Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Attack by Pharisees, casting out demons

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Or how does anyone have the power to go into the house of the strong just to snatch that vessel of his if he doesn't first tied up the strong one? And then he will plunder his vessels.

KJV : 

Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse seems disconnected from the previous and following verses,  and my explanation of this is that we are seeing Jesus's half of a spoken dialogue. In other words, someone asked a question or made a statement based on the conversation thus far that leads Jesus to make this statement. There are many clear signs of this in the Greek.

First, this verse has four unusual words for Jesus,  and two of them, "goods/possessions" and "spoil/plunder"  are only used in here and in the Mark 3:27 parallel. All four are very common words in the Greek OT, the Septuagint, but I have been unable to find an OT Greek verse that uses any two of them. The version of this verse in Luke used none of these words. One of my pet theories in these cases is that Jesus is echoing the words others used back at them. Other explanations are that the words are chosen for their humorous potential or specific meanings that are the only ones that work, which may be the case here.

The commentaries that I have found all interpret this verse as referring "the strong man" as satanas, which was my original thinking as well, but after years of work, this is far from clear to me today. First, in Greek, the term satanas means "adversary" (in Aramaic, not Greek). If we look at the key verbs here, it seems the "adversary" is the one who "spoils/carries off" stuff, especially since the rare verb here is used in the verse about the seed being "snatched away" by the birds/crows in the Parable of the Sower. The other verb translated as "spoil/plunder" only has negative connotations as well. The owner of the house is described as "bond/tied up" in it. not cast out of it. None of these verses seem to apply to Jesus's role in "casting out demons."

NIV : 

Matthew 12:29 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 plunder his house.

Wordplay: 

"House" means not only a physical building, but everything a person controls. 

The word translated as "strong man" also means "violent." 

The word translated as "goods" means "vessel" and is a metaphor for "the body" as thr "vessel of the soul." 

The final verb translated as "spoil" means "to be carried away by the wind. ""The wind" is a metaphor for "the spirit." 

My Takeaway: 

We must protect the vessel within us from lies.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

 (prep) "Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than."

πῶς (pron indeclform) "Else how" is from pos, which means "how", "how in the world", "how then", "in any way", "at all", "by any mean", "in a certain way,"and "I suppose."

δύναταί (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can" is the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

τις (pron sg masc nom) "One" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

εἰσελθεῖν (aor inf act) "Enter" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place), ""up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὴν (article sg fem acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

οἰκίαν (noun sg fem acc) "House" is from oikia, which means "house", "building," and "household."

τοῦ (article sg neut dat)  "A" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἰσχυροῦ [2 verses] (adj sg masc gen) "A strong man's" is from ischuros, which means, as an adjective, "strong", "mighty, ""powerful", "forcible", "violent", "severe", "excessive," and, as an adverb, "strongly, with all force, very much, exceedingly, from ischus, meaning "strength." This word is used in the Septuagint to describe strong men, both good and bad."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

τὰ (article sg fem nom)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

σκεύη [4 verses](noun sg fem nom) "Goods" is skeuos, which means a "vessel or implement of any kind," used in a collective sense, "all that belongs to a complete outfit", "house-gear", "utensils", "chattels", "accouterments", "equipment", "inanimate object," and metaphorically, "the body", as the vessel of the soul. This word is very common in the Greek OT, used to describe the property that people carry with them.

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc gen) "His" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

ἁρπάσαι, [6 verses](aor inf act) "Spoil" is from harpazo, which means to "snatch away", "carry off", "seize hastily", "snatch up", "overpower", "overmaster", "adopt, ""grasp with the senses", "captivate", "ravish", "draw up by means of a vacuum," and "plunder."

ἐὰν μὴ (conj/partic) "Except" is from ean me, which means "if not." "If" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if) and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event. "Not" is from me is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no."

