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The Faith of the Centurion
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15 entries for this category:

Matthew 8:5-13 

 

The Faith of the Centurion

 

When He came into Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant lies in the house paralyzed, grievously tormented." 

 

Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered, "Lord, I'm not worthy for You to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." 

 

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Most certainly I tell you, I haven't found so great a faith, not even in Israel. I tell you that many will come from the east and the west, and will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, but the children of the Kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 

 

Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way. Let it be done for you as you have believed." His servant was healed in that hour. 

 

What was there about the centurion`s faith that so impressed Jesus?

Many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. This story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said He was willing to come to the centurion’s house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so. He believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man’s faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story.

Just another miracle story, right?

Not on your life! In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians is much clearer. The Greek word used in Matthew’s account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean “son or boy;” it could mean “servant,” or it could mean a particular type of servant, one who was “his master’s male lover.” (See note 18.) Often these lovers were younger than their masters, even teenagers.

To our modern minds, the idea of buying a teen lover seems repugnant. But we have to place this in the context of ancient cultural norms. In ancient times, commercial transactions were the predominant means of forming relationships. Under the law, the wife was viewed as the property of the husband, with a status just above that of slave. Moreover, in Jesus’ day, a boy or girl was considered of marriageable age upon reaching his or her early teens. It was not uncommon for boys and girls to marry at age 14 or 15. Nor was it uncommon for an older man to marry a young girl. Fortunately civilization has advanced, but these were the norms in the culture of Jesus’ day.

In that culture, if you were a gay man who wanted a male “spouse,” you achieved this, like your heterosexual counterparts, through a commercial transaction, purchasing someone to serve that purpose. A servant purchased to serve this purpose was often called a pais.

The word boy in English offers a rough comparison. Like pais, the word boy can be used to refer to a male child. But in the slave South in the nineteenth century, boy was also often used to refer to male slaves. The term boy can also be used as a term of endearment. For example, Jeff’s father often refers to his mother as “his girl.” He doesn’t mean that she is a child, but rather that she is his “special one.” The term boy can be used in the same way, as in “my boy” or “my beau.” In ancient Greek, pais had a similar range of meanings.

Thus, when this term was used, the listener had to consider the context of the statement to determine which meaning was intended. Some modern Christians may be tempted to simply declare by fiat that the Gospels could not possibly have used the term pais in the sense of male lover, end of discussion. But that would be yielding to prejudice. We must let the word of God speak for itself, even if it leads us to an uncomfortable destination.

Is it possible the pais referred to in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 was the Roman centurion’s male lover? Let’s look at the biblical evidence.

Note 20: For an excellent and thorough discussion of the terms pais and entimos doulos in these two gospel accounts, see Donald Mader’s article The Entimos Pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10,(Source: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy, Harland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1998).

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion’s entimos doulos. The word doulos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke’s account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion’s son; his use of doulos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care to indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means “honored.” This was an “honored slave” (entimos doulos) who was his master’s pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion’s son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option: he was his master’s male lover.

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Matthew’s account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus’ power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, “When I tell my slave to do something, he does it.” By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking here of his slaves, the centurion uses the word doulos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to draw a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos doulos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing: a slave who was the master’s male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: In this story Jesus healed a man’s male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion’s pais becomes ill, experiencing some type of life-threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus’ healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before Him. “Rabbi, my . . . ,” the word gets caught in his throat. This is it, the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. “Rabbi, my pais — yes, my pais lies at home sick unto death.” Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God-fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Then I will come and heal him.”

It’s that simple! Jesus didn’t say, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!” Nor did he say, “Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God’s judgment on your relationship.” Instead, Jesus’ words are simple, clear, and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. “I will come and heal him.”

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus’ word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around Him, those who were already dumbfounded that He was willing to heal this man’s male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthew’s account, “I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel.” In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith — someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn’t miss His point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: “I tell you, many will come from the east and the west [i.e., beyond the borders of Israel] to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs [i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven] will be thrown into outer darkness.” By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion, those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God’s grace, are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And He also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. So consider carefully: Who is Lord, Jesus or cultural prejudice?

For Further Study, Books:

The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley"Short, clear, and amazingly easy to read, this book does much more than offering loopholes or excuses with regards to the Bible. Instead, the authors combine careful research with a tremendous respect for God's Word, using humor, personal stories, and Biblical examples to make their case."

Review from GayChristian.net. Most of the text on this site is from The Children Are Free. Some people idolize the Bible, and others discount it. Rev. Gomes does neither. This thoughtful book describes the nature of Bible abuse in the church throughout history, and proposes a way to read the Bible without neglecting either its Divine inspiration or its cultural context.

Holy Homosexuals: The Truth about Being Gay or Lesbian and Christian by Rev. Michael S. Piazza. Rev. Piazza makes his case eloquently in a book suitable for lay people and clergy alike. Piazza shows a deep respect for scripture, while educating the reader on context in both Hebrew and Greek society.

Is It a Choice? Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People, Third Edition by Eric MarcusIs the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response by Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott. This compassionate book examines the meanings and intents of Scripture, but also speaks of real people's lives, and challenges Christians (gay and not) to re-examine their attitudes toward gay and lesbian people.

Rogers Evangelical theologian and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Jack Rogers observes that today's church is led by many of those who were once cast out: people of color, women, and divorced and remarried people, and he argues that we must interpret the Bible through the lens of Jesus' redemptive life and ministry.

Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Bible by Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson(This title is out of print, but Amazon usually has used copies available.) Our Tribe is the anecdotal, scripture-citing, and very funny memoir of the ministry of Rev. Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches.

The Queer Bible Commentary by Deryn Guest, Robert E. Goss, Mona West, Thomas BohacheStranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America by Rev. Dr. Mel White. Rev. White details his twenty-five years of being counseled, exorcised, electric-shocked, and nearly driven to suicide because his church said homosexuality was wrong. His story is powerful and uplifting.

SSullivan Writer, blogger, and gay Catholic, Andrew Sullivan analyzes the politics of the homosexuality debate. His ideas are sure to give both sides something to think about.

What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality by Daniel A. Helminiak: An examination of all of the Biblical passages that are commonly used to condemn gay people and gay behavior. The methods of Biblical interpretation, and their validity, are explained well.

Matthew 8:5-13 WHEN MY BELIEF AND HIS AUTHORITY COLLIDE!

The first person that Jesus heals as recorded in Matthew was an outcast, a person with leprosy and Jesus told him to keep it a secret. The second person is someone of low social status, a servant. These are people who are the forgotten ones. If He had healed a Pharisee or someone rich and famous, then people would really have been impressed. But Jesus' intervention into our lives is not based on social standing, but on whether or not we are willing to come to Him and trust Him.

Somehow news was out that Jesus healed people. A Roman Officer came to Jesus. Apparently he was a Centurion. His servant is paralyzed. He doesn't ask Jesus to heal his servant directly. He just says, "Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain." (Matthew 8:6). He just gives the facts and waits for Jesus to respond. Lord, teach me to get to the point. To bring others I have come to love and who need your help to You, intercede for them, and leave them in Your hands.

And you know the rest of the story. "Jesus said, "I will come and heal him." Jesus is always willing to come. But the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home." Again, this is something unusual for a Roman Officer to say to a Jew. He didn't say "My servant is not worthy". He said "I am not worthy." What indicates that he had already come to faith in Christ. He had already placed himself under the authority of Jesus' command. This man knew AUTHORITY when he heard it.

Paul says in Romans 12:3 (NLT) "...I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." 

This Roman Officer wasn't trying to impress Jesus. He was genuinely concerned for his servant. Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." 

The Roman Officer also knew that if a Jewish person came to his house that other Jews would have poured scorn on Jesus. It wasn't done! Unless you were ordered to go there, you stayed away, and even if you were forced to go, then you went with great reluctance. BUT JESUS OFFERS TO GO THERE. Everything about Jesus at times is upside down with the culture of His day and with ours.

The Roman officer says, "Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,' and they go, or ‘Come,' and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,' they do it." (Matthew 8:8, 9). This man knew about AUTHORITY! The gospel is about coming under the authority of God, by believing in Christ. We neglect that thought sometimes. But that's what it is. COMING UNDER GOD'S AUTHORITY AND ALLOWING HIM TO RULE OUR LIVES. 

This also tells that time and distance and sickness isn't a barrier for Jesus when it comes to intervening into our circumstances. All He has to do is say the word.

