Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit
31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
Observations and Reflections
Sometimes the English rendering of Greek terms are not great. We don’t have a great 1-1 match on all words. Even when we do have 1-1 words, we might have the wrong context in our minds. For example, the word “run” can mean literally to move quickly like a person running or a river flowing, but it can also be used idiomatically by saying that the refrigerator is running. We know, of course, that the appliance is not actually moving but that it’s operating. We see the same contextual issues in Luke 4:32-36, with the meaning of “authority”.
One might wonder why the people were amazed at His teachings just because they were authoritative. After all, my mother spoke with authority but I was definitely not amazed nor in wonder. However, the Greek word “ἐξουσίᾳ” which means authority is used in Greek and English in two different ways. When you ask your boss for a raise, you do so because he quite literally has the authority to give you a raise. He has an actual power given to him to do a thing. This is much different than saying someone did something with authority which is the idiomatic use of the word. When an action is completed “with authority” it’s usually just referring to the strength of the action.
However, Jesus was not just speaking with strength. In fact, verse 36 couples authority AND strength (δυνάμει) together to describe Jesus. As the passage also indicates, His very words came with the authority (and power) of God. This was recognized by the demons and by the crowds of people that were present. This understanding was important to a first century audience that believed in many demons and evils. If Jesus was the messiah then He would have to have authority from God to overpower the forces of evil, or else He just simply wasn’t from God.
[Featured image by the La Vista Church of Christ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.]