Should we use the word “demons?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

One of the most frequent charges laid against the King James Bible is its usage of the word “devils” instead of “demons.” It is argued that there is only one devil, so we should not call his associates “devils.” This argument is used to “beat up” the King James Bible and those who use it. As always, before we glibly believe what the Bible critics tell us, we will investigate the matter for ourselves. Are our King James translators wrong, or are the King James critics wrong?

Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words says the following under the entry for “Devil, Devilish:”

diabolos (1228), ‘an accuser; a slanderer’ (from diaballo, ‘to accuse, to malign’), is one of the names of Satan. From it the English word ‘Devil’ is derived, and should be applied only to Satan, as a proper name. daimon, ‘a demon,’ is frequently, but wrongly translated ‘devil;’ it should always be translated ‘demon,’ as in the RV margin. There is one ‘Devil,’ there are many demons.”

As you can see, in the realm of Bible “scholarship,” the King James Bible is heavily frowned upon for using “devils” instead of “demons.” Did you notice how Vine’s referred to the “RV?” It is the perverted Revised Version of 1881 that apostates Westcott and Hort produced in England to “de-throne” the King James Bible. The corrupt Greek New Testament and textual concepts of Westcott and Hort have dominated Bible “scholarship” for over 100 years. As you can see, the works of Westcott and Hort are often used to challenge—“correct”—the Authorized Version King James Bible. Whenever you hear or read someone offering a “better reading” or “better translation” than what is found in the King James Bible, just remember they are repeating the worthless speculations of unbelievers!

The word “demon” is not a translation but rather a transliteration of the Greek term daimon (δαίμων). Since the modern English versions use “demon” and “demons” throughout their texts, no one teaching from them will use the term “devils.” Consequently, the audiences will rarely hear the term “devils.” All these people have become accustomed to using and hearing “demons,” but that does not necessarily make it right. For years, I operated under the influence of modern English versions. I used “demon” and “demons” throughout my early Bible studies. Several years ago, however, someone drew this to my attention and I quit using such non-biblical terms. The correct word is “devil/s” not “demon/s.” Let me explain why we should note this.

In mythology, a “demon” is defined as “a god, or a subordinate deity, as the genius of a place or a person’s attendant spirit.” According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, daimon is defined as: “in Grk. auth. a god, a goddess; an inferior deity, whether good or bad.”

Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words has the following under the entry for “Demon, Demoniac:”

“A. Nouns. 1. daimon (1142), ‘a demon,’ signified, among pagan Greeks, an inferior deity, whether good or bad. In the NT it denotes ‘ an evil spirit.’ It is used in Matt. 8:31, mistranslated ‘devils.’
2. daimonion (1140), not a diminutive of daimon, No. 1, but the neuter of the adjective daimonios, pertaining to a demon, is also mistranslated ‘devil,’ ‘devils.’ In Acts 17:18, it denotes an inferior pagan deity.”

As these Bible scholars freely confess, a “demon” can be bad or good. If someone is new to the English language, especially small children, “demon” is a difficult word to define. However, if we just leave “devil” in our King James Bible, it will be quite easy to see that a devil in the Bible is always bad, always evil—notice the letters D-EVIL. To do as the modern translators have done (including NKJV), and change the King James “devils” to “demons” some six-dozen or seven-dozen times, is to water down the Bible. God’s Word is made less clear. So, in effect, when the modern versions say the “King James is so hard to read,” they have to admit the King James is actually much easier than they allege! Their “pet” modern English versions reader harder in the case of “demons” and “devils!”

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Also see:
» How does Satan operate today?
» Can you explain Genesis 6:1-4?
» Can you explain 1 Peter 3:18-21?