The Roman Officer understood authority and applied it to Jesus. Jesus was impressed! And surely it would take a lot to impress Jesus. It brings the question: "What are the things that impress me?" Unfortunately they are not always the things that would impress Jesus. Matthew 8:10-12 (NLT) Says "When Jesus heard this, He was amazed. Turning to those who were following Him, He said, "I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this that many Gentiles will come from all over the world-from east and west-and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven."

Do we get that? Jesus says that gentiles will be saved! That was unheard of! That was a radical statement! And to make things worse Jesus says, "But many Israelites, those for whom the Kingdom was prepared, will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Ephesians 2:14-18 (NLT) says, "For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. ... Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us."

Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened." Notice what He said, "BECAUSE YOU BELIEVED" The reason the young servant was healed was because of the Roman officer's belief in Jesus and His authority to heal.

Does this mean that we can believe for others to be healed even if they don't have the faith? It seems to say this to me. Does it to you? But even more importantly is who I have faith in, JESUS, WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO HEAL. In other words, as we come under the authority of Jesus in our life, we will be able to come to Jesus, trusting entirely upon Him, and present Him with the details of someone who needs to be healed.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) puts it like this, "... it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him." Not faith in faith, but faith in Jesus who has authority to heal.

Will Jesus heal them every time? Our responsibility is to believe and come under the authority He has to heal. He can make all the other decisions according to His understanding of the big picture. When our belief and His authority agree, we will see great miracles. It simply goes on to say in Matthew 8:13 "And the young servant was healed that same hour."

God bless you Church as your beliefs agree with the authority of Jesus today and great power is released to bring healing to someone’s life.

Speak The Word Only (Matthew 8:5-13): An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew

After Jesus finished His great discourse on the mount, He came down and large crowds followed Him everywhere. The message that He had just delivered would have been enough to gain such a following; but the fact that He spoke and acted with perfect authority commanded attention. And so in the next few chapters Matthew has presented us with case after case of events in which Jesus demonstrated His authority, authority over disease, authority over nature, authority over demons, authority over sin and authority over death. These were the credentials of the King. They show that He could realize a victory as well as project a vision.

It is helpful in Bible study to try to determine why the material has been arranged in the way that it has, what is Matthew saying with these accounts, arranged as they are? Here, in chapters 8 and 9 of his Gospel we have nine manifestations of Christ’s power. And these are arranged nicely into three groups of three events each. After each set of three wonders there is an immediate effect. The first three miracles were the cleansing of the leper, the healing of the centurion’s servant, and the restoration to health of Peter’s mother-in-law. Immediately after that a man said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever You go,” to which Jesus replied with a teaching on the cost of discipleship.

Then moving beyond the realm of the physical we have three events where Jesus showed His authority over the elements by stilling the storm, over the spirit world by casting out demons, and over sin by healing the paralytic. Immediately after these three the response was that people were afraid and glorified God.

Then we have the third group, miracles in what seemed impossible difficulties: raising the child from the dead, the healing of the woman who touched Him, and the healing of the blind man. After these things the multitudes marveled.

In the first part of Matthew 8 there was the first set of three events. The first case is of a man with leprosy. The four verses give us the brief report of how a man with the dreaded disease came to Jesus to be made clean. This miracle demonstrates not only that Jesus could heal, but that in so doing He was fulfilling the Law. The Law declared that the leper was unclean, and could only bar him from the holy place; Jesus could satisfy the Law by making him clean and sending him to the priest for reinstatement into sanctuary worship.

The second case in the chapter is our passage in which the centurion came to Jesus on behalf of his paralyzed servant. Here the emphasis in the story is on the power of the word of the Lord, that by His command He was able to heal the sick. And here we have a brief lesson by Jesus on faith. The fact that this faith was demonstrated by a Gentile and not a Jew has a sense of foreboding about it in the Gospel of Matthew.

The third case (vv. 14-17) is the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, probably of malaria. With a simple touch now He healed her. Then Matthew records how many demon-possessed and sick people were brought to Him for healing. This He did with a word. Then the evangelist quotes Isaiah 53:4 that the Suffering Servant would take our infirmities away.

Matthew is clearly using these three cases to support the message that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Servant of the LORD who would take away their illnesses and diseases. The point of Isaiah 53 is that this deliverance from infirmities and illness is to be accomplished by His death as the sin-bearer, when He would take the sins of the world on Himself. Matthew will show that this would be at the cross. In taking care of the sin problem Jesus the Messiah would also be taking care of the effects of sin, disease and death. Jesus fully understood that all of mankind’s disabilities that He corrected were the outcome of sin. And so it was based on the power of the cross that He healed this leper, this servant, this woman, and countless scores of others, all prior to the actual historic accomplishment of the atoning death on the cross which was the basis for these healings. By doing these things Jesus drew attention to Himself as the Messiah who had come to restore a lost order to what God had originally intended. So it is in that light that we read how He made people whole.

 

We also see in these events the humility and the compassion of the Lord. He did not stay on the mountain making declarations. He did not go immediately to enter the holy city. He began to deal with human need at its lowest level; leprosy, paralysis, and fever, in individuals who were suffering. And all these events were in response to appeals that the afflicted made. Jesus responded willingly to them, and personally. First, He touched a leper, an outcast, whom no one would dare touch. But Jesus’ touch made him clean and fit for the temple. Then He healed the servant of a hated Roman, with whom there would be no communication. Then He touched a woman, who in the opinion of many people, did not count. This, then, is the picture that begins to emerge of the Suffering Servant in the Gospel of Matthew. He did not hesitate for one moment to take hold of sin and all its effects as He showed compassion for these poor suffering outcasts. At first the people were shocked, and afraid; but then they began to bring people to Him to be healed. His power to deal with sin and its effects was revealed through His compassion.

Reading the Text: 5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking for help. 6“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”

7Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”

8The centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But speak the word only, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10When Jesus heard this He was astonished and said to those following Him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

The Parallel Account: The story is also told in the Gospel of Luke (7:1-10) with some additional information. Luke says that the centurion sent word to Jesus through Jewish spokesmen, which would make sense if he was sensitive to Jewish-Roman relationships and also if there was a language barrier. The Jewish elders appealed to Jesus to help him because, they said, he was very deserving, he loved Israel, and had even built them a synagogue. Then, when Jesus drew near the house, the centurion, again with representatives, appealed for Jesus to speak the word only because he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his house. The centurion could have been there in person but speaking through his spokesman. So Luke focuses more on the details of the centurion and the way he communicated with Christ; Matthew simply records the request from the centurion and focuses more on Jesus’ teaching about faith and about Gentiles in the kingdom.

Observations on the Text: So here we have the report of a miracle with a teaching. There are a number of these in the Bible so we have to determine what unique things are found here that set this passage apart.

The occasion is certainly unique, because the request is made by a Roman soldier on behalf of his servant. The study will have to deal with the impact of this in the Gospel.

The focus in the story, judging from the centurion’s speech, is on the authority of the spoken word. Here was a man who understood the power of authoritative commands, and who recognized that Jesus had that power.

And this prompted Jesus to express His amazement at the faith of this man, a faith unequaled in Israel.

So while we have a story about a healing, these three elements will play a big part in the interpretation. But of the three, the most important is the authority of the spoken word, because the other two elements play off of it. This will be the subject matter then.

As far as the structure of the passage goes, it is easy to follow. It is mostly made up of conversation and speeches. In verses 5-7 we have the initial request: the centurion appeals to Jesus on behalf of his servant, and Jesus immediately responded to go and heal him. But this is interrupted by the centurion who expresses his unworthiness and asks for Jesus to speak the word only (vv. 8, 9). That faith is then appraised by Jesus in a short teaching on faith and on Gentiles in the kingdom (vv. 10-12). Finally, we have the spoken word and the healing (v. 13). So the structure is:

(A) The initial request for healing,

(B) The appeal for the authoritative word only,

            (B’) The response to this appeal by Jesus, and

            (A’) The healing.

Understanding the Situation: At the outset we need to make sure we know the facts about the setting, and then the significance of those facts. The story takes place in Capernaum, the town that Jesus made His “base of operations.” Capernaum was a good-sized place on the shores of the lake, a natural site for fishing, which is why Peter had his home there (and perhaps Jesus stayed with him). But Capernaum was also on the main road, the road that led from Damascus in the north down past the lake at Capernaum, through the hills and passes to the Jezreel Valley, and then over to the coast through more mountain passes to connect with the coastal highway to Egypt. It was a main thoroughfare for caravans, traders, and military. Since Capernaum was a significant city on the main highway, it had a military presence there, hence, the centurion. A centurion was, as the name suggests, a military officer over a hundred men. That would mean there was a sizeable military unit stationed at Capernaum.

