Bible Questions and Answers

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Please explain Matthew chapter 12:43-45. What is an unclean spirit?

Matthew 12:43-45 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.

Spirit in the New Testament denotes a way of thinking.

Luke 9:51-56 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And they went to another village.

An 'unclean spirit' denotes a way of thinking which is contrary to the commandments of God. It is also a way of describing a mental illness. Jesus is representing the nation of the Jews as a man who habitually thinks and does evil.

With the preaching of John Baptist, Jesus, and his apostles, many of the Jews repented and turned from their evil ways. But this general improvement in the nation did not last.

In the years between AD 35 and AD 70 the behaviour of the nation towards the Romans grew more and more evil. This is represented as an unclean spirit returning to the man and taking in more of its ilk, thus making the man even more evil in his thinking than before.

‘This wicked generation’ provoked the Romans into the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, as Jesus had prophesied elsewhere.

Luke 19:43-44 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

Josephus records the events which led to the fulfilment of this.

I hope you find this helpful.

God bless,