Mark 3:22 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 3:22, NIV: "And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.'"

Mark 3:22, ESV: "And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”"

Mark 3:22, KJV: "And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils."

Mark 3:22, NASB: "The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul,' and 'He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.'"

Mark 3:22, NLT: "But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, 'He's possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That's where he gets the power to cast out demons.'"

Mark 3:22, CSB: "The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and, "He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.""

What does Mark 3:22 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus went down to Judea to be baptized by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9), and people from all over come to be healed (Mark 3:7–8). However, He stays in Galilee (Mark 1:39). The Pharisees whom Jesus has debated seem to be from the area, as well. Now, however, scribes come from Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish religion, specifically to handle Jesus. The text refers to their journey as "down" because Jerusalem sits at a higher elevation.

Matthew 12:22–23 explains why the scribes arrive at this time. Jesus had cast out a demon from a man who was blind and mute. Although Old Testament prophets did occasionally heal people (1 Kings 13:4–6; 17:17–24; 2 Kings 5:1–14), there is no record they ever healed someone who was naturally blind. Spiritual blindness is treated as a separate issue (2 Kings 6:20–21). There are, however, prophecies that the Messiah will heal the blind (Isaiah 61:1) which Jesus quotes (Luke 4:18–19). This leads the people to wonder if Jesus is the Messiah, a speculation the scribes cannot abide.

"Scribe" is taken from the Greek root word grammateus. Originally, scribes were tasked with writing and keeping the records of kings, generals, and prophets (Jeremiah 36:4). When the Jewish refugees returned from Babylon, scribes took up the task of interpreting the Mosaic Law. This fit in with the Pharisees' desire to add to the Law to make sure the people would never again sin so badly that God will send them into exile. In this way, the scribes became the lawyers of the Pharisees.

Because of the scribes' high degree of education and expertise in the Torah, they feel they have the qualifications to judge Jesus. Their expert opinion is that if Jesus doesn't follow the same rules they do, His supernatural power must come from a different spiritual force than God.

Beelzebul is Aramaic and means "lord of the house." The similar "Beelzebub" is a parody which means "lord of the flies." Beelzebul is a variation of Baal, the primary God of the Canaanites and Phoenicians and one of the greatest temptations for the Israelites in the Old Testament (Judges 2:13). By the time of Christ, however, "Beelzebul" represents Satan. If Jesus' authority to cast out demons does not come from God, the scribes reason, it must come from the leader of the demons. Jesus proceeds to tell them why that is a ridiculous idea.