 10:18. So what was the relevance of Jesus' statement in relation to what the 70 were saying?

    Luke 10:17-20 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

    The 70 were telling Jesus that in His name they had authority over the enemy. What did this have to do with Satan being cast out of heaven a few thousand years before?

    Rather, Jesus' words foreshadowed what was going to happen at His ascension on a larger scale.

    If you want to argue that Satan had already been cast out, again this creates problems elsewhere:

    John 12:27-32 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

    Where is the ruler of this world being cast out of? The earth? Surely not because elsewhere he still roams it seeking whom he may devour.

    This makes sense if Jesus is saying Satan will be cast out of heaven. He will no longer bring charges against God's elect, and Jesus will draw all men to Him.

    Revelation is a figurative book. You seem to be missing that. The woman is a symbolic picture of Israel. Look at her description:

    Revelation 12:1-5 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

    This is the same symbolic imagery Joseph saw in his dream concerning his brothers and his parents:

    Genesis 37:9-10 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”

    The woman gives birth to a male child who will rule the nations. Christ.

    Also you said nowhere does scripture say Satan cast anyone out of heaven:

    Revelation 12:3-4 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.

    The stars of heaven are the Angels, and he cast them to earth.

    Satan couldn't walk back into heaven, which is why we can't argue that he was cast out before Genesis 3 when Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3 both place him before God's throne.

    I actually don't believe Satan was part of God's "prosecution team" though he did act like one. I'm writing a book on the subject and will have an entire chapter devoted to this, but in short Satan's role was to guard the way to Yahweh's presence.

    He was the anointed covering cherub. He was only meant to allow the righteous into Yahweh's presence and was sent out to search for them.

    This is why in Job 1-2 Yahweh asks Satan where he's been. Yahweh is aware of Job, a just and upright man.

    God is asking Satan "Where have you been all this time? Have you not seen Job?"

    Satan rebuts the claim that Job is righteous and seeks to prove it.

    For whatever reason, Satan so doubts the worthiness and righteousness of mankind that he will even go so far as incite them to evil to prove his point.

    This explains his presence in Eden, in Job 1-2, Zechariah 3 and disputing over the body of Moses.

    He was arguing that these ones shouldn't be allowed into God's presence.

    This is why he became known as the accuser and the adversary. Not because that was his job, but because it's all he did. Accuse the brethren of unrighteousness.

    Psalm 82 refers to angelic beings who rule over the nations. No Israelite judges were ever over any gentile nations. Consider:

    Psalm 82:6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you

    They are the sons of God, angelic beings. These are not men, for we are told that they will die like mortal men.

    The gods themselves are judged for not upholding righteousness. Why would Canaanite pantheons be charged by Yahweh for failing to do a job?

    I didn't say Satan wasn't present, neither am I denying progressive revelation. The fact is that he was present and he was known but not as an outwardly hostile enemy of God until after the ascension.

    The case of Angel procreation is hardly speculation when it was the accepted view of the Jews and the 1st century church. It wasn't until Augustine that people began to teach otherwise. So everyone got it wrong for the first 4000 years of history?

    Why would the sons of God be condemned in the narrative? They weren't the focus of the narrative, the focus was mankind. You're assuming they should have been the focus.

    I don't see how the link between Jude and Genesis is any less of an assumption than your view that the sons of God are Sethites.

    Why does Jesus' description of Angels need to be misleading? It's not, you're just assuming it says more than it does.

    Revelation isn't being ignored, you just assume it's a double narrative because it needs to be to fit your paradigm, but it doesn't match with the text itself or the rest of scripture. Neither is Jesus' statement about Satan falling from heaven ignored, again you just assume it says more than it does.

    I don't think it's that these things are implausible, I think it's that you are harbouring a supernatural bias towards the arguments.

  60. Marc Schwartz says:

    I find it hard to believe that anyone on this thread can even attempt to make valid points against any of Dr. Heiser’s published work. How sophmoric and utterly moribund it is to hear the term “sethite,” which made me physically nauseous, in addition to some of the other points brought to the fore in-light of the entire body of work of The Unseen Realm. Plebeians, please spare us these word-lashings.

    Who among you will reveal your credentials, CV, or published journal articles? Who among will reveal your most freshman undergraduate sources of knowledge from which you draw your conclusions? Better yet, who among you will bring your well documented discrepancies with Heiser’s work into a published paper for submission into the academic and scholarly community for consideration?

    Heiser’s Kung-Fu is superior to anything that is posted here, and therefore I suggest that you freshmen approach the master with respect and humility.

  61. Stephen Davis We're getting nowhere fast and there are so many topics being tackled simultaneously, each with their own set of assumptions, that I really can't see this going anywhere with you.

