Tag Archive | stumble

The seed on stony ground which produces LIFE – Mark 4:16

True believers can believe for a while and fall away  

“Fall away” is a translation from the Greek word “skandalizo”. 

Mark 4:16-17 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who,  when they hear the word, immediately RECEIVE it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so ENDURE only FOR A TIME. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they STUMBLE (skandalizontai).

The Greek word translated as “receive” is the same Greek word below, also translated as “receive”.

John 1:12 But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them He gave the right to become “children of God… 

John 13:20 Most certainly I tell you, he who receives whomever I send, receives me; and he who receives me, receives him who sent me.” 

Rom 5:11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 

1 Cor 2:12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God.

The stony ground hearers were children of God as they endured for a time. The Greek word translated as “stumble” could also be translated as “fall away”. How can the stony ground hearers fall away from something they were never in? We see that these people heard the word, received the word and endured for a time, so these were genuine converts who stumbled due to persecution. Also below verses talk about a “falling away” based on “skandalizo”. 

 Matthew 24:9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Matt. 5:29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Matt 26: 31Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

1 Cor. 8:11And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

We can get confirmation from yet other verses that there will indeed be people who will end up in apostasy (apostasia) in the end of times:

2 Thess. 2:3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

1 Tim. 4:1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

The same parable is very similar in Luke and Matthew:

Luke 8:6And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Luke 8:13They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while BELIEVE, and in time of temptation fall away.

Matt. 13: 20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Since the seed sprung up it shows it produced a plant (life) and we can read that the hearer believed for a while. Something can’t “wither” unless it had life to start with. The word for BELIEVE is pisteuó and is also used in many other verses, such as these:

John 3:18  For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:36: One who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won’t see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 5:24 Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 6:40 This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 7:38 He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies.”

John 12: 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness.

John 14:12 Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.

We all stumble in many ways + No man can tame his tongue? (James 3:8)

We all stumble in many ways + No man can tame his tongue? (James 3:2 NIV + James 3:8)

Some people who are searching through the Bible in order to find verses which support sinning sometimes try to use the half verse in James 3:2 to persuade themselves and others that no one can ever stop sinning and/or that it’s not that serious if we fall.

It’s interesting that many of them despise the NIV version and vehemently explain what a terrible translation it is and yet they prefer to use NIV in THIS particular case since they prefer the word “stumble” before “offend” which the KJV uses. The rest of the passage in James 3:2 offers a solution to the problem, that if any man offend NOT in word then he is also able to bridle his whole body – which seems like a good idea. James doesn’t say this is impossible but compares with other situations where man has successfully made horses and even large ships obey him.

James 3:2 For in many things we OFFEND all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (KJV)

What does “offend all” mean? The transliteration is “ptaiomen”/”ptaió” which indeed means “to cause to stumble” or “stumble”. The only passages in the Bible where this word is used are in the following verses, apart from James 3:2:

  1. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
  2. Romans 11:11 I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.
  3. 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be more diligent to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.
  4. James 3:2 For in many things we OFFEND all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (KJV)

There are other Greek words that are translated as “sinning” and/or “falling away” such as “pipto” and “ekpipto” but they are not used here. Another significant word is “skandalizo”, which is often translated as “fall away” and “stumble” and this is used when Jesus tells his disciples “You will all fall away because of me this night” (Matthew 26:31 NAS). Skandalizo also is the word used in Mathew 24:10, where Jesus talks about a “falling away” in the end times maybe due to persecutions. “Skandalizo” is also used in Mark 4:17, where Jesus tells a parable about seed falling on rocky soil to describe believers who “fall away” in times of trials. In Luke’s parallel passage the Greek word behind “fall away” is “aphistemi” – the root from which the Greek word for apostasy is drawn. So there are words that contain a much more serious risk for a christian than the Greek word that is translated as “stumble” in James 3:2.

So let’s remember that when Jesus said “Sin no more” he uses a different Greek word than in James 3:2, and the same goes for other places in the Bible when we are told to avoid sinning such as when Paul said “Awake to righteousness and SIN NOT”. Stumbling doesn’t seem to be as serious as sinning or falling away.

Revelation 2:Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

No man can tame his tongue

Another verse that is often used to support sinning is “No man can tame his tongue” which is also mentioned by James. He explains that animals have indeed been tamed by man and man can even make horses obey and large ships, but when it comes to the tongue it seems generally impossible for man to tame it. But he doesn’t conclude that this is therefore normal behaviour and totally acceptable for a christian in any way. He says that the tongue boasts, that it can lit a fire, is a world of INIQUITY, DEFILES the body and it is set on fire of  HELL. Would James ever claim that this is a totally acceptable for true christians? Of course not! He says “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, THESE THINGS OUGHT NOT TO BE“. Of course James would never say that something that causes INIQUITY and defiles the body is accepted and normal. Iniquities always separate us from God!

If “no man can tame his tongue” means that it’s never possible to avoid lies and slander, then James is in contradiction with himself. He says a few verses later:

14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and LIE NOT against the truth”

Lie not? Didn’t James know that no man can tame his tongue and must always lie? Obviously James is not saying that it’s acceptable to not tame his tongue even if it seems generally impossible. He is saying that we should, because these things should NOT be so, and he says departing from the truth (which lying and slandering is) is DEVILISH, and not taming a tongue would result in envying and strife which is in turn the foundation of EVERY EVIL WORK. There is a famous commandment which says “You shall not LIE”. Is James saying that we can just as well forget about this commandment because no man can tame his tongue? Of course not. James says:

1:26″If any man among you seem to be religious, and BRIDLETH NOT HIS TONGUE, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain”.

The entire context from James 3:

2For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body3Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, THESE THINGS OUGHT NOT SO TO BE. 11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and LIE NOT against the truth. 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, DEVILISH16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and EVERY EVIL WORK17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.