What is a Jezebel spirit?

What is a Jezebel spirit? In spite of the fact that the phrase “Jezebel spirit” or “spirit of Jezebel” never appears in the Scriptures, we are still able to do an internet search on them and find numerous pages dedicated to the subject. The Old Testament character had committed such evils upon the righteous people of God that the very name of Jezebel had been indelibly marked upon their collective consciousness for generation as synonymous with all sorts of vile sinfulness.

We come across Jezebel the person in the books of the Kings (1 Kings 16, 18-19, 21; 2 Kings 9. She is the daughter of the Sidonian monarch Ethbaal, and worshipper of Baal, who marries Ahab the seventh king to take the throne in the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). She had become known for killing the prophets of Yahweh. This evil prompted a righteous man named Obadiah to hide a hundred prophets in caves to keep them from certain death (1 Kings18:4). The power of God was displayed through the Elijah the prophet’s epic stand against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-46); however, this only infuriated her to the extent that she made oaths to have Elijah killed (1 Kings 19:2). She conspired and murdered a man named Naboth, just to get the man’s vineyard for her husband (1 Kings 21). Jezebel died a horrible death. She was thrown out of a building, trampled by horses, and eaten by dogs, but this happened to fulfill a prophecy given by Elisha the Tishbite (cf. 2 Kings 9).

Jezebel is considered to be “a strong, domineering character…self-willed and forceful.”

We may even reason to say that “Jezebel, whose name becomes synonymous with evil, is a powerful image of the woman without scruples, a prototype for Revelation’s whore of Babylon. “In the New Testament we find John the Revelator being instructed by Jesus to write a letter to the Christians in the church of Thyatira. The Lord strongly rebukes them, saying, But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds” (Rev. 2:19-23).

The letter to the church at Thyatira strongly condemns the acts of a false prophetess who was leading Christians into sin similar to that of the Old Testament character. There arose in the church a self-professed prophetess, symbolically called Jezebel (v. 20) due to the similarity of her influence upon the church to that of the original Jezebel upon Israel. This woman apparently taught that idolatrous practices were permissible, encouraged fornication, and indulged in the same herself with members of the church. This error in the church was similar to the “doctrine of Balaam” in the church at Pergamos, the difference being that, in Thyatira, the doctrine was promoted by a woman and there were men committing fornication with her (v. 22). It is possible that the prophetess was representing her insights as “the deep things of God” (comp. 1 Cor. 2:10), that is, as reflecting a superior enlightenment concerning the exercise of grace—as was the case (and still is) with many antinomians (cp. Rom. 6:15; Jude 4). If this is so, there is a deliberate irony in Christ’s categorizing these teachings as the depths (or the “deep things”) of Satan (v. 24)

Is it biblical to speak of another person as having “the spirit of Jezebel” or a “Jezebel spirit”? If by “spirit” the individual means a certain character or disposition as the two Jezebels we encounter in the Scripture, such would be permissible. The biblical writers of Kings and Revelation were writing to a specific audience within their respective historical settings; however, there is a manifold application to the Scriptures. There are sinful people who, like the Jezebels of the Bible, lead people into sin, and even rage persecution against the people of God, but as saints we can have hope that the Lord will vindicate the righteous.

If by “spirit” we mean a sentient non-corporeal being, such as the Devil or another fallen angel, then one would be hard pressed to find a biblical basis for this idea. There is nothing in the biblical text to indicate that the Jezebel of 1-2 Kings and the woman in Revelation 2 were individuals possessed by demonic spirits. They were evil, that much is true, but it is more likely that the evil they did was generated by their own evil hearts.

Scriptures teach us that as Christians at every milestone of our spiritual walk during this earthly sojourn we will face temptations generated by our sinful flesh, the fallen world in which we live, and the Devil (Mk. 14:38; Rm. 7:14-25, 12:2; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 John 4:4-6). As believers our struggle is to live faithfully to Christ in the midst of  spiritual warfare, and for this reason we as Christians are to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-24).

Many Bible preachers and teachers adopt a type of deliverance model of spiritual warfare wherein they attempt to cast out demons from Christians who are either demon possessed and/or demon oppressed. They purport that it is on account of demonic influences that a person experiences certain physiological, psychological, and/or sociological struggles, and it is mainly through the deliverance teacher’s model of spiritual warfare that the person can successfully rid themselves of the pesky demons causing all their ills.

I want to suggest a word of caution in that the Bible does not teach or suggest the aforementioned model for deliverance of spiritual warfare, to the contrary the Bible teaches a discipleship model of spiritual warfare.

God’s Peace!


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