Mark 3:26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided,

KJV Verse: 

Mar 3:26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

And if adversity rouses to action up against itself and is minimized, it cannot last but it has a purpose.

Hidden Meaning: 

In the standard translation, this line seems to just rephrase the previous few verses, but it does much more than that. It doesn't talk about adversity casting out adversity or how kingdoms and houses cannot be divided between two warring authorities. It brings in the new concepts, of "rousing people to action" and, most importantly, the idea of telos, that is, purpose. In this verse, Jesus is simply telling us the purpose of adversity, that is, explaining the need for problems and suffering. Of course, much of this is lost in the desire to personalized "Satan" instead of simply translating the word into what it means, which is "adversity."

Adversity cannot eliminate itself.

Mar 3:23 discussed here). Nor is adversity caused by some war between the gods (a pagan view that unfortunately touches many versions of Christianity) as Jesus explains in Mar 3:24 (discussed here)Adversity is subject to God's will as a "house" within his kingdom (Mar 3:25 discussed here).

The key for me in understanding this verse is the use of the word, telos, which means "end," but not only in the simple sense of a finish to something. It carries with it a strong sense of purpose, bringing something to completion to meet a goal. Its "lightweight" translation simple as "end" misses one of Christ's key points throughout the Gospels: events and especially suffering have a purpose. Understanding this sheds important light on critical ideas such as "the end of the age" prophecies that Christ makes (discussion of that section of Matthew starts here).

Instead, adversity wakes up opposition in us against it. It exists to call us to action. Though the ideas seem at first similar to the words in the previous verses, the idea of adversity "rising up" against itself is added here, not to deny that it happens but to explain its purpose. In the previous verses, Christ describes the impossibility of adversity ejecting itself or dividing itself. However, those similar words are changed here

This opposition to adversity ends up dividing or minimizing it. In the process, we learn and grow. This makes each individual problem temporary, and adversity as a whole cannot stop us. This is the purpose of adversity in the end.


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."

εἰ (prep) "If" is from ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions.

Σατανᾶς (noun sg masc nom) "Satan" is satanas which is an Aramaic word meaning "adversary", "opponents," or "one who opposes another in purpose or act. "

ἀνέστη (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Rise up" is from anistemi, which means "to make stand up", "to raise up", "to raise from sleep", "to wake up", "to raise from the dead", "to rouse to action", "to put up for sale", "to make people rise", "to emigrate", "to transplant," and "to rise and leave the sanctuary." -- "Shall rise " is a Greek verb that means "to make to stand up", "to raise from the dead", "to rouse to action," and "to make people rise up." In the future form used, it indicates the men acting on themselves, so, "are going to raise themselves."


ἐφ᾽ (prep) "Against" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from." 

ἑαυτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Himself" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

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

μερίσθη, (verb 3rd sg aor ind pass) "Be divided" is from merizo, which means "divide", "distribute", "assign", "sever", "cut-off," (passive) "to be divided", "to be dispersed," and "to be reckoned a part."

 οὐ (partic) "Not" is ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective. -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea.

δύναται (verb 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." - The word translated as "I can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. In Greek, it indicates ability or power.

στῆναι (verb aor inf act) "Shall...stand" is from histemi, which means "to make to stand", "to stand", "to set up", "to bring to a standstill", "to check", "to appoint", "to establish", "to fix by agreement", "to be placed", "to be set", "to stand still", "to stand firm", "to set upright", "to erected", "to arise," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]", "to bury", "to establish", "to make", "to cause," and "to assign."

ἀλλὰ (adv) "But" is alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay." -- The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise".

τέλος (noun sg neut acc) "End" is from telos, which means "come to pass", "performance", "consummation", "result", "product, ""outcome", "end", "achievement", "attainment", "goal", "state of completion, ""maturity", "services rendered", "something done", "task", "duty", "toll," and "custom."

ἔχει.(verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Hath" is echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to carry", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do." -- The word translated as "have" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

Related Verses: