Friday, June 19, 2009

99 out of 100 get this passage wrong!

The following is from an article by Jim Elliff, Christian Communicators Worldwide:

What do these verses mean?

What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.

So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (Matthew 18:12-14)

What these verses are not about

First, these verses are plainly not about ninety-nine Christians and one lost person. It is not an evangelistic text. I admit that the passage would make a colorful gospel text if it were intended by Jesus to be that, but, it is not. We are compelled to read it another way because of the context. Context kills a lot of good sermons and this is a case in point.

The phrase, “little ones,” is defined in what precedes it. Jesus said in verse six, “But whoever causes one of the little ones who believe in Me to stumble . . .” indicating that these “little ones” are believers rather than unconverted people.
Click here to read the entire article on


Anonymous said...

These little ones...are they also children if you go further back in the context? So it's children who believe in Jesus? So it would be that adults cause them to become lost sheep (still of His fold).

Anonymous said...

Of course, the article states otherwise, but I am not thinking just children but specifically children who belong to Jesus. I can see the point of those with the faith of the children rather than just children....

Mike said...

ChristianLady. First of all, thanks for reading the blog! I thought only mom read my blog! That's not you is it, ... Mom? :)

Seriously, though, I thought Elliff makes a great case for his interpretation of this passage so I won't restate it. Previously, I had always thought of this as an evangelistic passage. (i.e. Jesus goes out searching for the lost sheep to bring him into the fold.)

While Scripture does teach the concept of the Son of Man coming to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), that doesn't appear to be what this passage is about. Rather it portrays Christ as the Good Shepherd who ensures that He keeps all who are His, (John 10:28).

As far as your comments, I guess I'm not understanding. Do you agree with the author? You have to really spell it out for me. :)

BTW, I enjoyed reading some of your blog posts and noticed some Nazarene ties. Are you in a Naz. church? I grew up in that church and was going to school to become a Nazarene pastor. (Now I attend an independent Baptist church)

Anonymous said...

I know you guys, go to the indep baptist church and was speaking to your wife recently at the teen picnic....she told me about this site. I did have Nazarene in my past for sure as I lived with an uncle for 4 years who became a pastor in the Nazarene church...and we attended Antioch Nazarene for a time when in early marrigae. Throughout my life I've attended many other protestant churches due to my childhood, and of course recently was in a non-denominational church in the area.

I didn't make myself very clear because I read your post first, began my comment, then read the ENTIRE article, then saw his true point. I do agree that it's NOT everyone but those chosen by him. As far as the lost, I didn't ever really think about who the lost sheep was. When I read in context, I thought it was about children, but meaning actually chidlren who believed not just any believer. When I read the author's article, it made much more sense. So I can say, I probably agree with the author and should have read the entire thing before posting a response, I'm lazy that way sometimes. I am sorry to have been confusing. Of course, I am would have to go through the passage again...never hurts to study closer!

Mike said...

no, no. It is my fault for not summarizing better. Thanks for the comments!

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