Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2011
Page 16

Questions and Answers

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Public Prayer

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Greetings from Zimbabwe, I was asked why in the churches of Christ unlike in some denominations why is it only a single person stands to pray out aloud, why don’t every bro or sister pray for themself aloud? ~ Joshua Mukusha

New Testament Scripture specifically forbids multiple persons speaking at the same time aloud in the assembly. The apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because multiple persons were speaking aloud at the same time in its assemblies. Male Christians are to take turns speaking aloud in the assembly. Further, female Christians are forbidden to speak aloud in the worship assembly.

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Let your women keep silent in the churches [assemblies], for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church [the assembly]. (1 Corinthians 14:26-35 NKJV)

Rather than mimicking denominations, Bible students who revere God’s Word will conform to divine instruction. Regarding public prayers, that means one male Christian at a time may speak in the assembly and women may not speak publicly in the worship assembly at all (except for the congregational singing).

Satan Falling from Heaven

Louis Rushmore, Editor

From Luke 10:18, what is the teaching and reference to Satan falling from heaven?

All communication, biblical and non-biblical, falls into either of two broad categories – literal or figurative language. Naturally, all communication is assessed and presumed to be literal, unless the context or the content of the communication demands consideration of it as figurative. Therefore, concerning Luke 10:18 about Satan falling from heaven, after analysis of the statement, is it to be construed as literal or figurative? “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18 KJV).

Some commentators consider Luke 10:18 to be a reference to the literal fall of Satan some time prior to the fall of humanity, afterward Satan tempting the first pair and subsequent humanity to likewise sin against God. B.W. Johnson is one such commentator. However, the companion passages to which sometimes students of the Bible appeal to bolster the idea of Jesus referring to the literal fall of Satan are themselves grievously pulled from their contexts and misapplied. “Although the texts often cited today as describing Satan’s fall (Isa 14; Ezek 28:1) refer contextually only to kings who thought they were gods…” (Keener).

Most commentators, though, understand the words of Jesus in Luke 10:18 to be figurative rather than a literal reference to the fall of Satan from heaven where God is. That this is the correct should be apparent to Bible students from the context of the passage in which Luke 10:18 occurs, in addition to reflection upon the fact that Satan fell many centuries prior to the ministry of Jesus Christ. “Although the texts often cited today as describing Satan’s fall (Isa 14; Ezek 28:1) refer contextually only to kings who thought they were gods…” (Keener).

There are several indicators that this statement of our Lord was intended to be understood as figurative language. First, the statement of Jesus in Luke 10:18 is on its face figurative language because He employed the figurative speech referred to as a simile by using the word “as” for the purpose of comparison. Second, our Lord’s statement in context was in response to the remarks of the returning 70 disciples: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17). Remember, Satan had sinned and fallen long before the return of the 70 and began tempting humanity in the Garden of Eden. Jesus was neither straying from the conversation with the 70 to reminisce about a former time when Satan fell nor was He asserting that Satan had not fallen from heaven where God is until the return of the 70. Only a figurative application of our Lord’s statement makes any sense as He implies the significance of the 70 being able to cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ.

Various commentators word the implication of our Lord’s figurative expression thus. “This may be translated ‘I was beholding Satan fallen as lightning falls from heaven.’ The sense indicates that the words refer to the victories over the unclean spirits just reported by the seventy. In their successes Jesus saw Satan falling from the lofty heights with the swiftness of lightning. The overthrow of Satan was then in progress — John 16:11; 12:31’” (McGarvey). “I saw Satan fall ‘quickly’ or rapidly-as quick as lightning. The phrase ‘from heaven’ is to be referred to the lightning, and does not mean that he saw ‘Satan’ fall ‘from heaven,’ but that he fell as quick as lightning from heaven or from the clouds. The whole expression then may mean, ‘I saw at your command devils immediately depart, as quick as the flash of lightning’” (Barnes).

With a prophetic eye Jesus saw the downfall of Satan. The demons being subject to the seventy gave the occasion for Jesus to utter this prophecy. The fact that demons were subject to the disciples of Jesus indicated that Satan himself should be defeated by Christ. As a flash of lightning out of heaven, so quick and startling, so the victory of the seventy over the demons, the agent of Satan, forecast his downfall and Jesus in vision pictured it as a flash of lightning. (Boles)

“Jesus was not speaking of Satan being cast out at that precise moment, but that his power had been broken and that he was subject to Jesus’ authority” (Walvoord and Zuck). “Jesus implied that the power of Satan was broken, and that the success of these disciples was an evidence of the victory” (Harrison). “As a flash of lightning out of heaven, quick and startling, so the victory of the Seventy over the demons, the agents of Satan, forecast his downfall and Jesus in vision pictured it as a flash of lightning” (Robertson). “Satan’s fall from heaven means that he has lost his power, and this explains why the demons submitted to the disciples” (Reiling and Swellengebel).

Since much of the force of this glorious statement depends on the nice shade of sense indicated by the imperfect tense in the original, it might have been well to bring it out in the translation: ‘I was beholding Satan as lightning falling from heaven:’-q.d., ‘I followed you on your mission, and watched its triumphs; while ye were wondering at the subjection to you of devils in My name, a grander spectacle was opening to My view; sudden as the darting of lightning from heaven to earth Satan was beheld by Mine eye falling from heaven!’ By that law of association which connects a part with the whole, those feeble triumphs of the Seventy seem to have not only brought vividly before the Redeemer the whole ultimate result of His mission, but compressed it into a moment and quickened it into the rapidity of lightning! (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown)

“This does not mean merely that some demons are defeated by the name of Jesus; this phenomenon is only part of the evidence that Satan himself has fallen in defeat” (Lenski 581). Satan is the ruler of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) because sinful human beings empower him by committing sins. Yet, Satan cannot prevail against Jesus Christ and the church (Matthew 16:18) for which He died to establish, over which He alone is Head (Ephesians 1:22) and for which He will return someday to take back with Him to heaven (John 14:1-3). What occurred in the limited mission of the 70 disciples respecting casting out demons in the name of Christ was an indicator of the ultimate victory available through Jesus Christ over Satan and sin. Hence, Jesus spoke regarding the mini victories enjoyed through the 70 disciples, which were precursors to the ultimate victory in Jesus Christ. “…I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

Works Cited

Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes. London: Blackie & Son, 1885. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2005.

Boles, H. Leo. A Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke. Gospel Advocate Commentaries. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1991. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2005.

Harrison, Everett F., ed. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1962.

Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset and David Brown. A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1993. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006

Johnson. Barton Warren. The People’s New Testament. St. Louis: Christian Publishing Company, 1891. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2008.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. CD-ROM. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Lenski, R.C.H. The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, 1964.

McGarvey, J.W. and Philip Y. Pendleton. The Four-Fold Gospel. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 1914. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2004.

Reiling J. and J.L. Swellengebel. UBS New Testament Handbook Series.  CD-ROM. New York: United Bible Societies, 1997.

Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1985. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 2006.

Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck, eds. Bible Knowledge Commentary. CD-ROM. Colorado Springs: Cook Communications, 2000.

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