Luke 10:

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Did Jesus imply that demons are fallen spirits sided with Satan?

  • You can’t extract all that from this passage alone, I mean where do you get ‘fallen’ spirits from? Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 13:51
  • Sorry, I do not know. That's why I ask.
    – user35953
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 13:55
  • You got it from somewhere and it’s not this text Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 15:52
  • 1
    probably from sermons :)
    – user35953
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 16:00
  • 1
    The short answer is that these passages reflect an underlying belief that is based on OTHER passages.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


The notion of evil spirits as fallen angels predates the gospels and was a widely held belief by those Jesus was addressing. This is confirmed in texts found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, in widely popular books (Enoch), and other literature of this period. Thus Jesus is not making any new claims or revelations about how the evil spirits came to be, he is making claims that believers have power over the evil spirits. It is not appropriate to read into this passage claims about how the beings came to be, but it is appropriate to understand the beliefs of the listeners and put the words of Christ into the appropriate context.

Cultural background

From the Early Jewish Literature Anthology introduction to the Book of the Watchers:

By the onset of the Common Era, a widespread worldview within Second Temple Judaism accepted the intervention of autonomous or semiautonomous evil or unclean spirits (demons) in the everyday affairs of both Judeans and Gentiles. Although there are accounts of evil spirits recorded earlier in the Jewish literary corpus (Num. 22:31–32; 1 Chron. 21:1; Job 1:6–7), the Book of Watchers represents the emergence of a group of evil spirits who operate under the authority of the figure Mastema (see Jub. 10:8–9, 11), who, in turn operates only under the permissive authority and sovereignty of YHWH (see The Book of Jubilees). The Book of Watchers serves as one of the oldest examples of the rewritten Scripture genre (see Introduction to Biblical Interpretation and Rewritten Scripture) and is found in two of the major corpora from Second Temple period Jewish literature. Its fullest extant version is found in the Old Testament pseudepigrapha (see Overview of Early Jewish Literature); further, Aramaic fragments of the work have been discovered amid the material found at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls (see Overview of Early Jewish Literature).

Wright, A. T. (2018). Introduction to the Book of Watchers. In B. Embry, R. Herms, & A. T. Wright (Eds.), Early Jewish Literature: An Anthology (Vol. 2, pp. 189–190). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

As to this "Mastema", it is one of the several names for Satan:

Mastema: Personification of the Hebrew word mastemah (hostility); according to the book of Jubilees, he is the chief of the evil spirits and the tester of humans (with God’s permission). The term “Mastema” originates from the Hebrew root satam, which is a derivative of satan. The origins of this personification are found in the Hebrew Bible. The LXX uses the term diabolos to translate the Hebrew hasatan (“the adversary”) as a proper name in the following passages: Job 1:6, 7(2), 8, 9, 12(2); 2:1, 2(2), 3, 4, 6, 7; Zechariah 3:1, 2(2); and 1 Chronicles 21:1. In these instances, it could be implied that hasatan is a member of the bene elohim (sons of God; angelic beings in the heavenly court); however, it could be understood that he has been singled out, thus leaving room to recognize him as some other type of being. The Hebrew satan is transliterated three times (1 Kings 11:14, 23, 25) and is translated as epiboulos (adversary) in 1 Kings 5:18. In these four instances, satan is portrayed as a human adversary. Mastema appears in Hosea 9:7–8 as a noun that is translated “hostility.” It has likely evolved from the concept of hostility or adversarial conduct to the personification of this concept in postbiblical Judaism in the figure of Satan, Mastema (Jubilees), Belial (Dead Sea Scrolls), and other designations in the New Testament. In Jubilees 10:8, he is seen as the “chief of the spirits” and is identified as satan in 10:11. 11QPsa 19.15 appears to be identifying satan as the Mastema figure of Jubilees 10 along with the evil spirits of the giants: “Let not satan rule over me, nor an evil spirit.” 1QSb 1.8 identifies the enemy of holiness as satan in a general manner. It seems likely that the origin of Mastema as the leader of the demonic realm began in Jubilees and the Qumran literature.

