What does Mark 3:22 mean?
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.”
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.'
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.'
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."
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.'
KJV: And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
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.
Mark 3:22–30 continues as the Pharisees from Galilee show their disapproval of Jesus (Mark 3:6). Here, in the fourth story about people's reaction to Jesus, scribes from Jerusalem join in. They have heard that Jesus healed a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute (Matthew 12:22–23). The scribes quickly judge that Jesus is performing miracles through the power of Satan. This stubborn belief, in the face of logic, leads Jesus to condemn their blasphemy and warn that if they continue along this vein, they will be damned forever. Matthew 12:22–32 and Luke 11:14–23 also record this confrontation; in Luke 12:10 Jesus talks similarly about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
The bulk of chapter 3 deals with how different people react to Jesus' teaching and His assumption of authority. The Pharisees' confusion transitions into plotting. The crowds that continually follow Jesus for healing become more frenetic and dangerous. Jesus' own family, afraid for His sanity, try to pull Him away. But true followers also show themselves. Twelve join together to become a core group, while a slightly bigger crowd, more interested in Jesus' teaching than miracles, earn the honor of being called His true family.
Mark chapter 3 continues in the same pattern as chapter 2, describing various teaching and healing encounters from the life of Jesus. These events are used to explain Jesus' overall message and demonstrate His power. They also serve to show how different people react to His teachings. Chapter 4 will focus more on Jesus' parables.
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:11:53 AM
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