Discovering the Deeper Meaning of Bible Verses - Luke 10:17,20

There are methods which we can learn and apply that we may one day be as good as the best of the Bible commentators for our growth and sharing in the knowledge of the Bible.
Good preachers are able to see things that we don't see in our reading of the Bible. What secrets do they have that we don't? Consider Tim Keller's "Messengers" sermon on Luke 10:1-21, we will discover many revelations that we failed to see though we have read it through many times. For a short post like this one, we just consider

  • Luk 10:17  The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” ...
  • Luk 10:20  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 
What was the seventy-two rejoicing about?

They were rejoicing that they had power over the demons.

There is nothing wrong with that. If I were them, I would do the same too!

But there is something very wrong here that I failed to see in my many readings of Luke until Tim Keller pointed it out.

They were not rejoicing about the people who were set free from the bondage of demons!

So, we now can see that the Seventy-Two were very self-centered and also their desires were "Power" or "Influence" over others. They were celebrating their power and success. They did not rejoice with the people set free.

A better answer will be "Lord, many people are healed and set free from demons in Your Name!". That answer will show that the focus is on Jesus and on the others. We should rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn (Rom 12:15) as with Paul.

The Secret of Deeper Understanding:

1. Consider the wider context, the total situation.

In the situation, the people involved were Jesus, Seventy-Two, Cities, People - who receive, People who reject, sickness, demons, etc. Then the instructions were given to them etc.

2. Consider What are said and What is not said.

We understand from reading what is reported. We must also ask what and why were not reported.
In the above example, they were excited about their power but not about the people healed and freed.

3. Make the Right Interpretations and Get Support from the Context of the Passage.

Any interpretation is subject to our own biasedness and could be wrong. It is always good to check again especially using other text from the same context of the passage. 

We find 10:22 that Jesus told them something else is more important than having power over the demons.

Luk 10:20  Nevertheless, 
  • do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, 
  • but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 
We can see that "My Names in Heaven" is BETTER than "My Power over Demons"


Names in Heaven is about a community of people with God externally,
My Power is a self-centered dominating over others desire. It easily will lead to using God as our means to do the things we want. God could become our Genie and we become god the very reason for Eve's deception and the fall of Satan. 

So we see Jesus' words endorsing our earlier interpretations that the Seventy-Two were not rejoicing rightly.

As we try to learn and understand from the good preachers, we hope one day we could also see the deeper, more meaningful truths that we could grow and share with others too.

Lim Liat (c) 9 Feb 2018

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