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In Mark 5, why did the demons ask Jesus to send them into pigs?

There are three accounts of this incident (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39). It helps to understand what was actually transpiring by referring to each account.

From the Luke account, it is clear that the demons were responding to Jesus’ command to come out of the man (See Luke 8:29). In response to Jesus’ command the demons caused the man to fall before Jesus with the request to “torment me not”  (verse 28).

The root word for “torment” comes from the Greek word basanos

Vines Greek-English dictionary defines it as “a touchstone, employed in testing metals.” The mark left on the touchstone helped identify the type of metal being tested. The word is also used to describe divine judgment (See Revelation 18:7). The Matthew account adds a meaningful phrase; “art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). The demons apparently knew there was a judgment day coming even for them. This judgment is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 6:3 where the Apostle Paul said to the church, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?”

When it was clear that Jesus intended to cast the demons out, they asked not to be cast “into the deep” (Luke 8:31). The Greek word translated “deep” can also be translated “abyss.” The same word is used in Revelation 20: 1, 3 to describe the binding of Satan at the end of this age. He will be restrained for 1,000 years and not allowed to interact with mankind.

1 Peter 3:19  tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection “he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” We are not told what Jesus said to them, but it is possible that he was telling them they would one day have an opportunity to be restored to God’s favor if they repented.

The point here is that they were in prison. Peter goes on to say that these spirits are those that disobeyed God at the time of the flood and interacted with man. Their punishment was a severe restraint on their activities. They could no longer materialize as they had in Noah’s day and were confined to the earth, no longer granted access to heaven.

By possessing any individual willing to let them in, they had a measure of freedom that they did not want to lose. Rather than being restrained as they had been, they asked to go into the swine where they likely assumed greater liberty. However, they were wrong.

To learn more about what happens to evil spirits and demons during our time listen to,

“How Do Satanic Demons Influence Our World”?