Capernaum was also the home of Levi, called Matthew, the tax collector (Matt. 9:9-13). There would be tax collectors in such a town, backed up by Roman soldiers, to collect taxes and tariffs from both the locals and from the traders passing through the region. Neither the Romans nor the tax collectors would have been accepted by the Jewish population.

Matthew does not make a point out of this Roman’s character, but Luke does (so we have to be careful not to play up the hatred of the Romans too much here). This was a man who loved Israel and built the people of the city a synagogue. This would happen more easily in Galilee, where people were somewhat used to having Gentiles around, than in Jerusalem where separation from Gentiles was pursued with greater zeal.

But the significance of this setting is not diminished by the goodness of this Roman. Jesus had just healed the leper, an outcast. Now He turned to the servant of a Roman, a non-Jew. Jesus was declaring that He came to seek and to save the lost, those who had no hope, those who were the outcasts, those who had nowhere else to turn. And in turning to this Roman and his servant’s need Jesus saw a marked contrast between his faith and the faith that He has seen in Israel.

This emphasis on championing the needs of the outcast or downtrodden was always present in the Old Testament as evidence of genuine righteousness, and certainly the top priority of a righteous king, but many of the “pious” Jews had different criteria for their expected Messiah. Psalm 72, for one example, says of the anointed king (looking forward to the Messiah): “He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy, and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight” (vv. 12-14). To this passage we could add prophecies that say the Messiah will take away all illnesses and infirmities, and passages that say He will vindicate the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land. Jesus wasted no time in His ministry in demonstrating that He came to fulfill these, and more.

Analysis of the Text: The initial request (8:5-7). There is not a whole lot more that needs to be said about these verses. The goodness of the man that Luke explains is clearly shown in this passage too in that he, a centurion, was appealing to Jesus on behalf of his servant who was paralyzed and suffering. Either this was a wonderful, irreplaceable servant, or the centurion was a kind and responsible master, or both. But his request speaks of his humility, first for coming on behalf of a servant, and second, coming to a Jew as a Roman commander. But there was a need, and so he came asking for help.

By the way, the point can be made here that as the story unfolds we learn that the servant was healed, but also that the centurion who exhibited great faith was healed, spiritually. Jesus’ little teaching implies that this centurion will be one of the Gentiles who will come and sit down in the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 7 records Jesus’ response: “I will go and heal him.” There are two things about this statement that are worth thinking about. First is Jesus’ willingness to go. This willingness was first introduced in the story in 8:1-4. Here He is willing to go again, but now into a Gentile’s home. The second thing to note is the confidence that Jesus has: “I will go and heal him.” It will happen, no doubt about it.

The centurion’s speech (8:8, 9). If we look at the sentences in this section we find a statement, a request, and an explanation of the request. The statement is that he is not worthy for Jesus to come into his house. Perhaps several things informed this statement: he was a non-Jew, he was a Roman soldier, and he was inferior to Jesus. He certainly recognized that he was in the presence of someone who was much more than a prophet. He had heard of this man’s power and authority, and so turned to Him for help.

So his request was that Jesus would speak the word only. Jesus did not have to come and see the sick man. He did not have to lay hands on him. He simply had to speak. This indicates the centurion’s tremendous faith, but it is only a tremendous faith because he considered the object of his faith powerful. He believed that Jesus had so much power and authority that His word would be sufficient for the healing.

It would be interesting here, or along the way in such a Bible study, to look at the passages where Jesus did mighty works simply by the spoken word; healings, exorcisms, resurrections, calming storms and the like. From there the study would turn to authoritative things that Jesus said that would be fulfilled after death or in the future, things like “Today you shall be with Me in paradise,” or, “Depart from Me” and the like. You cannot take too much time here doing this, because it will be a very large subject. But a brief listing could be a helpful correlation.

Then we have his explanation. The centurion was in the military. He was a man under authority. He gave commands and people obeyed, because he had authority to do that. He was given commands by his superiors, and he obeyed them because he recognized authority. Because he was under authority he was able to exercise authority over others. And so he was saying that this was true of Jesus as well. Because Jesus was under authority, He was able to exercise authority. It had been given to Him. But His authority was far greater than the centurion’s authority. The centurion commanded men to do things physically possible, and had the authority to make them do it (with threats of punishment or discipline). But Jesus had the authority to command things physically impossible, things beyond human capacity, diseases, demons, dead people, and the like. And the only reason that there was a response to His commands was because His word was efficacious in and of itself. Thus, in the Bible this is one of the basic attributes of deity, it is God who commands light to shine in the darkness; and it is God who commands the blind to see and the lame to walk and the deaf to hear. As people said, “No one could do these things unless God were with Him.” But as Matthew unfolds the Gospel it will be clearer and clearer that this was God with them.

Jesus’ Response (8:10-12). Jesus first praised His faith, and then predicted that Gentiles would take the place of many Jews in the kingdom. The praise is: “I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” In His travels in the land, in His public ministry, Jesus saw every kind of response. But this one was the greatest demonstration of faith He had seen, greater than any Israelite’s faith so far.

Here it will be helpful for us to try to study the word “faith” a bit. It will not be that important in this particular story to spend a great deal of time on it. But we need to be able to define faith, for Jesus is praising it here, and saying many in Israel did not have it. A good word study book or theological dictionary will give you enough ideas to work with. Faith is the confidence or reliance one places on the object of faith; it apprehends the facts, it assents to their truth, and it acts accordingly. Here the centurion had a certain amount of information about Jesus, he accepted that it was true, and he acted in confidence on it. It is also worth emphasizing that strong faith in the Lord also comes from great humility, from one who depends on the Lord for that which he cannot do for himself. Those who are self-sufficient seldom have the opportunity to develop faith like this.

But Jesus said He had not seen such great faith in Israel. No, what He saw very often were self-righteous and self-sufficient people, or people demanding a sign from Him to prove what He had said, or people following Him for a while and then leaving when His sayings became too difficult. Even His disciples who believed in Him exhibited a weak faith when threatened by the storms and challenges of life. But they continued to follow Him, which in itself is a sign of growing faith.

What was it that Jesus found so amazing about this man’s faith? Perhaps it was the simple acceptance of Christ as the sovereign commander of life and all its aspects. Or perhaps it was the fact that it was so intelligent, so well reasoned and logical. Or in the final analysis, it may be that he simply accepted the fact that Jesus had authority. The majority of Jews did not accept that Jesus had authority over life and death, which He came in the full power of God. But this man apparently did.

Because of the difference in the faith of this man and the Jews, Jesus took the opportunity to prophesy that many Jews, ”subjects of the kingdom” He called them, would be cast out when people from all over the world would enter the kingdom and sit down with the greats. John started his gospel by telling us that Jesus came to His own, but His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him He gave the right to be called the sons of God. Jesus foresaw this dark side of Israel’s unbelief and already announced that because some would not come to Him with this kind of faith there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth, pictures of the great anguish of judgment. The Bible will make it clear that without faith it is impossible to please God, and that faith now must be in His Son (Heb. 1 and 11).

The healing (8:13). The declaration was clear in the light of this man’s faith: “It will be done just as you believed it would.” This is a basic principle of faith in the first century, as you believe, so will it be. But here Jesus recognized the faith of this man, and honored his request by healing his servant. And He was pleased to do it in a way that demonstrated to all who were there, and to us, that He has this authority even over disease.

Correlation to Other Scripture:

We have already learned enough to think about the authoritative word of the Lord. But there is another area of biblical material that has to be connected to all such healing passages, and that is the reason for illness in the world and the promise to remove it. Matthew 9 will afford a better chance to discuss the reasons; but here we may consider the plan of God for sickness and disease. As has already been mentioned, the Old Testament prophecies, especially Isaiah, and the New Testament visions of the world to come, have no place for sickness and sorrow and death. The Bible foretells that the Lord will wipe away all tears, destroy death and disease for all time, and make all things well (either through the resurrection of the dead or the glorification of the saints who are alive and caught up to be with the Lord).

So if we read a bit in the theology books on that subject you will soon have a collection of ideas and biblical passages to work with. Then, when we look at individual studies like this one, we can fit it into the picture. Jesus did not heal everyone on earth, and is not healing everyone now (Paul, remember, did not have the thorn in the flesh removed), because it is not yet the time to do that. Jesus first had to deal with the question of sin before He would make all things well. But in doing these selected mighty works Jesus was showing that He indeed is the promised Messiah who is able to do these things, and will do all that Messiah is to do when He comes again.

