3:22 The experts in the law 1 who came down from Jerusalem 2 said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” 3 and, “By the ruler 4 of demons he casts out demons.” 3:23 So 5 he called them and spoke to them in parables: 6 “How can Satan cast out Satan? 3:24 If 7 a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom will not be able to stand. 3:25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 3:26 And if Satan rises against himself and is divided, he is not able to stand and his end has come. 3:27 But no one is able to enter a strong man’s 8 house and steal his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can thoroughly plunder his house. 9 3:28 I tell you the truth, 10 people will be forgiven for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter. 11 3:29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin” 12 3:30 (because they said, “He has an unclean spirit” 13 ).
3 tn Grk “He has Beelzebul.”
sn Beelzebul is another name for Satan. So some people recognized Jesus’ work as supernatural, but called it diabolical.
4 tn Or “prince.”
5 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of previous action(s) in the narrative.
6 sn Jesus spoke two parables to demonstrate 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. The first parable (vv. 23-26) teaches that if Jesus cast 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. The second parable (v. 28) about tying up a strong man proves that Jesus does not need to align himself with the devil because Jesus is more powerful. Jesus defeated Satan at his temptation (1:12-13) 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 (a position for which they will be held accountable, 3:29-30). For an explanation of what a parable is, see the note on parables in 4:2.
7 sn The three conditional statements in vv. 24-26 express the logical result of the assumption that Jesus heals by Satan’s power, expressed by the religious leaders. The point is clear: If the leaders are correct, then Satan’s kingdom will not stand, so the suggestion makes no sense. Satan would not seek to heal.
8 sn The strong man here pictures Satan.
9 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.
10 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”
11 tn Grk “all the sins and blasphemies they may speak will be forgiven the sons of men.”
12 sn Is guilty of an eternal sin. This passage has troubled many people, who have wondered whether or not they have committed this eternal sin. Three things must be kept in mind: (1) the nature of the sin is to ascribe what is the obvious work of the Holy Spirit (e.g., releasing people from Satan’s power) to Satan himself; (2) it is not simply a momentary doubt or sinful attitude, but is indeed a settled condition which opposes the Spirit’s work, as typified by the religious leaders who opposed Jesus; and (3) a person who is concerned about it has probably never committed this sin, for those who commit it here (i.e., the religious leaders) are not in the least concerned about Jesus’ warning. On this last point see W. W. Wessel, “Mark,” EBC 8:645-46.
13 sn Unclean spirit refers to an evil spirit.