Matt 8 and Luke 7 - The Centurion's faith

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by RLBosley, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. RLBosley

    RLBosley
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    So In Matthew 8:5 we have the start of the famous story of the Centurion with the sick servant. (Frankly I don't care if servant is the correct translation or if it should be son, doesn't really change the story)

    "And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." [Mat 8:5-10 KJV]

    And in Luke 7 we have the parallel account:

    "Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." [Luk 7:1-9 KJV]

    But there seems to be a contradiction. Matt 8 clearly says the Centurion came to Jesus. Where as Luke 7 Says the Centurion sent two groups to plead his case, but never actually came face to face with the Lord.

    [Mat 8:5, 8 KJV] 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, ... 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

    "And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. ... Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:" [Luk 7:3, 6 KJV]

    How do you reconcile these verses?
     
  2. Aaron

    Aaron
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    There is no contradiction. Matthew says simply that the centurion came, and Luke goes into more detail about the manner of that coming.
     
  3. RLBosley

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    So you think that the centurion came WITH his friends?
     
  4. Aaron

    Aaron
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    You're just assuming a face-to-face encounter in Matthew.
     
  5. RLBosley

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    Why can't you answer my question?

    And actually I'm not. I never said that he certainly went to Jesus. Personally I think that Matthew using "artistic license" in saying the centurion went to Jesus. He went in that he sent his friends and they spoke with his authority.
     
  6. kyredneck

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    Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Lk 13:1

    It wasn't Pilate that actually performed the deed in person, but he had it done through his soldiers.
     
  7. RLBosley

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    Great point. I forgot about that verse.
     
  8. HisWitness

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  9. DrJamesAch

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    In Jewish tradition, a representative of a guard was considered the same as a message coming from the centurion or leader themselves. Kind of how an ambassador represents the president of another nation. When the ambassador speaks, he is speaking for a certain person and the message is just as if it came from the original sender themselves. They are merely 2 sides of the same coin, Luke is describing the event the way a Gentile would understand it, and Matthew is describing it from a Jews perspective who knows that the text is referring to a messenger because they know that the centurion themselves never leave their posts.

    There are a few other alternatives as well, but this one is the accurate one if one understands how a messenger was viewed in Jewish culture.
     
  10. RLBosley

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    OK. That's what I thought as well but wasn't sure if there was any tradition/historical support for it. Thanks!
     
  11. Van

    Van
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    The best answer I have found is consistent with the above, Matthew describes the event as if the Centurion was himself present, but in actuality it appears from Luke his representatives were present, and he was personally absent.

    Luke 7:10 suggests when the representatives returned, the child was already well, making it unlikely that the Centurion himself would then go.
    Matthew 10:40 presents the idea of a messenger being considered the person himself.
     
    #11 Van, Jun 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2013
  12. Scarlett O.

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    I always thought that someone speaking on behalf of a person of authority was like that person, himself, actually speaking.

    Similarly speaking, what do you think about the two passages in the Bible about the request of James and John to sit at Jesus' right hand? One account says they, themselves asked the question. Another account says their mother did.

    I think perhaps they were together when this happened. Matthew says they were. Matthew said their mother asked and Mark said that they asked. I don't have a problem with Mark using the mother's request with her sons present as the sons' request. The answer was the same in both accounts.
     
    #12 Scarlett O., Jun 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
  13. jonathan.borland

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    That's not the only difference. Really Matthew is doing what he does all the time: take two things and integrate them together into one. In Luke you see two requests relayed, one pleading for Jesus to come, and another later on asking humbly that he need not come but only say the word. In Matthew both pleas are integrated into a single encounter, with the second (and most important) emphasized. And, as others have said in this thread, the emissaries of the centurion are doing nothing more than relaying this man's own words and will, and so Matthew is perfectly within historical norms in saying that the Centurion besought Jesus to do such and such.
     

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