πρῶτον (adj sg neut nom/acc or adj sg masc acc) "First" is from proton, which means (of place) "before,""in front," (in time) "former", "earlier," (of rank) "superior", "foremost," and (philosophically) "first in order of existence,".

δήσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "Bind" is deo which means "to bind", "to keep in bonds", "to tie", "to hinder from," and "to fetter. "

τὸν (article sg masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἰσχυρόν[2 verses](adj sg masc acc) "The strong man" is ischuros, which means, as an adjective, "strong", "mighty," and "powerful," "forcible", "violent", "severe", "excessive," and, as an adverb, "strongly, with all force, very much, exceedingly, from ischus, meaning "strength."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

τότε (adv) "Then" is from tote, which means "at that time" and "then."

τὴν (article sg fem acc) Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

οἰκίαν (noun sg fem acc) "House" is from oikia, which means "house", "building," and "household."

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc gen) "His" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

διαρπάσει  [2 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind act) "He will spoil" is from diarpazo, which means, "tear to pieces: and, of the wind, to "carry away", "efface", "spoil", "plunder", "seize as plunder," and "snatch from."

KJV Analysis: 

Or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

else -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "else" in the Greek source.

how -- "How" is the adverb that means "how", "by any means", and "I suppose". This is a common interrogatory pronoun used by Jesus.

can  - "Can" is from a Greek verb means "having power" and "being capable." It is from a noun means "power" and "might."

one  - "One" is from a pronoun that means "someone" or anyone.

enter  - "Enter" is from a verb which means "to go in" or "to come in."

missing "by/for himself"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act on "himself," "for himself" or "by himself."

into -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. Without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

strong  - "Strong" is from an adjective used as a possessive noun. It means "strong", "mighty," and "violent." So it means "of a strong one" or "of a violent one." This is an uncommon word for Jesus, used only in this verse and the version in Mark.

man's -- There is no "man" in the Greek, but the "strong" is masculine and singular and introduced by an article which makes the previous adjective act like a noun. Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

house,  - The Greek word translated as "house," in Christ's time, was not only the physical building but the whole household, its members, its property, business interests, and position in the community, all connected to the "name" of the head of the house.

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also", "just") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

spoil  - "Spoil" is from a verb the means "snatch away" and "carry off." It is in the form of an infinitive, so "to snatch away." This is a different verb that the one translated as "spoil" at the end of the verse but today's Greek sources have a different verb than the KJV version.

his-- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

goods,  - (WN) The Greek word translated as "goods" primarily means a "vessel." However, it is used to refer to all types of equipment, one of which specifically "household contents." It is also a metaphor for "the body" as the "vessel" of the soul. The word is singular.

except - Two Greek words are translated as "except". Literally, they mean "if not" but this phrase is used to mean "except", "instead", and "but." 

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

first -- The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially."

bind -- "Bind" is an adjective form for a verb that means "to bind", "to keep in bonds", "to tie", "to hinder from," and "to fetter. " It is a past participle in a form that indicates something acting on itself so "has been tied itself." The sense is not that the ass was tied up by someone, but rather that it has tangled itself up in something.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more.  Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

strong  - "Strong" is from an adjective used as a possessive noun. It means "strong", "mighty," and "violent." So it means "of a strong one" or "of a violent one." This is an uncommon word for Jesus, used only in this verse and the version in Mark.

man's -- There is no "man" in the Greek, but the "strong" is masculine and singular and introduced by an article which makes the previous adjective act like a noun. Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also", "just") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

then -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then". 

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

will-- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

spoil  - (OS) The "he will spoil" is a different verb from the earlier "spoil," primarily means "tear to pieces,"  "being carried away by the wind." It also means "to seize" or "to plunder."

his-- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

house. - -- The Greek word translated as "house," refers to the building itself, all the people that dwell in it, including slaves and servants, all property owned by that family, and all the descendants of the continued line. We might say "estate" in English to capture this idea.

