Does Matthew tell us to be violent as we proclaim the Gospel?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 11:12 NASB:   12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force.  

The 11th Chapter of Matthew uses a phrase that may be misleading to our modern ear. I think it’s something that can lead to a gross misunderstanding caused by the limitation of human language and translation. The 12th verse tells us the kingdom of Heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force. Is this verse advocating physical violence? All scripture must be understood within context, and a reader of any English Bible needs to consider translation of language and the differences in which people spoke in Jesus’ time from modern ways of saying things. So, let’s start with what is being said around this verse.

Matthew had just told his apostles that their words would not be received well by some.  They would be called up for judgement and even relatives would rise up against those who proclaimed Jesus’ words.  He said he did not bring peace, but a sword. I believe this is a metaphor to describe the resistance some would give. Now we see Jesus speaking of John who was in prison for preaching the Gospel without compromise. John did not use a passive or timid approach to preach. He went so far as to speak against Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, because Herod had taken his brother’s wife as his own. Though John and the other apostles did not use physical aggression, they forcefully moved forward in proclaiming word of Jesus. I believe this is Jesus’ point. If he advocated physical violence then why later does Matthew tell us Jesus rebuked Peter for using a sword telling him, “…those who take up the sword will perish by the sword”?

Context tells us Jesus did not advocate violence. It also shows us Matthew uses metaphors of physical violence to drive home his point.  With this in mind it seems Matthew 11:12 doesn’t tell us to be violent, but stresses the urgency to preach the Gospel, and the need for a vigorous pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven.

What are your thoughts?

Also on the web:

Did Jesus promise a reward for helping those who preach the Gospel?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 10:40-42 NASB: “The one who receives you receives Me, and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 The one who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and the one who receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person shall receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”  (New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation.)

When Jesus gave his disciples instructions as they got ready to preach to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, he spoke of rewards.  I believe this includes rewards for the apostles and for those who helped them. Let’s examine Matthew 10:40-42 and consider what Jesus had to say, the disagreement some people have about verse 42, and the implications for us today.

Jesus has just finished telling his apostles that many will reject the Gospel, and some will get violent. But he also said, “The one who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward…” He added the one who receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person shall receive a righteous person’s reward. I think it’s clear in this context he is saying the reward of those who help the apostles spread the gospel is the same as that of the apostles who are preaching the gospel and the act of welcoming Jesus’ apostle is the same as the act of welcoming Jesus.  I think a fair analogy from our modern world is the welcoming of an ambassador.  The host country isn’t just welcoming the ambassador, it welcomes the ambassador’s country; the one who sent him or her.

I found there is some disagreement about whom Verse 42 speaks. Jesus tells of the reward given to the person who gives a drink of water to any of these little ones.  Jesus often used the word “children” as a metaphor to describe adults in a spiritual sense. Here, there are at least two groups this metaphor may describe.  I believe Jesus’ metaphor of giving cold water to “little ones” refers to the apostles giving the lost sheep the Gospel, and says the apostles will be rewarded. But I found at least one author who says this refers to the apostles as “little ones” and those who give them a literal drink of cold water will be rewarded. I could argue either way, but at the end of the day, Jesus is talking about rewards given to those who help in carrying out his work.

I think it’s important to note, these are Jesus’ instructions to his apostles as they head out on a specific mission.  Some of the instructions given in the chapter (such as not preaching to the Gentiles or Samaritans) are clearly for this mission only because later they are told to preach to everybody.  But I think since Jesus said, “a prophet,” and not my apostle; and since he spoke of “a righteous person” rather than a specific righteous person, that this applies to all who do this rather than only the people to whom the apostles encountered on this specific mission.  When we help a person spread the gospel, I understand these verses to tell us we share in his or her reward. Could we infer from this a warning about helping those who spread a false doctrine?

What are your thoughts?

Also on the web:

Mountain Home to release David Marshall’s Clearwaters to digital platforms


Arden, North Carolina (January 5, 2023) — Nearly 40 years ago, the legendary Marshall Family’s David Marshall issued a remarkable yet under-appreciated album on Mountain Home Music Company. Out of print for years, Clearwaters has been newly mastered and will be released for the first time as a digital-only album, available for purchase or streaming on all platforms. It’s now available for pre-save/add/order on those platforms ahead of its January 27 release.  

Recorded at the Horizon Music Group studios in Asheville, North Carolina for the then-fledgling label, Clearwaters knit together profound Christian conviction and a deeply personal creativity in a rare musical fabric. Best known for his work with his family’s bluegrass gospel group, which released three albums back in the 1970s that served as inspiration to artists like The Isaacs, Alison Krauss and Rhonda VincentMarshall was a distinctive, emotive singer, a deliciously individualistic banjo, mandolin and guitar player, and the composer of songs that not only suited the Marshall Family, but found favor with the likes of bluegrass Hall of Famers Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks.  

Together with co-producer Tim Surrett, who would go on to help found the label’s flagship group, Balsam Range, he assembled a group of musicians that included returning members of the Family, studio wizards such as multi-instrumentalist David Johnson (who, like Surrett, had just finished recording with iconic guitarist Tony Rice), friends like J.P. Pennington of country chart topper Exile, and an assortment of bluegrass players and singers then just beginning their rise to prominence: six-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Dale Ann Bradley; ten-time IBMA Guitar Player of the Year Bryan Sutton; acclaimed singer and songwriter Steve Gulley; bassist Ben Isaacs (The Isaacs) and mandolinist Jeff Parker (Dailey & Vincent, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers).  

The result is a collection that ranges from Marshall’s inspired rewrite of old-time favorite “Hammer and Nails” to the contemplative closing instrumental, “Daddy’s Darlin’ Dream,” offering hope, redemption and deeply personal reflections on God’s grace and the promise of eternal life. And while Clearwaters offers an intriguing glimpse into the early careers of some of bluegrass and bluegrass gospel’s most beloved artists, it also sounds as fresh and original as it did on its first release, enhancing a musical legacy that has yet to win the acclaim it deserves.  

Is your witness limited to Facebook?

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Floyd Rogers

God’s Word tells us to go into all nations and preach the Gospel. I’ve worked in Christian Broadcasting for decades, and I’ve met a lot of people who say radio and television fulfills that charge because it broadcasts God’s Word throughout the world. But does it really?

Consider, sometimes a whisper is more effective than a shout to get someone’s attention; that is, for them to both hear and understand.  I’m sure at some point you’ve had someone grab your attention with a shout even though you had no idea what they said. The shout had their attention, not the message. In the same fashion, I often wonder if people who listen to Christian radio have their attention on the friendly voice coming through their speakers and the upbeat song with little regard for what the singer is saying. The same can be said of Social media. Do people really read debates between Christians and Atheists to seek truth, or is their attention focused on which side will crush the other?

I think it’s possible we’re told to go into the nations and preach the Gospel because one-on-one sharing of God’s word eliminates the distraction other modes present. There’s no worrying about what some third party may think of our presentation, no entertainment drawing our thoughts away from what is being said, and just like a whisper, no loud attention getter distracting from the message.

Do you witness only online behind a keyboard, or do you go out and preach the Gospel?

What are your thoughts?