Was Jesus cruel to the Canaanite woman? (Mark 7:24-30; Matthew 15:21-28)

Was Jesus cruel to the Canaanite /Phonecian woman by calling her a “dog” in Mark 7:24-30/Matthew 15:21-28?

In order to understand this passage properly, one must look at the context of what happened right before it in Mark 7:14-23 /Matthew 15:10, 15-20.    That pericope also flows naturally from what came before it in Mark 7:1-13/Matthew 15:1-9.  One could title the whole passage this way, breaking down the passage into three sections, because they relate to one another:

Mark 7:1-13 – the Word of God /Scripture is above all human traditions

Mark 7:14-23 – True cleanliness has to begin in the heart.  Our hearts are naturally unclean and sinful and sin begins in the heart of evil thoughts and motives, selfishness, lusts, pride, greed, jeolousy – the hidden internal sins.  They come out from us in our words and actions.  Uncleanliness is more an internal matter rather than external washings.  External washings cannot cleanse the heart.  We have to realize our hearts are sinful and that sin starts with evil thoughts and the selfish motives.

Mark 7:24-30 – Jesus tests the disciples’ racial pride in the heart by interaction with a Canaanite/Phoenician woman.

Mark 7:14-30

14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He *said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.

Mark 7:19 is pointing to more than foods – “by saying this, He declared all foods clean” – He is pointing to the acceptance of eating other foods with Gentile cultures, foods that were considered unclean in the OT are now no longer forbidden to eat. Jesus is telling the Jews to reach out to Gentile cultures and nations. Acts chapters 10-11 also shows this. Food is a deep part of culture. Accepting someone’s food and hospitality from another culture breaks down prejudice and is a great way to open doors for evangelism in other cultures. Jesus deliberately leaves Israel proper and goes into pagan areas of Tyre and Sidon where the Phoenicians (Canaanites) are. (Mark 7:24-30) This explains Jesus’ statement that, by itself, seems cruel (calling the Canaanite woman a dog, etc.), but He was mainly testing the Jewish disciples to see if they had learned the lesson of sinful uncleanliness in the heart.  The Jewish culture thought external washings of the hands and body made one clean before God.  Many other cultures and religions think this also today.  Islam has many ritual washings before they pray. But that external ritual cannot cleanse the heart.

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”  Mark 7:20-23

He also is testing her, and she passed the test by her attitude of humility and accepting the truth that she also is a sinner, “a dog”, so to speak.  (the form of the Greek word for “dog” here is the diminutive (small, petite) form, which meant a “house dog, small dog”, “pet dog”, not the wild street dogs.   She didn’t complain or whine about past injustices of the Jews, nor throw out the modern charge of “racism” or racial hatred or prejudice.  She realized she did not deserve mercy.  She realized she was from a wicked and pagan culture, a false religious system.  She was admitting she is a sinner, by agreeing she is a “dog”.  “Yes, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs from the table.”  (Matthew 15:27) She knew God is merciful, and apparently even knew about the law of Israel that said the Jews were to let the poor and foreigners graze the corners of their fields.  (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19; Ruth 2:2-7)   The Canaanite woman recognized Jesus for who is really is, calling Him “the Son of David” (the Messiah) and “Lord” (Greek: kurios) (Hebrew: Yahweh).  (Matthew 15:22, 23, 27; Mark 7:28)  

Mark 7:20-23 lists pride and foolishness in the list of internal sins. The sin of racial hatred of other cultures and ethnicities comes from sinful pride/arrogance/conceit.  Thinking one is better than another people group or ethnicity or skin color is sinful and arrogant.   Jesus was deliberately testing that in the disciples hearts.

Acts chapters 10-11 demonstrate this principle also.  The relation of food to a people group/ethnicity/culture is obvious in the passage.  The Lord was preparing Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, an ethnic Italian/Latin/Roman for the gospel.   The Lord gave Peter a vision of all kinds of animals (Acts 10:10-12), many were considered unclean and prohibited by the Mosaic Law for a Jew to eat.  Jesus told Peter, “rise, kill and eat”(Acts 10:13).  Peter said, “by no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unclean or unholy.”  (Acts 10:14) When Jesus says – “what God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:15) – He is pointing to the people/ethnicity – “no longer consider the Gentile nations unclean, but go and reach out to them with the gospel”.  “be willing to eat their food with them and talk to them about the gospel”.   The message of both Acts chapters 10-11 and Mark 7:24-30/Matthew 15:21-28 is – “don’t think the Gentiles cultures and ethnicities are unclean as people, rather reach out to them with the gospel, and eat their food with them, spend time with them, accept and give hospitality, and love them and share the gospel with them.”  Mark 7:19 – “by saying this, He declared all foods clean” – he was pointing to the pagan Gentile cultures, and by immediately going to the areas of Tyre and Sidon (modern Lebanon), the area the Romans called “Syro-Phoenicia”, Jesus shows He was deliberately going into an area and culture that ate different foods and the people were different ethnically, so He could test the disciples to see if they had learned the lesson of racial hatred and arrogance in the heart, which He had just taught them on in Mark 7:20-23.  

In Matthew 15:23, the attitude of the disciples is revealed.  Jesus was quiet at first, because He wanted to draw out a response from the disciples and expose their hearts.  (Matthew 15:17-20)  “But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” (Matthew 15:23)  The Jewish disciples did not want to deal with her.  She was a Canaanite or Phoenician, which was a very pagan culture and a cursed people in the Old Testament.  They were Canaanites in the land of Israel, and they were called Phoenicians outside of the land borders of Israel.  God judged them for their wicked religion (Deuteronomy 7, 9, Joshua), but even then, God waited 400 years to judge them, giving them opportunity to repent – Genesis 15:13, 16-18 – “for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”  The reason God took the Jews to Egypt for 400 years was to have mercy on the wicked pagan nations within the land of Canaan.  Even before the command to take the land of Canaan in the book of Joshua, God saved Rahab and her family because of their faith in the true God of Israel.  (Joshua chapter 2)

When Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24), He was testing her and the disciples; He did not mean “forever”.  He was expressing the principle of God blessing His covenant people the Jews first, but He clearly taught that the disciples were to reach out to other nations.  (Matthew 24:14; 28:19)  You can almost hear the disciples nodding their heads and saying, “yeah, the Messiah is only for the Jews, the lost sheep of Israel”.  But Jesus shows this was not true.  God, from the beginning, said to Abraham, “I will bless you, . . . so that you will be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.”  (Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10)  See also Psalm 67, 96:3; Isaiah 49:6.

But the Gospel of Matthew itself shows a theme of the kingdom of God spreading to all the nations/Gentiles – By the mention of 3 women in Jesus’ geneology that were from foreign ethnicites – Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabites, and Bathsheba was he wife of Uriah the Hittite.  (Matthew 1:3-6); the Magi (probably made up of several people groups from the Persian Empire – wise men from different people groups -Persians, Medes (the modern Kurds come from the Medes), Arabs, Babylonians, and Assyrian peoples).  (Matthew 2:1-12)  See also Matthew 4:14 (Galilee of the Gentiles); Matthew 8:5-12 (healing of a Roman Centurion’s servant); Matthew 10:18 (after Jesus told the disciples to only go to the lost sheep of Israel in Matthew 10:5, He says that eventually, they will go to the Gentiles,  “you will go before kings and governors as a testimony to the Gentiles/nations”.  This shows that the command in Matthew 10:5 was temporary and was for a short-term missions trip to their own culture first.  The Jewish disciples needed to learn to reach out to their own culture first, then later they will go to the Gentiles/nations); Matthew 12:17-21 (quoting Isaiah 42, that the Messiah will be a light to the nations and bring justice to the nations); Matthew 24:14 – “this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the nations first, and then the end shall come.”; and Matthew 28:19 – “therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations”.

I actually had already written an earlier article on this issue.   (with more details)

Therefore, Paul William’s post here has been refuted. 

Also, point # 2 of the “8 things” that “The Friendly Atheist” posted by an apostate former pastor has also been refuted.  

Posted in Apologetics, Historical reliability of the Bible, missions, Other cultures | Leave a comment

Feminist and Lesbian, Camille Paglia: “Homosexuality is not an inborn trait.”

Dennis Prager interviewed Camille Paglia recently on his radio show.  She is one of the early pioneers of the modern feminism of the 1960s and one of the first open Lesbian college professors.   It was refreshing to hear her honesty and point of view.  She says what most of us really know, that “homosexuality is not an inborn trait”, but media political correctness and government force (manipulation of the court system) and intimidation are now the norm.

Posted in Homosexuality, Politics | Leave a comment

He Cannot Deny Himself, 2 Timothy 2:8-19, by John Piper

Read the whole sermon here:  He cannot Deny Himself, at DesiringGod.org

He Cannot Deny Himself

John Piper

2 Timothy 2:8–19

“8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. 14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Read the whole sermon at www.DesiringGod.org

Piper makes 5 points:

Foundation stone #1: Jesus Christ, the son of David, is risen from the dead and reigns over the world forever.

In other words, “Remember Jesus and think about Him a lot; and think about His resurrection from the dead and His roots of Messiahship as a descendent of David, who was King over Israel. “

Foundation stone #2: Preachers may be bound. The word of God is not.

Foundation stone #3: God has his elect in this world, and your ministry will be the instrument that brings them to eternal glory.

Foundation stone #4: God cannot deny himself. Trust him and your salvation is as sure as his commitment to his name.

Foundation stone #5: This divine seal, “The Lord knows those who are his.” And the evidence you are his: “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Excerpt from Foundation Stone # 3:

Foundation Stone #3

Verse 10: “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
You might think Paul is simply building on the previous foundation stone here, but look carefully at the words he uses, and ask why? He could have said, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the church.” Or, “I endure everything for the lost.” But he chose the word “elect”. Why? “I endure everything for the sake of the elect.” Because the tone of this text is one of triumph and confidence and certainty. That is how he is trying to help Timothy. The word elect means: God has a people. He has chosen them before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Timothy, in this ministry we cannot fail. God will call his elect.

We must be so careful when handling weighty doctrines like election. And Paul shows us how right here. He guards from two mistakes. One is the mistake of saying, “Well, if there are people chosen before the foundation of the world, then we don’t need to risk our lives to save them.” Paul says just the opposite: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.” The certainty that there are elect does not make me stop preaching or stop suffering, it makes me confident that my preaching and my suffering will not be in vain. The elect will obtain salvation (see Acts 13:48; 18:10).

And the other mistake he guards us against is saying: “Well if Paul must preach and suffer to persuade lost people to believe in Jesus and be saved, then there can be no eternal election. All there is is people’s own choice.” But Paul says the opposite: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.” My commitment to suffer for the gospel does not mean no one has been chosen to believe it. It means I am God’s instrument to save those who are.

And then he adds one more phrase to encourage Timothy to press on in his work: “. . . that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Remember, Timothy, you are leading the elect to eternal glory. And you are one of them. And therefore you too will have eternal glory. Or as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Don’t begrudge your short suffering in this life. It is preparing for you an eternal weight of glory.

So foundation stone #3 is that the victory of the gospel is sure not only because Christ is risen as the eternal king, and not only because the word of God is not bound, but also because, from all the undeserving sinners in the world, God has chosen a people for eternal glory. Endure everything, Timothy, and you will be the instrument of their salvation.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

Posted in Evangelism, Gospel Truth, Ministry, Sanctification/Holy living, Suffering and God's Sovereignty | 4 Comments

Hope for the sensitive, guilty-feeling, introverted, introspection-prone soul

Jesus said:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


Jesus said:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”  John 5:24

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  John 14:27

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 5:1

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption”  1 Corinthians 1:30

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  

2 Corinthians 5:21

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?  2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  [Genesis 15:6]   4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” [Psalm 32:1-2a]

Romans 4:1-8 

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”  1 Peter 3:18

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices * which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  Hebrews 10:10-14

* Note:  “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices” – Notice the present tense, showing the priests and the sacrificial system in the temple in Jerusalem was still going on at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, which shows it was written well before 70 AD, when the temple was destroyed.  Hebrews was probably written about 68 AD.

Posted in Justification, Salvation, The Atonement of Christ | Leave a comment

Why Do you think Christianity is True? John Piper

Here is an excellent few minutes of why Christianity is true by John Piper, in which he gives three compelling reasons.  


