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Matthew 12:29

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Else how can one enter into a strong man's house - Men, through sin, are become the very house and dwelling place of Satan, having of their own accord surrendered themselves to this unjust possessor; for whoever gives up his soul to sin gives it up to the devil. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who can deliver from the power of this bondage. When Satan is cast out, Jesus purifies and dwells in the heart.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 22-30

Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil - See the notes at Matthew 4:24. The same account, substantially, is found in Mark 3:22-27, and Luke 11:14-26.

Matthew 12:23

Is not this the Son of David? - That is, Is not this the promised “descendant” of David, the Messiah? They were acquainted with the prophecy in Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped,” and they inferred that he must be the promised Messiah who was able to do this. This inference was drawn by the common people, and not by the proud and haughty Pharisees. It is not uncommon that people of plain common sense, though unlearned, see the true meaning of the Bible, while those who are filled with pride and science, falsely so called, are blinded.

Matthew 12:24

But when the Pharisees heard it … - It was necessary for the Pharisees, who had determined to reject Jesus of Nazareth, to account in “some” way for the miracles he had performed.

Here was a manifest miracle, an exertion of power unquestionably superior to what people could put forth. The common people were fast drawing the proper inference from it, and coming into the belief that this was the Messiah. The authority and power of the Pharisees were declining. Unless, therefore, some way should be devised of accounting for these facts, their influence would be at an end. Whatever way of accounting for them was adopted, it was necessary that they should acknowledge that there was “superhuman power.” The people were fully persuaded of this, and no man could deny it. They therefore ascribed it to the prince of the devils - to Beelzebub. In this they had two objects:

1.To concede to the people that here was a “miracle,” or a work above mere human power.

2.To throw all possible contempt on Jesus. Beelzebub, or Beelzebul, as it is in the Greek, and correctly rendered in the margin, was an opprobrious name given to the leader of the devils as an expression of supreme contempt. See the notes at Matthew 10:25.

Matthew 12:25, Matthew 12:26

And Jesus knew their thoughts … - To know the thoughts of the heart belongs only to God, Psalm 139:2; Jeremiah 17:10.

Every kingdom … - Their subtle and cunning device was completely foiled, and Jesus made their argument recoil on their own heads. A kingdom or a family can prosper only by living in harmony. The different parts and members must unite in promoting the same objects. If divided - if one part undoes what the other does - it must fall. So with the kingdom of Satan. It is your doctrine that Satan has “possessed” these whom I have cured. It is also your doctrine that he has helped me to cure them. If so, then he has helped me to undo what he had done. He has aided me to cast himself out - that is, to oppose and discomfit himself. At this rate, how can there be any stability in his kingdom? It must fall, and Satan must have less than human prudence.

Matthew 12:27

By whom do your children cast them out? - Your disciples; your followers.

See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Christ was not satisfied by showing them the intrinsic absurdity of their argument. He showed them that it might as well be applied to them as to him. your disciples, taught by you and encouraged by you, pretend to cast out devils. If your argument be true that a man who casts out devils must be in league with the devil, then “your disciples” have made a covenant with him also. You must therefore either give up this argument, or admit that the working of miracles is proof of the assistance of God.

Therefore they shall be your judges - They condemn you and your argument. They are conclusive witnesses against the force of your reasoning.

Matthew 12:28

But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God … - The Spirit of God, here, means the “power” of God - in Luke, by the “finger” of God.

Compare Exodus 8:19; Psalm 8:3. If this work is not by the aid of Satan, then it is by the aid of God. Then his kingdom, or “reign,” is come, Matthew 3:2. The reign of Satan over people, and the reign of God are in opposition. If God expels Satan from his dominion over people, then his reign has come.

Matthew 12:29

Or else … - The Saviour makes use of a new illustration to confute the Pharisees, drawn from breaking into a house.

A man could not break into the house of a strong man and take his property unless he had rendered the man himself helpless. If he had taken his goods, it would therefore be sufficient proof that he had bound the man. So I, says he, have taken this “property - this possessed person” - from the dominion of Satan. It is clear proof that I have subdued “Satan himself,” the “strong” being that had him in possession. The words “or else” mean “or how:” “How, or in what way, can one, etc.”

Spoil his goods - The word “spoil” commonly means, now, to corrupt, injure, or destroy. Here it means “to plunder,” to take with violence, as it commonly does in the Bible. See Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:15; Exodus 3:22.

Matthew 12:30

He that is not with me … - In addition to his other arguments, Jesus urges this general principle, that there can be but two parties in the universe.

If anyone did not act with him, he was against him. If he gathered not with him, he scattered. This is taken from the practice of persons in harvest. He that did not gather with him, or “aid” him, scattered abroad, or opposed him. The application of this was, “As I have not united with Satan, but opposed him, there can be no league between us.” The charge, therefore, is a false one.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
A soul under Satan's power, and led captive by him, is blind in the things of God, and dumb at the throne of grace; sees nothing, and says nothing to the purpose. Satan blinds the eyes by unbelief, and seals up the lips from prayer. The more people magnified Christ, the more desirous the Pharisees were to vilify him. It was evident that if Satan aided Jesus in casting out devils, the kingdom of hell was divided against itself; how then could it stand! And if they said that Jesus cast out devils by the prince of the devils, they could not prove that their children cast them out by any other power. There are two great interests in the world; and when unclean spirits are cast out by the Holy Spirit, in the conversion of sinners to a life of faith and obedience, the kingdom of God is come unto us. All who do not aid or rejoice in such a change are against Christ.
Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 299

