Mark 5:6 When the man saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees before Him. 7And he shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God not to torture me!” 8 For Jesus had already declared, “Come out of this man, you unclean spirit!”

Which happened first?

  • Jesus declared, “Come out of this man, you unclean spirit!”
  • The man ran and fell on his knees before Him.

Why didn't the man run away when he saw Jesus?

  • 1
    This question asked slightly differently would be, can a demonized person, especially one with a legion of demons inside, still exercise limited free will? It seems that this is the essence of your question, how is it the demons could not override the will of the man to approach Jesus but rather force him to flee and deny the man the ability to approach Jesus? Am I right? Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 21:19
  • 100% right. However, I wanted to avoid the wording "free will" because of its lack of logical precision.
    – user35953
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


The answer to this question hinges on the tense of the verb, ἔλεγεν, which in this case, is slightly tricky as the root word, depending on which grammar is consulted, is either, ἔπω, or, λέγω. [I personally prefer the latter.] In either case, the tense is Imperfect Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular.

Thus we should translate, "he was already saying".

This is the translation of ESV, BLB, NASB, etc. The sense appears to be that the demoniac's actions had interrupted what Jesus was saying. I note that several people reach the same conclusion:


(8) For he said unto him.—The Greek verb is in the imperfect tense, he was saying, as though the demoniac had interrupted our Lord even while the words were in the act of being uttered.

Expositor's Greek

Mark 5:8. ἔλεγεν γὰρ, for He was about to say: not yet said, but evident from Christ’s manner and look that it was on His tongue; the conative imperfect (Weiss).

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 8, 9. - For he said unto him, Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the man; literally, for he was saying (ἔλεγε). The unclean spirit endeavored to arrest, before it was spoken, that word of power which he knew he must obey.

The poor demoniac is thus presented as confused and betweixt the irresistible power and command of Jesus vs the control of demons within. [A very fitting picture of all sinners!]

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