Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)How can one enter into a strong man’s house.—The parable implied in the question appears in a fuller form in Luke 11:21-22. Here it will be enough to note that the “strong man” is Satan. The “house” is the region which is subject to him—i.e., either the world at large, or the spirits of individual men; the “goods” or “instruments” (comp. the “armour” of Luke 11:22) are the demons or subordinate powers of evil by which he maintains his dominion; the “binding of the strong man” is the check given to the tyranny of Satan by emancipating the possessed sufferers from their thraldom; the “spoiling of the house” implies the final victory over him.Matthew 12:29-30. How can one enter, &c. — How could I cast out Satan, and destroy his works, if I did not first overcome him? “The house of the strong man (or, strong one, as του ισχυρου should rather be rendered) into which Christ entered, was the world, fitly called Beelzebub’s house, or palace, because there he is served by luxury, lust, covetousness, pride, anger, and the other evil passions of men. The goods or vessels belonging to the strong one are the wicked, called Satan’s vessels metaphorically, as Paul is called Christ’s chosen vessel, Acts 9:15. Or, by the vessels, or furniture of Beelzebub’s house, we may understand the lusts and passions of men’s hearts, the instruments by which he keeps possession of them.” He that is not with me is against me — He that does not unite and co- operate with me, who am contending against Satan and his kingdom, is against me, as being unwilling that his kingdom should be destroyed. And he that gathereth not with me — That does not set himself, according to his ability, to gather subjects into my kingdom, and promote the cause of truth and grace among men, scattereth abroad — Hinders the work of God upon earth, and either prevents men from entering upon a life of piety and virtue, or obstructs their progress therein. In other words, there are no neuters in this war: every one must be either with Christ or against him; either a loyal subject or a rebel; and there are none upon earth who neither promote nor obstruct his kingdom. For every one does either one or the other daily. Much more criminal and fatal, then, must the character and conduct of those be, who, with deliberate, implacable malice, oppose Christ’s cause, and are resolved, at all adventures, to do their utmost to bring it down, as the Pharisees were now attempting to do by these vile suggestions, whereby they endeavoured to represent Christ, who came to save men, as an accomplice with Satan, who was labouring to destroy them.
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.
and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.Mark 3:27; Luke saith, Luke 11:21,22, When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoil. The sense is the same, though the words be multiplied. Our Saviour showeth how his casting out of devils by the Spirit and power of God argued that the Messiah was come, and the time come when God would set up his kingdom amongst men. The devil, (saith he), who is the god of the world, and the prince of the power of the air, is very strong; there is none, save God only, who is stronger than he. If I were not God, I could never cast out this strong man, who reigns in the world as in his house; as you see amongst men, the strong man is not overcome but by one stronger. He by this also lets them know, that he was so far from any covenant or compact with Beelzebub, that he came into the world a professed enemy to him, to dispossess him of that tyrannical power he exercised amongst men, by his keeping them in darkness, blinding them with error and superstition, and seducing them to sinful practices, till God, for their prodigious sins, had also given him a power over their bodies, variously to vex, afflict, and torment them. Christ took from this strong man all his armour: by scattering the darkness which was in the world by the full revelation of gospel truth: by expelling error and superstition, teaching people the truths of God, and the right way of his worship: by taking away the guilt, and destroying the power of sin and death, ignorance, error, profaneness; the sense of the guilt of sin, and the power of lusts within us, being the devil’s armour, by which he kept up his power, and doth yet keep up what dominion he hath in the world.
spoil his goods, as he did; or dispossess devils out of the bodies or souls of men: just as if a man should enter into another man's house, who is strong and robust, with a design to spoil his goods, who would never make use of the man himself to do it, and can never be thought to effect it, unless he has a power superior to his, and uses it;
except he first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house: by the "strong man", is meant the devil, see Isaiah 49:24 who is powerful and mighty, as appears from his nature, being an angel, though a fallen one, excelling in strength human creatures; from his names, such as the roaring lion, the great red dragon, leviathan, &c. from the extent of his dominion, here called "his house"; which reaches to the whole posse of devils, and world of men; whence he is called the prince of the power of the air, and the prince of this world, and the god of it; and from his works and actions, in and over the bodies and estates of men, by divine permission; which might be exemplified in the case of Job, and the demoniacs in the time of Christ; and in and over the souls of men, not only over wicked men, but men under a show of religion, as antichrist and his followers; yea, saints themselves, and even over Adam in a state of innocence; but Christ is stronger than he, and attacked him, and dispossessed him of the bodies of men; and restraining him from doing them any hurt, enters into the souls of men, dethrone him, and leads him captive, who led others; and keeps him from doing them any damage; as he will in the latter day "bind" him and shut him up in prison a thousand years; and also "spoils his goods", or "vessels", and "his house"; the palace of Satan, by taking bodies and souls out of his possession; by awakening the conscience, enlightening the mind, working upon the affections, subduing the will, and implanting principles of grace and holiness in the heart; and so making it a fit habitation for God, which spoils it for the devil: in all which, Satan can never be thought to have any hand; and therefore the suggestion that Christ casts out devils by his assistance, even out of the bodies of men, has no show of reason in it.Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 12:29. Ἤ] Transition by way of proceeding to give further proof of the actual state of the case.
τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ] The article indicates the particular strong man (hero) with whom the τίς has to do.
The thought embodied in this illustration is as follows: Or—if you still hesitate to admit the inference in Matthew 12:28—how is it possible for me to despoil Satan of his servants and instruments (τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ corresponding to the demons in the application)—withdraw them from his control—without having first of all conquered him? Does my casting out of demons not prove that I have subdued Satan,—have deprived him of his power, just as it is necessary to bind a strong man before plundering his house? For ἤ, when serving to introduce a question by way of rejoinder, see Bäumlein, Partik. p. 132. The σκεύη in the illustration are the furniture of the house (not the weapons), as is evident from τ. οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ below. Mark 3:27.
The figurative language may have been suggested by a recollection of Isaiah 49:24 f.Matthew 12:29. o help them to decide Jesus throws out yet another parabolic line of thought.—ἢ: if all that I have said does not convince you consider this. The parable seems based on Isaiah 49:24-25, and like all Christ’s parabolic utterances appeals to common sense. The theme is, spoiling the spoiler, and the argument that the enterprise implies hostile purpose and success in it superior power. The application is: the demoniac is a captive of Satan; in seeking to cure him I show myself Satan’s enemy; in actually curing him I show myself Satan’s master.—τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ: the article is either generic, or individualising after the manner of parabolic speech. Proverbs and parables assume acquaintance with their characters.—σκεύη, household furniture (Genesis 31:37); ἁρπάσαι, seize (Jdg 21:21).—διαρπάσει, make a clean sweep of all that is in the house, the owner, bound hand and foot, being utterly helpless. The use of this compound verb points to the thoroughness of the cures wrought on demoniacs, as in the case of the demoniac of Gadara: quiet, clothed, sane (Mark 5:15).29. Not only is Satan not an ally, but he is an enemy and a vanquished enemy.Matthew 12:29. ἤ, or else?)=Latin, an? A disjunctive interrogation.—οἰκίαν, house) The world was the house of Satan.—τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ, of the strong) sc. of any one who is strong; cf. Hebrews 2:14.—πρῶτον, first) Jesus bound Satan: then took his spoils.—δήση, shall have bound) by superior strength.—διαρπάσει, shall spoil) See Gnomon on Mark 3:27.Verse 29. - Parallel passages: Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21, 22. Mark is practically identical with Matthew. Luke ("the strong man armed," etc.) is more detailed and vivid, and is perhaps the original form of the saying. Or else; or (Revised Version); i.e. if this be not the case, that the kingdom of God is come upon you, how else do you explain what has happened, the fact of Satan's instruments being taken from him? How can one enter into a strong man's house; the house of the strong man (Revised Version). (For the article, cf. Matthew 1:23, note.) And spoil (ἁρπάσαι) his goods. Carry off his household tools and utensils (τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ). Except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. This is more than merely the conclusion. It is an emphatic statement that he will do this, yes, utterly plunder (διαρπάσει) the whole house. The interpretation of the parable is self-evident: the strong man is Satan; his vessels are those afflicted by him; the one who binds, etc., is Christ. For Christ's appearance and work, even before the Crucifixion and Resurrection, bound Satan in this respect. Observe that there is probably a tacit reference to Isaiah 49:25, which at any rate now received a fulfilment.
Rev. rightly gives the force of the article, the strong man. Christ is not citing a general illustration, but is pointing to a specific enemy - Satan. How can I despoil Satan without first having conquered him?
The word originally means a vessel, and so mostly in the New Testament. See Mark 11:16; John 19:29. But also the entire equipment of a house, collectively: chattels, house-gear. Also the baggage of an army. Here in the sense of house-gear. Compare Luke 17:31; Acts 27:17, of the gear or tackling of the ship. Rev., lowered the gear.
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