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Luke 9:49 NLT says John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”

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The motivation for preventing someone from working in Jesus' name is explicitly stated in the same verse of Luke 9:49, "... because he isn't in our group."

Such an attitude displays a type of elitism - others not part of "our group" are either inferior or incapable to doing our work properly, or are unworthy to do our "exalted" work. [Little wonder that John was one of the "sons of thunder" Mark 3:17]

The same story is recorded in mark 9 and Matthew Poole comments in Mark 9:38 as follows:

So as John and the rest, forbidding him, seemed to be guilty of two no small errors:

  1. Envying for Christ’s sake, as Joshua did for Moses’s sake, Numbers 11:28, as John’s disciples did for their master’s sake, John 3:26, willing that Christ, and those whom he sent out, should have all the honour of those miraculous operations.

  2. Limiting the grace of Christ to that congregation which followed Christ, and the twelve; a thing that good men are too prone unto.

How much better was the spirit of Paul, who tells us, Philippians 1:15,18, that although some preached Christ of envy and strife, yet he rejoiced, and would rejoice, that Christ was preached, whether in pretence, or in truth. Christ would have all his people of such a spirit, as not to hinder, but commend, not to envy, but to rejoice in the doing of good by any, whether they did follow him or did not.

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I prefer a more charitable motivation of John - that he was anxious to keep Jesus' ministry pure and undefiled.

However, Jesus knew the bigger picture. Jesus looked after His own name and potential converts by answering the requests of charlatans/unbelievers who sought good for a person - tho to promote themselves.

Luke 9:49 (KJV) - And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

For me, the Gnostic "Gospel of Philip" addresses this situation:

If one goes down into the water and comes up without having received anything, and says "I am a Christian," he has borrowed the name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is demanded. This is the way [it happens to one] when he experiences a mystery.

And the case of one 'borrowing' Jesus'' name at interest is what, to me, explains this passage in Matthew:

Matthew 7:21-23

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Jesus was well aware of those who were 'borrowing' His name to do good for people (because Jesus was permitting it). Jesus would know the heart of the one seeking healing from a 'preacher' who did not Know Jesus/Holy Spirit, and that the healed person may come to truly believe in Jesus. And the 'false preacher' may actually come to believe also, perhaps.

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