08.04.07 Mt. 7:15-20; Lk. 6:45; Mt. 7:21-23
TESTING RELIGIOUS LEADERS
Mt. 15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit.
Are grapes gathered
from thorn bushes,
17 In the same way, every good tree
produces good fruit,
but a bad tree
produces bad fruit.
18 A good tree can’t
produce bad fruit;
neither can a bad tree
produce good fruit.
19 Every tree that doesn’t
Produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
Lk. 45 A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.
Mt. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’
“False prophets.” Throughout biblical history there were always warnings of false prophets and their related deceptions, such as Balaam who functioned only for personal gain. When Jesus preached His Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24) and described the events that would occur near the end of the age, His first warning was to be aware of deceptions. This was especially needed due to the number of deceptive writings and doctrines of Inter-Testamental and Post-New Testament Periods that became popular and have continued ever since then.
“Only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Many of the words spoken by Jesus were common knowledge. An example of a Jewish saying is below.
Do His will (the will of God) as if it was your will that He may do your will as if it was His will. Make your will of none effect before his will, that He may make the will of others of none effect before your will.
Mishnah, Aboth 2.4
Jesus was generally in agreement with the theology of the Pharisees, but not with how they lived their lives. He was concerned with the corrupt religious elite and the theological confusion that had established itself with the influx of Hellenism.
“Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?” This passage has been among the most controversial ones throughout the centuries. The primary point of difficulty is that someone who professed to exercise the power of Jesus is unknown to Him. Exorcists often called upon the names of several deities for combined supernatural powers to cast out a demon or demons. After the ministry of Jesus, some used His name for various healings and exorcisms.
Archaeologists uncovered two important documents that bring clarification to this issue. The first is an exorcism invoking the names of King Solomon and Yahweh against Belial and the liliths (devils). Solomon was mentioned because Scripture reported him to be the wisest of all men and had the gift of discernment. By the first century, supernatural powers were attributed to him as well.
[Text missing] of David. Concerning the words of the spell in the name of YHWH [text missing] of Solomon, and he will invoke the name of YHWH to set him free from every affliction of the spirits, of the devils, liliths, owls and jackals. These are the devils, and the prince of enmity is Belial who rules over the abyss of darkness [text missing] to [text missing] and to magnify the God of wonders… the sons of his people have completed the cure [text missing] those who have relied on your name. Invoke [text missing] guarding of Israel. Lean on YHWH, the God of gods, he who made the heavens, and the earth and all that is in them, who separated light from darkness.
Dead Sea Scroll, Apocryphal Psalm of Exorcism (11Q11 [11QPsApa]), 1:1-13
The second example is a third century A.D. document found in Egypt that was written by a Jew who called upon more deities than God alone. A large portion of the text was omitted, in which the spirits were repeatedly adjured. It should be noted that the words “I adjure you” is a command that means “to cast out.” The abbreviated form is as follows,
For those possessed by demons, [here is] an approved charm by Pibechis. Take oil made of unripe olives, together with the plant Mastigia and lotus pith, and boil it with marjoram (very colorless), Saying, “Joel, Ossarthiomi, Emori...Come out of such-a-one.” But write on the phylactery… “Jaeo, Abraothioch, Phtha …and hang it around the sufferer: it is of every demon a thing to be trembled at, which he fears. Standing opposite, adjure him. The adjuration is this: “I adjure you by the god of the Hebrews Jesu, Jaba…you that appear in fire, you that are in the midst of the earth and snow and vapor, tannetis: let your angel descend, implacable one, and let him draw into captivity the demon as he flies around this creature which God formed in his holy paradise.” (continued below)
The magical formula closes with the following:
I adjure you by him who appeared unto you O Israel in the pillar of light and in the cloud by day, and delivered his word from the task work of Pharaoh and brought upon Pharaoh the ten plagues because he did not listen. I adjure you, every demonic spirit, whoever you are…I adjure you by God the light-bringer, invincible, who knows what is in the heart of all life, who from dust formed the race of men… I adjure you by the great God Sabaoth through whom the Jordan River flowed backward, the Red Sea also, which Israel journeyed over and it was impassable.