    Ultimately, it feels like we're arguing over whether or not Adam and Eve had navals. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter in the slightest. Whether you want to claim demons are spooky ghosts from mythic offspring of angels and humans (the sex must have been divine!) or that they are the fallen angels like Satan and those he convinced to follow him (thus "casting" the "stars" out of the sky in Revelation, not by authority or force, but by persuasion), it doesn't matter. Jesus treated Satan as an enemy actively seeking our harm and so should we; that's what I and countless others refer to when we say "demons," the biblical foundations of which are beyond question.

    • Marc Schwartz says:

      You lost me a long time ago when you used the word “porking.” Someone, please pass me the pepto bismol.

  62. REALLY????? What about the war in heaven and the third of the angels the satan bull shited? They were all cast into the earth. This guy is a total ass!

  63. YES!

  64. I agree with you but the war in heaven happened between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. In verse 2 "the world was void and without form" comes from "the world BECAME void and without form." PLUS, the author is quoting from the ESV which is stupid – considering that the KJV is standard study material. Keep on preachin my brother!

  65. Hey Tony! That idiot may want to use the King James considering it's standard among people that know what they're talking about!

  66. Libby Jones NO THEY'RE NOT LIBBY – FALLEN ANGELS ARE NOW DEMONS!!! They got kicked out of heaven with satan and are now demons. Why would you think otherwise?

  67. Mike Heiser Hi Mike – those demons banging humans were shaope shifters – the same power satan had, (has?)

  68. AllannCasey Fowler – Good job!!!

  69. Never had a problem embracing this theory because scripture is pretty plain. But logically, Angels are not disembodied spirit. If we were to assume fallen angels have some of the same capabilities as the obedient ones then they can: Eat, appear as men, converse with man and physically interact with man. Why? Because they're immortal spirit beings. Spirits that can walk in between worlds. Demons seek bodies to infest. They're restless if they can't find a body to torment, Angels have a body of their own, why would need to demonize someone? At least, that's the way I look at it.

  70. Brace Potthoff I would disagree. If it's in scripture, it's because God wanted us to know it and therefore it matters. Secondly, the reason you don't believe it matters is because you don't understand how much of an impact all of these things have on the background scripture, particularly the gospel. Jesus said that casting out demons was directly connected to the Kingdom of God being at hand, and the gospel He preached was the good news of the Kingdom.

    These beings are still around and are still very much active. Paul said that part of the churches mission is to make known the mystery of the gospel to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, the angelic beings who rule over the nations. If you think fallen angels and demons are synonymous, you are targeting the wrong enemy. We're never told to engage angels.

    Many battles Christians continually face is because they haven't properly identified their enemy. I think that's something worth considering.

  71. Steven Fontaine oye…

    "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

    For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." – Exodus 20:10-11 (KJV)

    I used to subscribe to the gap theory until I read these verses. Clearly says God made everything in heaven and on earth in six days. Not that there was an indiscriminate time period before Genesis 1:2.

    Furthermore, Hebrew grammar simply doesn't allow it because verse 1 to 2 isn't a linear chronological sequence.

    Btw, as for the KJV being the standard, shouldn't the "standard" be the original languages which the scriptures were written in? And which KJV is the standard? The 1611, 1629, 1638, 1762, 1769, or the 1873 edition?

  72. Stephen Davis you are misunderstanding the Hebrew at Exodus 20:11. The verb there is "ashah" (in the qal form, "fashioned") NOT "bara" (in its qal form, "created.") The distinction is important, as "ashah" uses already existing componants to make something else, whereas "bara" uses entirely new componants to make something that has never been made.

  73. You're misunderstanding the author's argument. He is saying there is no Biblical history of where DEMONS came from, and that there is nothing that explicitly states they are the same as fallen angels.

  74. Tony, you may disagree with his conclusions, but Dr. Heiser deserves a bit more respect than you paid him within your statement. Why do you automatically assume he did no research? Your assumptions are incorrect and what you wrote is just plain ignorant.

  75. Tony, you may disagree with his conclusions, but Dr. Heiser deserves a bit more respect than you paid him within your statement. Why do you automatically assume he did no research? Your assumptions are incorrect and what you wrote is completely uncalled for.

  76. AllannCasey Fowler you actually did not support your conclusion that the "sons of G-d" are "fallen angels." All you did was cut and paste from Strong's. There is a gap between the two that you didn't address at all.

  77. If you had attended a seminary, perhaps you'd be more proficient at discerning that Ellen G. White was a false prophet!

  78. I think you've put your finger on an important concept. The Flood certainly didn't prevent these beings — whatever they were or are — from returning. That definitely points toward a supernatural source, doesn't it?

