A photo of a person kneeling, fervently praying, with rays of light shining through a window, symbolizing the biblical act of casting out demons through faith and spiritual warfare.

What Does The Bible Say About Casting Out Demons?

Demons and demonic possession are concepts that can invoke fear and fascination. If you’ve ever wondered what the Bible says about casting out demons, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible affirms the existence of demons and demonic possession, and records Jesus and the apostles casting out demons in the name and authority of Jesus Christ.

Christians are exhorted to resist the devil, and some are given the gift of performing exorcisms.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine Bible passages about demons, demonic possession, and the casting out of demons. We’ll look at what Jesus and the apostles taught and did related to spiritual warfare.

We’ll also consider practical application – what should Christians today think about demons and how to respond to demonic influence?

Demons in the Bible

The Bible references evil spirits known as demons numerous times, especially in the New Testament. Demons are portrayed as powerful supernatural beings that can inhabit and control people’s bodies and minds.

Demons in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, demons are not mentioned by that specific name, but there are references to evil spirits sent from God to torment individuals, including Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-16) and the Egyptian pharaoh (Exodus 7:11-12).

These spirits exhibited some similar tendencies to New Testament demons like causing physical/mental illness.

Demons in the New Testament

Demons are mentioned frequently in the New Testament, especially in the gospels which document Jesus performing exorcisms and casting out the demons from people who were possessed. Some examples include:

  • Jesus healing a possessed man in a Capernaum synagogue (Mark 1:23)
  • Jesus sending a legion of demons out of a Gerasene man into a herd of pigs (Luke 8:26-33)
  • Jesus giving his apostles authority over unclean spirits (Matthew 10:1)

Attributes of Demons

According to scripture, demons possess features such as:

  • Supernatural strength (Mark 5:3-4)
  • Inherent evil & deception (Mark 1:24, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
  • Ability to possess humans and animals (Matthew 8:28-34)
  • Some command hierarchies (Matthew 12:24, Ephesians 6:12)

They used these abilities to cause physical/mental illness and oppression. Many were also known to vocally oppose Jesus’ authority and divine nature.

Activities of Demons

The activities and capabilities exhibited by demons included:

  • Causing physical conditions like inability to speak, blindness, and seizures (Matthew 9:32-33, 12:22, 17:14-18)
  • Inflicting mental trauma like violence and suicidal tendencies (Mark 5:5, 9:22)
  • Fortune telling and recognition of Jesus’ true nature (Acts 16:16-17)
  • Leading people into heresy and false religion (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

Jesus and his disciples demonstrated authority over demonic spirits in healing, exorcism, and spiritual warfare against false teachings. According to a 2013 Pew Research poll, over 50% of Christians believe demons can possess people today.

Demonic Possession in the Bible

Examples of Demonic Possession

The Bible contains several examples of demonic possession. One of the most well-known is found in Mark 5, where Jesus encounters a man possessed by a legion of demons. This man lived among the tombs, was unable to be restrained even by chains, and cried out day and night.

After Jesus cast out the demons, the man was found clothed and in his right mind (Mark 5:1-20). Another example is in Matthew 17, where a boy is possessed by a demon that caused him to have seizures and be mute. Jesus rebuked the demon and healed the boy (Matthew 17:14-18).

In Acts 16, Paul commands a spirit of divination to come out of a slave girl in the name of Jesus Christ. Other examples are found in accounts of Jesus and the disciples healing people oppressed by unclean spirits.

Symptoms of Demonic Possession

While the symptoms can vary, some common signs of demonic possession recorded in the Bible include:

  • Physical afflictions or pain
  • Self-destructive behavior or self-harm
  • supernatural strength or abilities
  • Rebellion against God and blasphemy
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Lack of control over speech or actions
  • Having no reaction to spiritual elements like prayer, Scripture, or holy symbols

However, some experts caution that many of these symptoms could also result from mental illness. A key distinction seems to be whether the person responds to medical treatment. Demonic possession involves spirits that can only be expelled through spiritual means like prayer, fasting, and commands given in Jesus’ name.

Modern instances of potential demonic influence are still reported today, especially in regions where occult practices are common. But some Christian leaders argue that while genuine demonic possession was evident in the New Testament, it is less common today, especially in Western cultures.

The focus instead is on fighting spiritual forces of evil through faith in Christ.

Jesus and Casting Out Demons

Jesus’ Authority Over Demons

The Bible shows that Jesus had absolute authority over demons and evil spirits. Throughout His ministry, Jesus frequently cast out demons from people with just a command or the touch of His hand (Matthew 8:16). The demons instantly obeyed and left their victims.

The Bible says the crowds “were amazed at his authority over evil spirits” (Mark 1:27).

Jesus made it clear that his power over demons came from God and the working of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28). The demons recognized Jesus’ authority too, as they would cry out in fear when encountering Him (Mark 1:24).