I adjure you — every demonic spirit — by Him that looks down on the earth and makes the foundations tremble thereof, and made all things out of things which were not into being. But I adjure you, you who see the adjuration: the flesh of swine you must not eat, and there shall be subject to you every spirit and demon, whatever he may be. But when you adjurest, blow sending [your] breath from above [to the feet], and from the feet to the face, and he [the demon] will be drawn into captivity. Be pure and keep it. For the sentence is Hebrew and kept by men that are pure.
Paris Magical Papyrus of Jewish Origins, Selections from lines 3,007-85
“I never knew you.” This profound statement is not one of an academic or casual knowledge, but the word “knew” refers to the knowledge of personal experience, as in a close personal friendship. The phrase had specific reference to those who were not committed to Him, persons who did not have a relationship with Jesus yet demonstrated incredible signs and wonders, possibly by demonic powers.
There is a theme of obedience in both the Old and New Testament; that is to claim that if one knows and loves God, he must be obedient to Him. This was expressed by Luke when he said why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what you are told to do (Lk. 6:46). The image of a disciple was one who patterned his life after his rabbi and mentor. Disciples of Jesus today must pattern their lives after Rabbi Jesus. Those who chose not to live like Him or obey Him are unbelievers and false teachers. That is why the prophet Isaiah said that the people speak well of God but their hearts are far from Him (Isa. 29:13).
08.04.07.Q1 What verbal formulas did exorcists use when casting out demons?
It is not the intent to teach demonic formulas or ancient witchcraft, but rather, to present evidence to show that exorcists who worshiped other gods (demons) also called upon the name of God and/or Jesus. As previously stated, the typical prayers of exorcism used by the Jews and Greeks had essentially the same elements.
- There was the invocation of the names of deities,
- The use of magical names,
- The use of a religious object (such as a gem stone or piece of lead),
- And some form of a religious rite.
Jesus, in contrast, simply commanded the demons to leave their victim. His disciples were told to do the same, but to add the authoritative phrase, “in the name of Jesus” (Mt. 10:1; Lk. 10:19). The command “come out” is the same word used by Jesus in Luke 4:35 (cf. Mk. 1:25, 5:8, 9:25) and was a common formula used in exorcisms. The word “Phtha” was the name of an Egyptian god. The term “adjure” is a formula to command a spirit to act and the name “Jesu” is the abbreviated name of Jesus, the power source used to cast out the demon. Jews had a high regard for the name of God. Even today many will spell the name of Deity as “G-d.” Likewise any Jew who considered the deity of Jesus spelled His name “Yeshua” in Hebrew or “Jesu” in Greek. It appears that some Jewish exorcists who did not believe in the divinity of Jesus still used His name to perform exorcisms because Jesus had literally cast demons out of people – something the Jewish leaders never denied.
Another column of the same scroll repeats the theme of communicating a command, in the name of God, (Heb. “YHWH”) to a spirit.
1 [text missing] 2 which [text missing] 3 the volunteers of your tr[uth, when Ra]phael heals them. 4 Of David. Con[cerning the words of the spe]ll in the name of YHWH. [Call on] 5 the heavens [at a]ny time. [When] Beli[al comes upon you, [you] shall say to him: 6 “Who are you, [accursed amongst] men and amongst the seed of the holy ones? Your face is a face 7 of futility, and your horns are horns of a wre[tch]. You are darkness and not light, 8 [s]in and not justice. [Against you,] the chief of the army, YHWH will [shut] you 9 [in the] deepest She[ol], he will shut] the two bronze gates through which no 10 light [penetrates.] [On you there shall] not [shine the light of the] sun, which [rises] 11 [upon the] just man [to illuminate his face.]” You shall say to him; “Is there not perhaps [an angel] 12 with the just man, to go [to judgment when] Sa[tan] mistreats him?” [And he will be freed] from dark[ness by] 13 [the spirit of tru]th, [because jus]tice is with him [to uphold him at the judgment. 14 [text missing] not [text missing].
