Matthew 12:24 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 12:24, NIV: But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'

Matthew 12:24, ESV: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”

Matthew 12:24, KJV: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Matthew 12:24, NASB: But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.'

Matthew 12:24, NLT: But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, 'No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.'

Matthew 12:24, CSB: When the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons."

What does Matthew 12:24 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Pharisees refused to entertain even the possibility that Jesus could be the long-promised Messiah (Matthew 12:22–23). Despite all His healings and miracles, Jesus simply did not meet their expectations for what the Savior of Israel should be like. Worse, He often contradicted their traditions and authority (Matthew 12:1–8). Still, they needed some explanation for Jesus' undeniable power. Christ's ministry included demonstrating the ability to cast out demons with a simple command.

Rather than follow the evidence to a logical conclusion, Jesus' bitter critics choose a more drastic, stubborn opinion. The Pharisees declare to those nearby that Jesus' ability to order demons away came from Beelzebul, the prince of demons himself. Beelzebul, which means "master of the house," was another name for Satan or the devil. In short, the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of sorcery, the practice of accessing the power of evil spirits for specific purposes. Under the law of Moses, the penalty for sorcery was death (Exodus 22:18).

This isn't the first time the Pharisees had accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. They are quoted as saying the same thing in Matthew 9:34 after hearing the crowd express amazement at Jesus' power over demons. The Pharisees are still conspiring to destroy Jesus (Matthew 12:14), and this accusation fit right into their plan. First, it discredited Jesus' power as not coming from God. Second, it allowed for the accusation of a crime that came with the death penalty.

Readers are meant to understand just how obstinate these critical Pharisees have become. This is a prime example of a concept often seen in the Bible: that some people will never believe, no matter what. The Pharisees know more than enough, and they have seen more than enough, but they deliberately refuse to accept the truth (John 5:39–40).

Next, Christ will dismantle their accusation and bring a devastating counter-charge.