Jesus told His disciples that He had given them “authority to drive out evil spirits” in His name (Mark 3:15).

How Jesus Cast Out Demons

There are several accounts in the gospels where Jesus drives demons out of afflicted people. Often He simply commands them to come out with His words (Luke 4:35). Other times, He lays hands on the person or makes physical contact, like touching their tongues or spitting and placing mud on their eyes along with a command (Mark 8:22-25).

Casting out demons required discernment from Jesus to distinguish demonic affliction from physical maladies. But when Jesus encountered someone afflicted, He would command the spirits to identify themselves, and cast them out, often by name.

Jesus dealt with many extreme cases of demonic possession, like the man who lived among the tombs and could not be restrained (Mark 5:1-20). The man fell at Jesus’ feet begging not to be tormented. Jesus asked the name of the demon, and was told “Legion, for we are many.”

He commanded the spirits to leave the man, allowing them to enter a herd of pigs instead, which then rushed into the sea to drown.

Jesus Gives Authority to Disciples

Jesus called His twelve disciples and gave them special power and authority to drive out demons in His name (Luke 9:1). The Bible says Jesus sent them out to “. . . heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Matthew 10:1).

He told them “Freely you have received; freely give.” (10:8).

Though Scripture does not give specifics beyond this, Jesus clearly imparted to them the ability to command unclean spirits in the same manner as He did. Like Jesus, they had to have steadfast faith in relying on God’s power and authority to be successful over forces of spiritual darkness.

Apostles and Casting Out Demons

Peter and John

The apostles Peter and John were given authority by Jesus to cast out demons and heal the sick (Matthew 10:1). In the book of Acts, Peter healed a crippled beggar (Acts 3:1-10) and judged Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit, resulting in their deaths (Acts 5:1-11).

These miracles demonstrated the power and authority given to the apostles by Christ.

Peter rebuked Simon the sorcerer, who had amazed the people of Samaria with his magic arts, for trying to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-24). This showed that the apostles’ spiritual authority was far greater than that of sorcerers and magicians.


The apostle Paul cast out a spirit of divination from a slave girl in Philippi (Acts 16:16-18). He healed many sick and demon-possessed people in Ephesus through handkerchiefs and aprons that touched him (Acts 19:11-12).

Paul described spiritual gifts like prophecy, speaking in tongues, and miraculous powers as coming from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12-14). He taught that these gifts should be used for building up the church.

Others in the Early Church

The Seventy disciples appointed by Jesus also had authority to cast out demons (Luke 10:1,17-20). Philip, one of the seven chosen to serve the apostles, performed signs and exorcised evil spirits in Samaria (Acts 8:5-7).

The disciples prayed for boldness to continue performing miracles and signs in the name of Jesus, despite persecution from Jewish authorities (Acts 4:23-31).

Later Christian writers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Origen wrote about exorcisms performed in the name of Jesus throughout the early church. They saw this as evidence of the spiritual authority Jesus gave to His followers.

Application for Christians Today on Casting Out Demons

Resisting the Devil

Christians should be alert and resist the devil, as the Bible instructs us (1 Peter 5:8-9). We can resist demonic temptation by putting on the full armor of God through prayer, reading Scripture, and walking in obedience to Christ (Ephesians 6:10-18).

When we submit to God and align our lives with His truth, the devil will flee from us (James 4:7).

Authority of Jesus’ Name

Jesus gave His followers authority to drive out demons in His name (Mark 16:17). As believers, we have Christ’s authority to command demons to leave in situations of demonic manifestation or oppression.

However, directly engaging the demonic realm is unwise apart from prayer, godly counsel, and confirmation of the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Gifts of Exorcism and Discernment

Some Christians have spiritual gifts of exorcism and discerning spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). These gifts involve power to cast out demons and wisdom to identify their presence and strategies. Christians with these gifts can provide deliverance ministry to those tormented by spiritual forces.

They should exercise their gifts with humility, accountability, and sensitivity to God’s timing and leading.

When to Seek Professional Help

Cases involving extreme supernatural manifestation or mental illness may require the help of professional exorcists, counselors, or medical doctors. Christians should avoid presuming every difficult case is demonic oppression.

Wise believers will work with spiritual leaders and mental health professionals when psychological factors or safety concerns are present.


As we have seen, the Bible clearly affirms the reality of demons and demonic possession, though their origins remain mysterious. Numerous examples demonstrate Jesus’ complete authority over demons, which he also imparted to his disciples. The early church continued to cast out demons in Jesus’ name.

Even today, Christians are exhorted to resist the devil, counter demonic influence with Scripture, and rely on spiritual gifts like discernment and miracles. While demons remain active, Jesus has definitively triumphed over Satan through his death and resurrection.

Jesus’ victory assures believers that they too share in his authority to push back the forces of spiritual darkness.

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