This lesson focuses on the heart of the leader toward strangers (Luke 9:37-50). Jesus wants us to be inclusive rather than exclusive without compromising the truth. Jesus is personally challenging his followers to deliberately go out of our way to welcome and include strangers. To be effective, this will require developing the character quality of hospitality.
Following the transfiguration, the disciples who had been given the power and authority to cast out demons failed to exercise a demon out of a young boy (section 124). Two events later the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest (section 127) and then one of them forbids an unnamed exorcist to cast out demons (section 128). It appears that the disciples’ spirit of exclusivism and obsession with greatness motivated them to forbid someone from doing it, this man succeeded at what they had miserably failed.
This is commanded in the Gospels, Mark 9:39 (do not hinder) Luke 9:50 (do not hinder). These commands warn against exclusivism but do not teach ecumenicalism. Jesus without hesitation confronted and cursed the religious leaders of his day (Matthew 23:13–16, 23, 25, 27, 29).
1. How would you define exclusivism? It is the attitude that says, “us four and no more.” Webster says, “exclusivism is the act of excluding, shutting out others, snobbish, permitting or catering to a select clientele, power and control usually play apart.”
2. How could we be guilty of exclusivism?
3. Are you aware of a real life situation?
4. Why did the crowd gather in Luke 9:37-40? To watch the disciples free a boy from demonic enslavement.
5. What was the crowd discussing? Mark 9:14–18. The fact that the disciples could not cast out the demon.
- Which word is best to describe what’s happening? Possessed or oppressed? (Acts 10:38)
- Christians cannot be possessed. (1 Corinthians 6:17) the Sprit will not share his temple.
- Demons do not just take up residence, they must be invited in at some point, occult practices.
- Who are the demons? (Ezekiel 28:12-17)
- The pride of the anointed cherubim.
- A third of the angels followed (Revelation 12:4, 7-9)
6. What was the father’s request of Jesus? Mark 9:21–24. I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only boy.
7. What kind of effect did the demon have on his son? Matthew 17:14–21, Mark 9:14–29, Luke 9:37–43.
- It makes in mute, Mark 9:17.
- It seizes him, Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39.
- It dashes him to the ground, Mark 9:18, Luke 9:42.
- He foams at the mouth, Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39.
- He grinds his teeth, Mark 9:18.
- He stiffens out, Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39.
- He suddenly screams, Luke 9:39.
- It throws him into a convulsion, Luke 9:39, 42, Mark 9:26.
- It mauls him, Luke 9:39.
- It’s scarcely leaves him, Luke 9:39.
- Rolling about, Mark 9:20.
- Throws them into the fire and into the water to destroy him, Mark 9:22.
8. How long have the boy been this way? Mark 9:21. From childhood.
9. How does Jesus describe the spirit? Luke 9:42. The demon was described as unclean.
10. What was the response of the crowd when Jesus expelled the demon? Luke 9:43. They were all amazed at the greatness of God.
11. What did the disciples question Jesus about privately? Mark 9:28. Why they have been unable to cast the demon out.
12. What was Jesus’ answer to their question? Matthew 17:19–21, Mark 9:23, 24, 29, 34, Luke 9:41, 46–48. It was not because they did not have the power (dunamis the ability to perform) or the authority (exousia the right to exercise power) over demons, Luke 9:1, but it was because…
- They lacked faith, Luke 9:41, Matthew 17:19–20, Mark 9:23-24.
- They lacked personal purity, Luke 9:41.
- They lacked discipline, (prayer and fasting), Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29.
- They lacked humility, Luke 9:46–48, Mark 9:34.
13. Why was the discipline of prayer needed to cast out this demon? Matthew 17:21.
- This kind does not go out except by prayer, Matthew 17:21. For this particular type of demon to be expelled, it requires special preparation.
- This type of demon could possibly be characterized with those who are more wicked and therefore could only be dealt with by those who practiced the spiritual disciplines, Matthew 12:45.
14. What was the disciples reaction when they saw someone else succeeding at casting out demons? Luke 9:49–50. They tried to hinder him. The verb “to hinder” means “prevent or forbid.” The imperfect tense suggest they repeatedly insisted that he must stop. It could literally be translated, “we kept trying to forbid him.”
