And knowing their thoughts he said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
And if Satan casteth out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?
And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.Matthew 12:25-27 ASV
And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?
And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan hath risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
But no one can enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.Mark 3:23-27 ASV
But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
And if Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub.
And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.Luke 11:17-19 ASV
The argument in these verses is simple, but profound. If Satan was really casting out Satan, a ridiculous absurdity on the face of it, then Satan’s kingdom was being destroyed.
Note that Jesus knew their thoughts, a knowledge that only God could have.
Christ here referred to the widespread practice of some of the disciples (sons) of the Pharisees of casting out demons, or pretending to do so, which practice the Pharisees openly accepted, and upon which they based claims of divine approval of both themselves and their doctrines. Josephus described such a case thus:
I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazer, releasing people that were demoniacal, in the presence of Vespasian and his sons and captains.
He put a ring to the nostrils of the demoniac, and drew the demon out through his nostrils, making mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed.
If the miracles of your disciples are acceptable, surely mine, the Christ’s, should also be acceptable.
Of course, Christ did not endorse the exorcisms of the Pharisees’ disciples any more than he endorsed the Pharisees.
Jesus met the charges of his foes with three arguments, two of which are in these verses, and the third in Mark 3:28-30.
The demoniacs whom Jesus had healed were actually controlled by forces administered by Satan.
Satan is represented as an intelligent ruler of his evil domain and as being in possession of a desire to maintain and protect it.
Satan is not stupid, as the charge of the scribes would have implied. Certainly, the devil would not rise up against himself and destroy his own wicked domain.
If indeed Satan should do such a thing as they were suggesting, it would mean an end of Satan and his works.
The Lord had entered into the house of the strong man (the world) and had bound the strong man (Satan), and was in the process of spoiling his goods.
This carried the affirmation that what Jesus was doing was opposed to the works of Satan and that his casting out demons was being done contrary to Satan’s will, and that Satan did not have the power to restrain such deeds.
The amazing similarity of the synoptic Gospels in their records of the teaching here, coupled with the equally amazing differences, presents a problem that may be resolved fully and satisfactorily only by understanding them as independent, trustworthy records of different events.
Although some of these events and teachings are recorded in Mark and Matthew as having taken place in Galilee, there is no reason why they could not have taken place in Judea also. His enemies followed him here, as in Galilee; the hearers were different and had not heard the teaching before.