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Parable of the strong man

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The Parable of the strong man (also known as the parable of the burglar and the parable of the powerful man) is a parable attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Thomas.

The parable is found in four different forms:

  • Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. (Matt 12:29)
  • In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. (Mark 3:27)
  • When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. (Luke 11:21-22)
  • Jesus said, "It is not possible for anyone to enter the house of a strong man and take it by force unless he binds his hands; then he will (be able to) ransack his house." (Thomas 35)

Meaning

In the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, this parable forms part of the Beelzebul controversy, where Jesus's opponents accuse him of gaining his power to exorcise by being in league with Satan. According to some interpretations, the strong man represents Satan, and the burglar represents Jesus. Jesus thus says that he could not perform exorcisms (represented by stealing the strong man's possessions) unless he was opposed to Satan (represented by tying up the strong man)[1] [2]. It has been suggested that the image of the strong man's house was originally a wordplay on "Beelzebul", which literally means "house of Baal"[3].

An alternative interpretation, which does not depend on the context of the Beelzebul controversy, suggests that "shrewd planning and careful strategy" are necessary in order to accomplish one's goals [4].

References

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Parable of the strong man. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. Jürgen Becker, trans. James E. Crouch, Jesus of Nazareth, Walter de Gruyter, 1998, p. 184
  2. Duane Frederick Watson, The Intertexture of Apocalyptic Discourse in the New Testament, Brill Academic Publishers, 2003, p. 26
  3. James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2001, p. 121
  4. Richard Valantasis, The Gospel of Thomas, Routledge (UK), 1997, p. 111
Parable of the strong man
Preceded by
Parable of the Two Debtors
Parables of Jesus
New Testament
Events
Succeeded by
Jesus' True Relatives
Ministry of Jesus

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