“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgement of the great day” (Jude v.6)
We recently studied Jude on Sunday morning, and then during our midweek group, the question came up about Jude verse 6, “What is the difference between fallen angels and demons?”
Quickly putting it in context, Jude, the author of the epistle, is writing to encourage his readers to contend for the faith against false teachers who have infiltrated the church. In verses 3-4, he urges them to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” and then goes on to describe the false teachers in detail, warning his readers that they are ungodly people who pervert the grace of God and deny Jesus Christ (verses 4-19).
Jude then goes on to give an example from the Old Testament of those who did not believe and were punished by God, mentioning the Israelites who were powerfully delivered from Egypt but later rebelled against God and were destroyed in the wilderness. It’s a gripping narrative. Jude sounds the trumpet by giving another example of punishment for disobedience by drawing the readers’ attention to the angels who rebelled against God and abandoned their proper dwelling. Some commentators suggest they left their heavenly abode and engaged in illicit relations with human women, as described in Genesis 6:1-4 and 2 Peter 2:4 – but we’re jumping the gun.
Jude states that these angels were kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains, awaiting judgement on the great Day. It’s a big warning from Jude to the false teachers in the church and any who might follow them, that just as God punished the Israelites and the fallen angels for their disobedience, so will He punish those who pervert the faith and deny the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s a big wakeup call! So what is it about, what conclusions can we draw?
Let’s start with the controversial Michael S. Heiser, a scholar of ancient Hebrew and Semitic languages who went to be with his Lord in February this year. Professor Heiser did years of research into the subject and taught that demons are not the same as fallen angels. In his book “The Unseen Realm,” he explained that demons are disembodied spirits or the souls of deceased Nephilim (the offspring of fallen angels and human women). In contrast, fallen angels are angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven.
He argues that demons and fallen angels have different origins and roles in the supernatural realm. Fallen angels have a more significant role in the spiritual rebellion against God and the corruption of humanity, while demons are more associated with the oppression of individuals and spiritual warfare. It’s not the traditional view and is based on his understanding of the Hebrew Bible and ancient Jewish and Christian texts.
Much of what Michael has written is still the subject of excited debate and discussion and personally I think he raises some very interesting ideas that I would like to see Andrew Wilson and other theologians tackle.
On safer ground, Wayne Grudem notes that the Bible describes angels as spiritual beings who were created by God to serve him and carry out his purposes in the world. However, some angels rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven, becoming known as fallen angels or demons. Grudem notes that demons are often associated with spiritual oppression, affliction, and possession of individuals, while fallen angels are more often associated with the broader rebellion against God and the corruption of the world.
Going back a few years, to the go-to systematic theology by Berkhof at my Bible College, Berkhof argues that demons are “wicked spirits” who are the result of the fall of angels. He explains that when angels rebelled against God, they were cast out of heaven and became demons, noting that the Bible does not provide much detail about the origins of demons, but he suggests that they may have been the angels who sinned before the fall of humanity.
The slightly overrated Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaking on Jude emphasizes the importance of recognizing the reality of spiritual warfare and taking steps to resist the work of demons in our lives. He suggests that believers can resist demons through prayer, the study of Scripture, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and most of the commentators have much the same to say, which tells us that the Bible is intentionally being quiet!
We need to exercise caution, ensuring that we do not allow experience to create a theology for us but there are a few interesting parts of the verse:
- The Greek word for demon is “δαιμόνιον” (daimónion), which is derived from “δαίμων” (daimōn), a term used in ancient Greek mythology to refer to a spirit or divine power. In the New Testament, the word “daimónion” is used to refer to evil spirits or demons that are believed to be the cause of illness, mental affliction, and other forms of spiritual oppression.
- The term “daimónion” is often translated into English as “demon” or “evil spirit.” However, it is worth noting that the concept of “daimónion” in the New Testament is somewhat different from the modern notion of “demon” as a malevolent supernatural being with horns and a tail.
- In the New Testament, the Bible uses the term “demon” to refer to evil spirits or supernatural beings that are opposed to God and seek to harm humanity. While the Bible does not use the term “fallen angel” explicitly to refer to these beings, it is generally understood that demons are fallen angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven.
Where did the term come from?
The origins of the term “demon” can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology, where the term “daimon” was used to refer to a divine or semi-divine spirit or force that had a significant impact on human life. Over time, the term came to be associated with evil or malevolent spirits that could cause harm to individuals or communities. Overall, the text of Jude 1:6 emphasizes the idea that the angels mentioned in this verse were created with a specific rank and authority within God’s order, but they chose to rebel against Him and abandon their rightful place of residence, resulting in their being kept in eternal chains until the judgment of the great day.
I think it is safe to say that the fallen angels are what is being referred to as “demons”, and clearly demarcates them from the holy angels. Angels are more curious about us and it is good to leave it that way. The warning is a clear one, a third of the angels left the place of worship and service to God and recklessly turned their back to God and a terrible day of judgment awaits them, whatever they are called.
We also face that great day, but for us things are so much different: as the great hymn, “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven” written by Henry Francis Lyte in 1834 so emphatically declares, “The vilest offender, who truly believes – that moment from Jesus a pardon receives!” Our judgment day is based on all that Jesus has done for us. The fallen angels face a terrible day.