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Would it be correct to say that the Bible reader would be mistakenly taking Matthew 21:21-22 out of context if she/he read and understood Matthew 21:21-22 by and in itself?

  • In other words, the bible reader will have to adhere to hermeneutic approaches of "scripture interprets scriptures" and/or intertextuality when she/he reads Matthew 21:21-22.

  • Also, the Bible reader would also have to view Matthew 21:22 as an example of using literary devices of hyperbole, figure of speech

To elaborate, in other closely related Bible verses the stipulation is that God's Will is the binding restraint that would decide if God would respond to a particular request in the affirmative. For example, 1 John 5:14 emphasizes "... if we ask anything according to His will..."

Even Jesus Christ Himself emphasizes in Mark 14:36 & Luke 22:42 that God's Will prevail over Jesus Christ's own request to not die.

Matthew 21:21-22 (New American Standard Bible 1995)

21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

1 John 5:14 (New American Standard Bible 1995)

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Mark 14:36 (New American Standard Bible 1995)

36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Luke 22:42 (New American Standard Bible 1995)

42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Would it be correct to say that the bible reader would be mistakenly taking Matthew 21:21-22 out of context if she/he read and understood Matthew 21:21-22 by and in itself?

  • In other words, the Bible reader will have to adhere to hermeneutics approaches of "scripture interprets scriptures" and/or intertextuality when she/he reads Matthew 21:21-22.

  • Also, the Bible reader would also have to view Matthew 21:22 as an example of using literary devices of hyperbole, figure of speech

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    You raise an interesting point. There are some scriptures, which, in their specific context, suggest certain implications. One might assume that they are 'theologically loaded' but if the context of the text itself leads to implications, then one has to accept those implications as a consequence.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 29, 2022 at 10:52
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    There's a theological saying: "A text without a context is a pretext".
    – Anne
    Mar 29, 2022 at 13:27

1 Answer 1

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The short answer is "YES" - that is always the case with almost any literature. One cannot read anything without some grasp of:

  • the time and culture in which it was written
  • the vocabulary
  • the language conventions
  • the overall milieu of the literature
  • the context of the literature and what other parts of similar documents have to say about the same topic.

... and so forth. This is as true for the Bible as any other literature. In the particular case of Matt 21:21, 22, a bald, literal reading of this might suggest the following erroneous ideas:

  • prayer to Jesus/God is equivalent to magic
  • prayer to Jesus/God who grants all requests is a system for increasing a person's selfishness
  • God has no say whether a prayer request is granted
  • This means we can instruct God what to do and have power over God

All these ideas a very wrong and quite blasphemous! As the OP correctly points out, the only prayers that are granted are those in keeping with God's sovereign will - it is therefore incumbent on the petitioner to discover God's will in order to act in keeping with that will!

As such, 1 John 5:14, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42 (as listed by the OP) are very appropriate.

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    The old joke is to read Matthew 27:5 and then read Luke 10:37b. +1 Mar 29, 2022 at 0:29
  • Well-said, upvoted +1 Mar 29, 2022 at 1:52
  • @MikeBorden nice =). I'd heard similar ones before but not that one. Mar 29, 2022 at 1:53
  • @MikeBorden - an "oldie but a goodie".
    – Dottard
    Mar 29, 2022 at 3:29

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