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Bible Q

Where did the Legion of demons go after the pigs died in the water?

The first step to answer this question is to try and establish what demon possession actually entailed.

The short answer is that people of Jesus’ day understood demons to be the cause of otherwise unexplainable ailments (a belief they had inherited from other cultures).  For a more detailed analysis, please see the answer to this question: Why do OT and NT teachings on demons appear to differ?

With the benefit of our modern understanding we can see that these are simply different illnesses (physical or mental) the cause of which have now been worked out scientifically.  In the case of Legion it seems that he suffered from some kind of schizophrenia.

And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
Mark 5:9

Jesus healed the man of his mental illness and then changed the behaviour of the pigs.  This was obviously not a literal transference because mental illness doesn’t work like that.  It isn’t like an infection that can be passed on, but importantly to the onlookers it would have appeared like it had been.  The ‘demons’ would therefore have been drowned along with the pigs. It appears that Jesus did this to convince everyone, especially the man who was healed, that the demons had really gone.

The interesting outcomes for us surround the spiritual lessons Jesus was demonstrating to us:

  • Jesus is Lord, even over the most complex of human conditions, and God has given him the power to heal
  • Jesus’ healing is final.  The sight of the pigs disappearing under the water told Legion that he had been cured for good
  • Jesus’ healing should bring about a response

And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
Mark 5:20

29 Replies to “Where did the Legion of demons go after the pigs died in the water?”

  1. I was not focusing on the man, are those demons present anywhere and attacking people in the same way today? If they tasted death these must be the most vicious demons around. This man had a mental illness but was severely oppressed and filled by many foul spirits . Did they not just kill the earthly pigs then be dispersed even quicker to attack someone else or just reside in the body of another? Human or Animal?

  2. Hi Steven, what I was getting at is that the demons here aren’t actually real. People at the time thought that there were real supernatural beings that caused these illnesses. Jesus doesn’t confirm or deny their existence but simply shows that he has power over them – which was more important at that stage than shattering their way of understanding the world.

  3. It’s certainly an odd request from the sick man, and an odd miracle. However a discovery in the Dead Sea Scrolls might shed some light on his thinking. In the Dead Sea Scrolls ‘Book of the Giants’ it was the drowning of the giants (fictional) in the flood which released their souls as demons. So it’s possible that the sick man’s request was a kind of reversal of this. Or that the sick man thought the opposite – that the demons would be trapped in the pigs. But Christ completely destroys both pigs and so-called “demons” in one act.

  4. The Bible spells out that demons are fallen angels, of which Lucifer/Satan is one of many. Your view that demons are not real and that people cannot become possessed is dangerous to Christianity. I do believe that we are all in what amounts to a spiritual battleground. Angels are real and demons are real. Do you believe that there was no angel of death as mentioned in Exodus? Can that be explained by disease and therefore refuted? The Bible warns against altering its contents if I am not mistaken.

    According to the late Father Malachi Martin, the demons went back to hell after leaving the swine, as do all demons that are forced to leave bodies of those that have become possessed.

    • See on Lucifer.

      Try to find a single Bible reference that links demons with fallen angels. I can’t.

      Exodus does not actually mention an “angel of death” although I think there probably was an angel at work in the death of the firstborn (called “the destroyer” in Exo 12:23). But what does that have to do with demons?

      I’ve no idea who Father Malachi Martin was and I don’t think he was correct.

  5. Larry, would you like to explain the reasons for believing that Lucifer is a fallen angel? The only place in scripture that mentions Lucifer by name is Isaiah 14 which is clearly speaking the king of Babylon, and then only in some versions such as the King James Version. Is there any reason why this reference to the king of Babylon somehow shows that Lucifer is a fallen angel? Do you think that it is “altering the contents” to claim that Lucifer is a fallen angel if the Bible does not say that?

  6. Hi Larry, thanks for your comment. I think the post linked in the article “Why do OT and NT teachings…” answers most of the queries you raise. But just to clarify – I’m not altering the Bible’s contents, only interpreting it against other Bible passages and the cultural background of the passage itself. I think that is good practice.

  7. God created all the angels sometime before the end of the 6th day of creation and all the angels were “good”, none had fallen because God said that everything He had made was very good (Gen. 1:31). Of the entire created heavenly host, Lucifer was the greatest. Ezekiel 28:12-17 uses the King of Tyre to describe Lucifer as full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, in Eden, the anointed Cherub that covers, perfect from the day he was created till iniquity was found in him. He was supervisor over all the angels and when he revolted against God’s plan; his name was changed into Satan. One-third of all the angels joined with him in the revolt.

    In Isaiah 14: 13-14, Lucifer’s sin is detailed: I will ascend into heaven–, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God–, I will sit upon the mount of the congregation–, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds–, I will be like the most high. The first sin in all of God’s creation was the sin of pride and Lucifer was ousted from his holy office sometime after the week of creation, but before the appearance of Satan in the Garden of Eden.