Dead Sea Scroll, Apocryphal Psalm of Exorcism (11Q11[11QPsApa]), 4:1-14
These manuscripts clearly indicate that first century Jews had a functional knowledge of using the name and authority of God to cast out demons. In the beginning of the third century, in Egypt, the following lengthy text was written by a Jew who called upon more than the God of his forefathers. A large portion of the text was omitted wherein where the spirits were repeatedly called upon.
Between the first and fourth centuries A.D. the works of several Christian writers were collected and became known as the Apocalypse of Elijah. The authors were evidently familiar with the New Testament writings as they used phrases (2:41; 3:1) such as “man of lawlessness” a common motif in 2 Thessalonians while 4:13ff appears to be dependent upon Revelation 11:8ff. Interestingly, in the third chapter are the works of the antichrist which essentially replicate all the works that Christ did with the exception of raising the dead to life. Clearly, since these miracles include healings and exorcisms, the authority of loosening and binding was not only a legislative matter, but also applied to the spiritual realm. There are two distinct methods of interpreting the term “binding and loosening,”  and scholars continue to debate these terms today.
- Binding and loosening is understood as punishing or absolving men in the synagogue relative to religious law.
- Binding and loosening is understood in a spiritual context, that is, to bind and loose the spirits that motivate, manipulate, or control people. But what it does not mean is that the disciples, nor the church, have the power to forgive sins or to send anyone to heaven or hell. In fact, throughout all antiquity is the idea that a person can be “bound” by demonic forces, is found in Greek, Syrian, Jewish, Mandaean, and Indian exorcism texts.
Video Insert >
08.04.07.V The Conflicting Views on “Binding and Loosening.” Drs. Joe Wehrer and David Clark discuss their understanding of this important phrase. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich. ()
So at this point, notice that Matthew 7:22 refers to individuals who functioned with the power of binding and loosening, yet were not permitted to enter heaven. The passage reads, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ The response from the Savior will be “I never knew you.” At issue is the fact that a personal relationship with Jesus is required, and this is certainly more important than having the ability to cast out demons. Yet those who perform exorcisms in the name of Jesus consistently state that a close relationship with Christ is essential in this kind of ministry. One of the earliest church fathers who acknowledged this divine power was Justin Martyr, who lived in Samaria about a century after Jesus. He stated that,
We [are] believers in Jesus our Lord, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, cast out all devils and other evil spirits and thus have them in our power.
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 6:269
In the early third century, Tertullian constantly and aggressively attacked pagan philosophies and their accompanying lifestyles. In stark contrast, he spoke of the joys of being a follower of Christ and stated that as a Christian, what could be better…
Than to find yourself trampling underfoot the gods of the Gentiles, expelling demons, effecting cures, seeking revelations, living to God? These are the pleasures, the spectacles of Christians, holy, eternal, and freed.
Tertullian, De Spectaculis 29
Origen was another church father of the early third century who recorded the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. In one of his apologetic writings he stated,
By these [the names of God and Jesus] we also have seen many delivered from serious ailments, and from mental distractions and madness, and countless other diseases, which neither men nor demons had cured.
Origen, Against Celsus 3.24
Clement of Alexandria was one who warned against such use of demonic powers. He said this:
Against whom does Heracleitus of Ephesus utter this prophecy? Against night-roamers, magicians, Bacchants, Lenaean revelers and devotees of the mysteries.
Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation 2.19
The Roman-Greco world believed the spirit world had an overriding influence on every aspect of men. Therefore, when one prayed, he commanded the gods to a particular action and, of course, expected the requested results. In his letters to the Ephesian and Colossian churches, the Apostle Paul referred to the power of Jesus being victorious over demonic powers. It was normal to expect results from prayers and exorcisms.
A Lesson in First Century Hermeneutics:
08.04.07.X Understanding Parables
This method of teaching is absolutely foreign to modern teachers and students. It is highly doubtful if any readers of this eBook ever had teachers who taught with the use of parables, yet these were common in biblical times. So that leads to the following question: Why did Jesus teach with parables?
08.04.07.Q2 Why did Jesus teach with parables?