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "else" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "himself" as its object.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "house" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "goods" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "goods" is translated as plural but it is singular.
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "spoil" was the same in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "house" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

again -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "again" in the Greek source.

how -- "How" is the adverb that means "how", "by any means", and "I suppose". This is a common interrogatory pronoun used by Jesus.

can  - "Can" is from a Greek verb means "having power" and "being capable." It is from a noun means "power" and "might."

anyone - "Anyone " is from a pronoun that means "someone" or anyone.

enter  - "Enter" is from a verb which means "to go in" or "to come in."

missing "by/for himself"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act on "himself," "for himself" or "by himself."

untranslated "into"  -- (MW) The untranslated word"into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

strong  - "Strong" is from an adjective used as a possessive noun. It means "strong", "mighty," and "violent." So it means "of a strong one" or "of a violent one." This is an uncommon word for Jesus, used only in this verse and the version in Mark.

man's -- There is no "man" in the Greek, but the "strong" is masculine and singular and introduced by an article which makes the previous adjective act like a noun. Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

house,  - The Greek word translated as "house," in Christ's time, was not only the physical building but the whole household, its members, its property, business interests, and position in the community, all connected to the "name" of the head of the house.

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also", "just") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

carry off - "Carry off" is from a verb the means "snatch away" and "carry off." It is in the form of an infinitive, so "to snatch away."

his-- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

possessions ,  - (WN) The Greek word translated as "possessions " primarily means a "vessel." However, it is used to refer to all types of equipment, one of which specifically "household contents." It is also a metaphor for "the body" as the "vessel" of the soul. The word is singular.

unless - Two Greek words are translated as "unless." Literally, they mean "if not" but this phrase is used to mean "except", "instead", and "but." 

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

first -- The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially."

ties up -- "Bind" is an adjective form for a verb that means "to bind", "to keep in bonds", "to tie", "to hinder from," and "to fetter. " It is a past participle in a form that indicates something acting on itself so "has been tied itself." The sense is not that the ass was tied up by someone, but rather that it has tangled itself up in something.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more.  Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

strong  - "Strong" is from an adjective used as a possessive noun. It means "strong", "mighty," and "violent." So it means "of a strong one" or "of a violent one." This is an uncommon word for Jesus, used only in this verse and the version in Mark.

man's -- There is no "man" in the Greek, but the "strong" is masculine and singular and introduced by an article which makes the previous adjective act like a noun. Without a noun, the article takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also", "just") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

Then -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then". 

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

can -- (WW) This helping verb "can " should be a "will" that indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

plunder - The "plunder" primarily means "tear to pieces,"  "being carried away by the wind." It also means "to seize" or "to plunder."

his-- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

house. - -- The Greek word translated as "house," refers to the building itself, all the people that dwell in it, including slaves and servants, all property owned by that family, and all the descendants of the continued line. We might say "estate" in English to capture this idea.

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "again" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "himself" as its object.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "into"  is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "house" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "goods" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "possessions" is translated as plural but it is singular.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "can" should be "will."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "house" is not shown in the English translation.

The Spoken Version: 

“If I had known boys were weak,” the leader of the Distinguished said the fathers of the two, “we should never have admitted them among us.”
“Our sons are strong,” one of the boy’s fathers to the crowd. “But their demons lied to them.”
“Our reason was snatched from us because of the lies the demons whispered to us in our thoughts,” one of the boys volunteered,
“It was because of the lies!” the other young man admitted. “And once we jointed in lie, hiding our mistakes, we were helpless vessels for the adversary.”
“Tell them that some lies are powerful!” one of the boy’s fathers pleaded to the Nazarene. “And the adversary knows all the right lies!”
“Or how does anyone have the power to go into the house of the strong just to snatch that vessel of his?” the Master responded sympathetically. “If he doesn’t first tied up the strong one? And then he will plunder his vessel.”

Front Page Date: 

Nov 4 2020