Jesus Called His Disciples “Evil”
By Arthur J Licursi
Why does Jesus of Nazareth call His own believing disciples ‘evil’?
“If ye [Jesus’ disciples] then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13
Only a knowledgeable Bible believer who is truly spiritual in his understanding can understand why Jesus said what He did here in Luke 11:13, referring to His own believing disciples as “evil.”
Someone who is not regenerated (saved) but still carnal, may read this verse and say:
“This verse bugs me. I think I know the larger point that Jesus makes here, or perhaps it’s poorly translated, but it seems a bit harsh for Jesus to refer to mankind as “evil.” Evil? That’s tough stuff! But perhaps, to Jesus, we are evil.”
The Greek translation for the word “evil” is correct. The Greek expression for the word “evil” is ‘poneros,’ which is defined as “intentionally hurtful, causing pain and trouble, bad, in effect or in influence, of a bad condition, of a bad nature. In an ethical sense: evil, wicked, bad.”
We all, as believers, have at time done evil things but we are not evil persons as seen above.
A core truth of the Christian faith is that we are all born into this world as sinners. Our Sinful acts are ‘evil acts’ in God’s eyes because they are rooted in the sin-nature that is of Satan’s Sin-spirit “in the human flesh” of all mankind.
“… God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned SIN IN THE FLESH [bodies of all mankind]:” Romans 8:3
I personally consider very few people that I know as “evil,” though they may at times
do evil things, just as I may.
- We may say one “is evil” if their mind is consumed or are fully taken with using deceitful means to intentionally manipulate, hurt people and/or to divide people. This would apply to someone like Hillary Clinton who provenly staged the Russia collusion hoax, and many other such things for political purposes.
- By contrast, I view people who may use ‘evil practices’ such as resentment, disdain, anger, hostility, and/or unforgiveness, as likely being misinformed, misguided, or otherwise seduced, influenced, or deceived into “evil acts.”
Jesus, referring to ‘sin,’ could ask any of us; “Who of you could say “we have not done evil things at times,” even as Christians.” Have we not at one time or another lied, stolen, cheated, slandered another, or done worse? Jesus, knowing the human condition, said this;
“For out of the heart [of all men] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: Matthew 15:19
John wrote: 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him [God] a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:10 (KJV)
Paul wrote of us all: 10 … There is none righteous, no, not one: Romans 3:10. And, as the Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, similarly wrote to the Galatian believers;
19 Now the works of the flesh [of all mankind] are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like” Galatians 5:19-21a
So, it seems the bottom-line analysis of the Luke 11:13 text in Greek is that the Lord is in fact saying His disciples are “evil.”
I would suppose then that, even though we as grace believers know our sins are fully and forever forgiven due to faith in Christ’s crosswork… Christ’s view of His disciples as ‘evil’ also would apply to all of us due to our ‘latent sinful potential,’ due to our still living in human flesh bodies with “SIN IN THE FLESH” of Rom. 8:3b.
Admittedly, we are all a work in progress and, thankfully, the Lord knows this... always offering us His love, grace, forgiveness, and acceptance in Christ… while we are growing in grace and understanding. Thus, Paul says, “forgive I you in the person of Christ.” (2Cor 2:10).
Note below how that Jesus of Nazareth refused the title “good” for Himself in terms of his humanity. This likely was because He lived in human flesh like ours… yet He never sinned. In the Gospel of Mark, we have the following dialogue:
“And when he [Jesus] was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” Mark 10:17-18
I believe that this man in Mark chapter 10 likely regarded Jesus as an ordinary human, and as such Jesus corrects him, declaring that God alone is “good.”
Yet, as God, Jesus of Nazareth was “good” and obedient to the will of the Father and He never sinned.
21 For he [the Father] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin [never sinned]; [so] that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but [Jesus] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet WITHOUT SIN. Hebrews 4:15
Jesus did not mean His disciples were ‘absolutely evil’ and with nothing good working in them… He knew their hearts were open and they believed in Him. Likewise, the regenerated believer’s spirit is alive with Christ’s life, yet, we live still in bodies of sin-laden flesh.
Only God ALONE is absolutely good. In fact, the Lord is so good that we can barely be thought of as anything but ‘evil’ in the face of the Lord’s immense, total righteousness, and goodness.