Who Are the 4 Most Important Demons in the Bible?

Demons appear throughout the Christian Bible as monstrous entities with supernatural powers – here are some of the most notorious.

Jul 7, 2023By Rosie Lesso, MA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine Art
most important demons in the bible

 

Demons play a recurring role in the Christian Bible, symbols of sin, temptation and evil. They began their lives as angels, before turning against God and becoming ‘fallen angels’, cast down from heaven into the fiery depths of hell. The original demon, Satan, was once himself an angel named Lucifer who betrayed God, waging a war with a group of fellow traitors which he subsequently lost.

 

Their following expulsion from heaven was the first fall in the Bible, when sin was introduced into the universe. Satan thereby became the ‘prince of demons’, the evil leader all the fallen angels would serve, whose overriding mission was to tempt people into a life of sin. Below are a handful of the most important demons in the Bible

 

1. Satan (Lucifer)

lucifero lucifer roberto ferri 2013
Lucifero by Roberto Ferri, 2013, via Roberto Ferri

 

Satan, otherwise known as the devil, or the prince of demons, was once a beautiful angel called Lucifer, but he defied God, and subsequently suffered a fall from grace. In the book of Isaiah, God renounces Lucifer, stating, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, so of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations.” God created Lucifer as a creature of great beauty and wisdom, but he became vain and boastful, as described in Ezekial, “your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.”

 

After attempting to overthrow God with an assembled army of traitors, Lucifer was thrown to the earth, where he became the prince of air for a brief spell, before being cast into the fiery pits of hell for continuing to cause trouble. 

 

2. Molech (Moloch/Molek)

human sacrifice offering moloch
Offerings to Moloch Baal by Jan Lamsvelt after P. Goeree, 1684 – 1743, via Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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The horrible demon named Molech is depicted as a half-man, half-bull, Minotaur-like figure with a belly made of fire, who symbolized some of the darkest traits of humankind. In Leviticus God forbade the worship of Molech, sometimes referred to as Moloch or Molek (depending on the translation), an Ammonite God to whom child sacrifices were made. Described as a terrifying warrior of the fallen angels, Moloch was keen to wage a new war against God following Satan’s first failed attempt. He is a symbol of brawn over brains, a hot-headed demon with no regard for the sanctity of human life. 

 

3. Legion

christ banishing demon legion
Christ banishing the Biblical demons from Legion

 

Legion was a terrifying man in the Bible who had been possessed by many demons, a maniac who encountered Jesus and his disciples after crossing the Sea of Galilee. He is described in the Bible as a “man with an unclean spirit,” whose entire being has been taken over by the forces of evil. Having abandoned his normal life, Legion lived in a tomb with the dead, and inflicted harm on himself and others day and night. In scripture he is described thus: “night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

 

When Jesus encounters this strange possessed man, he asks him “What is your name?” to which Legion replies, “My name is Legion. For we are many.” Jesus drives away the spirits from the man with a single word: “Go.” The demons then leave the man and enter a herd of 2,000 pigs, who all fall to their death in the sea. 

 

4. Abaddon

abaddon demons bible
Artistic interpretation of the Biblical character Abaddon

 

Abaddon is described in the Christian Bible as “the angel of a bottomless pit,” and the king of a plague of locusts resembling horses with crowned human faces, long hair, wings and a stinging tail. A fallen angel, Abaddon seems to occupy a curious position between good and evil, bringing judgement upon people in the name of God, yet siding with Lucifer in the war against heaven.

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By Rosie LessoMA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine ArtRosie is a contributing writer and artist based in Scotland. She has produced writing for a wide range of arts organizations including Tate Modern, The National Galleries of Scotland, Art Monthly, and Scottish Art News, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art. Previously she has worked in both curatorial and educational roles, discovering how stories and history can really enrich our experience of art.