Conclusion and Application:

There has been enough discussion already on the theme of this little passage that it does not have to be repeated at length here. Matthew records this event to show that the King has authority over disease and, that by His powerful word, He is able to heal. Matthew is also showing that the healing is a response to the man’s faith, a faith that was not shared by many in Israel.

There are a number of applications or lessons that we could make from this story if we rethink the details. The obvious one would be that if we have an infirmity or if we have a friend or relative who is ill, prayer to the Lord is a vital expression of the faith and a means to restoration to health. The passage shows that Jesus has authority over these things. And so as a believer you may pray to the Lord in confidence and in simplicity, “Speak the word only” and I/he/she/they will be healed. In connection with this you would then tie in other passages in the New Testament that talk about praying for the sick (like James 5:13-18).

But remember that this passage is a narrative; it records something that Jesus did upon an occasion. We call that a “descriptive” passage because it reports what He did for the centurion’s servant. The lesson here reveals that Jesus can do this kind of thing. It does not teach that Jesus always will do it. For specific promises to believers we need to

connect passages in the epistles. And there we find that God may not heal in the way we ask or at the time we ask; He may, but we cannot presume. Paul was told, “No. My grace is sufficient.” So we learn to pray as Jesus did, adding to our petition “Nevertheless, thy will be done.” This is not a cop-out for when prayer doesn’t seem to “work.” We can still pray with perseverance and confidence for Him to heal. But it acknowledges that the Lord is sovereign, and if it is His will to heal the one we pray for, He will heal that person. If it were not this way, then the whole process would be mechanical and predictable and require no faith at all.

A second, related application, then, would be instruction on how to build this kind of faith. The story does not explain how to do this, it says he had more faith than the many Israelites Jesus had seen. So you would want to gather a few instructions on how faith is to grow. Here you would have to consider the teaching of the Bible as a whole on how to develop this kind of trust. Ideally, faith is best taught in a believing home from the very beginning (see, for example, David’s experience in Ps. 22:9, 10; and 2 Tim. 3:15). And that gives us a paradigm, if you come to the faith as an adult; you have to start as a child. This means first beginning to learn about the Lord from the word of God (for faith will only be as strong its knowledge of the object of the faith), and second seeing the life of faith modeled or lived out by genuine believers. The more you are in the word of God, and the more you fellowship with believers who have learned to put their faith into action through prayer and praise, the faster you grow in the faith. And as you grow you begin to pray and see the Lord work in your life; and in the process you build even more confidence in the Lord.

Some people have a greater capacity for belief (like this centurion whose role in life led him to it quickly), and some have tremendous hurdles to believing (they have known only broken trust in their childhood or their relationships and find believing difficult). But whatever our experience, we must see developing faith as a process in the Christian life. Developing a strong faith usually involves all that is connected with spiritual growth in the word of God, by the power of the Spirit of God, under the influence of the saints of God, and through a personal relationship through prayer with God.

A HARMONIZATION OF MATT 8:5-13 AND LUKE 7:1-10 - Jack Russell Shaffer*

 

A strict harmonization of Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 has been considered impossible by many recent biblical scholars because of seeming discrepancies between the two accounts. Matthew locates the encounter between Jesus and the centurion almost immediately after the Sermon on the Mount; Luke puts it soon after the Sermon on the Plain. The illness that had come to the centurion’s servant, not his son, was some type of lameness that kept the centurion from bringing or sending him to Jesus.

 

Various authors have proposed three options for solving the problem of harmonizing the two accounts. The first says that Matthew and Luke adapted a common source called Q, but a lack of verbal agreement and an impugning of biblical inspiration rule this option out. The second option holds that Matthew used literary rhetoric to describe the encounter, but Matthew plainly supports the personal coming of the centurion, not his servants in his place as the view holds, to Jesus. The third option states that Matthew and Luke faithfully recorded the events and dialogue of the encounter. This option is feasible as an alignment of the texts according to a strict harmonization shows, and is the best option because it acknowledges the integrity of the human authors and the integrity of the Holy Spirit who inspired the accounts.

 

Introduction

 

For approximately seventeen hundred years, after the last drop of ink had dried and the canon of Scripture had closed, there was little debate to speak of within Christianity regarding the accuracy of Scripture. Though the Bible, particularly in the parallel Gospel accounts, had apparent discrepancies, these were almost always explained through the process of strict harmonization. Not until the Enlightenment period did the question of the integrity of Scripture come to have the phrase given to the so-called problem of agreements and apparent discrepancies in the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

 

As is evidenced in the number of scholars researched for this project who attempt a strict harmonization of the accounts in question: in commentaries, two; in journal articles, one (and these only as recently as 1951 and 1964, respectively). Zane Hodges’ article, “The Centurion’s Faith in Matthew and Luke” (Bibliotheca Sacra 121/484 [Oct 1964]:321-32) is important and is the latest attempt at strict harmonization this writer could locate. The present article may be considered an update and advancement upon his excellent work

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This writer holds that John’s account of Jesus’ healing a royal official’s son in 4:46-54 is a wholly different incident in the life and ministry of Jesus. The setting in Cana, the title of the man (official in Herod’s kingdom), his desire for Jesus to come and heal his son, and other significant differences make it unlikely that these are the same. See Darrell L. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) 439; and W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, ICC (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991) 2:17.

 

At the same time, believing that the periscope of the Syro-Phonecian woman is related is also without a basis (contra Rudolph Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition, trans. John Marsh [Oxford: Basil Blackford, 1963] 38- 39). 6I. H. Marshall, “Historical Criticism,” New Testament Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) 133. 7 Hodges, “The Centurion’s Faith” 322. 8Ibid. Prominence in academic circles.2 The underlying disbelief in the supernatural led liberal scholars to attack the inspiration, and thus, the veracity of the Bible.

 

Scripture began to be analyzed as any other classic piece of literature, devoid of any divine oversight. The skepticism of the times was the seedbed for what is now called the “Synoptic Problem.”  For about the past two hundred years, a reversal has taken place in how those apparent discrepancies in the Synoptic Gospels are reconciled.

 

Today, except in a pejorative sense, harmonization is rarely mentioned as a means for resolving the most difficult passages. Such is to be expected from liberal theologians who hold a low view of Scripture. However, the philosophical roots of the so-called Synoptic Problem have made major inroads into evangelical scholarship. Rare is the contemporary evangelical who does not in some way impugn the integrity of the authors of Scripture or of the Word of God itself in attempts to explain difficult passages. The goal of this article is to produce a strict harmonization of two seemingly irreconcilable records of the miraculous healing of the centurion’s servant recorded in Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10.5

 

The present writer believes such a harmonization to be possible without impugning the integrity of Holy Writ or of the authors who penned it, and at the same time, without resorting to a theory which “strains credulity,” as one author put it.  What is at stake in such a discussion is nothing less than the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture.

 

The Problem of Apparent Discrepancy:

 

While reading through the Gospels in linear fashion, one might not perceive any discrepancy between Matthew and Luke in the recounting of Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s servant. However, when the two accounts are placed side-by-side (Table 1), the difficulty in reconciling them becomes obvious.

 

A Harmonization of Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 3.7 All Scripture references in English are from the New American Standard Bible Update.

 

Table 1. Passages paralleled in English9 Matthew 8:5-13 Luke 7:1-10

 

5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a

centurion came to Him, imploring Him,

1 When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum

6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.”

 

2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave

7 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

 

. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”

8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

 

6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof;

9 “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

 

7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 “For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found

such great faith.”

 

13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.

10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

 

 

 

For readers of the original Greek or of the English translation, the most obvious difficulty lies in the fact that Matthew records the event as though the centurion came directly to Jesus while Luke records two sets of intermediaries coming to Jesus on behalf of the centurion. In addition, in Luke 7:7 the centurion states (through his friends) that he is not worthy to come to Jesus, seemingly ruling out the possibility of a personal exchange between the Lord and the officer. In addition to the difficulty which is plain in English, several issues surface when one read the accounts in the Greek text. Those must also be addressed so as to resolve all issues with regard to harmonization. Items such as the relationship of the one healed, the nature of his illness, and some syntactical constructions which bear on the problem must be handled.

 

Others, such as questions about the centurion; whether he is a Roman soldier or a Gentile of some other nationality in the employ of Herod Antipas, his exact meaning when saying that he is a man under authority, and whether Jesus’ response in Matthew 8:7 is a statement or a question, are interesting and perhaps helpful to exposition but not pertinent to the topic at hand and are therefore not treated here.

