St Bede tells us that since death first entered into the world through the devil’s envy, it was appropriate that the healing medicine of salvation should first operate against him; the very presence of the Saviour is a torment to the devil. St Augustine says that it is clear the devils knew that he was the Christ and had come to destroy them. As we see, even the devils know who He is.
Irenaeus comments that they recognise Him, but do not believe. It was fitting that the truth should receive testimony from all, and should become a means of judgment for the salvation of those who believe and for the condemnation of those who do not. The result is that justice is done: faith in the Father and the Son should be a matter of decision for all, receiving testimony from all, both from those who embrace salvation and those who reject it.
Augustine contrasts Peter’s confession of faith, which was given in love, with that of the demons here, which is extracted from them by their fear – ‘So tell us how faith is to be defined, if even the devils can believe and tremble? Only the faith that works by love is faith.’ He goes on to write: ‘Faith is mighty, but without love it profits nothing. The devils confessed Christ, but lacking charity it availed nothing.’
Bede comments on how the devil, who had ensnared Eve with his tongue, is punished by the tongue so that he cannot speak