Study the following four points concerning fasting, and the texts which illustrate them.

1. Jewish people, including John the Baptist and Jesus, and Gentiles, strongly influenced by Jewish traditions, practiced fasting in New Testament times.

(Mat 4:1 NIV) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

(Mat 4:2 NIV) After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

(Luke 2:36 NIV) There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

(Luke 2:37 NIV) and then was a widow until she was eighty?four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

(Luke 18:9 NIV) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

(Luke 18:10 NIV) "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

(Luke 18:11 NIV) The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ’God, I thank you that I am not like other men??robbers, evildoers, adulterers??or even like this tax collector.

(Luke 18:12 NIV) I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

(Luke 18:13 NIV) "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ’God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

(Luke 18:14 NIV) "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

(Acts 10:30 NIV) Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me

(Acts 13:1 NIV) In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.

(Acts 13:2 NIV) While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

(Acts 13:3 NIV) So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

(Acts 13:1 KJV) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

(Acts 13:2 KJV) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

(Acts 13:3 KJV) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

(Acts 14:23 NIV) Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

(Acts 14:23 KJV) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

(2 Cor 6:4 NIV) Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;

(2 Cor 6:5 NIV) in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;

(2 Cor 6:6 NIV) in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;

(2 Cor 11:23 NIV) Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

(2 Cor 11:24 NIV) Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

(2 Cor 11:25 NIV) Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,

(2 Cor 11:26 NIV) I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.

(2 Cor 11:27 NIV) I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

(2 Cor 11:28 NIV) Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

2. For these people Jesus regulated fasting.

Please notice that these words do not occur in the parallel columns in Luke=s Gospel.

(Mat 6:1 NIV) "Be careful not to do your ’acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

(Mat 6:2 NIV) "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

(Mat 6:3 NIV) But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

(Mat 6:4 NIV) so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

(Mat 6:5 NIV) "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

(Mat 6:6 NIV) But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

(Mat 6:7 NIV) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

(Mat 6:8 NIV) Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

(Mat 6:9 NIV) "This, then, is how you should pray: "’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

(Mat 6:10 NIV) your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

(Mat 6:11 NIV) Give us today our daily bread.

(Mat 6:12 NIV) Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

(Mat 6:13 NIV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

(Mat 6:14 NIV) For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

(Mat 6:15 NIV) But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

(Mat 6:16 NIV) "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

(Mat 6:17 NIV) But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

(Mat 6:18 NIV) so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

3. Jesus, in a way similar to that of Isaiah, taught that fasting is a practice which is really not in keeping with the emphasis of New Testament theology. The emphasis of the New Testament is upon inward purity and upon joy.

Compare Romans 14.

(Rom 14:1 NIV) Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

(Rom 14:2 NIV) One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

(Rom 14:3 NIV) The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

(Rom 14:4 NIV) Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

(Rom 14:5 NIV) One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

(Rom 14:6 NIV) He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

(Rom 14:7 NIV) For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.

(Rom 14:8 NIV) If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

(Rom 14:9 NIV) For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

(Rom 14:10 NIV) You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

(Rom 14:11 NIV) It is written: "’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ’every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’"

(Rom 14:12 NIV) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

(Rom 14:13 NIV) Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

(Rom 14:14 NIV) As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.

(Rom 14:15 NIV) If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.

(Rom 14:16 NIV) Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.

(Rom 14:17 NIV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

(Rom 14:18 NIV) because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

(Rom 14:19 NIV) Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

(Rom 14:20 NIV) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

(Rom 14:21 NIV) It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

(Rom 14:22 NIV) So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

(Rom 14:23 NIV) But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

(Isa 58:1 NIV) "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.

(Isa 58:2 NIV) For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.

(Isa 58:3 NIV) ’Why have we fasted,’ they say, ’and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.

(Isa 58:4 NIV) Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

(Isa 58:5 NIV) Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

(Isa 58:6 NIV) "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

(Isa 58:7 NIV) Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?? when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

(Isa 58:8 NIV) Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

(Isa 58:9 NIV) Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

(Isa 58:10 NIV) and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

(Isa 58:11 NIV) The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun?scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well?watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

(Isa 58:12 NIV) Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age?old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

(Isa 58:13 NIV) "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

(Isa 58:14 NIV) then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

(Mat 9:14 NIV) Then John’s disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

(Mat 9:15 NIV) Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

(Mat 9:16 NIV) "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.

(Mat 9:17 NIV) Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

(Mark 2:18 NIV) Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"

(Mark 2:19 NIV) Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.

(Mark 2:20 NIV) But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

(Mark 2:21 NIV) "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.

(Mark 2:22 NIV) And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins."

(Luke 5:33 NIV) They said to him, "John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."

(Luke 5:34 NIV) Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?

(Luke 5:35 NIV) But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."

(Luke 5:36 NIV) He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.

(Luke 5:37 NIV) And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.

(Luke 5:38 NIV) No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.

(Luke 5:39 NIV) And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ’The old is better.’"

4. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles commanded or encouraged fasting among Gentile Christians. There are a few words and texts in some later Greek manuscripts which suggest that Jesus encouraged fasting or that Gentile Christians in Corinth practiced it. Such words and texts are considered spurious by most scholars, including the majority of Conservatives. It is obvious to most that these words and texts were added by later scribes who were influenced by a later emphasis on externals.

(Mat 17:19 NIV) Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn’t we drive it out?"

(Mat 17:20 NIV) He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ’Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

(Mat 17:21 NIV)

Mat 17:19 KJV) Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

(Mat 17:20 KJV) And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

(Mat 17:21 KJV) Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

(Mark 9:28 NIV) After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn’t we drive it out?"

(Mark 9:29 NIV) He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

(Mark 9:28 KJV) And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him

privately, Why could not we cast him out?

(Mark 9:29 KJV) And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but

by prayer and fasting.

(1 Cor 7:5 NIV) Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a

time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so

that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self?control.

(1 Cor 7:5 KJV) Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a

time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together

again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency