25But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them:
Jesus now countered the negative volition of the Pharisees with their “closed shop in religion” viewpoint. He argued against them with logic, parables, and sarcasm.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
Jesus defended His authority by three arguments against their absurd thinking:
If Jesus cast out demons by Satan’s power, then He would work against himself; this is an a priori argument.
Contemporary Jewish exorcists cast out demons by the power of God (v. 27); this is an ad hominem argument.
By casting out demons, Jesus proved He was greater than Satan.
First, the argument that Jesus’ ministry was of Satan was illogical because that would put Satan at odds with himself. A divided kingdom destroys itself. It is axiomatic that social entities cannot stand divided against themselves. This is true whether it is a national entity, a local entity such as a city, or a household. This is premise is axiomatic; this axiom existed then and it exists today.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
Jesus applied the principle of verse 25 to Satan in this verse. First, if Satan were divided against himself, he would destroy his own kingdom. Satan does indeed have a kingdom. No organized entity can withstand war within. Satan would never oppose his own mission.
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?
The Pharisees expected Jesus to argue that Satan’s kingdom would not stand, but He did not say that in this verse. They would have argued against the expected conclusion that Satan would not dominate as long as they were in charge. However, Jesus said something else that floored them. By saying something other than what they expected, He caught them totally off guard. Jesus argued that the Pharisees’ accusation was also biased. They should let their exorcist sons be their accusers. The implication was that if they asked their practitioners, by whose authority they cast out demons, they would be put in a dilemma. If the Pharisees answered, “By Satan’s power,” they would argue against themselves. However, if they replied, “By God’s authority,” they would defeat their argument against Jesus.
Jesus’ second argument went like this: If colleagues of the Pharisees cast out demons, then why could not Jesus and His disciples do the same? They credited identical effects to opposite causes.
Therefore they shall be your judges.
This was the end of the argument. The Pharisees acknowledged the reality of miracles by their colleagues. They had no place to go from there. They could not erase that fact. Jesus left them hung out to dry.
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Jesus’ third argument was that the casting out of demons proved the validity of the kingdom come to Israel by the Spirit of God. Their Messiah/King had come but they did not know it. Isaiah said that the Messiah would accomplish miracles by the Spirit of God (Is 40:2, 9; 50:51).
Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
Jesus concluded His argument with a parable about a burglar entering a strong man’s house to plunder his possessions. Imagine an owner sitting in his house with a shotgun while a burglar tries to enter. The burglar thinks he has an easy prey but he is going to be shocked when he looks down the barrel of a shotgun.
The “strong man’s house” is the devil’s dominion. He is the “ruler of demons” (12:24), the prince of the power of the air. The “strong man” here is Satan. “His goods” are demons. Jesus argument was that He was engaged in perpetual conflict with Satan. Obviously He could not be on Satan’s side because He constantly conflicted with the devil. Jesus set up an antagonism with Satan by casting out demons.
Jesus will ultimately triumph over Satan.
Jesus is the One who binds the strong man. Jesus will ultimately and finally defeat Satan (Re 20:1-10; 20:2).