And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If Satan cast out Satan.—In the Greek the name has the article in both places, as pointing to the one great adversary. It is not that one Satan casts out another, but that he, on the assumption of the Pharisees, casts out himself. Satan is not personally identified with the demon, the deaf or dumb spirit, that had possessed the man, but the language implies that where evil enters into the soul, Satan enters also. (Comp. John 13:27.) There is, as it were, a seeming ubiquity, a solidarité, in the power of evil, as there is admittedly in the sovereign power of good.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.Mark 3:23-26, with little alteration in the phrase; so doth Luke, Luke 11:17,18. The sum of the argument is, The devil is so wise, that he will look to the upholding of his own kingdom in the world. This will require an agreement of the devils amongst themselves, for if they be divided they cannot uphold their kingdom, nor stand, any more than a house, city, or kingdom in the world so divided can stand; therefore the prince of devils will not forcibly cast out the inferior devils. There is but one imaginable objection to this: Do we not see the contrary to this in people’s going to cunning men for help against those that are bewitched, to get help for them? And is there no truth in those many stories we have of persons that have found help against the devil for some that have traded with the devil? I answer, It is one thing for the devils to play one with another, another thing for them to cast out one another. One devil may yield and give place to another, to gain a greater advantage for the whole society, but one never quarrels with another. The first may be for the enlarging of Satan’s kingdom. This must be to destroy it. When a poor wretched creature goeth to one who dealeth with the devil for help for one who is vexed with some effect of the devil, one devil here doth but yield and give place to another by compact, voluntarily, and for the devil’s greater advantage; for it is more advantage to the devil (who seeks nothing so much as a divine homage) to gain the faith of one soul, than to exercise a power to afflict many bodies. In such cases as these, the devil, for the abatement of a little bodily pain, gains a power over the soul of him or her who cometh to implore his help, and exerciseth a faith in him. This is an establishing, promoting, and enlarging his kingdom. But Christ forced the devils out of persons; they did not yield voluntarily, for a greater advantage, but forcibly, for no advantage. He did not pray the devils to come out, nor make use of any of the devil’s sacraments, upon the use of which, by some original compact, he was obliged to come out upon a soul’s surrender of itself by faith to him; but they came out unwillingly, upon the authoritative words of Christ, without the use of any magical rites and ceremonies testifying the least homage done to him.
he is divided against himself; he acts contrary to his own interest, which is to keep possession of the bodies and souls of men; and consequently it must, in course, be subversive of his power and dominion:
how shall then his kingdom stand? he will never be able to maintain his authority, and keep up the show of a government, as he does: for these words suggest, that there is a form of government among the devils, who are united in one body, under one head; and whose unity and concord are their greatest strength, as in all other governments. Our Lord's argument, and which is his first, for others follow, is, that since Satan, who is so cunning and crafty, can never be thought to act such an opposite part to himself, subversive of his kingdom and government; and which would give so much credit to Christ, and serve so much to strengthen his interest, as to assist him in the casting out of devils; the weakness, and maliciousness of such a suggestion, must be clear and evident to all.And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 12:26 applies the axiom to Satan, εἰ, introduces a simple particular supposition without reference to its truth.—ἐμερείσθη: the aorist has the force of a perfect. Satan casting out Satan means self-stultification; ipso facto, self-division results. Against the argument it might be objected: Kingdoms and cities do become divided against themselves, regardless of fatal consequences, why not also Satan? Why should not that happen to Satan’s kingdom which has happened even to the Christian Church? Jesus seems to have credited Satan with more astuteness than is possessed by states, cities, and churches. Satan may be wicked, He says in effect, but he is not a fool. Then it has to be considered that communities commit follies which individuals avoid. Men war against each other to their common undoing, who would be wiser in their own affairs. One Satan might cast out another, but no Satan will cast out himself. And that is the case put by Jesus. Some, e.g., De Wette and Fritzsche, take ὁ Σατανᾶς τ. Σ. ἐκβάλλει as = one Satan casting out another. But that is not Christ’s meaning. He so puts the case as to make the absurdity evident. Ex hypothesi He had a right to put it so; for the theory was that Satan directly empowered and enabled Him to deliver men from his (Satan’s) power.
Matthew 12:27. To the previous convincing argument Jesus adds an argumentum ad hominem, based on the exorcism then practised among the Jews, with which it would appear the Pharisees found no fault.—οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν, not of course Christ’s disciples (so most of the Fathers), for the Pharisaic prejudice against Him would extend to them, but men belonging to the same school or religious type, like-minded. By referring to their performances Jesus put the Pharisees in a dilemma. Either they must condemn both forms of dispossession or explain why they made a difference. What they would have said we do not know, but it is not difficult to suggest reasons. The Jewish exorcists operated in conventional fashion by use of herbs and magical formulæ, and the results were probably insignificant. The practice was sanctioned by custom, and harmless. But in casting out devils, as in all other things, Jesus was original, and His method was too effectual. His power, manifest to all, was His offence.—κριταί. Jesus now makes the fellow-religionists of the Pharisees their judges. On a future occasion He will make John the Baptist their judge (Matthew 21:23-27). Such home-thrusts were very inconvenient.Matthew 12:26. Εἰ ὁ Σατανᾶς τὸν Σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει, if Satan cast out Satan) Satan or the devil is one. I, says our Lord, cast out Satan. In the kingdom of darkness there is none greater than Satan. If therefore your words are true, it must be Satan who casts out Satan. But this is clearly absurd: one kingdom, one city, one house, is not divided against itself; neither is one spirit divided against himself. The noun is used for the reciprocal pronoun (ἑαυτόν) as in Exodus 16:7; Leviticus 14:15; Leviticus 14:26; 1 Kings 8:1; 1 Kings 10:13; 1 Kings 12:21; 2 Kings 17:31. This does not however prevent the supposition, that the accusative τὸν Σατανᾶν, Satan, is put by synecdoche for his comrades. Thus, for example, you might say, “The Gaul destroyed himself,” if at any time one Gallic cohort should put another to the sword. Thus Satan would cast himself out, i.e., Satan, the prince, who is one, would cast out those whom he knew to be his own, his comrades.—βασιλεία, kingdom) which is however very stable. Satan is said to have a kingdom, and yet he is never called a king, for he is an usurper.Verse 26. - And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then. The transposition in the Revised Version to how then shall brings out more distinctly the fact that then is not temporal, but argumentative (οϋν.). His kingdom stand? To De Wette's objection that Satan might perhaps do such a thing once so as to gain in other ways, Meyer answers that our Lord is referring to the practice of casting out devils, which, as such, is certainly directed against Satan.
Lit., "he was divided." If he is casting himself out, there must have been a previous division.
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