What does Matthew 12:24 mean?
ESV: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
NIV: But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'
NASB: But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.'
CSB: When the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons."
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.'
KJV: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
NKJV: Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:22–32 begins with Jesus healing a demon-oppressed man who cannot see or speak. The passage ends with a controversial, troubling statement. The crowds wonder if Jesus is the Messiah. Some Pharisees say Jesus casts out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus counters their argument with both logic and a harsh rebuke. The Pharisees have missed the truth: the kingdom of God has come. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—seeing such a miracle and attributing it to Satan—is a sin which will not be forgiven.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 12 features confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus over several issues. Among these are working on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, and the source of His power to cast out demons. Jesus counters each argument and rebukes the Pharisees sharply for their obstinate unbelief. He even notes that those who maliciously ascribe His miracles to demons are unforgivable. He warns them, and the rest of their current generation, about the judgment to come. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers and rejects their demand for another miracle. All they'll be promised is the sign of Jonah. The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days. Jesus also states that all who do His Father's will are His family.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 depicted Jesus preaching and teaching after sending out His chosen disciples in pairs in chapter 10. Chapter 12 immediately picks up with more confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus responds to those criticisms and rebukes their evil hearts as the source of their evil words. In the following chapter, Matthew will shift His focus onto Jesus' parables.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/26/2024 10:06:50 AM
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