Question: What happened to the demons that were transferred to the pigs when they drowned? Demons don't drown, do they?
The Passage (NIV 2011):
Mark 5:11-13 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Demons, of course are evil, or “impure spirits” (Mk. 5:8), and therefore cannot be drowned. Rather, Jesus describes demons as spirits who are constantly in search of human bodies to inhabit like parasites:
Matt. 12:43-45 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
This is why the “The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them” (Mk.5:12). A disembodied demon is like a creature desperately searching for water in the desert. The man Jesus encountered on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in “the region of the Garasenes” (Mk. 5:1)—a Gentile community where pig farming was common—had become the host body for numerous demons.
The demonic spirits immediately recognized Jesus as “the Son of the Most High God” (Mk. 5:7), and assumed He had come to send them to the Abyss (Lk. 8:31), a place of confinement for certain demonic spirits (fallen angels) until the Day of Judgment:
Jude 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Terrified of the Abyss, and equally terrified of having no host body to inhabit, the demons begged Jesus to use the pigs as hosts (Mk. 5:12). The pigs proved to be an incompatible host to the demonic spirits (which Jesus already knew to be the case). Normally, pigs can swim. But these poor creatures went completely berserk under the influence of the impure spirits and rushed mindlessly out of control down the cliff side into the Sea of Galilee to their deaths. Yet, by agreeing to the demons’ request, Jesus not only released the tormented man from thousands of demons, He also demonstrated His total authority over the natural and spiritual realms to the Gentile community.
In the end, the demons still found themselves disembodied, wandering in a spiritual wilderness looking for other potential hosts. The man Jesus had set free was restored to his family and community; and the man’s family community no longer lived in fear—all for the small price of a herd of pigs!