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Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in demons and that they can be cast out today? If so, how do they go about casting demons out of a demon-possessed person? Do they have deliverance ministries or dedicated exorcists who specialize in spiritual warfare and related matters?


A closely related question: Have Jehovah's Witnesses ever encountered a demon-possessed person in the mission field or in other contexts?

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    Despite you clearly asking for the JW view of the practice of exorcism TODAY, a long answer from a JW avoids stating at the outset, "No, we do not. Nor do we have any deliverance ministries or dedicated exorcists". It dwells on the 1st century situation. As stated, they do believe demons exist today but, as not so clearly stated, they think that all exorcisms/deliverance ministries now are works of Babylon the Great. I comment due to frustration that, despite your crystal-clear question, the only JW answer so far has not shown the extent of their Cessationism. Yours is an important question.
    – Anne
    Jun 12, 2021 at 11:33
  • @Anne, the facts are as stated by agarza in their answer. JWs believe in exorcism (a.k.a. driving out evil spirits) but we do not believe that it requires any particular ministry, or dedicated exorcists, or a particular set of processes besides simply prayer to Jehovah God. The prayer does not need to be done by a particular person, nor adhere to any particular formalism (and is not particularly flamboyant or attention seeking) because God hears even simple prayers. More like what happened in this experience
    – coderworks
    Jul 5, 2021 at 15:33
  • @coderworks That 1988 experience may be the JW idea of exorcism, but it's not exorcism as the NT describes it. Given that JW literature (below) says that those who cast out demons in the name of Jesus can be exposed by him as false workers of iniquity, it seems clear that they deliberately use the name of Jehovah instead of the name of Jesus when dealing with demon-troubled people. JWs think Catholic priests, or charismatic Protestants doing exorcisms are condemned as per Mat. 7:21-23. Is that why they refuse to use Jesus' name to deal with demons as did NT Christians?
    – Anne
    Jul 5, 2021 at 20:03
  • @Anne, on one hand we believe that prayer to Jehovah God (Psalm 83:18) is sufficient to expel demons. And in some way related to this, we believe that the miracles Jesus and the apostles did had a specific purpose for a specific time period. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 states that certain miraculous signs would eventually no longer appear within the Christian congregation.
    – coderworks
    Jul 6, 2021 at 3:06
  • @coderworks Which is it to be? Exorcisms using the name of Jesus no longer happens in Christianity, or exorcisms using the name of Jehovah do?
    – Anne
    Jul 6, 2021 at 13:16

3 Answers 3

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Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in exorcisms?

We all know that Jesus performed exorcisms.

But Is It Scriptural?

We are told in Scripture: “But after it became evening, people brought him [Jesus Christ] many demon-possessed persons; and he expelled the spirits with a word, and he cured all who were faring badly.” (Matt. 8:16) So, Jesus did expel demons, and when this took place the person returned to a normal state of mind. Incidentally, there is a difference between demon possession and ordinary illness, for Christ cured both kinds of disorders.​ — Mark 1:32-34.

With what authority and power did Jesus expel demons? His authority was from Jehovah God, and by expelling demons from possessed persons, Jesus proved that he was God’s Anointed One, the Messiah. Though they did so unwillingly, the demons were forced to recognize Jesus’ authority. (Matt. 8:28-34) And really, how could they have resisted him? Under other circumstances, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus said: “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53) What success would a single demon, several of them, or even a legion of demons have in coping with such potential odds? ​— Luke 8:26-30.

Jesus left no doubt as to the power by which he expelled demons. The Gospel writer Luke tells us that Jesus expelled demons by “God’s finger.” But what is the symbolic meaning of this? Matthew’s Gospel account makes this clear in indicating that Jesus expelled demons by ‘God’s holy spirit,’ or Jehovah’s active force. (Luke 11:20; Matt. 12:28) Jesus himself confessed that it was by God’s power that he was able to expel demons. ​— Mark 5:18-20.

Jesus Christ gave authority over the demons to his twelve apostles, and later to the seventy men that he sent out. Consequently, in the name of Jesus they were able to cure demon-possessed persons. (Luke 9:1; 10:1, 17) Even a man who was not personally accompanying Jesus, but did believe in him, was able to expel demons by the use of Jesus’ name. (Mark 9:38-40) After Christ’s death the apostles continued to have this power. For instance, the apostle Paul expelled a “demon of divination” from a slave girl. ​— Acts 16:16-18.

That was then!

I am unable to find any source amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses literature that clearly states that they do or do not believe in exorcisms in modern times! What I can muster up is that they acknowledge the possibility of demon activity in the modern world, but do not engage in exorcisms as understood by other Christian denominations.

Should Christians Practice Exorcism?

