What does Matthew 12:44 mean?
ESV: Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.
NIV: Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
NASB: Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.
CSB: Then it says, 'I'll go back to my house that I came from.' Returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order.
NLT: Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.
KJV: Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
NKJV: Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is using the analogy of a demon leaving behind a human "occupant" only to eventually return. The analogy shows what will happen to Israel if this generation does not repent of its unbelief that He is the Messiah.

The unclean spirit in Jesus' story is either cast out of a person or leaves for another reason. It passes through dry places—perhaps implying a desert (Psalm 63:1) looking for a new person to oppress. In this case, it doesn't find anyone. Now Jesus pictures the demon returning to the original person it possessed. When it comes back, the former "house" is all cleaned up. It is empty, swept, and put in order. In other words, the person had been restored to his or her right mind and is now thinking clearly and behaving normally.

Jesus is not making light of demon possession. Possession—or "oppression," as some commentators prefer—is shown throughout the gospels and Acts to be a terrible experience. Those occupied by demons lose control of their minds and bodies. They are often self-destructive and sometimes hurt other people. Some demons may give their human host supernatural strength or other abilities that are used for destructive purposes. Aside from Jesus and, later, His disciples, demons often are quite difficult to remove.

The picture of a house now in order after the demon has left fits those descriptions. Instead of being out of control and destructive, the person free of demons returns to a normal and orderly existence.
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:43–45 contains a warning from Jesus for "this evil generation" of Israelites, who have failed to receive Him as Messiah. Jesus describes a demon that has left a person but can find no other home. The demon returns to the person and finds its old "house," the formerly possessed person, cleaned up and orderly. The demon invites seven even more wicked demons to join it in re-occupying the person, making them worse off than before being freed. Jesus uses this analogy to warn against a similar fate for the people of His era.
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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