Punctuate this.

Add the missing punctuation to Jesus’ saying:

take heed that no one deceives you for many shall come in my name saying I am the Christ and will deceive many

If you’re like most people familiar with the verse, you probably punctuated it in the way that’s been traditional in most translations of Matt. 24: 4b-5, something like:

Take heed that no one deceives you, for many shall come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.

However, of course, the original Greek had no punctuation except (occasionally) for the ends of sentences. The King James Version, in fact renders it without quotation marks:

Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Are you beginning to get a different feel for the verse yet? What if the best translation were actually like this:

Take heed that no one deceives you, for many shall come in my name, saying that I am the Christ, and will deceive many.

Could Jesus have meant that the deception would be from future people coming in his name, saying that he is the Christ? I think this might well be what he meant. Consider the traditional translation again. “Many shall come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ.'” There’s a disconnect between the fact that Jesus says the deceivers come in his name, very plainly, and that they’re apparently claiming themselves, not him, to be the Christ. That sounds unlikely for the “many” who come in his name, and not their own.

In contrast, the simple translation “come in my name, saying I am the Christ,” implies that the deception comes from people coming in Jesus’ name, saying that he is the Christ.

What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe nothing. The traditional translation seems right because in Matt. 16, Peter recognizes Jesus as the Christ, and Jesus congratulates and blesses him for receiving the grace to see it.

Yet the canonical gospels also record that Jesus’ deepest prayer was that all of his disciples would attain the same unity with God, him, and each other, that he had, (John 17.21-23), and that they would do greater things than he (John 14.12).

The deception is that Jesus is the only one who is to be Christ. Paul went to great pains to show that all of us are to be Christ with him. Every master intends for his disciples to learn what he teaches, and to be able to do what he does. Let’s get on with it. Take away the sins of the world. Forgive. Heal. Love radically. It’s your turn to be the Christ.

12 thoughts on “Punctuate this.

  1. ‘That sounds unlikely for the ?many? who come in his name, and not their own.’

    D’oh! Well whadya know?

    It doesn’t make any sense to say that the “many” would come in Christ’s name and then call themselves Christs. They wouldn’t do that if they were coming in his name. You’re right. It’s contradictory.

    The other interpretation (punctuation) makes much more sense.

  2. wow man thats a mindblowing way to read this and actually makes a lot of sense with how i experience and understand the christian path at any rate good find is that something you came across on your own

  3. A wonderful and insightful reading 🙂 It makes much more sense now. Thank you, and I am adding you to my blogroll.

    Peace and Many Blessings!

  4. Thanks, all, and welcome, Irving!

    Trev, no, I first heard this idea from a Universal Life Church minister on a You Tube video. I forgot his name, but I remembered his idea.

  5. Luke 6:40 The disciple is not above his master, but everyone who is perfect(complete) shall be as his master.
    Ephesians 4:13 Til we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect(complete) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
    Romans 8:29 For whom He did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son.
    Galatians 4:19 …til Christ be formed in you
    Philippians 3:8 …that I may win Christ
    3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the out-resurection(exanastasis; Strong’s Concordance 1815, used no where else in the Bible).

  6. Hi Jon. I always enjoy reading your site. It has been awhile but glad to be back. Hope you are doing well.

  7. Matthew 16:13-17 “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Phillipi, He asked His deciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? So they said, “Some say John the Babtist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, ” But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (New King James version)

    It would seem that this verse in the gospel of Matthew is saying something very different than what you are implying by your rearangement of puncuation. Were the writers of the New Testement playing games with us and contradicting themselves or could it be that those who have supplied punctuation in the New testiment are actually correct and that you are not?

  8. Hey. I enjoy reading your blog. I just wanted to share that I did a study on “the many” a while back which might interest you, and I’d enjoy discussing it further if you have comments or opinions that vary from mone. I am pretty open minded. Here is a small piece…

    And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5 KJV)

    In this passage, Jesus launches the outline of the end and begins by addressing the deception that the many will release upon the called. He tells us that many will come in His “character” or “likeness” and their purpose, whether known to them or not, is to deceive. It is the appearance of being “in Christ” that will enable them to flourish in our midst. It is in this subtle companionship with erroneous doctrine that deception can thrive; But, remember rule number one. If Jesus said that it is going to happen, than it will and must occur.

  9. Man, you got my head going! Just stumbled upon this post and it is deep.

    To be Christ is very dangerous. To heal, forgive, love, to participate in theosis, that’s some powerful stuff. Don’t be surprised if evangelicals raise the roof on this since it means we can no longer just “lean on Jesus”, but to share in His sufferings and glory.

    Great piece. Peace!

  10. I think you’ve got it, Dangerous. The more I read the Gospels, the clearer it seems to me that Jesus was describing himself as a trailblazer, that everything he was and was becoming, we could and should as well.

    But that is “Dangerous Christianity,” and it’s safer to think and teach that he was a separate species, the one and only Homo theos, utterly unique, to be worshiped because he can not be emulated. It may sound like orthodoxy and feel like humility, but it can easily become a cover for passivity or a bond to mediocrity.

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