The belief that demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim has gained considerable popularity in contemporary thought. to the chagrin of many, this perspective was notably intellectualized and made plausible by Michael Heiser in his work, The Unseen Realm. Heiser posits that the “Sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6 were, in fact, angelic beings who engaged in unions with human women, resulting in the birth of the Nephilim, or giants. Upon their death, these Nephilim’s spirits were doomed to roam the earth, eventually being known as “demons.”
Before I give you the passage that suggests this, let me give you all the options:
1. Fallen Angels:
A prevalent view in mainstream Christian theology is that demons are fallen angels who rebelled against God. This belief is often associated with Satan’s rebellion and is inferred from passages like Revelation 12:7-9 and 2 Peter 2:4. In this view, demons are distinct from humans and Nephilim, being originally created as heavenly beings.
2. Evil Spirits:
In both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, demons are often referred to more generally as evil or unclean spirits. They are typically seen as malevolent entities that can possess or oppress individuals. This view does not necessarily specify their origin as being from the Nephilim but rather focuses on their role and activities. However, this is where people would associate the Nephilim due to the coming passage in Enoch.
3. Pagan Gods:
Some early Christian writers interpreted pagan gods and deities as demons. This view is reflected in Paul’s writings, where he suggests that sacrifices offered to idols are offered to demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). This interpretation sees demons as the spiritual entities behind idolatry and false religions.
4. Symbolic or Allegorical Interpretations: Some theological perspectives view demons more allegorically, representing inner human struggles, sin, or moral evils rather than literal beings. This interpretation is more common in modern liberal theological circles
5. Jewish Views:
In traditional Jewish thought, demons (referred to in Hebrew as “shedim” or “rukhin”) are often considered a separate category of beings, neither angels nor human spirits. The Talmud and Midrash contain various descriptions and stories about demons, but these are not unified in presenting a single origin story for them.
6. Cultural and Folkloric Beliefs:
Across different cultures, there are myriad beliefs about demons and evil spirits, many of which are tied to folklore and do not necessarily align with the Judeo-Christian concept of demons as fallen angels or spirits of the Nephilim.
Book of Enoch on Unclean Spirits
Here is the most relavent passage in the Book of Enoch which’s suggests that demons are the spirits of the dead Nephilim (the product of the sons of God and women spoken of in Gen 6):
1 Enoch 15:8-12:
“And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin; they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. As for the spirits of heaven, in heaven shall be their dwelling, but as for the spirits of the earth which were born upon the earth, on the earth shall be their dwelling. And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless hunger and thirst, and cause offenses. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them.”
Using only the Bible, it’s challenging to understand the true nature of angels or demons. They appear intermittently as spiritual aids or evil perpetrators. Over time, they were categorized as either angels or demons. This led to the perception of them as a singular species. Subsequently, the most fitting label seemed to be a functional title sporadically encountered in the text. Ultimately, they are all now considered angels, distinguished only by being fallen or righteous. I don’t know if that is what they are called by God, but I guess it works for now. Or does it?
What do you think?