15. What was John’s explanation for taking such an action? Luke 9:49-50. He does not follow along with us. He used the word “us” instead of “you” indicates that John was concerned that this unnamed exorcist was not following along with them. It did not matter to the disciples that he was a follower of Christ. Mark 16:17 suggests that there were those who had believed outside of the Twelve, who were able to cast out demons, unfortunately the disciples did not even take the time to get to know the man’s name. John says, “master we saw someone casting out demons.” They were not concerned with his spiritual status but only whether he had been physically in their group. The preposition translated “with” means “in the midst of.” The word “follow” in Mark 9:38 is in the imperfect tense (continued action in the past), while Luke 9:49 is in the present tense (continued action into the future).
- Luke 9:50 – He who is not against you is for you. (Mark 9:40 – For he who is not against us is for us). From openness and tolerance for the weak and humble (Luke 9:46–48) Luke moves to an example of openness and tolerance for the outsider who does work in Jesus’ name. This saying implies that Christian leaders (such as Gentiles) are not to be prohibited or prevented from ministry just because they were not part of the original Jewish group of believers.
- Luke 11:23 – He who is not with me is against me. (Matthew 12:30 – He who is not with me is against me). This saying teaches there is no middle ground; we are either with Jesus (receiving him) or against Jesus (rejecting him). Either we help Jesus gather the things of the kingdom, or we scatter (or hinder) the kingdom.
- Explanation: The reverse of Luke 9:50 occurs in Luke 11:23 (Matthew 12:30). Some teach that these two sayings contradict one another, which is hardly the case. The saying in Luke 9:50 provides the proper attitude toward outsiders, while the saying in Luke 11:23 challenges the follower of Jesus to total obedience, are you IN or are you OUT?
16. What two reasons did Christ give as to why this type of individual should not be forbidden involvement in the work of God? Luke 9:50, Mark 9:39–40.
- Because the absence of a hostile attitude indicates they are on our side, Luke 9:50, “He who is not against you (plural) is for you.”
- Because there are those who had not been personally and intimately linked to Jesus’ group of disciples who are capable of performing a mighty work, Mark 9:39.
17. Instead of hindering this man, what should the disciples have done? Luke 9:47–48. They should have received, welcomed him, and his work for Christ.
18. What is the command the Christ to gives in Luke 9:50? (Also Mark 9:39). Do not hinder him. The negative imperative is in the present tense and literally means, “stop forbidding or prohibiting him.” Jesus had no sympathy with the exclusive spirit they had displayed. Jesus wanted his disciples to get rid of any idea that they had a monopoly on miracles and the work of God.
19. Why does John have to write the chosen lady? 2 John. The emphasis of 2 John is, “bolt the door.” The hospitable woman that was the recipient of the epistle was so inclusive that she supported anyone regardless of what they taught about Christ. The balance between these two epistles is found in Philip Melanchthon’s statement, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and all things charity.”
20. Why does John write to Gaius? 3 John. The apostle John writes his third epistle to confront a spirit of exclusivism that can lead to an extreme view of separation, 3 John 1:9–10. Diotrephes was so exclusive that he would not even receive itinerant preachers sent out by the apostle John himself. This little postcard epistle offers a stark contrast between two groups who responded in opposite ways to the itinerant teachers who had been sent out by the apostle John. Gaius supported them by receiving them hospitably when they had arrived, but Diotrephes attempted to hinder them by excommunicated any members of his assembly who receive them. The emphasis of 3 John is, “open the door.”
1. What can you do two warmly welcome newcomers to our group? What is your protocol for inviting and keeping newcomers?
2. How can our group avoid the “us four and no more” mentality?
3. How can our group become more discerning in curriculum selection, or preachers we hear on the radio/TV?
The epistles teach a lot about graciously receiving and being hospitable to believers who are strangers to us, Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, first Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, first Peter 4:9. The first century was a “welcoming church.”
It takes intentionality on our part if people are going to “be bonded” into a small group. It was no different in the days of the apostle Paul. Saul had unsuccessfully tried to join the disciples in Jerusalem, Acts 9:26. The verb “join” primarily means, “to glue or cement together.” If a believer is to stick around in our church, they must be bonded to other disciples in a small group, Acts 9:26, 17:34. A strengthened form of the verb describes the superglue of marriage, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:31.
