12.01.03 Lk. 10:17-24
SEVENTY DISCIPLES RETURN
17 The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.”
18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash. 19 Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you. 20 However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
21 In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure. 22 All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.”
23 Then turning to His disciples He said privately, “The eyes that see the things you see are blessed! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.”
The disciples returned to Jesus with great joy. Evidently they were surprised at the power of Jesus flowing through them, because He had not told them to cast out demons. But He cautioned them to focus their excitement on their own eternal life, not on their power to perform exorcisms. The phrase “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name,” is clear evidence that the powers of darkness and Satan were already crippled at this time, which was before His victory at the cross. This clearly suggests that the use of “binding and loosening” had gone from a legal matter to a spiritual matter of binding demonic spirits and loosening people afflicted by those spirits.
This is an interesting contrast where these 72 disciples performed incredible miracles, but the twelve closest disciples could not bring healing to an epileptic boy (Lk. 9:37-43).
The doctrine of “binding and loosing” has the traditional meaning of “forbidding and permitting.” The word binding (Gk. deo) is used in 1 Corinthians 7:29 in reference to marriage, while loosing (Gk. lyo) is used when laws are relaxed (Mt. 5:19) and sins are forgiven (Rev. 1:5). Nonetheless, the terms appear not to have been used in the performance of miracles of casting out demons. Jesus may have expanded the traditional parameters of the definition. His divine power convinced many to believe His message of the Kingdom of God. Now that power was transferred to His disciples, more people would hear the message and believe in His name. Evidently, the early church continued the practice, as recorded by Origen in his reply to Celsus:
By their prayers Christians are of more service to the realm than if they had fought for it in the legions, for by their petitions they vanquished all demons who stir up war and disturb the peace.
Origen, Against Celsus 1:24
“I watched Satan fall.” Jesus again attests to His eternal existence. However, now He also declares His superior power and authority over Satan. Jesus was in heaven when the evil one was thrown out by His authority. There are three possibilities to understanding this statement, and all three are correct:
- This statement of observing Satan fall from heaven is clearly reflective of the words of Isaiah:
12 Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens!
You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground.
- This passage clearly reflects the eternal nature of Jesus – the fact that He was witness to Satan fall from heaven as stated in Revelation 12:
So the great dragon was thrown out — the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world, He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him.
Jesus, speaking in past-tense language, was looking toward the future, after His thousand year reign to the ultimate defeat of Satan as recorded by John.
7 When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
- And finally, when the disciples said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name,” Satan must have trembled at the thought of so many going out and experiencing victory over his kingdom of darkness.
“Snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy.” There is a debate concerning the phrase “snakes and scorpions.”
- Some scholars believe it was a rabbinic phrase referring to demonic spirits. However, of those who believe this, many believe the phrase did not exist in the first century, but came in use later, possibly the 4th or 5th century.
- A second opinion is that snakes and scorpions were not symbolic of evil in the first century, as they are today. In fact, in the biblical era, snakes were symbolic of renewed life because they shed their skins annually and a scorpion was one of the creatures in the zodiac.
- However, Jesus referred to the two creatures because they have a reputation for inflicting serious bodily harm, along with the power of Satan who desires to destroy both body and soul.
“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In ancient times, the genealogical records of the Jewish people were kept in the temple. Roman cities had the names of citizens recorded. Likewise, the epistles note that the names of true believers are written in heaven and Revelation 20 refers to the heavenly “Book of Life” that has the names of all true believers. Jesus said that it is far more important that one’s name be written in the right book than to have the ability to perform signs and wonders and lose his life.
Finally, some scholars believe that Luke 10:21-22 (cf. Mt. 11:25) was incorporated into an early church hymn. It is believed that a number of sayings by the apostles were remembered because they were put to music.
. For further study on binding and loosening see 08.04.07.Q1 “What verbal formulas did exorcists use when casting out demons?” the account of the demoniac whom Jesus cleansed in 08.06.03; the phrase “Bound in heaven . . . loosed in heaven,” in 11.02.08; the phrase “Bind on earth … loose on earth” in 10.01.29; and the phrase “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name,” in 12.01.03. An excellent resource for further study was written by Foster and King, Binding and Loosening: Exercising Authority over Dark Powers. See also Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:254-55, and Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 236.
. A wide range of meanings to the term “binding and loosing” is found in Judg. 16:6, 13; Job 38:31; Isa. 22:21, 66:1; Ezek. 20:37; Tobit 3:13, 7:11; 1 Enoch 6:4; Mt. 22:23, 23:4; Lk. 8:29; Acts 20:22; 22:4 Rom. 7:1; and 1 Cor. 7:39. See also Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:795. See aslo Richard Hiers, “’Binding’ and ‘Loosing’: The Matthean Authorizations.” Journal of Biblical Literature. 104:2 (June, 1985). 236-37.
. Tongue, “Binding and Losing.” 1:199.
. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 202.
. Philip. 4:3; Heb. 12:23.
. A number of early Christian hymns are embedded in the New Testament. The best known are 1) the Magnificat (Lk. 1:46-55); 2) the Nunc Dimittis (Lk. 2:29-32); 3) Eph. 5:14 is considered to be either a baptismal hymn or a hymn to the unconverted; 4) 1 Tim. 3:16 is an early church creed that was sung, and 5) 2 Tim. 2:11 ff. is thought to be a fragment of an Eucharistic hymn. Philippians 2:6-11 was known as the Christ Hymn. Other verses that were incorporated into songs are. Acts 4:24-28, Col. 1:15 ff., Lk. 10:21-22 = Mt. 11:25 ff., and Jn. 1:1-5, 9-13. See Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 527.