Fools and their foolishness

by Mike Ratliff

37 Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee *asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. 39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. 40 You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. Luke 11:37-41 (NASB) 

In the visible church in our time the worst “sin” one can commit is to cause offense, that is, to offend someone even if all you are doing is speaking the truth. I know some professing Christians who say it is better to keep silent about nearly everything that can cause offense rather than speak the truth and cause division in the local Body of Christ. Jesus, as you can see in the passage above, Jesus did not hold to that.

Here is v40 from the passage above from the NA28 Greek text followed by my translation.

40 ἄφρονες, οὐχ ὁ ποιήσας τὸ ἔξωθεν καὶ τὸ ἔσωθεν ἐποίησεν; Luke 11:40 (NA28)

40 Fools, did not who made the outside also make the inside? Luke 11:40 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Now to get the context read the passage I placed at the top of this post.

The following is from Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words in reference to ἄφρονες which I translated as “Fools” and the NASB as “Foolish ones.”

Noun/Adjective: ἄφρων (aphrōn), GK 933 (S 878), 11x. As an adjective, aphrōn means “foolish, senseless,” but it is often used as a noun to mean “fool.” Whereas the root phrōn indicates wisdom, reason, or insight, the prefix a indicates a lack of wisdom, reason, or insight. It is important to note that aphrōn does not indicate a lack of knowledge but an inability to use it correctly.
The Bible portrays foolishness as the lack of a proper fear of God and understanding of his will; thus, Paul writes, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). In 2 Cor. 11:16, 19; 12,6, 11, Paul argues that if it were appropriate to foolishly boast in human accomplishments, he could boast more than all men. However, he chooses not to be a fool but to boast only in his weakness. Elsewhere he writes that the foolish person does not understand how God works in resurrecting the body (1 Cor. 15:36). Fool also receive instruction from those who know God’s law, but they do not obey it (Rom. 2:20, cf. vv. 17–24). Jesus declares that those who value outward purity over inward purity (Lk. 11:40) and the rich man who stores up earthly treasures instead of heavenly treasures 12:20) are both fools. Peter writes that doing good puts to silence the ignorance of the foolish (1 Pet. 2:15).

What is the Biblical remedy for this horrid condition? It is laid out for us all through the New Testament. We are to let God’s Word dominate our minds. Think of Romans 12:1-2.

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NASB) 

What about foolishness?

1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3 (NASB)

1 Ὦ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος; 2 τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφʼ ὑμῶν· ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως; 3 οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε; Galatians 3:1-3 (NA28)

1 O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as having been crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to learn from you; did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are you now being perfected in the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The word “foolish” in v1 describing the Galatians is the adjective ἀνόητοι (anoētoi) the vocative plural masculine case of ἀνόητος (anoētos), which means foolish or senseless.

The Judaizers had infiltrated the churches in Galatia and were undermining the ver core of Christianity, namely, justification by faith alone, teaching that to be Christians, Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes and obey the Mosaic Law. This appalled the Apostle Paul. The Galatians not only tolerated this heresy, they embraced it. Paul called them people without understanding, reason, and thought, people who had abandoned the very truth they had been taught.

There are attacks on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ continually. Justification by faith alone is under multiple assaults from our enemy. Many of these attacks are inside jobs. Those doing the attacks have big names with big ministries, but my brethren, they are nothing more than “foolish” Christian leaders who have countless “foolish” followers. These types of fools can be describe in several ways.

First, the fool is concerned about the abstract instead of the absolute. For many today, facts get int he way of unity. After all, it is argued, “Doctrine divides: love unites.” That is the height of folly because nothing is absolute, nothing is sure. An example of those in this came are those pushing for merging the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with Social Justice, which is nothing more than Cultural Marxism. I have talked with a few of those “pastors.” You can’t reason with them. If you can’t use the Bible to get them to see the truth then have they received the Spirit?

Second, the fool is concerned about wants instead of the Word. Many churches today are not even founded upon a ministry of the Word of God, rather upon what people want, such as entertainment and every appealing program imaginable. However, Scripture, of course, teaches none of that.

Third, the fool is concerned about transient feelings instead of true faith. Tragically, feelings drive many people’s belief systems; facts are not the issue, faith in what God says in His Word is not the issue, but rather how it makes them feel is the issue. Is is not the intellect that rules, but rather it is an impulse that rules. There is great zeal, but nothing real. These fools are the ones who have let mysticism into their form of the visible church. Mysticism teaching find God through visions and revelations.

If you are not a fool then your challenge is to be ruled by the truth of God’s Word alone and pray for those who are in the dark that God would have mercy on them and draw them into the light.

Soli Deo Gloria!