What does Matthew 12:26 mean?
ESV: And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
NIV: If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?
NASB: And if Satan is casting out Satan, he has become divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?
CSB: If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
NLT: And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive.
KJV: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
NKJV: If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
Verse Commentary:
Jesus stands accused by the Pharisees of casting out demons by Beelzebul—in other words, by using the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22–24). These men are so hardened against God that they refuse to accept the obvious (John 5:39–40). Jesus' critics make no effort to claim His work here was a trick or a lie. They know, for a fact, that it's supernatural. What they refuse to accept is that it's godly—since that would mean their traditions and legalism are wrong (Matthew 12:1–8). To explain away the miracle, they need an alternative excuse for Jesus' undeniable power over demons This is the best they can come up with.

Jesus has begun to answer the charge. His first rebuttal is that no nation, city, or even household that is divided against itself can stand. That would be civil war, and the "kingdom" would fall (Matthew 12:25). Now Jesus applies that idea to the charge against Him. Satan sends demons out into the world to do his work. If Satan then casts those same demons out of the ones they have been sent to oppress, Satan would be divided against himself. Jesus asks, "How will Satan's kingdom stand?"

Jesus' point is that the idea is absurd. Satan would not go to war against 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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