Cases of possession in the New Testament

Cases of possession are numerous in the New Testament and Jesus appears a the great figure of the “Exorcist” among his people. This practice seems to be inherited from the Apocalyptic sects.

 Below are a few of the examples available from the Scriptures records where evil spirits possessed and took up residence within human beings.

 “There was a man in the synagogue who had a spirit, an unclean demon. And he cried out: ‘Ah! What have we to do with you, Jesus, the Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you, you are the Holy One of God.’ And Jesus rebuked him and said: ‘Hold your peace and come out of him.’ And when the demon had thrown him down in front of them, he came out of him without hurting him…” Verse 41: “And demons went out from many, the demons crying out and saying ‘You are the Christ, the Son of God.’ And he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew him to be the Messiah.” Luke 4:33

“But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.”Mark 7:25

 “Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.  And when He stepped out on the land, there met him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss [abusson]. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.“ Luke 8:26

The notion that the name of Jesus in itself has power over demons was disproved by the Biblical incident of the Jewish exorcists who attempted to use the names of Jesus and the apostle Paul as magical words of power to cast out a possessing demon from a man. The demon said through the voice of its human host “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”.

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:11