But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Beelzebub the prince of the devils.—(See Notes on Matthew 9:34; Matthew 10:25.) The words appear to have been whispered by the Pharisees among the people. They were not addressed to Jesus. The charge is significant as showing that the Pharisees admitted the reality of the work of healing which they had witnessed, and were driven to explain it by assuming demoniacal agency.
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.
they said, This fellow—an expression of contempt.
doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub—rather, "Beelzebul" (see on Mt 10:25).
the prince of the devils—Two things are here implied—first, that the bitterest enemies of our Lord were unable to deny the reality of His miracles; and next, that they believed in an organized infernal kingdom of evil, under one chief. This belief would be of small consequence, had not our Lord set His seal to it; but this He immediately does. Stung by the unsophisticated testimony of "all the people," they had no way of holding out against His claims but by the desperate shift of ascribing His miracles to Satan.Matthew 9:34. The Pharisees, not acknowledging the Deity of Christ, nor that he was the Messiah, were for their interest concerned not to acknowledge, and as much as in them lay to keep others from believing, that he did that from his own power which God alone could do. But yet they might have allowed him to have by a power derived from God done these miraculous things, as Elijah and Elisha of old did. But they blaspheme at the highest rate imaginable, ascribing that to the devil which was proper to God alone. Christ’s miracles were exceeding many, and it was a time when the Messiah was expected. The sceptre was departed from Judah, and, as it appears from John 7:31, (whatever the Jews now say impudently), they heard that when the Messiah did come he should work many miracles. These things put them into a rage. This remarkable piece of history is recorded by three evangelists: by Matthew in this place; by Mark, Mark 3:22-30; and by Luke, Luke 11:15-20. Matthew 12:14 but others that were come from Judea and Jerusalem, and were with him in the house, and saw the miracle: these, when they heard what the people said, and how ready they were to believe, and own Jesus to be the Messiah, in order to prevent it, being filled with envy and malice,
they said, this fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. They could not deny the miracle, or that it was one; but to deprive him of the glory of it, and even reproach him for it, and to bring him into contempt with the people, they not only speak of him in a scornful manner, "this" sorry man, "this" vile fellow; but ascribe the miracle he wrought to familiarity with the devil, to diabolical influence and skill in magic art: they pretended he was in confederacy with Satan, and was carrying on his interest: and therefore, that he might gain credit and reputation, the prince of devils suffered the inferior ones to remove at his word: and of these their ancestors, the Jews have learnt to fix this vile imputation, and blasphemous piece of slander upon Christ; who, they say (o), brought enchantments, or witchcrafts, out of Egypt, in the cuttings of his flesh, whereby he performed the things he did. Concerning Beelzebub; see Gill on Matthew 10:25 here called "the prince of devils"; it being a prevailing notion among the Jews, that there is one devil who is the head of all the rest, and who is by them sometimes called Asmodeus: they say (p), when Solomon sinned against the Lord, he sent to him , "Asmodeus the king of the devils", and drove him from his throne, and so elsewhere (q): and sometimes Samael, who is styled (r) Samael the prince, , "the king of devils"; and the angel Samael, the wicked, , "the head of all the Satans", or devils (s): and we often read (t) of , "the prince of hell"; by whom the same is meant, as here, by Beelzebub; for if anyone devil is more wicked, odious, and execrable than the rest, the chief of them may be thought to be so; for which reason he is here mentioned.
(o) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 13. 4. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 104. 2.((p) Targum in Eccl. i. 12. (q) T. Bab. Pesach, fol. 110. 1. Gittin, fol. 68. 1. & Raziel, fol. 41. 2.((r) Zohar in Deut. fol. 120. 3.((s) Debarim Rabba, fol. 245. 3.((t) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 52. 1. Imre Binah in Zohar in Gen. fol. 22. 3.But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 12:24. Οἱ δὲ φαρισαῖοι. They of course have a very different opinion. In Mark these were men come down from Jerusalem, to watch, not to lay hold of Jesus, Galilee not being under the direct jurisdiction of the Sanhedrim then (vide on Mark).—Οὗτος οὐκ ἐκβάλλει, etc.: theory enunciated for second time, unless Matthew 9:34 be an anticipation by the evangelist, or a spurious reading. What diversity of opinion! Christ’s friends, according to Mark, thought Him “beside himself”—mad, Messiah, in league with Beelzebub! Herod had yet another theory: the marvellous healer was John redivivus, and endowed with the powers of the other world. All this implies that the healing ministry was a great fact.—οὐκ … εἰ μὴ: the negative way of putting it stronger than the positive. The Pharisees had to add εἰ μὴ. They would gladly have said: “He does not cast out devils at all”. But the fact was undeniable; therefore they had to invent a theory to neutralise its significance.—ἄρχοντι, without article, might mean, as prince, therefore able to communicate such power. So Meyer, Weiss, et al. But the article may be omitted after Βεελζεβοὺλ as after βασιλεύς, or on account of the following genitive. So Schanz. Whether the Pharisees believed this theory may be doubted. It was enough that it was plausible. To reason with such men is vain. Yet Jesus did reason for the benefit of disciples.24–30. The Charge, “He casteth out devils by Beelzebub.” The Answer of Jesus
Mark 3:22-27; Luke 11:17.
24. Beelzebub] See ch. Matthew 10:25.Matthew 12:24. Ἀκούσαντες, when they heard) sc. what the people said.—οἷτος, this) man. A contemptuous mode of expression. [E. V. This fellow].—εἰ μὴ, except) A vehement affirmation.—ἐν τῷ Βεελζεβοὺλ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων, by Beelzebub the prince of the devils) They call Satan thus. In the Old Testament this was the name of an idol. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20.
 Of what great moment a very few words may be.—V. g.Verse 24. - (On the relation of this verse to Matthew 9:34, see notes there.) But when the Pharisees. Not further defined here, but in Mark 3:22 spoken of as "the scribes that had come down from Jerusalem." Heard it, they said, This fellow; man (Revised Version); οῦτος (cf. Matthew 9:3, note). Observe that οῦτος (in Matthew only) here answers to the οῦτος of ver. 23. "This man" is at once the object of hope in the minds of the multitudes, and of the deepest opposition on the part of the Pharisees. Doth not cast out devils, but. In the parallel passages there is merely a direct assertion that he does it by Beelzebub; here there is a denial of his power to do it by any other agency. Does Matthew's version express rather the process of their deliberation, and that of Mark and Luke the final result? (On the Jewish tradition that our Lord performed miracles by magic, see Matthew 2:14, note, and Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' here.) By; in, Revised Version, margin (Matthew 9:34, note). Beelzebub (Matthew 10:25, note). The prince. Better omit the article, ἄρχοντι giving, so to speak, his official title. Of the devils.
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