We have a powerful enemy, and not only does he hate every human being made in the image of God, but with bitterest enmity he hates God and His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. When men give themselves over to be the slaves of Satan, he does not manifest the enmity toward them which he does to those who bear the name of Christ, and give themselves to the service of God. He hates them with a deadly hatred. He knows that he can grieve Jesus by bringing them under the power of his deceptions, by injuring them, by weakening their faith, by making them incapable of doing God service as they are required to serve under their Captain Jesus Christ. Satan will permit those to have a degree of rest who are bound as slaves to his chariot, for they are his willing captives; but his enmity is aroused when the message of mercy reaches his bondslaves, and they seek to wrench themselves away from his power, that they may follow the true Shepherd. Then it is that he seeks to bind them with additional chains to hold them in their captivity. The conflict between the soul and Satan begins when the captive begins to tug at the chain, and longs to be free; for it is then that the human agent begins to co-operate with heavenly intelligences, when faith takes hold on Christ. Then it is that the Stronger than the strong man armed, is the helper of the soul, and the poor captive is strengthened by the Holy Spirit to obtain his freedom. FE 299.1

God has a deep and earnest love for every member of the human family; not one is forgotten, not one is left helpless and deceived to be overcome by the enemy. And if those who have enlisted in the army of Christ will put on the whole armor of God, and wear it, they will be proof against all the assaults of the enemy. Those who really desire to be taught of God, and to walk in His way, have the sure promise that if they feel their lack of wisdom and ask of God, He will give liberally, and upbraid not. The apostle says, “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” God is behind every promise, and we cannot dishonor Him more than by questioning and hesitating, by asking and not believing, and then by talking doubt. If you do not immediately receive what you have asked for, will you go on in sullenness and unbelief? Believe; believe that God will do just what He has promised. Keep your prayers ascending, and watch, work, and wait. Fight the good fight of faith. Say to your heart, “God has invited me to come. He has heard my prayer. He has pledged His word that he will receive me, and He will fulfil His promise. I can trust God; for He so loved me that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for me. The Son of God is my Redeemer.” “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” FE 299.2

The youth who enter and continue their school life with the true object before them, will not be homesick or disappointed. They will not be restless and uneasy, not knowing what to do with themselves. They will find a helper in the Omnipotent One. They will have one aim in view, and that is to be men and women of principle, who will meet God's standard, and benefit humanity and glorify God. They will not regard their school life as a time for pleasure seeking, for idle amusement and foolish frolic, but will endeavor to make the most of their God-given opportunities and privileges, so that they shall not disappoint their parents and teachers, or grieve God and heavenly intelligences. FE 300.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 78

The Lord has a controversy with all men who by their unbelief and doubt have been saying that He delays His coming, and who have been smiting their fellow servants, and eating and drinking with (working from the very same principle as) the drunken; they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. Satan has controlled their reason, and they know not at what they stumble. TM 78.1

Just as soon as a man separates from God so that his heart is not under the subduing power of the Holy Spirit, the attributes of Satan will be revealed, and he will begin to oppress his fellowmen. An influence goes forth from him that is contrary to truth and justice and righteousness. This disposition is manifested in our institutions, not only in the relation of the workers to one another, but in the desire shown by one institution to control all others. [See Appendix.] Men who are entrusted with weighty responsibilities, but who have no living connection with God, have been and are doing despite to His Holy Spirit. They are indulging the very same spirit as did Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and as did the Jews in the days of Christ. (See Matthew 12:22-29, 31-37.) Warnings have come from God again and again for these men, but they have cast them aside and ventured on in the same course. TM 78.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 321-7

This chapter is based on Matthew 12:22-50; Mark 3:20-35.

The sons of Joseph were far from being in sympathy with Jesus in His work. The reports that reached them in regard to His life and labors filled them with astonishment and dismay. They heard that He devoted entire nights to prayer, that through the day He was thronged by great companies of people, and did not give Himself time so much as to eat. His friends felt that He was wearing Himself out by His incessant labor; they were unable to account for His attitude toward the Pharisees, and there were some who feared that His reason was becoming unsettled. DA 321.1

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 142-3

It would be surprising if there were not some, who, not being well-balanced in mind, have spoken and acted indiscreetly; for whenever and wherever the Lord works in giving a genuine blessing, a counterfeit is also revealed, in order to make of none effect the true work of God. Therefore we need to be exceedingly careful, and walk humbly before God, that we may have spiritual eyesalve that we may distinguish the working of the Holy Spirit of God from the working of that spirit that would bring in wild license and fanaticism. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Those who are really beholding Christ will be changed into His image, even by the Spirit of the Lord, and will grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God will inspire men with love and purity; and refinement will be manifest in their characters. 1SM 142.1

But because some have misappropriated the rich blessing of heaven, shall others deny that Jesus, the Saviour of the world, has passed through our churches, and that to bless? Let not doubt and unbelief question this; for in so doing, you are treading on dangerous ground. God has given the Holy Spirit to those who have opened the door of their hearts to receive the heavenly gift. But let them not yield to the temptation afterward to believe that they have been deceived. Let them not say, “Because I feel darkness, and am oppressed with doubt, and never saw Satan's power so manifest as now, therefore I was mistaken.” I warn you to be careful. Sow not one expression of doubt. God has wrought for you, bringing sound doctrines of truth into actual contact with the heart. Blessing was given you, that it might produce fruit in sound practices and upright character. 1SM 142.2

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