 

All this presents a challenging problem for the biblical interpreter. The crux of the issue for one who believes in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures then is to answer the question, “How can these two accounts be reconciled without impugning the verb al inspiration of Scripture?” Did the centurion interact directly with Jesus, or did he not? Or, is this proof positive that the Bible should not be elevated above other literature in terms of its historical accuracy?

 

The present writer in no way claims that this is an easily resolved problem. It is not. Much research, study, and meditation on the text has been necessary to reach a viable solution, one that upholds the integrity of the authors and that is within the bounds of reason. Too often the hypotheses for resolving apparent conflicts in Scripture are so contrived that they are harder to believe than to accept non-historical reporting in the Scripture.10 However, one need only to show the plausibility of harmonization in order to cast doubt upon other less orthodox methods of reconciling the accounts.

 

That holds true whether one takes Luke’s Sermon on the Plain to be one and the same with Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. 12 As evidenced by His manifold statements, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I say to you,” and the final verses of chapter 7, “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”

 

Exegetical Considerations: Background and Context of the Periscope:

 

Before resolving the lexical and syntactical difficulties, understanding the setting of the story will be helpful. A look at any harmony of the Gospels will show that chronologically this event followed the Sermon on the Mount.11. For Matthew, the Sermon has set the backdrop for this section of his Gospel. One of the main characteristics of that sermon was that Jesus’ preaching was authoritative.12. In the present section, Matthew presents that authority in action: The healings of the leper (Matt 8:2-4) and of Peter’s mother-in-law (vv. 14-17) prior to the Sermon on the Mount. 16 Hendriksen, Matthew 387. 17Matthew’s use of genitive-absolute clauses (8:1, 5) is more indefinite than Luke’s choice of temporal conjunctions. Luke allows room for a time lag between the Sermon on the Plain and the expression of the centurion’s faith, but not much.

 

Chapters eight and nine consist of three distinct groupings of ten miracles performed, called “miracle narratives,”13 which demonstrated His authority over disease, demonic powers, and nature. The healing of the centurion’s slave appears in the middle of the first group of miracles. Here Matthew emphasizes that the reach of Jesus’ ministry extended to the outcasts of Jewish society; lepers, Gentiles, and women, who were excluded from full participation in Jewish religious life (M att 8:1-17).14

 

Every commentator consulted agreed that Matthew has not presented these stories in a strictly chronological order. Again, a look at any harmony will reveal this.15 Also concord prevails among those who offer divergent solutions to the harmonization problem with regard to the Gospel writers’ selecting which material they would include in their document and which they would omit. This form of editing (“redaction,” if it pleases, although the term has negative connotations with regard to plenary inspiration) is alluded to at least indirectly in the Scriptures themselves (John 20:30-31; 21:25) and is not in question. Matthew, then, is not chronological but topical in his description of the facts of the healing.16 Luke, on the other hand, presents the events in a more chronological fashion. In v. 1, he has a temporal marker (evpeidhv, epeid., “when”) to show that Jesus’ going to Capernaum followed not too long after the conclusion of the Sermon on the Plain. Verse 11 also has a temporal clause (kai; ejgevneto ejn tw'/ eJxh'", kai egeneto en tÇ2 ex.s, “and it came to pass soon afterwards”) which follows the periscope and connects the next event to the present one.17

 

The healing of the leper is excluded since it was not in chronological sequence and did not fit the emphasis Luke wished to maintain. According to Liefeld, this event marks a pivotal point in the progress of the word of the Lord from its original Jewish context to the Gentile world. A theme important to Luke and to his audience is to show the compatibility of early Christianity with Judaism and to justify the prominence of Gentiles in the church.18 At the end of Luke 6, Jesus taught that unwavering faith in Him was required of a Kingdom citizen. On the heels of such teaching, Luke exhibited a prize example of such faith on display, and that found in no less than a Gentile.19

 

Within the story itself, Matthew has three major emphases: the faith of the centurion, the authority of Jesus to heal, and the eschatological plan of God that includes believing Gentiles in His kingdom and excludes unbelieving Jews from it. Luke, on the other hand, focuses on the humility and faith of the centurion, as well as the fact that he is a Gentile well-esteemed by Jewish leaders and commended by Jesus. reasons that the use of the term dou'lo" in the discourse of Matthew 8:9 and Luke 7:8 refers to this individual and that the singular indicates that the centurion had only one servant, the one who was near death.

 

A Son or a Servant?

 

In the original language, a question arises regarding the relationship to the centurion of the one whom Jesus heals. Is the one healed a son or a servant? Matthew uses the term pai'" (pais) to describe him (vv. 6, 8, 13), but Luke uses the term dou'lo" (doulos, vv. 2, 3, and 10). The former term can mean “servant” or “son,” while the latter means only “servant” or “slave.”

 

In favor of “son” is the argument that the centurion would not have had the kind of concern for a mere slave that he would have had for his own son.20 Luke indicates that he was “highly regarded” by him (v. 2). Another argument is based upon the so-called parallel passage in John 4:46-54, where the one healed is clearly the son of the royal official.21 There pai'" (pais) is also used (v. 51) along with uiJov" (huios, “son”), a definite reference to one’s male offspring.

 

The first argument is rather spurio us, not based on any fact. All centurions mentioned in the NT appear to be upstanding men (and some very religious as here and in Acts 10). This man appears to be exceptionally compassionate as he is said to “love” the Jewish nation and to have built their synagogue at his own expense (Luke 7:5). Assuming that he would not have had some emotional attachment is unfounded, particularly if this was his only servant.

 

The second argument cannot prevail, for it assumes that a common story existed which was taken and adapted by the authors to accommodate their own Sitzim Leben. This theory, however, must compromise the integrity of Scripture to be valid. If the John 4 passage is parallel, the many discrepancies between the accounts require that one or two authors must have altered the story.

 

Several reasons show why the term should be understood as “servant.” First, the term pai'" is ambiguous and can mean either. Second, it occurs twenty-fourtimes in the NT and in only one verse does it obviously mean “son” (John 4:51); in eight other cases, it means “child,” though without implying any relationship to the speaker or to a character in the narrative. Four times it means the “servant” of a man, and eight times a “servant” of God.

Thus, if pai'" in Matt 8:6, 8, 13 means the centurion’s “son,” it would be agreeing only with the one use of the word by John against all the other NT uses, all of which are in Matthew and Luke-Acts.25

 

Finally, the term pai'" occurs in Luke 7:7 to describe the same person, who is clearly referred to as a slave (dou'lo"). So no redaction theory is required and Luke and Matthew do not contradict each other. The centurion is concerned for his slave who is probably a young man, too young to die.

 

The Nature of the Servant’s Illness:

 

Luke indicates that the servant had an illness and was about to die. Matthew indicates that he was lying paralyzed and fearfully tormented. The apparent conflict is in the way one thinks of paralysis. In Luke, it sounds s as though a disease is overtaking the young man. Yet contemporary understanding of paralysis does not seem to fit that description. In addition, one usually associates lack of feeling with paralysis, not “grievous torment.” The text, however, indicates that he was tormented greatly.

 

The difficulty is easily resolved. The term translated “paralyzed” means simply “lame.” The servant has been laid in the house lame, incapacitated due to severe illness, and that is the condition in which he remains when Jesus hears of it. Plumptre suggests perhaps a form of rheumatic fever or tetanus.The term basanivzw (basanizÇ) means to “vex with grievous pains.” This affliction is magnified by the use of deinw'" (deipnÇs, “severely, vehemently”), which signifies an extreme point on a scale, underlining the disease’s severity and also to magnifying the healing miracle. That is why he had not been brought to Jesus. Simply put, Luke is giving his own description and does not elaborate on the illness, choosing rather to focus upon the character of the centurion. Matthew, on the other hand, is recording the direct speech of the centurion, who elaborates on the condition of the servant.

 

At this point, all further difficulties are on a macro level, specifically the issues related to reconciling the two accounts.

Proposed Solutions:

 

Upon surveying the landscape, one discovers that three options exist for resolving the problem of harmonizing the two accounts. A popular position among both evangelicals and non-evangelicals is that a common document, usually The Master’s Seminary Journal Rudolf Bultmann, who holds an extreme form of this view, simply relegates the stories as fiction of the church, a view not entertained in this article. While he is able to discern that these are mythical variants of the Syro-Phonecian woman periscope, 1,900 years after the fact, Bultmann states “Further, hardly anybody will support the historicity of telepathic healing” (History 39). To which Hodges smugly notes, “We, for our part, will hardly support telepathic criticism!” (“The Centurion’s Faith”). The study uses Burton and Goodspeed’s Harmony as a base. elusive Q-document, was the source from which Matthew and Luke (and John if one believes the healing of the royal official’s son is parallel) drew.

