What does Matthew 12:25 mean?
ESV: Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
NIV: Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
NASB: And knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
CSB: Knowing their thoughts, he told them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
NLT: Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, 'Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.
KJV: And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
NKJV: But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
Verse Commentary:
The Pharisees have stated that Jesus' ability to cast out demons came from Satan and not from God (Matthew 12:22–24). It's not the first time they've made such a claim (Matthew 9:34). Apparently, they either said this in private, or in a way which did not draw much attention. Here, again, they seem to be making the accusation outside of earshot of Jesus. Rather than indicating He heard them, this verse reveals that He knew their thoughts. The fact that Jesus was able to read their minds should have been further evidence to the Pharisees that He was the Messiah.

Jesus begins His counterargument against their charge with logic: Kingdoms divided against themselves are defeated. Civil war doesn't make for powerful nations. Divided cities and houses, likewise, do not stand. They fall. The point, one Jesus clarifies in the following verses, is that Satan would not cast out the very demons he sent out to oppress people. He would only be defeating himself.
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.
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