  79. I have yet to see anyone prove that Ellen White is a false prophet without taking what she said out of context, so why would pay any attention to dishonest people?

  80. In the Revelation 12 story arc, the woman refers to the nation of Israel, not the Mother Mary. It also has to be remembered that time does not flow outside of our dimension, and Biblical events taking place "in Heaven" cannot be placed on a logical timeline. Yes there was a great falling of angels to the earth, they are mentioned throughout the Old Testiment, from Genesis on, and they have even been cast to the earth and out of Heaven, see the Book of Jude.

    And the idea of the Nephilim isn't a very foundational story either and extremely obscured.

    Even if the 2 measly references to Nephilim are considered to be around the Bible (and not exaggerations, which should be fine) the giants in the Bible are smaller than the largest Basketball players alive today. Goliath's measurements make him out to be smaller than Shaq. There is no link to them being spirits or demons at all.

    The link of spiritual beings creating a hybrid race with humans is entirely make-belief and pulled from thin air.

    But demons were mentioned in Job and the Book of Daniel. They are also mentioned in I-II Samuel, the tormentor of King Saul who called David to play the harp to lift the evil spirit.

    The word in Hebrew one should be looking for is "ruwach" and that appears 346 times in the Old Testament. The Greek version for the New Testiment is "pneuma" which appears similarly 347 times, though there is a specific reference to them as "daimonion" in Greek.

    Demons were also mentioned in Zechariah, also in reference to a nation similar to that of Daniel's account. The Book of Judges as well, also concerning a political feud.

    The notion of "giants" being in reference to gigantic towering monstrosities of men didn't exist even all the way through Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. A falling of the "Dark Ages" (a rather poor historical term but it fits enough here) and the slow reconstruction of civilization caused the lesser scholars to believe that only persons of large size could have built what is known as Roman engineering.

    But the idea of demons being red, with devil horns, a pitchfork, and having cloven feet? Much more complicated and again probably the result of "Dark Ages" in which several pagan beliefs and ideals were combined with anything non-Biblical.

  81. Hello Mike Heiser, all very interesting stuff! I thought that there are demonic spirit beings which interact sexually with humans. Incubus and Succubus, representing the male and female versions of these spirits.

    So there are both fallen angels, those which fell before the creation of man, and also these hybrid demonic/ human beings- Nephilim, produced by sexual interaction between the "sons of God" and human women.

    Thanks for your work. C.

  82. Why would G-d go to all that trouble of destroying His creation, only to permit His will to be frustrated by Ham's wife? It makes no sense, and implies He isn't in full control.

  83. Why would G-d go to all that trouble of destroying His creation, only to permit His will to be frustrated by Ham's wife? It makes no sense, and implies He isn't in full control.

  84. I'd pare down your answer even further: the woman of Revelation 12 is G-d's faithful remnant. She is His Wife and is the exact opposite of the Harlot in Rev. 17.

  85. Dale Fuhrmeister Bull hockey! http://www.nonegw.org/egw47.shtml

  86. You seem unaware that Enoch is quoted several times in the New Testament …

  87. Suzanne Baruch , no, not unaware. A quote doesn't validate the entirety of the book.

  88. Suzanne Baruch actually you're misunderstanding the Hebrew. "bara" does not mean to create using "entirely new componants" or to create "out of nothing"

    Take for example Genesis 2:4 – "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created [bara], in the day that the Lord God made [asah] the earth and the heavens."

    Bara and asah are used interchangeably here to describe the same event, creating the heavens and the earth.

    Likewise, Genesis 1:26 tells us that Yahweh created [bara] man. Yet Genesis 2:7 tells that Yahweh formed [yatsar] man from the dust of the ground.

    Again, these words are used interchangeably.

    Of final interest is Genesis 1:31 which says: "God saw all that he had made [bara] – and it was very good!" This is how everything is summarised, whether it was "bara-ed" or "asah-ed", God saw all that he "bara-ed" and it was very good. Sun, moon, stars, earth, vegetation, animals and man.

  89. Stephen Davis what you've written isn't accurate at all, and I will be nice here and just state it's obvious you do not read Hebrew.

  90. Suzanne, if I'm wrong and you're the Hebrew expert then by all means show me how I'm wrong otherwise you're just posturing and that doesn't help either of us of anyone else to come to a better understanding.

    I'm willing to learn if you're willing to teach.

  91. It was only this year that I realised that there is no account of the angelic rebellion en masse in the Bible apart from Rev 12.