 

A second position, which is also popular among evangelicals and is a variation of the first, is that Luke records what actually happened and Matthew abbreviates it without impugning his own integrity or the integrity of Scripture.

 

A last position, one which is rare and not widely held, is that each of the two accounts faithfully records what happened and can be strictly harmonized with the other without compromising either the divine Author or His human counterparts. Matthew and Luke Adapted a Common Source

 

This view embraces the notion that Matthew and Luke drew from a common written document, which most identify as Q. Thus, no attempt to harmonize the accounts is needed. Once the premise is accepted, the only need is to “discover” the method each used to arrive at his final product. Conspicuously, Q has yet to be discovered, but that stops few from referring to it as a likely source. Modern scholarship has no lack of supporters for this view.

 

The purpose of this study is not to develop all the arguments for or against the use of Historical Criticism in analyzing the Gospels. As Hodges boldly stated, it would scarcely be worth-while [sic] in the present discussion to become mired in the ever shifting morass of theories which occupy present-day source criticism. New Testament studies are not advanced by an infatuation with processes we did not witness and with documents we do not, and cannot, possess.

 

However, problems with the “Common Source” view are serious. First, comparing the two accounts in Greek leads to two significant observations. First, in Table 2, the words common to both accounts are underlined. Such a comparison reveals that out of 353 words, only 126 (36%) are common to both.

 

That is not a mark of common source. Also, a high percentage of words common to both occur in sections of direct or indirect discourse. Those facts combined indicate a scenario which would fit a theory of independence, each author formulating the narrative account in his own way, but more accurately citing those whom he quotes directly or indirectly, rather than their dependence upon a tertiary source.

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Second, and more important, if either of the authors simply borrowed from a common source and made changes as he saw fit, then the trustworthiness of the Scriptures is in jeopardy and the author’s meaning is anyone’s guess. Anyone with an elementary education who reads Matthew and Luke together can see that Matthew records the event as if the centurion came and spoke directly to Jesus and that Luke makes no mention of his coming. If the centurion did not actually come, then Matthew has misrepresented the account. That this was inspired mis-representation does not assuage the fact that it would be a lie. Therefore, anyone who in honesty holds to an inspired, inerrant Scripture cannot retain this view.

 

Matthew Used Literary Rhetoric to Express the Account:

 

Those who have not pursued a strict harmonization or who desire to hold to Literary Criticism and an inspired text seem to use this as a default position. The idea is as old as Augustine who wrote, “qui facit per alium facit per se.” Others have attempted variations on the same theme. Stein uses the following example:

 

If a conversation between the President of the United States and the Premier of Russia [sic], were reported, it could be described in at least two ways. First, the President says in English to his interpreter, “A.” The interpreter then says in Russian to the premier, “A.” The premier says in Russian to his interpreter, “B,” and the interpreter says in English to the President, “B.” Second, the president says to the premier, “A,” [sic] The premier responds, “B.” Both descriptions are correct! The last account, which every newspaper report follows, chooses to omit for brevity’s sake the role of the interpreter. The other account includes it.

 

Another variation is, when the President of the United States says something through his press secretary and it is reported by the press that he said it, no one accuses the press of an inaccuracy. In earnest, these are often valid explanations of Scripture when direct agency is implied, the most notable being Pilate’s scourging of Jesus (John 19:1). However, that kind of superficial explanation will not do here. First, as stated before, Matthew does not leave open the possibility of whether or not the centurion came, v. 5 expressly states that he did. Throughout Matthew’s account, he uses the singular to indicate that the centurion’s dialogue was from an individual and Jesus’ dialogue was to an individual.

 

One could argue that Luke’s account uses the singular for a plurality of emissaries who speak on behalf of the centurion (vv. 3, 6-8) and that Matthew simply did the same but did not mention the envoys. Yet in Luke 7:2 and 7:6, the centurion is the subject. Therefore, the corresponding verbs must also be singular. The context is clear that Luke reports what the centurion told them to say as indirect speech. Not so in Matthew.

 

Second, even if one ceded the argument about Luke’s singular, two insurmountable problems remain with the text that simply will not permit the literary-rhetoric theory to hold. One is the use of the term u{page (hypage, “go”) by Jesus. Rationalizing that Jesus, standing with a group of the centurion’s friends would use the singular imperative to dismiss them, followed by the second-person

 

One need only consider any 10-minute slice of time at the shopping mall or the sports arena to realize the number of variables that could be recounted in any given encounter. singular indicative, indicating that the healing would take place as the centurion asked, will in no way hold. One writer states that this was, “a current term for saying: The matter is settled; do not let it be your concern any longer.” Such language is not explainable unless the centurion was personally present.

 

Another is a syntactical issue related to the recording of direct speech. As Jesus was approaching His home, the centurion is cited, either directly (Matthew) or indirectly (Luke), as saying that he was not worthy for Jesus to come “under [his] roof.” There is a question as to the placement of the personal pronoun mou (mou, “my”). In Matt 8:8, it is forward for emphasis. In Luke 7:6, it follows the prepositional phrase. If one holds to an inerrant text, and if both are either direct or indirect quotations, one of the authors has changed the word order, precision is lost, and inspiration is impugned.

 

Given the difficulties with the common source and the literary-rhetoric proposals, only one choice is viable, and that is to harmonize the two accounts.

 

Matthew and Luke Faithfully Recorded the Account:

 

The best solution to handling the Scriptures is to take them at face value. If one author indicates hesitancy for the centurion to come and another says that he did come, then one must strive to understand how they can both be true without denigrating the reliability of God’s Word or resorting to intellectually unsatisfying proposals. The Scriptures are not given so that every aspect of every encounter must be present and accounted for and fit neatly together to form a comprehensive whole. The emphasis of each author will dictate what material is included and what is omitted. If one divorces oneself from the sterile, unemotional environment of academia for a moment and delves into the realm of everyday life, harmonizing these accounts is no problem.

 

Harmonization Explained

The narratives of Matthew and Luke introducing the scenario present no difficulty. Each in its own style indicates that Jesus entered Capernaum. From this point Luke’s narrative should be followed all the way through v. 8.47 Emphasizing the character of the Gentile centurion, Luke contrasts the works-oriented focus of the Jews (he is deemed worthy, in part because he built their synagogue) with the centurion’s amazing faith and his own humble assessment of himself.

 

The perceived difficulty is in Luke 7:7a where the centurion’s friends cite him as saying that he did not consider himself worthy to come. However, no problem exists if one allows that he came anyway out of his great concern for his servant. Both facts are true. Luke does not mention the centurion’s coming because it did not fit with his purpose, the contrast between the Jews’ conception of the centurion and his own view of himself compared to Christ.

 

Matthew’s account picks up with the faith of the centurion contrasted with that of Israel. His purpose is to show that even a Gentile recognized the authority of the King of the Jews while His own people rejected Him. As Morris says: Perhaps we can discern something of the differing purposes of the Evangelists in their treatment of the messengers. Matthew was concerned primarily with the centurion’s faith and nationality; to him the messengers were irrelevant, even a distraction. But Luke was interested in the man’s character and specifically in his humility; to him the messengers were a vital part of the story.

 

Faith in Christ, not heritage, admits one into the kingdom of heaven. Thus, Matthew includes the additional statement in vv. 11-12. Seeing Jesus near his home and having already sent the second delegation, the centurion came personally to meet Jesus and restates the problem in more detail, to which Jesus responds that He will come and heal the servant. This elicits directly from the centurion a statement made earlier through the friend: “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matt 8:8).

 

At a glance, it appears that Matthew 8:9 and Luke 7:8 should be taken as parallel. Except for the word tassovmeno" (tassomenos, “placed under authority”) in Luke, the verb age is word-for-word in the two. However, it is possible for Luke to have learned what was said by the centurion to his friends and to have Matthew 8:10a and Luke 7:9a should be taken as parallel. However, the remaining portion of each verse should be taken as consecutive.

 

In other words, Jesus turned once to the crowd that was following Him, but made two distinct statements. The first is a broad statement about Israel as a nation. He had found such faith “not even” in Israel. His second statement is even stronger and more specific. He begins with the asseverative particle, ajmhvn (am.n, “truly”), and adds the prepositional phrase, par j oujdeniv (par’ oudeni, “with no one”), in place of oujdev (oude, “not even”), and forward for emphasis. He is saying first, “not in all of Israel,” and second, “from not even one in all of Israel.”

