The Conversation


The Conversation

Considerations of education, ministry, and life. Worthy topics engaged by earnest learners.



Knowledge is (Bible understanding) power

May 26, 2015
By Louis Lemmon

Knowledge improves understanding of God's Word
Knowledge improves understanding in Bible reading. "Just give me Jesus," some say, rejecting that the histories, geneologies, and odd names of peoples and places might matter. Of course, Jesus is preiminent and faith in God through Him is the only critical and saving knowledge. That stated, the Bible "comes alive" for the Christian who has a firm knowledge of geography and culture, and it makes him a better Bible student -- and teacher, to a generation that typically lacks the core knowledge or the concern that the knowledge is shallow. Consider this simple example:  Someone reads in Matthew chapter 15 that, after walking on water and crossing over to Gennesaret...

"Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” (Matt. 15:21-22) ¶

The reader who lacks knowledge in the region, the people, and the history reads it this way:

Jesus went from "Place A" to "Place B" and there was a woman there. She asks Him to heal her daughter, something Jesus is in the business of doing. In fact, people were bringing the sick to Jesus to heal before He left Gennesaret. Surprisingly, Jesus refers to her as "a dog," and initially doesn't seem interested in helping her.
What's all this about.

The reader who does have associated background knowledge reads it this way:
Jesus went from the western shore of the Sea of Galilee all the way over to Tyre and Sidon at the coastal area of the Mediterranean Sea -- a distance of approximately 35-50 miles, apparently on foot! He arrives in what is present day Lebanon. He meets a woman. The reference to a woman of Tyre and Sidon triggers a clear refrence to Jezebel, the wicked queen of the the evil king of Israel Ahab.

¶ Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.  1Kings 16.29
Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him.  1Kings 16.30
¶ It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.  1Kings 16.31

She is a Canaanite, one of the initial inhabitants of the Promised Land that was so evil that God commanded Joshua to exterminate them, lest their evil practices entice the Israelites away from trusting and following the Lord  She asks Jesus to heal her daughter, something Jesus is in the business of doing. In fact, people were bringing the sick to Jesus to heal before He left Gennesaret. Jesus refers to her as "a dog," in the presence of His disciples, because the Jewish understanding of their differences was that the people of Tyre and Sidon were beneath the Jews and were enemies. He uses the term "dog," because that's likely what the disciples are thinking. Then Jesus does heal the girl because of the commendable "faith" expressed by the woman.

Recent Posts

5/26/15 - By Louis Lemmon
4/25/15 - By Louis Lemmon
4/3/15 - By General
Have Questions?