Is There No Help at All?

While there is no Scriptural authority for exorcism ritual today and true Christians do not practice it, that does not mean that godly persons have no protection from wicked spirit forces. They do, indeed, have all the help that is needed.

Any individual who believes that he is under attack by wicked spirit forces should shun spiritism, divination and related practices. (Deut. 18:10-12) If he is being harassed by “voices” from the spirit realm, no matter who they claim to be, he should not heed what they say. Rather, it is vital to recognize the source as the demons and to reject what is said.​—2 Thess. 2:9.

Obviously, to resist wicked spirit forces, a person should guard against association with those who dabble in magic, witchcraft and the like. Instead, association should be sought with those who are true Christians. (1 Cor. 15:33) He should remove from his person and his home any object having any connection with demonic religion. Essential also is putting on the ‘complete suit of spiritual armor from God.’ It includes such ‘pieces of armor’ as the girdle of truth and “the breastplate of righteousness.”​—Eph. 6:11-18; 2 Pet. 3:11.

Of vital importance is faith in Jehovah and earnest prayer to him. If under demon assault, it is essential to pray to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ, using the Divine Name. “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” (Prov. 18:10; Phil. 4:6, 7) Appointed overseers in the Christian congregation gladly have assisted those desiring to serve God but who were being troubled by the demons. Yet, the mental attitude of the individual himself is of importance. It is vital to resist wicked spirit forces, and this is effective. “Oppose the Devil,” wrote the disciple James, “and he will flee from you.”​—Jas. 4:7.

Modern-day exorcism with its ritual is not the answer to demon possession. Rather, Jehovah God has lovingly provided protection from wicked spirit forces, and prudent persons will avail themselves of it. No, Christians should not practice exorcism rites. But they should keep their minds and hearts fixed on the worship and service of their heavenly Father.

There is a lot of talk in the sense of shunning spiritism, divination and related practices, if demon activity is suspected. But as regards to an actual exorcisms: nothing.

The following articles may be of interest in this domain:

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    When you notice how modern JW literature majors on demon activity in the 1st century, but hardly says anything about exorcisms today, you have to wonder why. The answer is in 'Insight on the Scriptures', Vol. 1, p614, last para. on ‘Demon Possession’. It applies Mat. 7:22-23 to modern-day demon possession exorcisms, that Jesus will condemn such work done in his name, on the Day of Judgement. That includes all Catholic exorcisms though they don't spell that out. They think baptised JWs will not be demon possessed, and have no desire to minister to non-JWs with such a problem.
    – Anne
    Jun 12, 2021 at 16:18
  • @Anne I find it hard to believe that there are no cases of demon possession within the ranks of the JWs. Perhaps this is their way of seeing things Demon possessed JWs are immune to such a possibility. Some Christians do hold on this possibility, although a relatively small number at that.
    – Ken Graham
    Jun 12, 2021 at 16:24
  • Ah, therein lies a conundrum, but the question did not ask about that, so perhaps you might like to ask your own Q on that? +1 vote from me for a balanced answer.
    – Anne
    Jun 12, 2021 at 16:28
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Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in exorcisms?

Yes, Jehovah's Witnesses do believe that exorcisms have been performed. There are several examples in the Bible of Jesus casting out demons from individuals. (Matthew 8:16; 9:32; 17:18; Mark 1:32, 34; 5:1-15; Luke 8:29; 9:42; 11:14) He also gave his 12 apostles, and later the 70 disciples, the authority to cast out demons. (Matthew 10:8; Mark 3:15; 6:13; Luke 9:1; 10:17) Expulsion of demons continued after Jesus' death as is seen with Paul and a slave girl. (Acts 16:16-19)

Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in demons and that they can be cast out today? If so, how do they go about casting demons out of a demon-possessed person?

Yes, demons do exists. The Greek word for demon (daimon and daimonion) appear in the scriptures. The word 'spirit' is also applied to wiked spirits, usually preceeded by 'wicked', 'unclean', 'speechless', or 'deaf'. (Luke 7:21; Matthew 10:1; Mark 9:17, 25)

The article "What Is the Bible’s View? Should Christians Practice Exorcism?" in the May 22, 1977, Awake! states:

While there is no Scriptural authority for exorcism ritual today and true Christians do not practice it, that does not mean that godly persons have no protection from wicked spirit forces. They do, indeed, have all the help that is needed.

While Jehovah's Witnessess acknowledge that exorcisms were performed during the first century, they do not perform them today. The last paragraph in the article goes on to mention:

Modern-day exorcism with its ritual is not the answer to demon possession. Rather, Jehovah God has lovingly provided protection from wicked spirit forces, and prudent persons will avail themselves of it. No, Christians should not practice exorcism rites. But they should keep their minds and hearts fixed on the worship and service of their heavenly Father. (italics mine)

Do they have deliverance ministries or dedicated exorcists who specialize in spiritual warfare and related matters?

The above article does provide steps to freeing oneself from demon influence:

Any individual who believes that he is under attack by wicked spirit forces should shun spiritism, divination and related practices. (Deut. 18:10-12) If he is being harassed by “voices” from the spirit realm, no matter who they claim to be, he should not heed what they say. Rather, it is vital to recognize the source as the demons and to reject what is said.​—2 Thess. 2:9.

Obviously, to resist wicked spirit forces, a person should guard against association with those who dabble in magic, witchcraft and the like. Instead, association should be sought with those who are true Christians. (1 Cor. 15:33) He should remove from his person and his home any object having any connection with demonic religion. Essential also is putting on the ‘complete suit of spiritual armor from God.’ It includes such ‘pieces of armor’ as the girdle of truth and “the breastplate of righteousness.”​—Eph. 6:11-18; 2 Pet. 3:11.

Of vital importance is faith in Jehovah and earnest prayer to him. If under demon assault, it is essential to pray to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ, using the Divine Name. “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” (Prov. 18:10; Phil. 4:6, 7) Appointed overseers in the Christian congregation gladly have assisted those desiring to serve God but who were being troubled by the demons. Yet, the mental attitude of the individual himself is of importance. It is vital to resist wicked spirit forces, and this is effective. “Oppose the Devil,” wrote the disciple James, “and he will flee from you.”​—Jas. 4:7.

Paul acknowledges "we have a struggle... against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places". (Ephesians 6:12) He admonishes us to "put on the complete suit of armor from God so that you may be able to stand firm against the crafty acts of the Devil". (vs. 11)

The "armor from God" gives us the knowledge of what we need to do. But ultimately our faith in Jehovah God, coupled with the knowledge, helps us to free ourselves from demonic possession but also demonic influence.

So, no, Jehovah's Witnesses do not have special ministries or exorcists. If an individual that is in association with Jehovah's Witnesses feels that they are the focus of demonic attack, influence, or possession, they are seriously encouraged to seek the elders to help them.

The elders will most likely ask if the individual has been dabbling in spiritism or occult matters. The elders will give Bible-based counsel on how to break free from the problem. Prayer, personal Bible study, and cultivating a personal relationship with Jehovah God will help to keep the demons at bay.

The last paragraph in the article "Demon Possession" from the Insight on the Scriptures makes this statement:

Often the wild and uncontrolled conduct of mentally unbalanced persons is due to possession by these invisible minions of Satan.

The vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses are not doctors or psychiatrists to be able to diagnose whether a person is suffering a traditional mental condition or demon possession. I imagine that those Witnessess that could diagnose such a condition would still follow the scriptural counsel cited above.

For additional information see the following articles:

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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  • How do JWs deal with a person who begins to manifest and behave as demon-possessed? Jun 10, 2021 at 17:35
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    I recall in my younger days there were accounts of demon influence or attack but I don't remember anything related to demon possession. I would imagine the elders would approach this in the same way as I stated in my post. Demonic influence, attack or possession is usually instigated by the individual either being curious or having something related to spiritism or the occult.
    – agarza
    Jun 10, 2021 at 17:52
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    The first quote says: "While there is no Scriptural authority for exorcism ritual today and true Christians do not practice it,..." Please bear in mind that Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are the only true Christians. That being the case, they do not perform exorcisms. My J.W. relatives inform me they have never come across any baptised Witness under demonic influence and they have no idea what would happen to such a person other than to be visited by the elders.
    – Lesley
    Jun 11, 2021 at 9:28
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    Despite all the scripture references re. the 1st century situation, I note one that is lacking, which this JW publication sees fit to quote on the matter of modern-day demon possession exorcism and whether Jesus will acknowledge such work done in his name, on the Day of Judgement: Matthew 7:22,23. Why didn’t you quote from Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p614? (Last para. on ‘Demon Possession’.) It’s simple and crystal clear.
    – Anne
    Jun 12, 2021 at 11:33
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    You state that ”while there is no Scriptural authority for exorcism ritual today and true Christians do not practice it!” Other denominations use the exorcism rituals and they are also true Christians. Your answer seems to imply that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in exorcisms per se. The vast majority of any Christian denomination are not doctors or psychiatrists to be able to diagnose whether a person is suffering a traditional mental condition or demon possession. That is why Catholic exorcists ask outside professionals for input in making a true diagnosis.
    – Ken Graham
    Jun 15, 2021 at 20:01
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+50

It’s not more details that are needed here; merely relevant ones. An awful lot of the quotes, to date, deal with what Jehovah’s Witnesses [JWs] say about demonism in the 1st century A.D., and how Jesus and the apostles cast out demons, but your question does not ask about any of that. Three-quarters, or more, of the quotes already given could be omitted without the slightest impact on the few remaining relevant bits.

You ask about the JW view of the matter TODAY, and there is a dearth of information on that in current JW literature because most of it deals with 1st century situations, but fortunately I have in front of me two JW books which have relevant information. First is the 2005 book “What Does the Bible Really Teach”, and I have the 2014 edition. Chapter 10 runs from pages 96 to 105 and is headed, ‘Spirit Creatures – How They Affect Us’.

It is essential to understand at the outset that this book is produced for people interested in the JWs to study, in their homes, with JWs. It follows the question-and-answer format; a question is printed for each paragraph, and the interested student is expected to answer, going by what the paragraphs state. Once the conducting JW is satisfied that the student has grasped the JW answer given, they move on to the next paragraph/chapter. This means that all the information in this particular chapter on how demons affect people today is addressed to a person who is NOT a baptised JW.

The chapter starts by assuring the non-JW-baptised person that demons are invisibly active today but that angels will help them ‘deal with’ malign spirit influences. It gives two O.T. examples of this. It then warns that demons use Spiritism to mislead people today, especially via enquiring about the dead, but that “thousands of people who once lived in daily dread of such wicked spirits have been able to break free” (p. 103 para 13). Immediately, it says that resisting wicked spirits requires destroying books on magic, or other items that may have some demonic connection:

“People who want to serve Jehovah need to get rid of everything related to spiritism. “That includes books, magazines, movies, posters, and music recordings that encourage the practice of spiritism and make it seem appealing and exciting. Included too are amulets or other items worn for protection against evil.” (p. 103 para. 14)

Then it exhorts the interested person to strengthen their faith by studying the Bible, and praying. Of course, the exhortation is based on the goal of studying with JWs in order to be baptised as one. The chapter ends with the statement, “If you do God’s will and oppose the Devil, Satan will flee from you.-James 4:7,8” but the book is designed to convince the interested person that it is God’s will that they become a baptised JW – see all of chapter 18. That will best protect them from demons.

The Appendix has a section on identifying the religious element of ‘Babylon the Great’ – spiritistic practices being highlighted for this ‘dwelling place of demons.’ It concludes that

“Babylon the Great clearly represents the world empire of false religion, which includes all religions that stand in opposition to Jehovah God” [i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses] p. 219-220

Let’s be clear here. JWs are teaching interested people that in order to avoid the ‘plagues’ God will shortly send on Babylon the Great at her destruction, they must become baptised JWs and renounce any contact they ever had with any other religion, because all religions apart from the JW one constitute spiritual Babylon the Great. That is their best chance of surviving Armageddon into a paradise earth – see chapter 18.

That was based on a JW book published 17 years earlier, the next quote from it being much more direct and telling. It comes from 'Insight on the Scriptures', Vol. 1, pp 612 to 614. The last paragraph on ‘Demon Possession’ applies Matthew 7:22-23 to modern-day demon possession exorcisms, claiming that Jesus will condemn such work done in his name, on the Day of Judgment. It switches from 1st century demon possession as detailed in the N.T. to the modern-day, and states:

“Often the wild and uncontrolled conduct of mentally unbalanced persons is due to possession by these invisible minions of Satan. Sometimes it is reported that spirit mediums have cast these demons out; this calls to mind what Jesus said: “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not… expel demons in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them, I never knew you!” (Mt. 7:22, 23)

It’s not likely that JWs will state on this forum that, Yes, they think being baptised as a JW will enable you to have angelic help to be clear of demon-possession, and that all exorcisms are done by spiritistic people who are part of Babylon the Great, but that is it, in a nutshell.

SUMMARY: Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in demons and that they can be cast out today? Yes, demons exist today but those claiming to cast out demons in Jesus’ name are disowned by him on the Day of Judgment, as per Mat. 7:22-23.

How do they go about casting demons out of a demon-possessed person? They don’t have any official method for that, but elders might try to encourage the 3 steps mentioned in their “Bible Teach” book, if it is a person interested in the JWs who seems to be demon possessed. The inference on p. 104, “If you do God’s will and oppose the Devil, Satan will flee from you” is that demonic harassment indicates not doing Jehovah’s will and not opposing the Devil. All baptised JWs are expected to diligently do Jehovah’s will and to oppose the Devil. Then they can expect invisible angelic help.

Do they have deliverance ministries or dedicated exorcists who specialize in spiritual warfare and related matters? No, and No.

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