 

Next, Matthew includes Jesus’ statement in vv. 11-12 about who will enter the kingdom and who will be excluded. It is the faith of this Gentile centurion that provides the opportunity for this teaching. Matthew found it essential to his message. Luke did not.

Finally, in Matt 8:13 Jesus turns back to the centurion and tells him to go away, that the healing will take place in the manner in which he believed it would.

 

Jesus will not come farther, but the servant will be healed. By harmonizing the accounts and realizing the actual presence of the centurion, the dilemma of how to explain u{page is resolved. Matthew further states only that the healing took place. Luke informs the reader that the delegation(s) returned to the house (not to the centurion) to find the servant healed.

 

Harmonization Defended

 

As stated earlier, only a plausible explanation of how the events can be reconciled should be necessary to satisfy any reasonable inquiry into the apparent discrepancies in these accounts. The objection to this harmonization might be predicated upon the expression of the centurion that he was unworthy to come to Jesus. But one must consider all of the human emotions that were involved.

 

Luke expressed that the servant was dear to the centurion. If pai'" were instead uiJov" and the matter settled that it was his son, hardly any but the most hardened in heart would have any difficulty in seeing the man in a distraught emotional state. So is it so far a stretch to think that this man, away from home, might have established a close relationship with a young servant with whom he would have close contact on a daily basis?

 

Any number of scenarios is possible that would lead to the development of this kind of relationship. Such is not vain imagining but recognition that Scrip ture records the real lives of real people. At the same time, the centurion was apparently devout. Though not a proselyte, he presumably was a God-fearer, having built the Jewish synagogue at his own expense and being highly commended by the Jewish leaders. His exemplary faith is the capstone for his integrity and character. Yes, he is a soldier, battle hardened, a leader.

 

Yet, Scripture seems to shine a favorable light on the character of men in this position (Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47; Acts 10:22; 22:26; 27:43). The scene could have unfolded as follows: The centurion had a dying servant who was dear to him. Having heard of Jesus’ healing ministry (this was not His first entry into the city, Luke 4:31) and having believed in Him, he knew that the Master could heal the boy. Yet, the boy was paralyzed by illness and great agony and unable to be moved.

 

The centurion, being a Gentile and understanding that Jesus was from God, could not see himself going directly to Jesus to ask on behalf of this servant nor having Jesus come to his home. He could, however, summon some Jewish leaders of the synagogue which he built at his own expense, to go on his behalf. They did and Jesus began to return to the house with them. As Jesus came near, the centurion was horrified that Jesus might actually come under his roof. So he sent some friends to explain the case. As they went and engaged Jesus, the centurion while watching could contain himself no longer. He overrode his conviction about not being worthy to go and went anyway. When he reached Jesus, he stated directly the seriousness of the matter, perhaps to justify his coming against his conviction.

 

Jesus, having heard once already that He need not be present to heal the boy, elicited the response directly from the lips of the man himself. Now, having heard it twice, once indirectly and once directly, He turned to those who had been following Him and made the statement comparing the centurion’s faith to any that H e had seen thus far among the people of Israel. His people, who should have recognized Him. He made it once and then emphatically restated it. The unabashed faith of this Gentile centurion prompted Jesus to teach about the nature of those who will enter the kingdom and those who will be left out. People of faith will be included; people who depend on heritage and works will be excluded.

 

Finally, He responded directly to the centurion that he could return home, assured that what he had requested had been accomplished, just as he believed it would. Whether or not he tarried or went home is not stated. But, his messengers did return to find that the boy had, in fact, been healed that very hour.

 

Conclusion:

 

The story of the faith of the centurion is one that has puzzled theologians for centuries. Attempts to harmonize the two accounts have left many without an intellectually satisfying answer. Others have produced explanations that denigrate the integrity of the human authors and therefore the integrity of the Holy Spirit who inspired the text. Both such results are unacceptable. However, as the present writer hopes he has shown, a way to reconcile the two accounts does exist without jettisoning inspiration or doing linguistic calisthenics to make it work. The answer is to begin with the assumption that, regardless of how details may appear on the surface, both accounts were given by God to man and are true. One must proceed from there to think “outside of the box” of unemotional scholarship, and consider human behavior of the persons involved in the real-life accounts recorded for posterity in the pages of sacred Scripture. Only then can one fully appreciate the greatness of how God has delivered His Word and the teaching contained therein.

 

Many commentators see the problem of a Jew going to a Gentile’s home as the reason for him not being worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. This may or may not be accurate. The text is silent on the matter. One need only refer to Luke 8:43-48 to find another individual who was apprehensive of going to Jesus. Yet, overriding her fear, she went.

 

New International Version (©1984): When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking for help.

New Living Translation (©2007): When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with Him,

English Standard Version (©2001): When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, appealing to Him,

New American Standard Bible (©1995): And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.): And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

International Standard Version (©2008): When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a centurion came up to Him and begged Him repeatedly,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010): But when Yeshua entered Kapernahum, a certain Centurion approached Him and He prayed to Him.

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995): When Jesus went to Capernaum, a Roman army officer came to beg Him for help.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003): And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

American King James Version: And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

American Standard Version: And when He was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

Douay-Rheims Bible: And when He had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

Darby Bible Translation: And when He had entered into Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, beseeching Him,

English Revised Version: And when He was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

Webster's Bible Translation: And when Jesus had entered into Capernaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

Weymouth New Testament: After His entry into Capernaum a Captain came to Him, and entreated Him.

World English Bible: When He came into Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking Him,

Young's Literal Translation: And Jesus having entered into Capernaum, there came to Him a centurion calling upon Him,

Barnes' Notes on the Bible: Capernaum - See the notes at Matthew 4:13.

There came unto Him a centurion - A centurion was the commander of 100 men in the Roman armies. Judea was a Roman province and garrisons were kept there to preserve the people in subjection. This man was probably by birth a pagan. See Matthew 8:10.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible: Capernaum - See Matthew 4:13.

A centurion - Εκατονταρχος. A Roman military officer who had the command of one hundred men.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum,.... Was returned from His journey through Galilee, to the place where He before dwelt, and is called His own city, Matthew 9:1

there came unto him a centurion, a Roman officer,  "a commander of an hundred men", as the Hebrew Gospel by Munster reads it: though the number of men under a "centurion" was more, according to some accounts. "A band (it is said (g)) made two centuries, each of which consisted of an hundred and twenty eight soldiers; for a doubled century made a band, whose governor was called an ordinary "centurion".'' Such an one was Cornelius, a centurion of a band, Acts 10:1. The other person that was healed was a Jew. The next instance of Christ's power and goodness is the servant of a Gentile; He came to do good both to Jews and Gentiles;

beseeching him, not in person, but by his messengers; see Luke 7:3 and the Jews (h) say, , "that a man's messenger is as himself". (g) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 13. (h) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 34. 2.

Geneva Study Bible:

{2} And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him,

(2) Christ by setting before them the example of the uncircumcised centurion and yet of an excellent faith, provokes the Jews to jealousy, and together forewarns them of their being cast off and the calling of the Gentiles.

People's New Testament:

8:5 When Jesus was entered into Capernaum. See PNT Mt 4:13. His return to the place he made his home after the Sermon on the Mount and healing the leper. Compare Lu 7:1-10.

There came unto him a centurion. A Roman military officer, corresponding to our captain. All Palestine was under Roman military government at this time, with headquarters at Caesarea, and soldiers in every leading town. This centurion probably commanded the company stationed at Capernaum. He was, of course, a Gentile. We learn from Lu 7:3, he came to Jesus, not in person, but by Jewish elders, whom he supposed would have more influence with the Lord. These elders interceded more readily because he had built them a synagogue (Lu 7:5), either to secure favor, or because he was, like Cornelius, a devout man. In the ruins of Tel Hum, supposed to be Capernaum, are yet found the foundations of a synagogue, one known by certain characteristics to have been built in the Herodian period, and there can hardly be a doubt that it was the one built by the centurion, and in which Christ often preached. See Edersheim's Jewish Social Life, page 255.

Wesley's Notes:

8:5 There came to Him a centurion - A captain of a hundred Roman soldiers. Probably he came a little way toward Him, and then went back. He thought himself not worthy to come in person, and therefore spoke the words that follow by his messengers. As it is not unusual in all languages, so in the Hebrew it is peculiarly frequent, to ascribe to a person himself the thing which is done, and the words which are spoken by his order. And accordingly St. Matthew relates as said by the centurion himself, what others said by order from him. An instance of the same kind we have in the case of Zebedee's children. From St. Matthew, Mt 20:20, we learn it was their mother that spoke those words, which, Mark 10:35, 37, themselves are said to speak; because she was only their mouth. Yet from ver. 13, Mt 8:13, Go thy way home, it appears he at length came in person, probably on hearing that Jesus was nearer to his house than he apprehended when he sent the second message by his friends. Luke 7:1.