    We now call Satan “The Devil”. There is only one devil. The word “devils” as used in the New Testament, should be the word “demons”. Demons are spirits seeking to be embodied in human beings. They are wicked, unclean, vicious, and have power to derange both mind and body (Matt. 12:22; 15:22; Luke 4:35; 8:26-36; and 9:42). They are the “familiar spirits” & “wizards” of the Old Testament and the “seducing spirits” of the New Testament (1 Tim. 4:1). The angels that followed Satan became fallen angels. There are two kinds of fallen angels. Some fallen angels are bound in chains as described in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. Demons are at liberty, fallen angels are chained in the abyss. Demons are the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and the spiritual wickedness in high places spoken of in Ephesians 6:12. Demons are fallen angels, but they are not the ones that are chained. Demons are active today. They help the devil control governments, they sometimes possess the bodies of individuals, they can cause physical maladies, and they cause people to lust, murder and lie. They are the force behind idolatry, fortunetellers, illegal drugs, magic potions, conversing with the dead and divination through the occult. Demons recognize Christ because they were once His angels, and they are terrified of Christ because they know the judgment that He will have for them. A Christian person cannot be possessed by demons because Christians have the Holy Spirit and He is greater and more powerful than any number of demons.

    God has prepared a place for the devil and his angels. At the end of this age, Christ will return with His bride. The devil and his angels will be bound for a thousand years. After the thousand years, they will be released for a brief time and they will gather up an army to fight against the saints. Jesus will destroy them with his breath and they will be cast into the Lake of Fire where the Beast and False Prophet have been for the past thousand years. At the Great White Throne Judgment, anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will also be cast into the Lake of Fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. God does not intend for anyone, except the devil and his angels, to go there, but whosever’s name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will end up there.

  8. When I was still young as a Christian and was still studying my Psychology major, I also thought about this question. I even wanted to write a screen play regarding this question almost 8 years ago. But through the years, God made me realize that it was not an important question. There is something far greater than the story that we should all learn, including myself.
    I think what is important message on the above passage is to be like the man who was cured. We all need to have the same attitude of the cured man: “And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.” Let us not stay with being “everyone marveled.” It would be better if we don’t debate on what the scripture says for God himself can’t contradict his own words. He always delivers his promise.
    I understand that others would like to know the nature of the devil and its origins. However, I believe, that it is better to understand and get to know more Christ rather than putting priority on devil’s nature. It is through Christ that we need to establish a good and personal relationship so it is just rightful to know more Christ than what evil is. Knowing evil will not make us see our Father but only through knowing and following Christ.
    Let’s start sharing how we found God (or how has God found us) and how he turned our life better through Christ. Let us all continue to make a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Let’s make our eyes perceive than only to see. God bless us all.

  9. This is a difficult topic. Mainstream christianity purports a satan and fallen angels. I believe genesis 6:4 has something to do with this.
    Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
    This scripture clearly says there were giants in the earth IN those days. So there were already giants, clearly these giants were not a product of angel/human copulation.
    The sons of God being angels is further debunked by John 1:12, Romans 8:14, Philippians 2:15, 1 john 3;1, 2 where the connotation is purely humanbeings and also pauls statement:
    Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he AT ANY TIME, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
    Clearly no angel has ever been called a son.
    and upon
    Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
    IF the book of giants is to be believed and i believe it is not, like the book of enoch, a psuedopigrapha book which has many contradicting verses against bible scripture. The nephlim were drowned and their spirits became the subject of jude 1:6. This cannot be because bible does not teach that spirits hang around and are in between worlds. The grave is as far as any spirit goes and that (because God is everywhere) is back to God.
    Food for thought

  10. From what I can tell, and I am not a professor so don’t quote me or anything, was that legion was seperate demons that entered the body of one man to hide from satan (Legion was afraid of Jesus as Jesus would send them back to hell) So, Jesus insteads placed their souls in the herd of pigs, who killed themselves trying to get rid of them, they all drowned trying of course. The most reasonable thing to believe is that when our bodies die, we are sent to the afterlife, so it can be believed that when the pigs died, the demons were cast back into hell.

    • Out of curiosity, I want to ask you a question that really bugs me. Here goes: when God created Adam and Eve, and put them in the Garden of Eden, didn’t he intend them to live forever here on earth. And it was only after they both sinned, that they were told they’d die. Well, if He intended them to live forever, why would they need an immortal soul that went to the afterlife? And when did Adam and Eve receive these immortal souls?

  11. There were no demons. We cannot let our western minds decide for ourselves what is what and what is not. There are no possessions in the OT. It was not until after the persian exile that the jews adopted this persian belief. There is much ado about this demon belief. Malaria was considered a demon possession until a doctor developed a pill. Are demons also at the mercy of the pharmacist? The key to this verse is… and he (legion) was in his right mind, meaning sane. At no other time did demons have a chit chat with Jesus but this one did. The pigs were destroyed (roman food source) as a sign to the crazy man that the demons were gone. Legion needed to see the sign of his wellness. Theres more but that is food for thought.

