Peter and the 12 Disciples; Satan and the Fallen Watchers

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by Neil Godfrey

Continuing from Rick Strelan’s article notes in Fallen Watchers of Enoch and the 12 Disciples in Mark’s Gospel

I’m taking notes from Strelan’s article without much modification and only little of my own comment. Readers can decide for themselves the strength of his case, how suggestive it might be . . . .

The Gospel of Mark

Rick Strelan sees the author of the Gospel of Mark, like the authors of the pseudepigraphic and Qumran writings, being most conscious of his time being the time of a faithless generation (Mark 9:19). The Gospel begins with a call to repentance, and follows with Jesus battling against and overcoming the powers that ruled and oppressed that generation. These powers of evil were demons, and according to the Enochian legend of the Watchers, were the offspring of fallen angels and human women (Mark 3:22-27).

Like the Enochian Son of Man in Enoch, Jesus gathers angel-disciples around him and gives them authority to cast out demons and unclean spirits (3:15; 6:7). But they can only execute that authority if they are faithful (9:14-29).

The gospel is about faithless generation in a time of testing. The disciples (and Mark’s Christian audience) are tested by persecutions, cares of the world and the desire for riches (4:14-19). Jesus’ followers are commanded to Watch.

He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.” (Mark 8:12)

He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? (Mark 9:19)

And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Mark 13:37)

The Watchers legend was used to condemn illicit priestly marriages. Strelan suggests the possibility that Mark had something like this in mind from the several times he does very strictly address marriage and sexual issues:

John the Baptist was executed over his condemnation of Herod’s marriage (6:14-29)

Jesus is very strict on divorce and remarriage (10:2-12)

Jesus calls his followers to stand out from “this adulterous and sinful generation” (8:38)

The sins Jesus singles out include illicit sex, adultery, and (possibly relevant for Strelan) “the evil eye” (Mark 7:21-22)

Reading the Gospel of Mark against the background of Enoch’s Watchers

Called to come after/follow behind

Peter, Andrew, James and John are the first and only disciples explicitly called to “come behind” (οπισω) Jesus. Hence they are the leaders of the band appointed to be with Jesus.

Strelan cites H. Seesemann in TDNT, V, pp. 289-92 to explain that this preposition, οπισω, is used in the Septuagint to express the relation between God and his chosen people, and implies full commitment and service to God.


These 4 are identified as “fishers of people”.

The fishing metaphor is about the end-time judgment:

Jeremiah 16:16

Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Isaiah 19:8

The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.

Habbakuk 1:14-17

And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad .  Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?

Amos 4:2

The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness,
“Behold, the days are coming upon you
When they will take you away with meat hooks,
And the last of you with fish hooks.

1 QH 5:8

Thou has caused me to dwell with the many fishers
who spread a net upon the face of the waters,
and with the hunters of the children of iniquity;
Thou has established me there for justice.
Fish inhabit the sea — the place of chaos and transition

Fish had ambiguous status in dietary law – both clean and unclean.

So fishermen were constantly making judgments, separating clean from unclean.

Angels were sent to separate good from evil (Matthew 13:47-50; 1 Enoch 1:9; 9)

And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones
To execute judgement upon all,
And to destroy all the ungodly:
And to convict all flesh
Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed,
And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

9:1. And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. 2. And they said one to another: ‘The earth made †without inhabitant cries the voice of their crying† up to the gates of heaven. 3 And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, “Bring our cause before the Most High.”.’ 4. And they said to the Lord of the ages . . . 

“With” Jesus

These four disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John, and eight others are appointed to be  “with” Jesus. Mark 3:14

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach

Angels in general and Watchers in particular are to be with the Holy One, constantly in his presence.

When Enoch is translated into the heavens he is accompanied by an archangel who is always with him: 1 Enoch 21:5; 22:6; 23:4; 24:6

Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me . . .

And I asked Raphael the angel who was with me . . .

Then Raguel, one of the holy angels who was with me . . .

Then answered Michael, one of the holy and honoured angels who was with me, and was their leader . . .

So the disciples are appointed to be with Jesus as he makes his ascent as Son of Man, via the cross, to the right hand of power. Mark 14:62

and Jesus said, . . .  ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power, and coming with the clouds, of the heaven . . .

But they fail to live up to this call. Peter is identified by the servant maid as one who was with Jesus. Mark 14:67.

And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth . . .

So the call to watch is closely associated with the duty of angels to attend the Holy One and to be in his presence.

To deny being with him is to fall as Watchers fell.

Compare Simon and those with him pursuing Jesus

The implication is that Peter is the leader angel and one who stands out of line with Jesus. Jesus has been in Peter’s house where he healed his mother-in-law. Jesus then leaves for a deserted place.

Peter, like Azazel, has a band who is “with him”, and they cannot understand or accept Jesus going into the desert to pray. Mark 1:35-36

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

And Simon and those who were with him came after him.

Strelan sees a negative account of the disciples here. They are “pursuing” Jesus with intent, he says. They want him back in the house.

I don’t know. I don’t have much of my reference library with me to check the details of this. There is an online interlinear that we can consult here Mark 1:36. It appears from this reference at least that there is only a slight basis for Strelan’s interpretation here.

I have tended to see this first part of the gospel narrative portraying the disciple’s positively. It is only later under pressure from persecution, or cares of the world, that they become hardened.