Embry, B., Herms, R., & Wright, A. T. (Eds.). (2018). Early Jewish Literature: An Anthology (Vol. 1, pp. 717–718). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

As to the idea of "fallen" angels, the Book of the Watchers describes how angels fell but there is not an explicit mention of them being "seduced" by Satan in some way, so much as they all fell together and Satan was the chief. The specific mechanisms of who is responsible for the fall are ambiguous, but the idea of a fall is certainly there, and this idea was widespread and pre-dates Hellenism, although it flourished in the Hellenistic period.

From, A History of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period:

Although none of the extant Enochic writings is likely to be pre-Alexander, the traditions in them show a complex development that almost certainly had its roots well in the Persian period. Enoch himself is probably a reflex of the ancient Mesopotamian legendary figure king Enmeduranki (VanderKam 1984: 33–51; Kvanvig 1988: 184–90). The myth of the fallen angels in 1 Enoch 6–8 seems to be made up of two complexes (Nickelsburg 2001), each centred around a chief fallen angel (Shemihazah and Asael). This suggests a development over a considerable period of time between the original fallen angels story (whatever form it took) and the version found in 1 Enoch 6–8 which most probably reached its present form in the Ptolemaic period. One of the main indications of the fallen angels tradition’s antiquity, though, is what seems to be a reference to it in Gen. 6:1–4. Although some have taken the view that the whole scenario developed as an interpretation of the Genesis text (e.g. Nickelsburg 2001), more likely is the interpretation that Genesis gives a highly condensed summary of or reference to a much larger Enoch tradition (Milik 1976: 30–32; Kvanvig 1988: 275–300, 319–28; 2002). The reason for believing this is that the Enoch story in Gen. 5:21–24 and the passage in 6:1–4 are extremely compressed and enigmatic. It is hard to believe that these are meant to be full and clear statements on the subject; rather, they presuppose a much larger tradition that was likely to be known by many readers. This larger Enoch tradition was taken up and developed by both 1 Enoch and the Book of Giants; that is, the writer of Genesis did not know 1 Enoch and the Book of Giants (which were probably composed later than Genesis) but he had a version of the tradition that was also available to the later authors of 1 Enoch and the Book of Giants.

Grabbe, L. L. (2004–). A History of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period (Vol. 47, pp. 344–345). London: T & T Clark International.

Thus when Jesus was speaking to the crowd, it is likely that they all had a common set of beliefs about evil spirits being fallen angels. But Jesus was not expounding on this in the cited passage, rather he was expounding on the power of his followers to overcome the spirits.


Did Jesus imply that demons are fallen spirits sided with Satan?

Short Answer: Definitely. Whether they have a choice is another matter.

The Gospel of Luke (10:17-20) is hardly the only place where we learn this. There is one passage that unequivocally describes the activities of all dark forces working against us:

Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (emphasis added).

We might understand that God is a Being with absolute power. Nothing can occur without His permission. Therefore, the "forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" in the Letter to the Ephesians above must be referring to spiritual places — not "heavenly ones" per se.

Whether these beings "side" with Satan is pretty clear; they are almost certainly his ministers, just as celestial majesties (real angels) are God's ministers (Heb. 1:14). These figures are not only characterized as demons, but also unclean spirits, the Devil's angels, and so forth. From the Gospel of Matthew we read:

Matthew 25:41: "“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels" (emphasis added).

The word "angel" here must surely mean "messenger" — and that would be "messengers of the Devil." As well, if this "eternal fire" had been prepared for anyone else, it seems we might have been told about it. Yet, we only read "the devil and his angels". Very curious indeed.

Suppose we consider what a messenger of the Devil, or messenger of Satan may actually be. Are not those who teach "doctrines of demons" messengers of Satan?:

1 Timothy 4:1: "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (emphasis added).

Just who is "the Spirit" referring to here? Are these not human beings that "fall away from the faith", "pay attention to deceitful spirits", and espouse "doctrines of demons"? What about those who try to lead us astray; are they not manipulated by "deceitful spirits" as instruments of Satan? If not, just who are they?

