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After Jesus allowed the demons to enter the herd of swine, Mark 5:13, what happened to the demons? The swine all drown, but the demons? The demons cannot be omnipresent according to this account in Mark as they needed permission to leave the man and go into the swine, but then where did they go?

Mark 5:13 - He gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the water.

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Note the three parallel passages about the "destination" of the spirits/demons:

  • Matt 8:29 - “What do You want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have You come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
  • Mark 5:10 - And he begged Jesus repeatedly not to send them out of that region.
  • Luke 8:31 - And the demons kept begging Jesus not to order them to go into the Abyss.

Luke's choice of the word "abyss" is significant - in the NT this word only occurs in Luke 8:31, Rom 10:7 plus seven times in the book of Revelation, viz, 9:1, 2, 11, 11:7, 17:8, 20:1, 3 - in all cases, it represents the origin and destiny of Satan and demons and the dead. It also appears to be the final destiny of all evil in the lake of fire where demons are tormented, Matt 8:29, Rev 20:10.

Despite all this, none of the versions in Matt 8, Mark 5 and Luke 8 tell us what happened to the demons after the pigs were drowned. Since it is not recorded, we do not know.

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Where the demons that were expelled from the man went is unknown to us.

However, there may be some clues. Based on the accounts in Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26, some interpret that the demons, as spirit beings, would have been expelled when the swine drowned. Following their release, these entities would likely have sought new hosts to inhabit.

  • Matthew 12:43-45 NKJV 43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

However, it is inferred that they would not have returned to the man from whom they were originally cast out, due to the authority exerted by Jesus. This interpretation is aligned with a similar instance of demon possession described in Mark 9:14-29, where the authority of Jesus plays a crucial role in preventing the return of the demon to its previous host.

It’s also important to understand that this miracle of exorcism took place in the predominately non-Jewish region of the Gadarenes, which explains the presence of swine herders and a large population of pigs. Jews regarded pigs as filthy, unclean animals worthy of nothing more than contempt. Thus when demons begged to be banished into a herd of pigs, to Jewish ears, that would have seemed a fitting punishment—a vile, disgusting habitat appropriate for evil spirits.

We’re not told what the final fate of those demons was, only that the pigs they inhabited stampeded and died. Jewish tradition held that demons could be either bound or killed, and so some speculate that when the pigs they inhabited died, the demons themselves were also destroyed. Jewish folklore also held that demons were somehow tortured by, and thus afraid of, water. In one legend, King Solomon condemns a demon to captivity by surrounding it with barrels of water, therefore preventing it from escaping. Thus, when demon-possessed pigs died by drowning in the Sea of Galilee, Jews in Jesus’ time could have viewed that as a way of imprisoning the demons by immersing them in water. [1]

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