Determining what curses are real through a New Testament lens
The word “curse” is overused and under comprehended. Cursing can mean using words that are not acceptable to repeat in public. To curse can mean to call upon a perceived other-worldly power for the purpose of harming someone or something. Cursing can also mean the expression of great disdain and loathing for people or things. In Part II of our 3-part Curses Series, we observed in great detail how to properly understand cursing, especially the curses of God in the Old Testament. Today we dive into curses in the New Testament to find the differences and similarities with the Old Testament. Several people “cursed” in the New Testament, including Jesus. What does it all mean to us here and now? Are curses real today and if so, what should we do?
The idea that Jesus “cursed” people or things can be a disturbing one. To understand what is meant by this, it is important to focus on the usual areas of concern, definitions and context. The Jesus uses when he talks about curses is a convincing one. It means to “execrate” (to have great loathing for) by analogy, to doom. It comes from two Greek words that include a sense of calling down harm upon someone or something. In the pagan Greek and Roman culture of Jesus’ day, this word would carry a sense of gods and magic being involved. In Jesus’ case, it had everything to do with God’s will and God’s judgments.
What about that fig tree?
The day after Palm Sunday when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, he saw a fig tree and proclaimed it to become fruitless from that day forward. The following morning the tree was withered. Jesus, by the power of God’s spirit, “cursed” this tree to dramatically show that Israel (symbolically represented by the fig tree) would lose their favor with God, as they would reject and crucify Jesus. There are several other times Jesus uses this specific Greek word for curse.
The Apostle Paul also wrote several times about curses. He referenced Israel and the “curse of the Law,” as well as referencing curses regarding Christians who misrepresent or walk away from the gospel. What did he mean? Check out our September 27, 2021 podcast, “Can Christians be Cursed and Curse Others?” Curses Series (Part III) for more. We carefully categorize which words for curse mean what so that we can understand the messages behind them.
Also, we get practical for today’s world. Directly confronting the idea of curses existing today, we lay out what that means for Christians. This is tougher than you might think, because there are many scary and erroneous views that have influence in Christian culture. Can Christians be cursed? Do Christians have the authority to curse others? These important questions can only be answered by comprehensively understanding what the Scriptures really teach. Join us as we uncover the Bible’s truth on curses in the New Testament and what we as Christians need to know and do today!
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