So am I. At many levels. And I don't even believe in literal demons.
I am amazed at the wisdom behind stories of demonic oppression. It seems to be an ancient way of recognizing that sometimes we are caught up in forces that are not genuinely us, but are so powerful and compelling that they seem to possess us. The word, "possess" is not actually in this story, and I think that we probably use that word too much. But, again, I think it is a means of demonstrating that people are not always under their own control.
Here are some interesting things about this story:
- When Jesus 'entered' the synagogue (v.21), the same word εἰσέρχομαι can be used to describe how Satan or an unclean spirit 'enters' someone.
- When Jesus is described as one 'having' authority, the same word ἔχω can be translated 'possessed.'
- There is a chiastic structure to this text. Like this:
21. And [he] was coming into
. And immediately on the Sabbath he came into the synagogue teaching (or, teaching in the synagogue). Capernaum
22. And [they] were amazed about the teaching of him, for he was teaching them as having authority and not as the Scribes.
23. And immediately [there] was in their synagogue to him a man in an unclean spirit [or, ‘a man with an unclean spirit was in the synagogue’], and he cried aloud.
24. Saying, “What to us and to you, Jesus Nazarean? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the holy of the God.
25. And censured [from ‘to set a value, access a penalty’] him Jesus saying, “Be silent and come out out of him.”
26. And convulsing him the unclean spirit and crying out a great voice exited out of him.
27. And were amazed all, so that to ask to each other saying, “Who is this? This teaching with authority? And to the unclean spirits he commands, and they listen to him.28. And came out the report of him immediately all places into the whole region of
- The unclean spirit disobeys and obeys Jesus. Jesus says, "Be silent" and the spirit "cries out with a loud voice." But, Jesus also says "Come out of him" and the spirit "exits out of him." That snotty little spirit.
- This spirit has a habit of being loud - see vv.23 and 26.
- The spirit says, "I know who you are, the holy one of God," but the crowd ask each other "Who is this?"
- The word for "authority" exousian in vv.22 and 27 could be translated as "power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases" - which is the opposite of one who is driven by an unclean spirit.
Those are my raw observations about this text. Later this week, I'm going to wax theological about it. Until then, what do you find intriguing about this story?