The reason they didn’t receive him well was fear. If we let him in, how will he affect the dynamics of the group? Can we trust him? The disciples in Jerusalem were familiar with Saul who had breathed threats and murder against them, Acts 9:1. Barnabas took the initiative and brought him to see the apostles and introduced him by telling about what God has been doing in his life, Acts 9:27. We can be involved in the ministry of Barnabas if we take the initiative to work the “open chair.”
Refer to the letters of 2 John and 3 John. The issue that is being addressed in our command passage is one of association. He is not advocating that we don’t test, confront if necessary, and even exclude those who are not orthodox.
We are commanded to separate from false ecclesiastical leaders, Romans 16:17, 2 Corinthians 6:14–18, 11:4, Galatians 1:8–9, 2 Timothy 3:5, 2 John 1:9–11, Revelation 2:2, 6, 14, 16. We also must separate from brothers who hold erroneous and heretical opinions about Scripture, 1 Corinthians 11:19, Galatians 5:20, Titus 3:10–11.
What can we do? First John 4:1–3 says that we are not to believe every spirit, but test the spirit to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
In the message to the church at Ephesus, in Revelation 2:2, they are commanded to put to the test “those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false.”
We are told not to have a judgmental spirit:
- Matthew 7:1 – so that you will not be judged.
- Matthew 7:2 – the same way you will be judged by the very standard.
- Luke 6:37 – do not judge.
Yet we are instructed to make judgments:
- Proverbs 31:9 says to open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
- John 7:24 says, do not judge according to appearance, but judge with the righteous judgment.
A Call to Discernment: discernment involves making judgments in a non-condemning way. These judgments are made for the health and purity of the body of Christ morally and doctrinally. The Greek word krino means, “to separate, select, choose, hence to determine, to conclude, to decide, and to pass judgment on.”
- First Corinthians 5:3
- First Corinthians 11:13
- Acts 15:19, 16:4, 21:25
- Hebrews 4:12
- First Corinthians 4:5
- Romans 14:3, 4, 10, 13, 22
- First Corinthians 10:29
- Colossians 2:16
The Greek word anakrino means “to examine, to elevate, to scrutinize, to investigate, to search out.”
- Acts 17:11
- First Corinthians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1.
- First Thessalonians 5:19–22
- First Corinthians 10:25, 27
The Greek word diakrino means “to make a distinction between persons, to discriminate, to wait the early each part, to separate throughout.” The prefix word dia means “through” (First Corinthians 14:29).
The Greek word dokimazo means “to test, to examine, to interpret, to discover, to approve, to prove, to demonstrate.”
- Romans 2:18
- Philippians 1:10
- First John 4:1–3, 4:1
Here are several videos you can find on YouTube that point out various false teachers.
I have other lessons regarding false teachers, part of two other teaching series:
- Second Peter: “The Godless Without Faith” [ GO ]
- Jude: “Lessons From Primitive Figures” [ GO ]
- Jude: “Lessons From Present Failures” [ GO ]
- Early Christian Heresies [ GO ]
Additional Commentary: 1
Luke 9:45 / hidden from them: Luke has added this phrase (see Mark 9:32) to explain why the disciples did not understand the meaning of Jesus’ statement. It was God’s purpose that they not fully understand until the resurrection. Luke may be reacting to Mark’s negative portrayal of the disciples. they were afraid to ask him about it: This probably means that the disciples feared that further questioning and explanation would only confirm the grim pronouncement.
Luke 9:49, see Luke 5:5 / In this verse Jesus is called Master for the first time in the Gospel of Luke. Whereas the other Synoptic Gospels refer to Jesus as “Teacher” or “Rabbi,” only in Luke is he called “Master,” and only by his followers (see Luke 8:24, 45; 9:33, 49; 17:13).
driving out demons in your name: Rabbis often attempted exorcisms in the name(s) of various OT worthies (such as Solomon). See the episode in Acts 19:13–16. There is underlying power in the use of his name (Psalm 54:1; 124:8).
Luke 9:50 / Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.” As far as the Person and work of Christ are concerned, there can be no neutrality. If men are not for Christ, they are against Him. But when it comes to Christian service, A. L. Williams says: 2
Earnest Christians need to remember that when outsiders do anything in Christ’s Name, it must, on the whole, forward His cause … The Master’s reply contained a broad and far-reaching truth. No earthly society, however holy, would be able exclusively to claim the Divine powers inseparably connected with a true and faithful use of His Name.
1 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (pp. 158–159). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
2 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1406). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]