Being that I am one of those ‘preacher-types,’ I usually get some really good questions on Sundays – before church, after church, during church, etc. They come in the form of handwritten notes, emails, texts, tweets, and conversations.
I thought it might be beneficial on Mondays (or at least until people stop asking!) to pose a question that was given to me over the weekend and do my best to answer it here. Chances are, there are others who are wondering the same thing. Besides, oftentimes the questions have to do with something I said/didn’t say during my sermon – and I ALWAYS have more that I could say. 🙂
Here goes. . .
Yesterday, during lunch, I received a text message asking me why verse 21 is skipped in Matthew 17??? Now THAT’s a Good Question (especially since I preached from there during the morning sermon)!!!
If you notice, in most translations verse 21 is either omitted OR bracketed between verses 20 and 22. In the Bible I use, there is a footnote after verse 20 that reads: “Some manuscripts insert verse 21: But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.”
The simple answer is that some (if not most) of the earliest Greek manuscripts do not include verse 21. In other words, more than likely, translators added verse 21 later. Or to say it in yet another way, a bunch of really smart people (Bible scholars) do not think Matthew included the sentence we know as verse 21.
SO WHY IS IT THERE?
Most translations put the verse in brackets or include a footnote in order not to cause mass chaos on Sunday mornings when the preacher says, “turn to Matthew 17:22” or something similar. If some translations skipped and went on and others kept it in, there would be mass confusion on Sundays! It is skipped (with a footnote) or bracketed in order to keep some sense of uniformity for us. Make sense?
SO, WHAT IF JESUS DID SAY IT????
This side of heaven, we just won’t know for sure. Let me give you a piece of advice for when you come across similar situations in Scripture (there are several). It is ALWAYS BEST to compare it with other places in Scripture. Let me explain. The skipped verse in my translation records Jesus as saying, “But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.” First, I would check to see if this story is recorded by any of the other Gospel writers. Sure enough, Mark and Luke also record it. So I would read what the Spirit inspired them to write. In this case, they help some, but not totally.
NEXT I would ask myself, “Does Jesus encourage prayer and fasting in other places?” Sure He does. So even if Jesus didn’t say it, you can know IT STILL IS A BIBLICAL TRUTH.
WHAT’S THE TAKE AWAY HERE?
After you have done these, my conclusion here is though we don’t know for sure if Jesus said what is in verse 21, we DO KNOW FOR SURE that Jesus encouraged prayer and fasting in other places. SO, one way we can fight against demonic forces of evil in our lives is by asking Jesus to remove it (prayer) and expressing our desperation for Him to do so (fasting). This way I am sure it is a biblical ‘take-away’ AND it fits with what Jesus was communicating in the context of Matthew 17.
[You can listen to the sermon here.]
Does this make sense? What other questions come to your mind – related to this issue – having read this post?