For centuries church leaders believed that parables were allegories – stories with one or more “spiritual meanings.” Today, however, it is well accepted that every parable has a single point on modeling human behavior. Themes or ideas in parables come from a variety of sources, including the Old Testament, daily rural farming life, political and historical events, and so forth. There are a number of reasons why Jesus chose to communicate with parables as follows:
- Parables connect abstract ideas with real life events; short narratives that make a spiritual point. They are structured from the concrete to the abstract; from the simple to the complex; from everyday objects to symbols or relations. They are used to represent a theological point, a mirror of spiritual truth, an image borrowed from the visible world to reflect the truth of the invisible world. They build up to a climax and are concise and to the point. In other words, a parable is a comparison between a familiar fact and a spiritual truth.
- One of the most important features is that the use of parables permitted Jesus to speak directly against His critics without making a frontal attack. That seems like an oxymoron (two opposites), but in a culture where hospitality was nearly a sacred duty, confronting an adversary politely was deemed to be a sign of righteousness.
- On the other hand, His critics who had an agenda of their own often did not understand the parables because they had blinded themselves to the truth (Mt. 13:9-11).
- Reading material was almost non-existent and very expensive. Biblical Judaism was a culture of learning by hearing, repeating, and remembering and less by reading, although nearly all men and some women had elementary reading skills.
- Parables were spoken in a poetic format and consisted of a single theme so they could be easily remembered. Rather than having rhyming lines, parables had either repeating or contrasting ideas and were usually in pictorial description. Lines or phrases could be of figurative language, such as similitudes, comparisons, proverbs, allegories, fables, common sayings, etc. This definition of a parable was formulated primarily during the Inter-Testamental Period, as evidenced in Apocrypha books, such as the Wisdom of Solomon and Ben Sirach, 1 Enoch (esp. Ch. 37-71), and others.
- According to this definition, it can be understood that many parables, but not all, were historical events drawn from real life situations. One of the abstract concepts Jesus used is the Kingdom of God or, as Matthew recorded it, the Kingdom of Heaven. To help people understand the Kingdom, Jesus used eight parables, drawn mostly from farming and fishing occupations. In His later ministry, He used sixteen parables, all drawn from the daily lives of ordinary people.
For example, impoverished farmers who could not pay their taxes mortgaged their land to the tax collectors. For this reason, Jesus alluded to the debtor, creditor and the prison in his teachings. In another parable, a creditor met a debtor, and when the debtor could not pay, he and his family were thrown into prison (Mt. 5:25). In Luke 14:29 the reason why buildings may not have been finished was that local governors at times could not collect all the taxes they desired, simply because the people were so poor. For those who were successful, some buried their coins in a field to protect them from the oppressive tax collector (Mt. 13:44). By the time Herod the Great died, the land and the people were nearly all bankrupt. So parables were very real stories about very real events and people that Jesus used to teach very real spiritual lessons.
- In a number of cases, Jesus ended His parable with a question to the listener which required a judgment of the situation; then He made further comments (i.e. Parable of the Two Sons; Mt. 21:28-32). As parables were given, listeners found themselves entangled in the plot. For example, the parables of Luke 15 are lessons of sin and grace. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the two lost sons are subjects of concern, crossing all social and economic strata of society. Everyone could identify with them. Jesus pointed out that sin crossed all social lines and grace was available to every soul who desired salvation. The simple Law revealed divine grace.
- There are 58 parables in the Old Testament, the most famous of which is probably the prophet Nathan’s parable of the ewe lamb that brought Kind David to admit his sin (2 Sam. 12:1-4). These and many other parables are found in rabbinic writings that predate Jesus. So when the Master Teacher began teaching with parables, it was a well-established teaching method in the culture. Furthermore, it was a fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9-10.
On a side note, parables were not used in the book of Acts or by early church fathers. Some poems, particularly from the writings of Paul, are said to have been used in early church hymns.
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. For a partial listing of false prophets and false messiahs, see Appendix 25: “False Prophets, Rebels, Significant Events, And Rebellions That Impacted The First Century Jewish World.”
. This includes extra-biblical books, but is not limited to, the Pseudepigrapha and Nag Hammadi Gnostic Gospels.
