Mark 5:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 5:13, NIV: "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."

Mark 5:13, ESV: "So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea."

Mark 5:13, KJV: "And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea."

Mark 5:13, NASB: "Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea."

Mark 5:13, NLT: "So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water."

Mark 5:13, CSB: "So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there."

What does Mark 5:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In order to save a man tormented by demons, Jesus allows the demons to enter a herd of pigs. Note that He neither suggests, orders, nor even indicates that He anticipates the imminent destruction of the pigs. Despite being a Jew under the Mosaic Law, He is not on a personal crusade to save foreign Gentiles from pigs. Jesus' entire purpose here is to save a man. While He undoubtedly knows the demons will kill the pigs, He is not responsible for those actions. He is aware that homeless demons feel unsettled (Matthew 12:43–44) and that people are far more important than animals (Matthew 6:26; 12:12). He would also know that under normal circumstances, pigs don't have a herd instinct that would lend them to stampeding down a hill to their doom. When frightened, a group of pigs scatter. And pigs can swim.

So this verse says very little about Jesus' character—or that of the pigs—and much about the nature of demons. Throughout history, demons have been worshiped by dark occultists who wish to tap into their ungodly spiritual power. Lately, however, demons have increasingly been portrayed in popular fiction as sympathetic characters wronged by their Creator-tyrant and denied the opportunity for forgiveness. Alternatively, they are used as monsters that a human foe, with or without the use of magic, can defeat.

These portrayals are wrong and dangerous. Demons live in a state of total rebellion against God. They are compelled to subjugate themselves to Him (Mark 5:6), but they do not worship Him as their Lord. Although they pretend to be our allies, they wish nothing more than our destruction. And we do not have the spiritual power to defeat them; even Michael the archangel would not rebuke Satan in his own authority (Jude 1:9). The pigs, stampeding against their instincts and drowning despite their abilities, serve as a vivid illustration for us of the treacherous and destructive force of demons.