In the King James Version of the Bible, the latter part of Mark 1:32 (as well as all other verses that deal with this issue) is translated, “them that were possessed with devils.” In the New American Standard it is “those who were demon-possessed.” Yet in the New International Version, it is translated simply as “[the] demonized.”
Which of the three is right? Oddly enough, when I was checking through my King James Concordance, I was quite surprised to find out that the word “demon” was not even in there — not even once (the word “devil” is always used instead)! Now we know that the King James Version is considered, by and large, to be a “quality” translation of the Bible (and I would agree, for the most part). Yet they failed on this issue. The word “devil” in Greek is “diabolos”. The words from which they got “devils” in Mark 1:32, however, is “tous daimonidzomenous” — literally, if translated correctly, “those who were affected by demons” (not a “possessed” nor a “devil” in sight!).
Now the word “devil” (in the KJV) being put aside for a moment, I find that there is a big difference between saying “those who were affected by demons,” and “those who were demon-possessed.” To be affected by a demon, in my opinion, leaves us all open to the possibility of “being affected” in one way or another. After all, the person is [merely?] being “affected” by a demon — he (or she) has not, necessarily, been completely “given over” into the control of the demon (or demons). Yet, the words “possessed with demons” seems to imply this.
Now I like and even prefer the NASB in most areas (it is the Bible I use for studying, most of the time). Why, however, would both the KJV and NASB refer to the person as being “possessed with” when these words never show up? May I make a suggestion (please don’t take this to heart if you disagree, but it is just one consideration). For years and years we, as a church, have been living with the notion that “all is well” with us, when, in fact, we have been “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” as the Lord said to the Church of Laodecia (Revelation 3:17). We have had the notion that “all is well,” and this has, somehow, “filtered its way through” to our teaching, yes, and even our translating of the Bible. Where the Bible says, “demonized,” or “affected by a demon” (which is the accurate translation), we have preferred to say, “No, it is not us who are the demonized, it is ‘those wretched individuals out there somewhere … but surely not us!'” So it has naturally made its way into our translations that “the demonized” are really “the demon-possessed.” Yet, nowhere does the Bible teach that the “demonized” are actually “possessed” in the sense of necessarily having to be “completely in the command of a demon.” To be demonized simply means to be affected by a demon, somehow, in some way (a “normal” person on the street might not even notice it, while you, yourself, “the demonized” person, that is, is feeling utterly “hellish” inside, either physically, emotionally, or mentally, or some combination of the three).
Yet, even while in some cases the NIV “gets it wrong,” yet in this one crucial place, it “gets it right.” (Of course, the NIV simply states, “the demonized” while it can be equally translated, “those who were affected by demons” — I don’t see a clear difference between those two, so “two-points” for the NIV in this case). For years and years, it seems as if the church has been “going on” as though “all the problems” were “out there somewhere,” when, in fact, a lot of them are right in our very midst. Two points to the NIV for clearing up some of the problems for us in this area. Two points for saying that we don’t have to be absolutely “possessed” by a demon in order to be affected by one. Two points for getting it straight. It’s about time we got it straight. Should it be any surprise, then, that if some people are starting to get it straight, and overcome their biases in this area (as we see in the NIV), that God is now starting to deliver His church … from all her demons?