. Bivin and Blizzard, Understanding the Difficult Words. 43.
. 1:1-13 = Column 1, lines 1-13; Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated. 376.
. The meaning of these names is unknown.
. A common expression or formula used for the exorcism of demons. See Lk. 4:35; cf. Mk. 1:25, 5:8, and 9:25.
. Phtha is the name of an Egyptian deity.
. The phrase “A thing to be trembled at” has a similar reading in James 2:19.
. The phrase “I adjure you” is another expression or formula to cast out a demon, but is always followed by the deity (God of the Hebrews, Jesus) who has the greater power and authority.
. It is amazing that this Jewish exorcist referred to the “god of the Hebrews” as “Jesu” but failed to write out the full name of “Jesus.” Since a typical Jew would not use the name “Jesus,” the Jewish author abbreviated “Jesus” to “Jesu,” yet still acknowledged the deity of the Hebrews as being Christ.
. Barrett, The New Testament Background. 34-37; See also Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 250-60.
. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 190.
. Witchcraft of any kind is strictly forbidden in the Bible. Deut. 18:10-11; Ex. 22:18; Lev. 20:27; 1 Sam. 28:9 and Isa. 2:6; See also Archer, “Crimes and Punishment.” 1:1031-32.
 For further study on binding and loosening see 08.06.03; 11.02.08; 10.01.29; 12.01.03 as well as an excellent resource by Foster and King, Binding and Loosening: Exercising Authority over Dark Powers.
. Arnold, Powers of Darkness. 78.
. For further study, see Clyde E. Billington. “Ancient Exorcists, Demons, and the Name of Jesus. Part 1. Artifax. Summer 2010. 15-21.
. 4:1-14 = Column 4, lines 1-14; Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated. 377. Words and letters within brackets are missing from the original text, but inserted by Martinez.
. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:721.
. Apocalypse of Elijah 3:6-10; esp. 3:12.
. See additional comments on 10.01.29 “Bind on earth … loose on earth” and 11.02.09 on “Binding and Losing.”
. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:229.
. Deissmann, Light from he Ancient East. 304; See additional comments on 10.01.29 “Bind on earth … loose on earth” and 11.02.09 on “Binding and Losing.”
. Kydd, Healing. 21; Tertullian, Apology. 295, 297.
. Arnold, Power and Magic. 15.
. See Origen, Contra Celsum. 6.41; 7.4; Arnold, Power and Magic. 9.
. cf. Eph. 1:21; Cor. 2:12-15; Phil. 2:9.
. Metzger, Goldstein, and Ferguson. Great Events of Bible Times. 148.
. See the “Parables of Jesus” Appendix 10.
. See Appendix 10, The Parables of Jesus.
. Lockyer, All the Parables of the Bible. 11-12.
. The cultural meaning of righteousness has always been to hold the biblical code of ethics, such as giving to the poor or expressing kindness, especially in situations when it would not be expected. But Jesus introduced a new definition of righteousness – that is to have an ongoing relationship with God.
. Lockyer, All the Parables of the Bible. 10-11.
. Blomberg, “Parable.” 3:656; Lowry, “Parable.” 3:650-52.
. The eight parables are the sower, the wheat and tares, the grain of mustard, the secret growth of a seed, the leaven, the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, and the dragnet.
. The sixteen parables are the two debtors, the two insolvent debtors, the good Samaritan, the three loaves, the rich man’s meditation, the watching householder, the barren fig tree, the marriage supper, the lost sheep, the lost piece of silver, the prodigal son, the unrighteous steward, the rich man and Lazarus, the importunate widow, the Pharisee and the tax collector, and the laborers in the vineyard.
. Lk. 7:41; Mt. 18:23. See 02.03.03 “Economy” for a brief description of the condition of the economy during the ministry years of Jesus.
. For further study of loans, debts, and how first century Jewish courts ruled, see the Mishnah and the chapter titled Baba Bathra.
. Packer and Tenney, eds., Illustrated Manners and Customs. 378; See also Packer, Tenney, and White, eds., Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts.