I have been reading Matthew lately with commentaries, and I've found two opposite readings of Matthew 8. There is "demon", as in Satan's angels, and there is "wicked spirits", meaning spirits of the dead. I honestly have no idea which one would be truer, but one of the commentators mentioned that the term was somewhat used in other ancient literature for the spirits-of-the-dead option. I saw on your website that you didn't take a stance on that point. Have you reached a conclusion by now? What do you think of those two positions? -- Marc-André Laverdière

Evil spirits are synonymous with demons. After all, the Bible does not support superstitions about ghosts. The interesting question is their origin. Are they fallen angels (a common interpretation historically)? I am not sure how to prove this.

Joey Harris recommends you read Sydney H.T. Page, Powers of Evil: A Biblical Study of Satan and Demons (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), ISBN: 0-8010-7137-2, and Leicester: Apollos, ISBN:0-85111-437-7.

"It seems fairly balanced. It gives multiple perspectives and views. It [analyzes] every scriptural passage specifically about Satan and/or demons in a scholarly, yet [...] generally accessible manner. This is a scholarly book, in that it includes references to biblical languages, footnotes, and a scholarly analysis of biblical texts similar to what one might find in a good commentary. However, the language, tone, and stye should be readily acceptable to any educated and caring reader.

"In a postscript on 'the demonic today,' he cautions against the excesses of many modern authors and believers; against exaggerating the power and importance of demons; against appealing to Satan and evil spirits in order to excuse one's own failings; about the danger of accepting beliefs and practices that are superstitious and sub-Christian; against unrestrained speculation based on little or no biblical evidence. Finally, he warns the reader to watch out for imbalance by focusing on the demonic rather than the moral.

"The last paragraph of the book reads: 'Finally, there is the danger of imbalance. There is a great deal of interest in spiritual warfare today. This is to be welcomed, for it is a significant biblical motif. However, much popular literature leaves the impression that the primary battlefields are in the lives of those who are the victims of Satanism or who are demon-possesed. In contrast to this, the Bible represents every Christian as engaged in spiritual warfare and the struggles as primarily religious and moral. It would be wrong to focus on the sensational and unusual to the neglect of the more mundane but also more common. Demon possession appears to be a rather rare phenomenon, but satanic trials and temptations are the lot of all believers. The call to "put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Ephesians 6:11) is applicable to each of us.'

"All in all, it seems like a scholarly, biblical, well-reasoned and balanced analysis and approach to the issue of Satan and demons, which arrives at reasonable and, more importantly, biblically-based conclusions regarding the existence of Satan and demons and the roles they play in Scripture and in the life of the biblical Christian."