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Luke 11

When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ 25 But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. (see also Mt. 12:43-45 )

My question is: how does this apply to people such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna in Luke 8:3 (and possibly Paul later on)? These women are described as follows:

Luke 8

Accompanying him were the Twelve 2 and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

The text does not say when or by whom these women were cured. Did the evil spirit that plagued them return? If so, would they have be protected completely by virtue of their association with Jesus and (presumably) their lives of faith and morality? Or would they struggle with such things as bad dreams or sexual temptation with an incubus? I also wonder if Jesus' teaching above helps us understand Paul's "thorn" that kept from boasting of this spirituality.

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First, I do not see a direct link (apart from "seven") between Luke 11 and Luke 8.

Second, it is not clear for the two instances of Mary being described as the one "out of whom seven demons were cast out", whether this was on just one occasion or seven occasions - either is possible with the Greek grammar. Let us examine both possibilities:

One Exorcism

[I think this is the more likely.] If Jesus case out seven demons from Mary just once, then there is definitely no connection with Jesus' parable or returning demons in Luke 11.

In another instance recorded in Mark 5, Matt 8 and Luke 8, Jesus exorcised thousands of demons from one man. Therefore, it is possible that Jesus removed seven demons from Mary just once.

Seven Exorcisms

It is also grammatically possible (but less likely) that the text intends seven exorcisms. Again, this does not correspond the parable in Luke 11 as this would involve much more than seven demons.

The Other Women

Luke records several other woman including Joanna, Chuza and Susanna. We know almost nothing of these women and how many demons inhabited them. Therefore, no parallel can be drawn with Luke 11. All we know is that they were demon possessed and were cured by Jesus.

Temptations

These women, like all forgiven sinners did not immediately become perfect and sinless and immune to temptations. I am sure that they suffered various temptations just all of us do - each has his or her weakness(es). There are plenty of examples of this, eg,

  • Peter was still plagued by racism as recorded in gal 2
  • Paul and Barnabas suffered from anger management problems as recorded in Acts 15:38, 39

That is, at conversion, people do not become immune to temptation. Now, just which temptations these ladies battled, is not recorded, so information is available.

Despite this, I am also sure they lived God-centered lives of love by focusing on Jesus' character as per Heb 12:2, 3, 2 Cor 3:18, Col 3:1-4, Rom 12:1, etc.

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  • thanks for the info about Greek grammar and Mary's case. I hadn't considered multiple exorcisms. BTW I would not call Peter's attitude racist in Gal 2. He was merely caught between the Scylla of the Jerusalem church's zeal of the law and the Charybdis of Paul's tradition of no distinctions between Jew and Greek. Dec 29, 2023 at 16:42
  • @DanFefferman - I completely agree - but the result of such a dichotomy is still racist, no matter its source.
    – Dottard
    Dec 29, 2023 at 18:49

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