Scofield Reference Notes:

Margin centurion: A Roman commander of 100 men.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:

Mt 8:5-13. Healing of the Centurion's Servant. ( = Lu 7:1-10): This incident belongs to a later stage. For the exposition, see on [1234]Lu 7:1-10.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

8:5-13 This centurion was a heathen, a Roman soldier. Though he was a soldier, yet he was a godly man. No man's calling or place will be an excuse for unbelief and sin. See how he states his servant's case. We should concern ourselves for the souls of our children and servants, who are spiritually sick, who feel not spiritual evils, who know not that which is spiritually good; and we should bring them to Christ by faith and prayers. Observe his self-abasement. Humble souls are made more humble by Christ's gracious dealings with them. Observe his great faith. The more diffident we are of ourselves, the stronger will be our confidence in Christ. Herein the centurion owns him to have Divine power, and a full command of all the creatures and powers of nature, as a master over his servants. Such servants we all should be to God; we must go and come, according to the directions of His word and the disposals of His providence. But when the Son of man comes He finds little faith, therefore he finds little fruit. An outward profession may cause us to be called children of the kingdom; but if we rest in that, and have nothing else to show, we shall be cast out. The servant got a cure of his disease, and the master got the approval of his faith. What was said to him, is said to all, Believe, and ye shall receive; only believe. See the power of Christ, and the power of faith. The healing of our souls is at once the effect and evidence of our interest in the blood of Christ.

 

 

 

Commentaries:

The centurion knew that Jesus had the power to heal even though he knew that he was not worthy of any favors from Jesus himself.  He was not asking for anything to help himself, he was asking Jesus to show passion for his servant's faith in God.  He was allowing his servant to worship the God of Heaven that his people did not know.

Jesus was impressed by the centurion’s words that although he was a man of great authority and men would do as he commanded, he did not have the power to heal his own servant. However, he believed in Jesus' teachings and had great faith that He (Jesus) would heal his servant.

His true belief in Jesus; and his presence as Son of God. The centurion showed his real and blind faith in the power of Christ which impressed Him...

Jesus was impressed of the faith of the centurion because the latter recognized His Word as an authority over sicknesses and every situation. 

The centurion was honest and he believed that Jesus could heal his servant even if he was not near him. He also confesses his unworthiness knowing Jesus had the power to save and to forgive. He had faith in the Savior.

He told Jesus not bother himself coming to his house to just say the word. This astonished Jesus Christ

 

He was confident and humbly that Jesus would heal his servant.

1st, his faith and he never see b4 this kind of faith even in his disciples.

The centurion believes by faith that the name of Jesus is a powerful and miraculous name that heals anybody at any particular time.

"There was no doubt of the sincere humility of the centurion and his apparent high esteem and honor, placed in the person of Jesus. He confessed his unworthiness, his lowly undeserving status for Jesus to even come into his home. It is obvious that the centurion came to Jesus with an unusual perception of Christ’s position and authority." Principles of Great Faith by Dr. Dale A. Robbins

 

The centurion had such faith and belief in Jesus, that he told Jesus He did not have to come to his house, but just say the words, which makes this man’s faith something to strive for. Blessings.

 

He had strong faith that Jesus will heal even when He is far and His powers will flow all along to his servant.

 

JESUS was astonished that an ''unbeliever'' so to say, believed the power of His word, but His disciple did not.

 

He did not see Jesus as a just a bum or a prophet, he believed Jesus to be Lord of All powers.  And He is.

 

The Centurion had unshaken faith in God

 

The centurion realized that his authority was not worthy when it comes to Jesus' and he had faith in Him that his servant was going to be healed. Jesus was impressed by the humbleness of the centurion.

 

He believed as we do that Jesus is the Son of the living God and omnipotent, that he did not need to physical present to heal his servant. The Centurion belied and demonstrated faith in who Jesus was, unlike many of the Israelites

 

The centurion know the Jesus' power to heal does not need him to go to centurion home. Jesus power can reach far beyond our expectation. Centurion recognized himself that Jesus has greater authority than him. He did not consider his position in Capernaum as something to grasp before Jesus but humbled himself, that's why Jesus Marveled.

 

That he was a man of power, yet through faith he recognized Jesus for who he was.  The centurion new that Jesus could heal without so much as to seeing his paralyzed servant.

 

His faith was so complete that he believed that Jesus was able to heal without even being there. Also as others have put it... His humility in his answer "I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, just say the word"   One other thing that comes to mind is that the Centurion was compassionate and loving to his servant.  Not many centurions cared for those below him in the status quo.

 

Not only Did Jesus marvel at the centurion's unshakeable faith, He also felt compassion because of the centurion's humility. He said, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof." Jesus was very pleased at this man's humbleness and great faith.

 

I think Jesus marveled that the centurion had enough faith that He only had to speak the word and the servant would be healed. The centurion did not have to see him heal the servant to believe that He would heal the servant.

 



By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation

To the person that asked "Why cant I understand the word when I read it..."

If you will listen to the series found here...

http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1034

it will answer your question. hear is the short version

mark chapter 4 says...

14The sower soweth the word.

26And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 

 27And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

 28For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

 29But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

verse 14 says the sower sowes the word. so everyone should agree he is not talking about farming here. He is talking about how the word of God works. in these verses  the word of god is the seed and our heart is the soil that it must be planted in, and just as if you planted an actual seed in the ground you wouldn't go out the next day and expect a tree to have grown overnight. the word of God is the same way you have to let it germinate in your heart (germination is meditating on the word) verse 27 is talking about the word of God and how it will just naturally produce. Just like you dont know how a natural seed produces, but it does the word of God will do the same and verse 28 talks about how there is stages of growth and just as the earth brings forth fruit of herself so will the word of God. i have tryed to shorten this down to just give you and idea if you will listen to the messages you will get better understanding of why you are in the position you are in everything on the site is free and will take you a long way in a very short time.



By: charles taylor
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
What impressed jesus about the centurians faith?

Here is a link to some great teaching that will explain this...

http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1034

listen to Got A Need? Plant A Seed!



By: charles taylor
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
What impressed jesus about the centurians faith?
What impressed jesus about the faith of the centurion was that he just beleved the word of jesus. Just as when we read our bibles we need to take the Promises of God and say if he spoke it it is true.



By: charles taylor
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
Jesus had nowhere even in Israel found faith like The Faith of the Centurion.



By: Takao Ogawa
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
Why cant I understand the word when I read it... Like this story we just covered it in church today but I couldnt figure out why.. What do i need to do to get a better understanding and knowledge of the word



By: Jnarnot
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
(1) Comments
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
What was there about the centurian`s faith that so impressed Jesus?
We covered this today in church today Seeing is not Believing and I still couldnt figure out quite what it is.. '' I still need alot of understanding''... He was impressed with his faith becuase he knew that Jesus didnt have to be there, or touch his servant but he knew that Jesus is so powerful by just saying the words and his servant will be healed



By: Jnarnot
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
What was there about the centurian`s faith that so impressed Jesus?
The centurian came to Jesus knowing if he said that his servant was healed that it would be so and he would not need Jesus to come to his house.



By: Myles
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
What was there about the centurian`s faith that so impressed Jesus?
The centurion beliefs in words of Jesus as the power of healing his servant. The centurion says that it is like healing a servant with the commands from Jesus just like the way he commands his subjects in his house. He knows that Jesus has powers all over humanity.



By: Bol Joseph Agau
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation
What was there about the centurian`s faith that so impressed Jesus?
I think Jesus was impressed by the centurian`s humility and respectful demeanor as well as his belief in the supernatural healing powers of Jesus. Jesus must have found this very refreshing!



By: Patty
Category: The Faith of the Centurion
Comment Helpful? Favorite Violation

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The Faith of the Centurion

When he came into Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking him, and saying, "Lord, my servant lies in the house paralyzed, grievously tormented."
Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."
The centurion answered, "Lord, I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those who followed, "Most certainly I tell you, I haven't found so great a faith, not even in Israel. I tell you that many will come from the east and the west, and will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, but the children of the Kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way. Let it be done for you as you have believed." His servant was healed in that hour.

Matthew 8:5-13
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