But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)By the Spirit of God.—In Luke 11:20 we have as an equivalent phrase, “the finger of God.” So in Old Testament language the fulness of the prophet’s inspiration was expressed in the words, “the hand of the Lord was strong upon me” (Ezekiel 3:14). The second hymn in the Ordination Service reproduces the symbolism in the words addressed to the Holy Spirit—
“In faithful hearts thou writ’st thy law,
The finger of God’s hand;”
and it obviously connects itself with the older language which describes the Ten Commandments as written on the two tables of stone with “the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).
Then the kingdom of God is come unto you.—The word describes a coming suddenly, unlooked for, sooner than men expected. The argument may be briefly formulated thus:—The work was confessedly superhuman, either from the power of Satan or that of God, but the former hypothesis was excluded by the reasoning of Matthew 12:25-27; the latter was therefore the only explanation. But if so, if Jesus gave proof that He was thus filled with the power of the Spirit to heal and save, then He was what He claimed to be, the Head of the divine kingdom. That kingdom had burst upon men unawares.
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.
then—"no doubt" (Lu 11:20).
the kingdom of God is come unto you—rather "upon you," as the same expression is rendered in Luke (Lu 11:20):—that is, "If this expulsion of Satan is, and can be, by no other than the Spirit of God, then is his Destroyer already in the midst of you, and that kingdom which is destined to supplant his is already rising on its ruins."Luke 11:20, only for the Spirit of God he hath the finger of God. By the kingdom of God he here meaneth the coming of the Messiah, which is so called, Daniel 2:44. The time is come, when the Lord begins his kingdom of grace, setting up his King upon his holy hill of Zion, Psalm 2:6; whence we may observe, that Christ giveth in his casting out of devils by a Divine power, as an argument to prove himself the Messiah; for saith he, By this you may know the kingdom of God is come amongst you, that there is one come among you who by the finger, power, or Spirit of God casts out devils. But where had the force of this argument been, if the Jews had had exorcists whom God had so honoured, though vagabonds, as to cast out devils, upon their calling upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while in the mean time they derided and contemned Christ?
then the kingdom of God is come unto you: meaning, either the Messiah himself; or rather, his kingdom, the Gospel dispensation, which both Christ and John had declared to be at hand; of which the performing of miracles, particularly the casting out of devils, whereby the kingdom of Satan was so much weakened, was a clear proof.But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 12:28. Previously it was ἐγώ that was emphatic in the antecedent clause; but here it is ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ: but if it is by THE POWER OF GOD’S SPIRIT that I, on the other hand, cast out the demons, then it follows that the KINGDOM OF GOD has come to you; in the consequent clause (the apodosis) the emphasis is on the words: the kingdom of God has come, etc. The reasoning is founded on the axiom, that such deeds, wrought as they are by the power of God’s Spirit, go to prove that He who performs them is no other than He who brings in the kingdom—the Messiah. Where the Messiah is present and working, there, too, is the kingdom; not yet, of course, as completely.established, but preparing to become so through its preliminary development in the world. See on Luke 17:20 f. For φθάνειν (used by classical writers as meaning to anticipate, 1 Thessalonians 4:15), in the simple sense of to reach, arrive at, see on Php 3:16; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 356; Lünemann’s note on 1 Thessalonians 2:16.
Notice, in the form of the reasoning in Matthew 12:27-28, the real dilemma (tertium non datur): εἰ δέ, etc.Matthew 12:28. The alternative: if not by Satan then by the Spirit of God, with an inevitable inference as to the worker and His work.—ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ. Luke has ἐν δακτύλῳ θ. The former seems more in keeping with the connection of thought as defending the ethical character of Christ’s work assailed by the Pharisees. If, indeed, the spirit of God were regarded from the charismatic point of view, as the source of miraculous gifts, the two expressions would be synonymous. But there is reason to believe that by the time our Gospel was written the Pauline conception of the Holy Spirit’s influence as chiefly ethical and immanent, as distinct from that of the primitive apostolic church, in which it was charismatic and transcendent, had gained currency (vide my St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity, chap. xiii.). A trace of the new Pauline view may be found in Matthew 10:20 : “It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you”. The influence is within, and the product is not unintelligible utterance, like that of the speaker with tongues (1 Corinthians 12, 14), but wise, sincere apology for the faith. But why then did Luke not adopt this Pauline phrase? Because one of his main aims was to bring out the miraculousness of Christ’s healing works; that they were done by the very finger of God (Exodus 8:19).—ἔφθασεν. Fritzsche takes this word strictly as signifying not merely: the kingdom of God has come nigh you (ἤγγικεν, Luke 10:9), but: has come nigh sooner than you expected. The more general sense, however, seems most suitable, as it is the usual sense in the N. T. The point at issue was: do the events in question mean Satan’s kingdom come or God’s kingdom come? It must be one or other; make up your minds which.28. is come unto you] Literally, surprised you by coming, came upon you unawares.Matthew 12:28. Εἰ, κ.τ.λ. if, etc.) The first portion of the dilemma having been dismissed, this particle has the force of since.—ἐκβάλλω, I cast out) Jesus in every way destroyed the kingdom of Satan.—ἄρα, therefore) The expulsion of Satan, together with his belongings, is the mark and token of the kingdom of God; for this was reserved for the Messiah.—ἔφθασεν, has prevented) This word is used here in its strict and proper sense, and intimates something important; cf. πρῶτον, first, Matthew 12:29.—ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ, the kingdom of God) in contradistinction to that of Satan, mentioned in Matthew 12:20.
 Prœvenit. Wesley, who avowedly copied from Bengel, explains the passage, “The Kingdom of God is come upon you—unawares, before you expected: so the word implies.” Bengel himself renders it, “So ist je das Reich Gottes bereits über euch kommen.”—(I. B.)Verse 28. - The argument continues: "But if this be so (I say nothing about your disciples, but speak only of my own works) - if I really cast out devils by God's help, this shows such a strange putting forth of God's strength that it can mean nothing else but the coming of the Messianic kingdom." Observe that this could not be affirmed from the success of the Pharisees' disciples, for with them expulsion of devils, even if it were real, was, as it were, accidental, standing in no close connexion with their work (cf. Matthew 7:22, note). Besides, they did not, as our Lord did, claim to be the Messiah, and to inaugurate the kingdom. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God; but if I by the Spirit of God, etc. (Revised Version). The chief emphasis lies on by the Spirit of God, and there is a secondary emphasis on J, as compared with "your sons." Observe the absence of the article in ἐν πνεύματι Θεοῦ; contrast vers. 31, 32, and comp. Matthew 1:18, note. Luke has, "by the finger of God," a term used to designate God's power as put forth upon nature (Exodus 8:19; Exodus 31:18; cf. Psalm 8:3). Then. Little as you think it (ἄρα); cf. Luke 11:48. The kingdom of God. In contrast to Satan's kingdom (ver. 26). Is come (ἔφθασαεν: praevenit, Codex Brixianus; cf. Wordsworth and White's Vulgate). This may mean
(1) it has come sooner than you expected, it has got the start of you (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15); or
(2) it has actually come as far as you, it has arrived. This latter sense seems to be more in accordance with Hellenistic usage (cf. Philippians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). Unto you; upon you (Revised Version), ἐφ ὑμᾶς.
The verb is used in the simple sense to arrive at (2 Corinthians 10:14; Philippians 3:16), and sometimes to anticipate (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Here with a suggestion of the latter sense, which is also conveyed by the Rev., "come upon." It has come upon you before you expected it.
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