And they came over to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.…
The four evangelists give themselves very little concern about pathology and diagnosis, although one of them was a physician. But taking the Gospels as an honest and not unintelligent record of the phenomena, we make out two points very clearly concerning this demonism.
I. IT WAS NOT MERE LUNACY OR EPILEPSY, for these diseases are recognized and clearly distinguished from the work of the evil spirits. There are patients in whom the work of the infesting spirit produces symptoms like epilepsy, and other patients in whom it produces symptoms of dumbness, and there are still other manifestations, but beneath these symptoms they detect indications, which the sufferer himself confirms, of something different from the mere physical diseases of like symptoms by which these cases were surrounded.
II. As this demonism was not mere disease, so, on the other hand, IT WAS NOT MERE WICKEDNESS — the wilful giving up of one's self to the instigation of the devil — a mistake to which we are inclined by the unhappy mistranslation of demon into devil. It is always spoken of and dealt with as an involuntary affliction, looked upon by the Lord with pity rather than censure. Neither is it treated as if it were in any special sense a visitation for sin. Doubtless these sufferers were sinners, and doubtless their sufferings stood in some relation to their sins, but it was not this relation, that they were "sinners above all others." The truth seems to be this: that sin, unbelief, opened the way for this awful curse, and that when the alien spirit had taken hold of body and mind and will, it had the power of plaguing with various disorders — with wild, moping, melancholic madness, or with epileptic convulsions, or blindness, or dumbness. Both the disciples and the evangelists, and even the popular apprehension of the Jews, distinguished clearly between such of these maladies as were merely physical, and such as were inflicted by malign spirits.
(L. W. Bacon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.