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Matthew 12:25-30

Context
12:25 Now when Jesus 1  realized what they were thinking, he said to them, 2  “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, 3  and no town or house divided against itself will stand. 12:26 So if 4  Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 12:27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons 5  cast them 6  out? For this reason they will be your judges. 12:28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God 7  has already overtaken 8  you. 12:29 How 9  else can someone enter a strong man’s 10  house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can thoroughly plunder the house. 11  12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, 12  and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 13 

1 tc The majority of mss read ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς (Jo Ihsous, “Jesus”), which clarifies who is the subject of the sentence. Although the shorter text is attested in far fewer witnesses (Ì21 א B D 892* sys,c sa bo), both the pedigree of the mss and the strong internal evidence (viz., scribes were not prone to intentionally delete the name of Jesus) argue for the omission of Jesus’ name. The name has been included in the translation, however, for clarity.

2 sn Jesus here demonstrated the absurdity of the thinking of the religious leaders who maintained that he was in league with Satan and that he actually derived his power from the devil. He first teaches (vv. 25-28) 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. 29) about tying up 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 (4:1-11) 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 (a position for which they will be held accountable, 12:31-32).

3 tn Or “is left in ruins.”

4 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.

5 sn Most read your sons as a reference to Jewish exorcists (cf. “your followers,” L&N 9.4), 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 tn The phrase ἔφθασεν ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς (efqasen efJuma") is quite 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)? Is the arrival of the kingdom merely anticipated or already in process? Two factors favor arrival over anticipation here. First, the prepositional phrase ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς (efJumas, “upon you”) in the Greek text suggests arrival (Dan 4:24, 28 Theodotion). Second, the following illustration in v. 29 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.”

9 tn Grk “Or how can.”

10 sn The strong man here pictures Satan.

11 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.

12 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.

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



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