Curiously, the "accursed ones" to be cast into the eternal fire are never referred to as human beings. However, is this not the final destination of all lost spirits, including human ones?

Here, we should remember that we, as human beings, have a dual nature: one physical, and one spiritual (2 Cor. 4:16). Obviously, our physical body will return to the dust of the ground (Gen. 3:19). Just who are we outside our bodies of flesh and bone? And, if we are lost, how is our spirit not unclean to God?

We have a bit more information on demons that may be relevant. In Luke's Gospel we read:

Luke 8:29a, 30-31: "For [Jesus] had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. 30And Jesus asked [the demon possessed man in the tombs], 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Legion'; for many demons [unclean spirits] had entered him. 31They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss" (emphasis added).

Note the word "abyss" in verse 31. This is important because it appears we are cautioned against speculating over who may be saved, and who may be lost:

Romans 10:6b-7: "“DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART... ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’" (cf. Deu. 30:12).

This is clearly referring to lost human beings that face the very real prospect of imprisonment in Hades, a prelude to the "eternal fire" (Matt. 25:41). The more we contemplate the identity of unclean spirits, the more it seems apparent that they are "unclean" because they were never washed in the blood of he Lamb; they refused to accept God on His terms.

Instead, they rejected His offer and now (1 Pet. 3:19) exist as nothing more than the spirits of the lost. Imagine a vicious, dead giant from the days of Noah, a blood thirsty killer that would never hesitate to destroy us. What might he do if given one unique opportunity? Is he not working directly in alliance with Satan?

Luke 11:24: "When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places [the rich man in Hades pleaded for water] seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, 'I will return to my house [human body] from which I came [possessed].'"

Often, we feel that angels are like human beings, but they are not. God's celestial majesties have no sexual component (Matt. 22:30, Mk. 12:25) and cannot die (Lk. 20:36) while demons always yearn to be clothed with a human body. Is it not at least plausible that a demon would feel most comfortable in human flesh because it was once similarly clothed?

Irrespective of their identity, yes, it seems certain that these malevolent beings are ministers of Satan.

  • Interesting, until 2 Cor. 4:16 which says nothing about a dual nature. Perhaps this needs to be clarified. People are not ‘unclean spirits’ as you seem to propose later on.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 22:47

As alluded to in the comments, there is much to your question, and, even the question was drawing inferences from other understandings. So I’ll provide an overview to consider, but, even this overview takes a perspective that may not sit comfortably with some traditional views. Nevertheless... for consideration.

Lets look to your Q, “Did Jesus imply that demons are fallen spirits sided with Satan?” .... in parts..

First, are the ‘demons’ were sided with Satan? Numerous biblical accounts reflect this, for example, In Revelation, we see millions of locusts coming out of the bottomless pit. Now these ‘locusts’ represent demonic entities - something we can learn via correctly dividing the Old Testament. We go on to read the following ...

REV 9:11 And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

These locusts (demons) had a ‘leader’. An angel. Is this angel Satan? Arguably not. Satan was not an angel. He was a Cherub. There are many different Heavenly entities. But there is also hierarchy.

But, we know that ‘biblical hierarchy’ is ‘seen’ in Hebrew under the concept of ‘head and tail’. And Satan is clearly the ‘head’. And his ‘tail’ (those ‘under’ him, under his authority) were ‘swept’ to earth. (Rev 12:4). So the [fallen] angels are ‘under’ him , that is, ‘side’ with him.

And in this passage [REV 9] we see these demonic entities siding with, or rather ‘being’ evil - on the side of evil, therefore with Satan.

So yes, demons side with Satan, they are part of the Kingdom of darkness.

But to the second part of your Q, was Jesus alluding to this in that passage in Luke? This would have to be somewhat read into the passage, but something that could be justifiable done. We know Jesus knew they were, so therefore we could accept that this was implied by default.

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