The failure of the Twelve

Strelan continues: Nor can the disciples tolerate the Son of Man suffering (8:32), nor can the  stay awake and pray with him (14:37-38)

And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

The authority of the Twelve

The 12 watchers are appointed to have authority over the demons (Mark 3:15)

He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

The number 12 probably represents the 12 tribes of Israel: 1QM 2:2-3 and compare the links with the 12 aeons in the Gospel of the Egyptians 3:2.57-58

After them the chiefs of the Levites serve continually, twelve in all, one to a tribe. . .

Sakla said to the great demon Nebruel, “Let the twelve aeons come into being in the […] aeon, worlds […].” . . . .  And he said to the great angels, “Go and let each of you reign over his world.” Each one of these twelve angels went forth. The first angel is Athoth. He is the one whom the great generations of men call […]. The second is Harmas, who is the eye of the fire. The third is Galila. The fourth is Yobel. The fifth is Adonaios, who is called ‘Sabaoth’. The sixth is Cain, whom the great generations of men call the sun. The seventh is Abel; the eighth Akiressina; the ninth Yubel. The tenth is Harmupiael. The eleventh is Archir-Adonin. The twelfth is Belias. . . .

Compare angels who are given authority over specific areas of the world and who descend to teach on earth. They are listed with their various jurisdictions, and the names of these Watchers are listed.

1 Enoch 8:1-4

And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, ‘Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon.

1 Enoch 20:1-7

And these are the names of the holy angels who watch. Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is  over the world and over Tartarus. Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men. Raguel, one of the holy angels who takes vengeance on the world of the luminaries. Michael, one of the holy angels, to wit, he that is set over the best part of mankind and over chaos. Saraqael, one of the holy angels, who is set over the spirits, who sin in the spirit. Gabriel, one of the holy angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim. Remiel, one of the holy angels, whom God set over those who rise.

1 Enoch 6:7

And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal, 8 Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaq1el, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel.

Compare Mark 3:17-19

These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Recognition of the Holy One

Strelan writes:

Not surprisingly, the demons call Jesus ‘the Holy One’ (Mark 1:24) and they know who he is. Demons have such knowledge, according to the legend, because their fathers (the Watchers of heaven who came down to earth) were once Watchers of the Great Holy One (οι εγρηγοροι του αγιου του μεγαλου 1 Enoch 12:3) and so, of course, recognized him.

Peter is named with the name of the leader of the fallen angels

Jesus addresses Peter as Satan, Mark 8:33

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Strelan suggests that Mark is indicating to the readers that the failure of Azazel (Satan), the leader of the band of Watchers, is in danger of being repeated in Peter and the other disciples.

The Testament of Dan cites Enoch speaking of Satan, their leader, and associating him with “porneia”, pride, and the things of men. Peter, Strelan argues, had demonstrated his own pride when he rebuked Jesus (Mark 8:32).

For I have read in the book of Enoch the righteous, that your prince is Satan, and that all the spirits of fornication and pride shall be subject unto Levi, to lay a snare for the sons of Levi, to cause them to sin before the Lord.

Mindful of the things of men/of the earth

1 Enoch 15:3 speaks of the Watchers being mindful of, or thinking of things of the earth, which may be equated with thinking like humankind.

Wherefore have ye left the high, holy, and eternal heaven, and lain with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like the children of earth. . .

Strelan sees some link between having a mind on the things of the earth and making alliances in this adulterous and sinful generation, just as the Watchers made sinful alliances with illicit marriages: Mark 8:34-38

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

At the foothills of Mount Hermon

The above confrontation between Jesus and Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, which is near the foothills of Mount Hermon. An audience familiar with the book of Enoch would know that it was on Mount Hermon that the chief Watcher, Azazel, swore an oath with his 200 followers to descend to earth and marry the daughters of men.

1 Enoch 6:6

Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.

To be continued . . .

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Neil Godfrey

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5 thoughts on “Peter and the 12 Disciples; Satan and the Fallen Watchers”

  1. Strelan sees a negative account of the disciples here. They are “pursuing” Jesus with intent, he says. They want him back in the house.

    I don’t know. I don’t have much of my reference library with me to check the details of this. There is an online interlinear that we can consult here Mark 1:36. It appears from this reference at least that there is only a slight basis for Strelan’s interpretation here.
    If it helps any, The UBS Greek New Testament identifies κατεδίωξεν as the third person singular aorist active indicative of καταδιώκω. Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says that in Thucydides and the LXX it nearly always meant “‘pursue’ in a hostile sense.” However in Mark 1:36 he’s content to translate it as “search for eagerly.”

    Perhaps we can chalk it up to Mark’s notorious infelicitous use of Greek. Or maybe by the first or second century CE the connotations of word had softened a bit.

    1. My doubts arose when checking the online interlinear (linked in the post for Mark 1:36) — the word was not there at all. So I was wondering if it is something understood and supplied by translators. But I don’t have my references handy to check the manuscript history to see if and when/where the word does appear there.

  2. As esoteric as Strelan’s arguments sound, it is interesting to point out that the commands to “Watch!” (γρηγορεῖτε) found in Mark are all clustered near the end of the gospel. Incidentally they are erased by Luke. Matthew keeps them, but Luke goes off on his own (again).

  3. There is no such thing as Satan in the Book of Watchers.

    If the Testament of Dan makes such a claim, it proves that it is a late forgery or interpolation motivated by Judaization of gnostic protest exegesis.

    1. I’m sure you don’t mean to come across this way, but you do appear to be someone who is not interested in opening up to another point of view or learning what others have to say and are only looking to see where people agree or disagree with what you have long since decided is the correct view of things.

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