Posted in Apologetics, Truth | Leave a comment

Refuting Paul Bilal Williams on Luke 18 and the doctrine of justification

Ken Temple:

Luke 18:9-14 – “Be Propitious toward me, the sinner!”

Time to re-post this important article, as it relates to both Muslim’s arguments and Roman Catholic arguments. Please also make sure to see the article on this at Beggar’s All.

Originally posted on apologeticsandagape:

The British convert to Islam, Paul Bilal Williams thinks that Jesus’ teaching on justification ( Jesus mentions justification in Luke 18:14) is different than the apostle Paul’s teaching on justification by faith.   He has written several articles on this issue and Luke 18:9-14, and within one of his articles, he brings up Luke 18:9-14 here.

Note:  Paul Williams took down his wordpress blog and left Islam for a few days, then repented and came back to Islam after creating a new blog.  www.bloggingtheology.org


I also already responded to this article, and refuted Paul Williams here, at another blog that I am a part of the blogging team. 

Also he asked me about what Jesus taught on justification and what Paul the apostle taught on justification recently in the com- boxes of the article, “The Qur’an Speaks about earlier Revelations”.  (as of me writing this, we are…

View original 1,357 more words

Posted in Apologetics, Islam, Justification, Muslims, Repentance, Roman Catholicism, Salvation | 1 Comment

Islam could not get rid of the concept of sacrifice, ransom, or substitutionary atonement

The Islamic sources could not completely get rid of the concept of sacrifice, ransom, or substitutionary atonement in their texts of the Qur’an nor Hadith collections, because it was so clearly taught in the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures.

Muslims like Paul Williams, Shabir Ally, and Jamal Badawi say, that the Christian idea of substitutionary atonement is wrong and unjust and does not make sense.

“The Christian idea that guilt can be removed from a wrongdoer by someone else being punished instead is morally grotesque.”   Paul Williams writes that here, called “The Supreme Maxim of Christianity”. 

Then why do these Islamic Hadiths clearly say that Allah will forgive the sins of Muslims and save them from hell by punishing Jews and Christians in their place?

“Abu Musa’ reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: When it will be the Day of Resurrection Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: That is your rescue from Hell-Fire.”  (Hadith, Sahih Muslim, Book 37, no. 6665)

“Abu Burda reported on the authority of his father that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: No Muslim would die but Allah would admit in his stead a Jew or a Christian in Hell-Fire. ‘Umar b. Abd al-‘Aziz took an oath: By One besides Whom there is no god but He, thrice that his father had narrated that to him from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him).”
(Hadith, Sahih Muslim, Book 37, no. 6666.)

“Abu Burda reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There would come people amongst the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection with as heavy sins as a mountain, and Allah would forgive them and He would place in their stead the Jews and the Christians. (As far as I think), Abu Raub said: I do not know as to who is in doubt. Abu Burda said: I narrated it to ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, whereupon he said: Was it your father who narrated it to you from Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him)? I said: Yes. ” (Hadith, Sahih Muslim, Book 37, no. 6668.)   

And why does the Qur’an also mention the idea of substitutionary sacrifice in Surah Al Saffat 37:107 ?

“We have ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice”

وَفَدَيْنَـهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ
“We have ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.”
Qur’an 37:107
فَدَيْنَـهُ = “we ransomed him”
بِذِبْحٍ = بِ =b = “with” or “by”;

ذِبْحٍ = sacrifice, slaughter, slain victim

(The cognate Hebrew word for sacrifice is similar, ZBH, זֶבַח

عَظِيم = “great”, “mighty”, “tremendous”

which is about the innocent ram being substituted for Abraham’s son, and comes from Genesis 22, and is also taught in the Jewish scriptures and in history in Exodus 12 (Passover) and Leviticus (chapters 1-7, 16-17) and the temple sacrifices (1 Kings 8) and the prophesies of the suffering Servant/ Messiah (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22) ?

Jesus, Al Masih  عیسی المسیح was the final perfect sacrifice.  Al Masih fullfilled all the OT sacrifices and system.

Yahya یحیی (Prophet John the Baptizer) said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  John 1:29

For More, see:

A Muslim distorts the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18.

Why Did Allah Substitute an innocent ram for Abraham’s son? 



Posted in Apologetics, Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Islam, Muslims, The Atonement of Christ | 6 Comments