  12. Sorry to burst your bubble brotheryochanan, but there are definitely demon spirits that hinder, interfere and possess humans. I have worked on a team that has cast them out by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen them manifest in people, they have shown themselves to me and I have seen them leave “to wander in dry & desolate places” Repentance & Forgiveness are what breaks their legal bond to interfere in the persons life, then they can be cast out by the power of Jesus’ name. If the person slips back into the lifestyle that allowed the demon access they can come back sevenfold.

  13. I don’t know why I’m searching info about Demonology online but I do see most of the world doing exactly what the bible talked about thousands of years ago regarding man being deceived by these dark spirits. The western world has opened itself up to new age concepts introduced in Europe a hundred years ago and we are being trajically mislead by these demons. I think the media has been a great influence on turning peoples minds from Jesus. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and was won over by rock music and violent cinema and pornography and dedicated my life to this destructive way. Luckily I’m still alive and see the world differently. Turn off our TV’s and cap our internet to keep these destructive forces at bay.

  14. Rick, (14) my wife Deb was just talking about this recently and I asked her the same question you posed
    The demons were not fallen angels, as in the time when Lucifer and his mates got thrown out of Heaven.
    In fact they are the evil spirits that man has conjered up and have existed since the fall of man.
    It makes Sense, Jesus infact said (Luke 11: 24-26)
    when evil spirits are cast out they go thru arid places seeking rest and do not find it they eventually go back to the man they left ,find it clean and go in taking seven
    more spirits more wicked than the first.
    Once we are clean we have to be vigilant to the decaying world and its influential spirits.
    The demons went out into the pigs,and destroyed the pigs, but the demons themselves went out into the world.
    This Rick is a great analogy for us as men to think about
    because you and I have fought our Demons and with the
    grace and help of Jesus we will overcome the evil of this world. God (JesusChrist) Bless You.

  15. you never did say where legion went after the swine died! and please give chapter and verse to support your answer

    • As explained in detail at the linked answer, the term “demons” was used to speak about illnesses that they could not understand the cause of. In this case, the illness was clearly a mental illness. Legion only existed in the mind of the man. When he was cured by Jesus, there was no longer a place in the man’s mind for Legion, and so there was no “Legion”.


        • So what you’re telling me is that Legion’s case matched all the symptoms of a disease, but it wasn’t actually that disease?  That does not make a lot of sense.

  16. Charles
    Crawford denies, like all Christadelphians, the existence of demons
    as actual spiritual entities, they regard demons “medical
    conditions that afflict man, and more generally, all the adverse
    conditions in nature that afflict man”. Although a lot of what
    they say on this subject makes sense, I would still like to know
    their explanation of the innumerous videos of demons being cast out
    in Jesus’ name, to be found on the internet.

    have they ever listened to the
    extensive interview, on youtube, with Roger Morneau, ‘A Trip into the
    Supernatural’? Morneau was for some time a member of a high satanic
    organization in Montreal, Canada, and what he experienced and talks
    about surely are not ‘medical conditions’!

    what about aliens and alien abductions? How could they possibly be
    called ‘medical conditions’?!?

  17. I think your take on Jesus’ act and character is dangerous. Jesus was not in the business of confusion. By saying that he neither confirmed or denied the existence of demons is giving his followers an ambiguous answer and is misleading. Why would Jesus, God in flesh tell us a sign of our belief in Him will be driving out demons Mark 16:17 if demons didn’t exist? I am not debating your point. I understand your thought process. But consider, why wouldn’t Jesus just say, “Demons don’t exist.” ? I think you need to consider Jesus the real man. Not Jesus your tool for making your point. I appreciate your passion for seeking truth.

    • Why should Jesus say “Demons don’t exist”? If you’re talking about confusion, saying “Demons don’t exist” when the crowds could see something wrong with people that they couldn’t explain except by demons could surely be quite confusing?

      For Jesus as the word made flesh, see

  18. I would advise against completely disregarding the spiritual warfare that goes on around and within us.

    It is clear that otherworldly, multi- dimensional forces influence physical existence.

    Tread lightly upon denial, and constantly ask for wisdom.

    *[[Dan 10:20]] ERV* Then said he ( Gabriel, ) Knowest thou wherefore I am come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I go forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come.

  19. Wow. I read your article and the ensuing comments. I am dumbfounded by the spirit of error.

    One comment I especially liked however, is that Jesus said IN MY NAME THEY WILL CAST OUT DEMONS.

    I would venture to say this is a prophetic word from Jesus. And further, that God said He causes His true prophets words to come to pass. Deuteronomy 18:22/Jeremiah 28:9

    Fast forward: Acts 19:11-17 The seven sons of Sceva.

    Ephesians 6:10-17…is a beautiful teaching on our recourse against these demonic forces…principalities and powers.

    Science. Ha! I would rather take the Word of God than the word of man any day! God said what He meant. Jesus said what He meant.

    To take His Word and try to “new age” it is calling Him a liar. And to teach others error is a sin. Let’s call this thing as it is!

    2 Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:8

    I pray that the eyes of your understanding will be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18), and that you will truly seek God in prayer about interpreting His Word. If you ask, He will answer you and tell you great and mighty things that you never knew! Jeremiah 33:3 Ask.