A spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out - Πνευμα λαμβανει αυτον . This very phrase is used by heathen writers, when they speak of supernatural influence. The following, from Herodotus, will make the matter, I hope, quite plain. Speaking of Scyles, king of the Scythians, who was more fond of Grecian manners and customs than of those of his countrymen, and who desired to be privately initiated into the Bacchic mysteries, he adds: "Now because the Scythians reproach the Greeks with these Bacchanals, and say that to imagine a god driving men into paroxysms of madness is not agreeable to sound reason, a certain Borysthenian, while the king was performing the ceremonies of initiation, went out, and discovered the matter to the Scythian army in these words: 'Ye Scythians ridicule us because we celebrate the Bacchanals, και ἡμεας ὁ θεος ΛΑΜΒΑΝΕΙ, and the God Possesses Us: but now the same demon, οὑτος ὁ δαιμων, has Taken Possession, ΛΕΛΑΒΗΚΕ, of your king, for he celebrates the Bacchanals, and ὑπο του θεου μαινεται, is filled with fury by this god." Herodot. l. iv. p. 250, edit. Gale.
This passage is exceedingly remarkable. The very expressions which Luke uses here are made use of by Herodotus. A demon, δαιμων, is the agent in the Greek historian, and a demon is the agent in the case mentioned in the text, Luke 9:42. In both cases it is said the demon possesses the persons, and the very same word, λαμβανει is used to express this in both historians. Both historians show that the possessions were real, by the effects produced in the persons: the heathen king rages with fury through the influence of the demon called the god Bacchus; the person in the text screams out, (κραζει ), is greatly convulsed, and foams at the mouth. Here was a real possession, and such as often took place among those who were worshippers of demons.
See this passage explained in the Matthew 17:14-21 notes, and Mark 9:14-29 notes.
The entire night had been passed in the mountain; and as the sun arose, Jesus and His disciples descended to the plain. Absorbed in thought, the disciples were awed and silent. Even Peter had not a word to say. Gladly would they have lingered in that holy place which had been touched with the light of heaven, and where the Son of God had manifested His glory; but there was work to be done for the people, who were already searching far and near for Jesus. DA 426.1Read in context »
But the purposes of Christ were not thwarted. He allowed the evil spirits to destroy the herd of swine as a rebuke to those Jews who were raising these unclean beasts for the sake of gain. Had not Christ restrained the demons, they would have plunged into the sea, not only the swine, but also their keepers and owners. The preservation of both the keepers and the owners was due alone to His power, mercifully exercised for their deliverance. Furthermore, this event was permitted to take place that the disciples might witness the cruel power of Satan upon both man and beast. The Saviour desired His followers to have a knowledge of the foe whom they were to meet, that they might not be deceived and overcome by his devices. It was also His will that the people of that region should behold His power to break the bondage of Satan and release his captives. And though Jesus Himself departed, the men so marvelously delivered, remained to declare the mercy of their Benefactor. GC 515.1
Other instances of a similar nature are recorded in the Scriptures. The daughter of the Syrophoenician woman was grievously vexed with a devil, whom Jesus cast out by His word. (Mark 7:26-30). “One possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb” (Matthew 12:22); a youth who had a dumb spirit, that ofttimes “cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him” (Mark 9:17-27); the maniac who, tormented by “a spirit of an unclean devil” (Luke 4:33-36), disturbed the Sabbath quiet of the synagogue at Capernaum—all were healed by the compassionate Saviour. In nearly every instance, Christ addressed the demon as an intelligent entity, commanding him to come out of his victim and to torment him no more. The worshipers at Capernaum, beholding His mighty power, “were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:36. GC 515.2
Those possessed with devils are usually represented as being in a condition of great suffering; yet there were exceptions to this rule. For the sake of obtaining supernatural power, some welcomed the satanic influence. These of course had no conflict with the demons. Of this class were those who possessed the spirit of divination,—Simon Magus, Elymas the sorcerer, and the damsel who followed Paul and Silas at Philippi. GC 516.1Read in context »