Question: Hi Sumair: I really liked your slideshow outlining a Biblical view of Heaven and Hell. I have one question, though. If the fallen angels are imprisoned in Tartarus until Judgement, who are the demons, and why is Lucifer (Satan) at large? I had always understood the fallen angels to be the demons, but if they are in Tartarus, how can this be so?
Thank you for visiting TiS and asking such an insightful question. Often, we tend to do a cursory scan of a given topic and don’t appreciate the nuances or implications of our learning. Your question is one that probes into this topic of demonology, which is an area that has varied views due to the lack of clarity and content on these entities especially in the Old Testament (terminology, historical developments, and theoretical issues). However, there are some insights we can glean from Scripture which will allow us to address some of the themes brought to surface from your inquiry.
<pFirstly, the fallen angels referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 are not the demons that roam about today – as you correctly pointed out this would be contrary to the fact they are presently chained in darkness. Some scholars posit that the fallen angels are the “sons of God” (Genesis 6) who had relations with human women (corroborated by Jude 6). As we establish our terminology, one must note that “fallen angels” can loosely be called “demons” (the devil’s angels mentioned in Matthew 25:41) as “angel” merely means “messenger”.
While these demons/fallen angels, who left their appointed dwelling to violate God’s creation order by intermingling with humanity (Genesis 6:2-4), are currently confined (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6), other demons were free during the lifetime of Christ (Luke 8:31, Mark 3:22, John 8:48-49, Luke 4:34) and are free to roam about today. However, eventually all demons will be cast with Satan into the eternal fire (Matthew 25:41). With this foundation set, we can now directly address your 2 questions:
“If the fallen angels are imprisoned in Tartarus until Judgement, who are the demons?“
According to intertestamental writings such as 1 Enoch, we can understand the contemporary Jewish mindset that the Nephilim, offspring of human women and the “sons of God” (Genesis 6:4), may be the present day demons. “The bodies of the monstrous offspring of these unions, according to the theory, were destroyed in the Flood and their disembodied spirits became demons.” This would be an interesting turn of events as the Nephilim would have an ancestry that was partly angelic (“sons of God”) and partly human – perhaps their ability to possess humans and shift from purely spiritual to the physical possession of a human is a hereditary desire and compatibility (this is only my conjecture).
If demons are not the Nephilim spoken of in Genesis 6, then they may be members of a different hierarchy of heavenly beings who rebelled with Satan against God. Ephesians 6:12 presents this multi-level organizational structure among the heavenly beings who are associated with the powers of darkness.
“why is Lucifer (Satan) at large?“
As outlined above, Satan is clearly not one of the beings chained in darkness. Satan is definitely free to roam (Job 1:7; 2:1). Jesus even goes so far as to say Satan is the “prince” or “ruler” of this world (Ephesians 2:2) and Paul describes him as the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As we read Peter’s warning in 1 Peter 5:8, we understand the reality that Satan is endowed with the liberty to roam the planet as a finite spiritual being but to what end? The answer harkens us back to the story of Job where we see God’s sovereignty over all, inclusive of Satan, as God permits Satan to test the faith of Job (this should aid in our understanding of a function of Satan in the present day). Even though Satan does roam free, it must be clear that even Satan bows to God’s will and must obey (Job 1:12). Please note that Satan is not an equal adversary of God (as some people often present the relationship between Satan and God as a sort of spiritual tug of war) since no created being can ever be an adversary to an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God.
Although Satan stands as our accuser (Revelation 12:10) and is continually working with his fellow rebellious angels (demons) (Job 1:6-7), we know that his arrogance (Isaiah 14:13-14) is in vain as he is limited by God’s will – that is Satan is restrained by God and used by God for His perfect purpose and will (Psalm 18:30). However, in the fullness of God’s timing (Isaiah 14:24), the day will come when Satan will reach his final destination in the lake of fire and sulphur (Revelation 20:10). Although we may not fully understand all that God allows Satan to do in the present day, we must maintain an accurate view of ourselves and God’s ways (Isaiah 40:28, 55:8-9), and a sincere appreciation for His will (Romans 8:28).2