posted on Jul, 3 2020 @ 05:01 PM
“He who is not with me is against me” (Matthew ch24 v30)
“He that is not against us is for us” (Mark ch9 v40).
Jesus made these two declarations on different occasions. Some people try to make them out as contradictory. I must admit that I’ve never been able
to see what these people are getting at. Surely they’re just two ways of saying the same thing?
By way of illustration, let’s take a coin, an ordinary coin. The Queen’s head on one side, of course. REGINA and FID DEF and D.G. and all that.
Something else on the other side. The old penny had Britannia waving a spear. The old thruppenny bit, now reduced to rhyming slang, used to have a
Anyway, those are the options. The coin will come up “Heads” or “Tails”. If you find it comes up “Heads” every time, you are a character
in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead”, and should consult your dramatist as a matter of urgency.
The result can be described as follows; “If the coin does not land Heads, it lands Tails” or “If the coin does not land Tails, it lands
Heads”. These are just alternate ways of saying the same thing, literally two sides of the same coin. How are the two statements at the top of the
page any different?
I suppose the thought in many minds is “But what about the great mass of neutrals? Surely Jesus is treating them as ‘against me’ in the first
statement and ‘for me’ in the second?” But in that case they’re missing the point of the declaration; either way of putting it, there is no
such thing as a neutral, so the question doesn’t arise. The coin does not fall on its edge, or does not stay there very long.
I think the real problem is that people are taking short statements in isolation and interpreting the words legalistically, instead of looking at the
context to understand the meaning. Always a mistake. Let
us spread the net a little wider and look at the context in both cases.
“The Pharisees said ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons’… [But Jesus said] “If it is by the
Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you… He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather
with me scatters” (Matthew ch12 vv24-30).
“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name’… But Jesus said ‘Do not forbid him; for no-one who does a mighty
work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us’” (Mark ch9 vv38-40).
Almost immediately one more factor occurs to me. Modern readers are allowing themselves to be confused between two different meanings of the English
word “with”. In the first quotation, “not with” means “not fighting on the same side”. The man in the second quotation is not part of the
group immediately surrounding Jesus, so he can be described as “not with” in a physical sense. If you don’t appreciate that there is a
difference, then the first “not with” is “against Jesus” and the second “not with” is “for Jesus”, and that’s the supposed
If we look at the quotations in detail, it becomes clear that the Pharisee and the man casting out demons are two entirely opposite characters.
The first is “scattering”, but the second is clearly “gathering”.
The first is against the act of casting out demons, the second is casting out demons himself.
The first is speaking evil against Jesus, the second will not be able to speak evil against him.
The first is not going to do anything “in the name of Jesus”, the second is known to be working in his name.
Finally, the first denies, and the second must be accepting, the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
If they are such complete contraries, it makes perfect sense that Jesus should say “One of them is for me, and the other one is against me”.