Daily Bible Reading for Thursday, February 22nd:

A Very Short Lesson on Difficult Scripture

Most of the time, a difficult Scripture can be worked through logically.

Most of the time, a difficult Scripture can be worked through logically.

Matthew 9:38-41 is one of those challenging scriptures that have as many explanations as there are teachers of the word. It is an extraordinary example of why we do not take any person’s word without comparing it to what the Bible says.

The disciples experienced a tinge of jealousy when they saw someone who wasn’t a member of their group able to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. The person could have been a follower of John or he could have been one of the 72 (Luke 10:1 ff) after he completed his commission.

Jesus forbid them from stopping him.

Trying to figure out how to apply this teaching has challenged Christians since the gospel was written. Comparing what people teach about it with logic and other Bible passages gives us a good start on how to treat it. Here are a few thoughts I have about what the passage does and does not do for the Christian:

What it doesn’t do:

  • …allow a church to overlook her members living in a sinful way – we cannot use it as a way out of having “difficult discussions” with fellow Christians
  • …excuse error and false teaching just because it is in Jesus’ name – we still have to call out and avoid false teachers
  • …relieve us from trying to teach someone the better way – we are always responsible for teaching the one true gospel

An excellent example of these points can be seen in Priscilla and Aquila. They did not allow Apollos to keep teaching the baptism of John. (Acts 18:24-28)

What it does do:

  • …tells us not to be judgmental of others solely because they are not among “our group” – this is vastly different from identifying a specific sin and helping someone correct it.
  • …allows us to give others that believe differently enough room to continue to learn and eventually correct their beliefs – the same goes for us! Don’t forget to allow the possibility that we have it wrong.
  • …discourages the feeling of jealously of what others are doing at the expense of what we have going for ourselves – The disciples were sitting at the Messiah’s feet but were more worried about what another was doing!

The Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30) and Hebrews 5:12-6:7 among others can help us resolve these discussion points.

So Here’s the Point

A key part of faith and loving Jesus is keeping his commandments. (John 14:15) When we are reading and studying the Bible, we can never use any of his teachings to get around that basic concept. Some of the improper applications of Mark 9:38-41 try to do just that.

In the same way, what we believe a passage of scripture says should never be in conflict with what another passage says. We can use this simple logical method to make our Bible study a more rewarding experience.

About Butch Adams

In addition to writing this blog and contributing elsewhere, I have served as elder and deacon in the various places I have worshiped. In these duties, I have concentrated my attention on the area of education - both in outreach to seekers through the Internet and inside the congregations for ongoing Bible scholarship. Comments and thoughts about referenced material in the article above are Copyright 2018 by Butch Adams . Any referenced material belongs to its owners and every attempt has been made to use it according to their wishes.

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