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Luke 11:14-23

Context
Jesus and Beelzebul

11:14 Now 1  he was casting out a demon that was mute. 2  When 3  the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began to speak, 4  and the crowds were amazed. 11:15 But some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, 5  the ruler 6  of demons, he casts out demons.” 11:16 Others, to test 7  him, 8  began asking for 9  a sign 10  from heaven. 11:17 But Jesus, 11  realizing their thoughts, said to them, 12  “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, 13  and a divided household falls. 14  11:18 So 15  if 16  Satan too is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? I ask you this because 17  you claim that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 11:19 Now if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons 18  cast them 19  out? Therefore they will be your judges. 11:20 But if I cast out demons by the finger 20  of God, then the kingdom of God 21  has already overtaken 22  you. 11:21 When a strong man, 23  fully armed, guards his own palace, 24  his possessions are safe. 25  11:22 But 26  when a stronger man 27  attacks 28  and conquers him, he takes away the first man’s 29  armor on which the man relied 30  and divides up 31  his plunder. 32  11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, 33  and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 34 

1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

2 tn The phrase “a demon that was mute” should probably be understood to mean that the demon caused muteness or speechlessness in its victim, although it is sometimes taken to refer to the demon’s own inability to speak (cf. TEV, “a demon that could not talk”).

3 tn Grk “And it happened that when.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Here δέ (de) has not been translated either.

4 sn This miracle is different from others in Luke. The miracle is told entirely in one verse and with minimum detail, while the response covers several verses. The emphasis is on explaining what Jesus’ work means.

5 tn Grk “By Beelzebul.”

sn Beelzebul is another name for Satan. So some people recognized Jesus’ work as supernatural, but called it diabolical.

6 tn Or “prince.”

7 tn Grk “testing”; the participle is taken as indicating the purpose of the demand.

8 tn The pronoun “him” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

9 tn Grk “seeking from him.” The imperfect ἐζήτουν (ezhtoun) is taken ingressively. It is also possible to regard it as iterative (“kept on asking”).

10 sn What exactly this sign would have been, given what Jesus was already doing, is not clear. But here is where the fence-sitters reside, refusing to commit to him.

11 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 sn Jesus here demonstrated the absurdity of the thinking of those who maintained that he was in league with Satan and that he actually derived his power from the devil. He first teaches (vv. 17-20) that if he casts out demons by the ruler of the demons, then in reality Satan is fighting against himself, with the result that his kingdom has come to an end. He then teaches (v. 21-22) about defeating the strong man to prove that he does not need to align himself with the devil because he is more powerful. Jesus defeated Satan at his temptation (4:1-13) and by his exorcisms he clearly demonstrated himself to be stronger than the devil. The passage reveals the desperate condition of the religious leaders, who in their hatred for Jesus end up attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.

13 tn Or “is left in ruins.”

14 tn Grk “and house falls on house.” This phrase pictures one house collapsing on another, what is called today a “house of cards.”

15 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate that the clause that follows is a logical conclusion based on the preceding examples.

16 tn This first class condition, the first of three “if” clauses in the following verses, presents the example vividly as if it were so. In fact, all three conditions in these verses are first class. The examples are made totally parallel. The expected answer is that Satan’s kingdom will not stand, so the suggestion makes no sense. Satan would not seek to heal.

17 tn Grk “because.” “I ask you this” is supplied for the sake of English.

18 sn Most read your sons as a reference to Jewish exorcists (cf. “your followers,” L&N 9.4; for various views see D. L. Bock, Luke [BECNT], 2:1077-78), but more likely this is a reference to the disciples of Jesus themselves, who are also Jewish and have been healing as well (R. J. Shirock, “Whose Exorcists are they? The Referents of οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν at Matthew 12:27/Luke 11:19,” JSNT 46 [1992]: 41-51). If this is a reference to the disciples, then Jesus’ point is that it is not only him, but those associated with him whose power the hearers must assess. The following reference to judging also favors this reading.

19 tn The pronoun “them” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

20 sn The finger of God is a figurative reference to God’s power (L&N 76.3). This phrase was used of God’s activity during the Exodus (Exod 8:19).

21 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong. See Luke 6:20; 11:20; 17:20-21.

22 tn The phrase ἔφθασεν ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς (efqasen efJuma") is important. Does it mean merely “approach” (which would be reflected in a translation like “has come near to you”) or actually “come upon” (as in the translation given above, “has already overtaken you,” which has the added connotation of suddenness)? The issue here is like the one in 10:9 (see note there on the phrase “come on”). Is the arrival of the kingdom merely anticipated or already in process? Two factors favor arrival over anticipation here. First, the prepositional phrase “upon you” suggests arrival (Dan 4:24, 28 Theodotion). Second, the following illustration in vv. 21-23 looks at the healing as portraying Satan being overrun. So the presence of God’s authority has arrived. See also L&N 13.123 for the translation of φθάνω (fqanw) as “to happen to already, to come upon, to come upon already.”

23 tn The referent of the expression “a strong man” is Satan.

24 tn The word αὐλή (aulh) describes any building large and elaborate enough to have an interior courtyard, thus “dwelling, palace, mansion” (L&N 7.6).

25 tn Grk “his goods are in peace.”

26 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

27 tn The referent of the expression “a stronger man” is Jesus.

28 tn Grk “stronger man than he attacks.”

29 tn Grk “his”; the referent (the first man mentioned) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

30 tn Grk “on which he relied.”

31 tn Or “and distributes.”

32 sn Some see the imagery here as similar to Eph 4:7-10, although no opponents are explicitly named in that passage. Jesus has the victory over Satan. Jesus’ acts of healing mean that the war is being won and the kingdom is coming.

33 sn Whoever is not with me is against me. The call here is to join the victor. Failure to do so means that one is being destructive. Responding to Jesus is the issue.

34 sn For the image of scattering, see Pss. Sol. 17:18.



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