  92. Mike – is your book available on Kindle?

  93. I know where Demons come from, ancient Greece. "Daemons are benevolent or benign nature spirits, beings of the same nature as both mortals and deities, similar to ghosts, chthonic heroes, spirit guides, forces of nature or the deities themselves (see Plato's Symposium)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daemon_(classical_mythology)

    Most likely fallen angels have been called demons, since Christian theology doesn't agree with other religious beliefs. Christians in speaking to Greeks were using a familiar term to describe those spirits against Christ. Why should we relate Nephilim to demons. I don't think we are trying to evangelicize 1st and 2nd century Greeks.

  94. Steven Fontaine "the war in heaven happened between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. In verse 2 "the world was void and without form" comes from "the world BECAME void and without form."

    Objection: speculation.

  95. What are those passages you refer to? Can you list them and explain how they refute the information given in the article?

  96. Based on other comments, I'm guessing we're still waiting on Tony's exposition????

  97. This is a good exposition. The assertion that readers from the day of Jude would have understood the extra-biblical context of his statements is accurate. Western Christians read the Bible through Helenistic eyes – which will keep us limited in knowledge unless we humbles ourselves and allow The Holy Spirit to teach us.

  98. Sean Williams I completely agree, and would add that experience, reason, and traditionandare all important elements so taht we don't omit or overlook the original context (historical, social & textual) in order to unwittingly showhorn in our 20th & 21st century worldview and western world filters. We oft forget the rich histroy of the church that migrated through BAbylon into India and eventually China, as well as the church that migrated into North Africa. Christians there also hold book like Enoch as part of their tradition, and indeed, Jude and Peter quote from them in the Protestest canonical books leaving those who reject these books with a quandry.

  99. Steven Fontaine you should tone down your attitude and be more respectful. Nobody's spewing out heresies here. We're trying to have a civil discussion, and when one starts throwing around the word "idiot" and talking about how there are other "people that know what they're talking about," well, there's no point of discussing then.

    Not to mention the fact that Heiser is basing his research off of the Septuagint, the Masoretic text, and other Greek and Hebrew writings that were written well before the KJV.

  100. What? Would you be willing to show us how you arrived at this conclusion? How are postflood giants smaller and how do we know?

  101. Jim King But it may validate the authors point.

  102. Unless Jesus already knew their origin, as did the biblical authors, and they didn't feel the need to express it since (at least some of) their audience would know this too. Or would hear teaching on it.

    I agree with your second sentence, but also that knowing Heiser's view can help us know the structure and heirarchy of demons and elohim and the like, and to know how best to use authority against them, that is, Jesus' authority.

  103. Spencer Robinson I'm just saying I've cast many demons out of people & everyone of them gets on the knee to the name of Jesus-even if it take a while. If knowing their origin was important in setting people free, that would have been included in the gospels. To say Jesus & original audience knew the demons origins is an argument from silence-a very good assumption, but zero solid Biblical evidence of it. Your article is fine & is good to ponder. I'm just on the front lines using every spiritual weapon I can get my hands on to deliver people. That's all I'm saying. Christians keep cultivating complex theories of philosophy & theology (which certainly have a place & is foundational) but what I desire is the practical application of those realities. Where are the seminary classes on HOW to cast out demons or HOW to heal the sick? This practical knowledge is what is needed to set people free from the torment of spiritual darkness. But seriously-I don't intend any ill-will in what I'm saying, just a desire to see more people free.

  104. Here's a post I did with one of my own experiences whilst in Mozambique: http://leadinghope.blogspot.com/2014/09/baptizing-demons.html

  105. Absolutely brillian and confirms what many women in their early stages of believers walk report being harrassed by nightmares of evil spirits, trying to sexually assault them.

  106. As well reported by any woman who is a believer but was led astray, was under new age, deceived etc

  107. This may be redundant, but I referance Isaiah 14:9-16
    Revelation 12:3-9 , and
    Jude 1:6

  108. This may be redundant, but I referance Isaiah 14:9-16
    Revelation 12:3-9 , and
    Jude 1:6

  109. This may be redundant, but I referance Isaiah 14:9-16
    Revelation 12:3-9 , and
    Jude 1:6

  110. This may be redundant, but I referance Isaiah 14:9-16
    Revelation 12:3-9 , and
    Jude 1:6

  111. Great topic. I am so happy to have a scholar come out and press people into the difficult task of exegesis. The Second Temple literature has been a blind spot in my reading, but am daily having false beliefs destroyed listening to your podcast and reading your articles. They help me understand the context of how the original audience would have understood the text.

    The babes always seem to grab those bottles and choke on the meat. I need to pick up your book.

Trackbacks

  1. […] interview me about the origin of demons. Those who follow this blog will be interested in reading my short essay on that on the Logos Talk blog — and probably saddened by some of the comments to it. You may […]