Luke 11:23

ESV Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
NIV Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
NASB The one who is not with Me is against Me; and the one who does not gather with Me scatters.
CSB Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.
NLT Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.
KJV He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

What does Luke 11:23 mean?

Jesus gives a proverb to complete the parable of the strong man. He explains that if the lawyers and Pharisees continue to claim Jesus' power comes from Satan, they will share Satan's fate.

The Jewish religious leaders think they are God's servants, guarding God's kingdom against Satan's infiltration. However, they are Satan's "spoils," gathered by him and guarded by demonic forces. They think Jesus releases people from demonic captivity by Satan's authority. Yet Jesus acts by the will of God the Father, and the leaders desperately need Him to storm Satan's palace and rescue them (Luke 11:14–22). Until then, they are against Christ, serving Satan as their master and father (John 8:44), not fighting against him.

That they will "scatter" is ironic. One infamous Pharisee—Saul, later known as Paul—will be responsible for persecuting the church in Jerusalem so badly that Christians scatter into Judea, Samaria, and even Syria (Acts 8). The Christians will take the gospel with them and build new churches, thus foiling Paul's plan to destroy them. But about thirty-five years later, in AD 70, the Jews will scatter as Rome destroys Jerusalem. God's plan all along was for the church to scatter and spread the good news of reconciliation through Jesus around the world. For Israel, God long ago promised to gather the scattered Jews and return them to their home (Zechariah 10).

Jesus has already addressed the concept of being with or against Him in the reverse. When John mentioned that they saw an unknown man casting out demons in Jesus' name, Jesus told the disciples, "Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:50). The dividing line is clear. It doesn't matter if you appear to be the leader of a religion of God-worshipers or if you appear to follow Jesus in an inappropriate way. Those on the side of demons and Satan are enemies of Jesus; those who join with Jesus in the war against demons and Satan are with Him.

Modern readers should be aware of how often entertainment and lifestyle trends cross this line. There are only two sources of supernatural power: Satan and demons, or God. "Spells," performing rituals while wishing "with intention," and interacting with any perceived supernatural being other than God is demon-worship. There is no "goddess." There are no deities for different areas in life. There is only one God. He is the Creator of all, including all other spiritual beings (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:15–17). Anything in the spiritual world that is not of God and to His glory is from Satan and his demons who rebelled against God and seek to destroy His work (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:12–19; Luke 10:18; John 8:44; Jude 1:6). God allows them certain power for the time being, but they will one day be completely destroyed (1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20).

In entertainment, it has become immensely popular to portray demons in a sympathetic manner. They can come across as lost, repentant, or even redeemable. That is not who demons are. They made a choice to rebel against God, and they will not waver. Their desire is to steal the rightful worship humans owe God and then destroy those humans who are made in God's image (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8).

Jesus' words are for all of us. Those who follow Him and rely on the Holy Spirit will join in His work of gathering more followers who worship God. Those who seek security, power, or even entertainment from demonic forces are actively rebelling against Jesus and are in danger of spending eternity with those same evil beings.
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