Healing a Demoniac in a Synagogue.

4-8. HEALING A DEMONIAC IN A SYNAGOGUE.
(At Capernaum.)
b MARK 1:21-28; c LUKE 4:31-37.

      b 21 And they [Jesus and the four fishermen whom he called] go into {c he came down to} Capernaum, a city of Galilee. [Luke has just spoken of Nazareth, and he uses the expression "down to Capernaum" because the latter was on the lake shore while Nazareth was up in the mountains.] And b straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. {c was teaching them}

  b 22 And they were astonished at his teaching: for he taught them as having {c his word was with} b authority, and not as the scribes. [Mark uses the adverb "straightway" and the particle "again" (which has a similar meaning) to depict the rapid movement of Jesus. As used by him in this connection it probably indicates that this was the next Sabbath after the calling of the four fishermen. The astonishment of the people was natural. Not yet recognizing Jesus' divinity, they could not understand how one so humble could speak with such authority. They contrasted his teaching with that of the scribes. The scribes were learned men who preserved, copied and expounded the law and the tradition ( 7:6 7:12 ; Nehemiah 8:1 ; Matthew 15:1-6 ; 23:2-4 ; Mark 12:35 ; Luke 11:52 ). They were also called "lawyers" ( Mark 12:28 ; Matthew 22:35 ), and "doctors of the law" ( Luke 5:17-21 ). Though the teaching of Jesus differed from the teaching of the scribes as to matter, the contrast drawn is as to manner. They spoke on the authority his own authority. Their way was to quote minute precedents supported by endless authorities. A passage taken from later rabbinical writings starts thus: "Rabbi Zeira says, on the authority of Rabbi Jose bar Rabbi Chanina, and Rabbi Ba or Rabbi Chija on the authority of Rabbi Jochanan," etc. Contrast this with the oft-repeated "I say to you" of Jesus-- Matthew 5:18 Matthew 5:20 Matthew 5:22 Matthew 5:26 Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:34 .]

  23 And straightway there was in their {c the} b synagogue a man with {c that had} b an unclean spirit {c a spirit of an unclean demon} [Matthew, Luke and Mark all concur in pronouncing demons unclean; that is, wicked. They thus corrected the prevailing Greek notion that some of the demons were good. The word "demon," as used in our Saviour's time by both Jews and Greeks, meant the spirits of the departed or the ghosts of dead men, and the teaching of that and prior ages was that such spirits often took possession of living men and controlled them. But whatever these demons were, the Scripture, both by its treatment of them and its words concerning them, clearly indicates that they were immaterial, intelligent beings, which are neither to be confused with maladies and diseases of the body, nor with tropes, metaphors, or other figures of speech. In proof of this we adduce the following Scripture facts: 1, the legislation of the Old Testament proceeded upon the assumption that there was such a thing as a "familiar spirit" ( Leviticus 19:31 ); 2, in the New Testament they are spoken of as personalities ( James 2:19 ; Revelation 16:14 ), Jesus even founding a parable upon their habits ( Luke 11:24-26 ); 3, Jesus distinguished between them and diseases, and so did his disciples ( Matthew 10:8 ; Luke 10:17-20 ); 4, Jesus addressed them as persons, and they answered as such ( Mark 5:8 ; 9:25 ); 5, they manifested desires and passions ( Mark 5:12 Mark 5:13 ); 6, they showed a superhuman knowledge of Jesus ( Matthew 8:29 ). It would be impossible to regard demon possession as a mere disease without doing violence to the language used in every instance of the expulsion of a demon. The frequency of demoniacal possession in the formed a great crisis in the spiritual order of things. For fuller treatment of the subject, see Millennial Harbinger, 1841, pp. 457, 580; 1842, pp. 65, 124]; and he cried out, c with a loud voice [The man cried, the unclean spirit determined what he should cry. The silence and decorum of the synagogue made the outcry more noticeable, and the demon betrayed his excitement and alarm in speaking before he was spoken to],

  b 24 saying,

  c 34 Ah! what have we to do with thee [for explanation of this idiom see Section 22], Jesus thou Nazarene? art thou come to destroy us? [Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil ( 1 John 3:8 ). At his second coming the workers themselves shall suffer ( Matthew 25:41 ). We find that they recognized that the time of this "torment" had not yet come-- Matthew 8:29 .] I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. [It is impossible that fever or disease, mental or physical, could give such supernatural knowledge. The demon called Jesus the Holy One, 1, because it was one of his proper Scriptural names ( Psalms 16:10 ; Acts 3:14 ); 2, because holiness was that characteristic which involved the ruin of demons as unholy ones--just as light destroys darkness. We should note here the unfruitful knowledge, faith, and confession of demons. They lacked neither knowledge ( Matthew 8:29 ), nor faith ( James 2:19 ), nor did they withhold confession; but Jesus received them not. Repentance and willing obedience are as necessary as faith or confession.]

  35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. [We have in this phrase two personages indicated by the personal pronoun "him"; one of whom is commanded to come out of the other; one of whom is now rebuked and hereafter to be destroyed, the other of whom is delivered. In commanding silence Jesus refused to receive the demon's testimony. We can see at least three reasons for this: 1, it was not fitting that the fate of the people should rest upon the testimony of liars; 2, because receiving such testimony might have been taken as an indication that Jesus sustained friendly relations to Christ actually alleged ( Matthew 12:24 ); 3, the Messiahship of Jesus was to be gradually unfolded, and the time for its public proclamation had not yet come.]

And when the demon {b unclean spirit} c had thrown him down in the midst, b tearing him and crying with a loud voice, c he came out of him, having done him no hurt. [The demon first racked the body of the man with a convulsion, and then, with a cry of rage, came out. All this was permitted that, 1, there might be clear evidence of demoniacal possession; 2, the demon's malignity might be shown; 3, it might be manifested that the spirit came not out of its own accord, but because compelled thereto by the command of Christ. The cry was, however, a mere impotent expression of anger, for Luke, "the beloved physician," notes that it did the man no hurt.]

  b 27 And they were all amazed, {a amazement came upon all}, b insomuch that they questioned among themselves, c and they spake together, one with another, saying, b What thing is this? c What is this word? b a new teaching! c for with authority and power he commandeth b even the unclean spirits, c and they come out. b and they obey him. [The power to command disembodied spirits thus amazed the people, because it was more mysterious than the power to work physical miracles. By this miracle Jesus demonstrated his actual possession of the authority which he had just assumed in his teaching.]

  28 And the report of him went out straightway

{c 37 And there went forth a rumor concerning him} b everywhere into all {c every place of} b the region of Galilee roundabout. [This fame was occasioned both by the miracle and the teaching. The benevolence and publicity of the miracle, and its power--the power of one mightier than Satan--would cause excitement in any community, in any age. Though this is the first miracle recorded by either Mark or Luke, yet neither asserts that it was the first miracle Jesus wrought, so there is no conflict with John 2:11 .]