The subject of demons in the New Testament scriptures is one that tends to make us uncomfortable for many reasons. Not the least of those is that the subject is possibly more difficult to defend to an unbeliever than that of the other miracles that Jesus and His apostles performed. We tend to feel more comfortable even with the discussion of resurrection from the dead than with one centered around demon possession in the NT. We have addressed that fact here in this previous post, and there is an excellent article that deals extensively with the subject at ApologeticsPress.org. But it was a fact of life in the time around the first century, and make no mistake – the Bible does not confuse the condition with any sort of disease. We believe that such happenings ended with the age of the Apostles, as did miracles. Having said that, there is much that we do not know about the subject, and we would not care to open any doors to personal knowledge (tongue not so firmly planted in cheek).
In verse 14, Jesus casts out a demon that was causing a man to be mute – one of the many ways that they afflicted people. Some praised him and others said that he did this “by Beelzebul, prince of demons.”Your version may have the name as the more familiar “Beelzebub.” But where did this name come from?
It is probably an intentional, mocking Hebrew corruption of the name for the Canaanite God “Baal-zebul” (there were many Baals, not just one), which meant “god of the height, or high dwelling.” It is first mentioned in 1 Kings 2:2-3 by the Baal-worshiping son of king Ahab, Ahaziah. The name used here in Luke translates to “lord of the dunghill” or “lord of the flies” (yes, that was the title to the novel by William Golding).
The Jews had adapted this insulting name for the Baal god into another name for Satan. Some have said that the name’s association with the devil had been taken from the “Testament of Solomon” (not to be confused with the Old Testament book, “Song of Solomon”). But that non-inspired secular writing is traceable to the 1st or 2nd century A.D., more than 1,000 years after Solomon’s reign. But Beelzebul was used by the Jews as a name for Satan long before someone tried in vain to pass that literature off as God’s word. This was perhaps the most grievous accusation the Pharisees made against the Lord.
Jesus pointed out the illogical nature of their accusation by stating that if Satan was giving Him the power to cast out demons, He was fighting against himself; and a house (or kingdom) divided against itself cannot stand (no, that phrase was not original with Lincoln 🙂 ). We really like how Jesus finishes his answer, letting them know in no uncertain terms that He is mightier than Satan:
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.