Mark 5:9 ESV:

9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.

And was he asking because he didn't know?

  • 1
    You are always pushing peoples buttons WoundedEgo :)
    – Dan S.
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 18:48
  • @DanS. "Only conflict is interesting" -- Anonymous
    – user10231
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:33
  • I suppose Jesus could have just done it all silently....but then the Disciples would never have known what was happening and we would never have this scripture to ask a question about.
    – Joshua
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 2:13
  • @Joshua It's a weird story, isn't it?
    – user10231
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 2:15
  • @WoundedEgo Yes but there are plenty of other cases where Jesus said things or asked questions for the Disciples benefit. I see no reason to think this is different. I can't really make an answer out of that since it relies on the interpretation of the other passages. But that's my view on it.
    – Joshua
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 2:23

7 Answers 7


The context and sense of the question mean that Jesus was asking for a name, rather than a title, although in some sense he was answered with a title. This is the only occasion in Mark's Gospel when Jesus does ask a supplicant for his name, yet we are not told the demoniac's name, only the response of the demons, who say 'Legion' because they are many. There is one other occasion in Mark's Gospel in which the person Jesus is helping is given a name, but once again it is not the supplicant's actual name. On this other occasion (Mark 10:46) we are told the blind beggar is the son of Timaeus (Bartimaeus - Bar being Aramaic for 'son' and Timaeus being a common Greek name).

When Jesus asked the demoniac his name, he did not know there were many demons, because he spoke (Mark 5:8) as if there would have been only one demon, saying, "Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit." We can then assume Jesus also did not know the man's name.

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    You can only assume what you claim to assume in this answer if you have previously assumed that nothing else the Gospel accounts tell us about Jesus knowledge about things that weren't readily observable (e.g. Philip under the fig tree or the Samaritan woman's marital history). If you've started with the presupposition that Jesus was not divine then this argument could make sense, but as far as arguing from this passage you've done nothing but beg the question based on a presumption that other accounts in the same text must be false.
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:28
  • 3
    @Caleb Your comment is a little unclear. I have not answered this Q on any assumption that nothing else the Gospel accounts tell us about Jesus knowledge about things that weren't readily observable. I have merely stated what exegesis of Mark (the gospel in question) tells us - that (i) context and sense mean that Jesus was asking for a name; (ii) he was (we are) not told his name; (iii) Jesus ordered one demon out of the man, but there were many. It is unclear to me just where Philip and the marital status come into this. Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 0:32

For what it's worth, I'll buy Dick's answer because I'm unconvinced that the Bible - anywhere - supports the idea that Jesus - the Son of God the Son of Man - was omniscient. He Himself stated that He came to do the will of the Father (John 12: 49, Hebrews 10:7 - from Ps 40). Paul teaches He is the new Adam. He lived a life of obedience rather than disobedience. This qualified Him to be propitiation for the sins of Adam's children.
If Jesus was 100% Man, well, man's brain cannot physically store infinite knowledge. He emptied Himself ... of His "God attributes" and trusted His life to the Father. So things He seemed to "know" were revealed to Him by the Father. At least that's how I see it.

  • 1
    Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. Your answer hasn't addressed the question that was asked, "In Mark 5:9 does Jesus ask for a name or a title? And why did he ask?". Please edit your answer to do so, or delete it and start again. Your response here is a comment, and should have been appended to the answer you have identified.
    – enegue
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 2:23

In the Book of Genesis God gave Adam (Man) dominion over all creatures and by granting Adam the right to name them, the deal was sealed. It was my understanding from my study of the Bible that knowing a name of a creature imbued the asker control. One cannot control that which has no name, it is a kind of hook.

Jacob wrestled with an angel all night and when he was about to subdue that angel, he asked for the name of the creature and was struck in the hollow of his thigh and released the angel without ever knowing its name, thus never gaining control over the angel.

Naming has a power and knowing the name of something is the beginning of controlling it. This is true for everything that gives us trouble in our lives and if we cannot name that which troubles us, we are powerless to overcome that trouble. Jesus' asking for the name of the thing that was controlling the man was his first response to ridding the man of the demon(s).

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    – enegue
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 13:27

Mark 5:9. is very clear by the fact that Jesus was asking THE MAN not the demons. Let us first establish what the question did.

  1. The question called back the demoniac to his personal or true identity (consciousness). The demons had robed him of his identity to such a big extent that not only did they make him an out cast from the human society but deprived him of the right to his name. so when Jesus demands for the name, it calls back the infirm man to his conscientiousness.

  2. The question disclosed the level of torment the demons had inflicted on the man. The demoniac's response LEGION was a term used to describe a battalion in ancient roman society which comprised of 4000- 6000. soldiers. The word in itself depicts strength, highly organised, readiness to destroy or kill on command from the top commander which is satan in this case.He was a host of about 6000 unclean spirits and under their torment.

  3. The question showed the unlimited and unstoppable grace of God that comes to ALL irrespective of your background or walk of life. The demoniac was a citizen of he region of the decapolis, (The land of the gerasenes). By asking for the name Jesus is showing man that irrespective of who you are, how situations have defined you, your past; you are still his child and your value still stands. In other words no matter what, you can still find your true identity in Christ Jesus.

Worth noting is the fact that Jesus very well knew the man was possessed by such a big number of demons amounting to a legion. so by him commanding in Mark 5:8 "come out of him you EVIL SPIRIT" singular, Jesus was well aware of the state of the demoniac and the response he was to give (LEGION) which is one collective noun, its why he uses singular "spirit".vs 8


Is it possible that Jesus was demonstrating to the apostles and disciples the importance of “knowing who you’re dealing with”? His initial command, “Come out of the man you unclean spirit,” seems to have fallen on deaf ears: We see in v.10 that the man is still speaking about the demons inside him. Once Jesus properly identifies who He’s dealing with the spirits are expelled from the tormented.

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour (hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour) and read up on how this site is a little different than other sites around the web: hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/653/… Ways to strengthen your post might include citing sources or expanding a little on your argument. Thanks! Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 4:28

In Mark 5:9 does Jesus ask for a name or a title? And why did he ask?

Jesus asked for a name, however, the reply from the man was a "Legion". Possibly the chief of these demons caused the man to reply as such, Legion was not the man's actual name, but meaning that there were many demons involved.

Legion: A Roman legion consisted of 6,000 men.

And why did he ask?

For the benefit of his apostles, the demon possed man, and any onlookers, so that they could be aware of what was taking place. Those present (Vs 16) and the herdsmen described to the city people what happened to the demon-possessed man. Since Jesus was not welcomed in the region of Gerasenes and asked to leave, He instructed this man to tell his relatives and others in the region what happened, in order to counteract any adverse rumours that may circulate due to the loss of the swine. Mark states what happened.

Mark 5:14-17 NASB

14 Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the countryside. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And then they *came to Jesus and *saw the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had previously had the “legion”; and they became frightened. 16 Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Him to leave their region.


Jesus taught His disciples on how to cast out demons.

As there are two attempts on casting out the demon: The first attempt at 5:8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” - Not successful. The second attempt at 5:13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; - Successful.

What have Jesus done between 5:8 and 5:13 ?

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 3:38
  • Hi @Siu Hung Chow, welcome to the site! Could you elaborate a little bit upon your answer--I'm not sure it fully answers the question. Answers that show their work and make a strong argument are likely to receive more votes. Thank you for your contribution! Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 4:12

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