The Centurion Stories

Are they the same?

by Lura Langenback


Over the years, one of the things that has stuck out like a sore thumb is that people tend to listen to others and take their word for what the Bible says rather than read it themselves. I have no idea why that is...not enough time, don't have a Bible, kids getting too rowdy, fighting about finances, whatever the reason, people are not reading the Bible and studying it for themselves. God is quite clear that we need to do our own studying.

2Ti 2:15 Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (New King James)

What happens if you need to know something from your Bible but have no idea because you did not study it? What if you are needing to know this thing in order to save your life? What if someone else needs to know this in order to obtain salvation and you are the only person they will listen to? We all should be in our Bibles daily, praying and studying to show ourselves approved to God. However, life does enter in, doesn't it? It takes us away from things that are tremendously important, like talking to God, to focus on the small things that are not as important.

What is the result? A person who allows the world to enter in will not have the knowledge necessary to combat the problems at hand. And then the problems tend to multiply instead of being solved. If we do not have the knowledge that we need for a certain problem, the enemy wins and you lose....the house, the car, your job, a child who is on drugs, any number of things that could have been dealt with according the Lord.

The problem arises when a person will listen to someone, like the pastor or preacher, and believe everything the person says without checking out the references in their own Bible. I have already dealt with this subject before concerning Christmas plays. Those are the ones that everyone believes are at least partly or mostly accurate when, in fact, they are rarely very accurate at all.

Recently, I was doing a Bible study on the story of the Centurion. You know the story, don't you?Jesus is coming to Capernaum when a Centurion comes to Him and begs Him to say the Word and his servant will be healed. When Jesus says He will go with the man to his home, the Centurion tells Jesus that he isn't worthy enough for Jesus come to his home. He is a man under authority and has authority. The Centurion stated that if he told his soldier to go, he would go. If he told him to stay, he would stay. At that point, Jesus marvels at how there is not such great faith in all of Israel.

Simple story, isn't it? According to what I learned over the years and read for myself, this story is portrayed in Matthew 8:5-13 and again in Luke 7:1-10. But when someone asked me to look up this story for them, I was led to Luke 7 first. When I read that story, it became abundantly clear that either there was a discrepancy in the scriptures or the stories, although similar, were not the same story at all??? I was actually shocked at first. I had read these stories over and over again and had not seen this before. What is the problem here? The first one is that I listened to others tell me that the stories were the same so I just assumed that they were. So, how can I prove that these stories are completely different even though Jesus says similar things and He is near Capernaum in each case?

Above, I told you how the story goes in Matthew. Now in Luke, the Centurion does not come to Jesus. In fact, he sends elders of the Jews to seek out Jesus to heal his servant. The elders tell the Lord that the Centurion is highly regarded among the Jews and that he has built them a synagoge. This shows that the man has a great deal of money and is willing to use it to help people. Jesus decides to go with the elders. When they come near the home of the Centurion, he sends out friends of his to tell Jesus that his home is not worthy for Jesus to come, that he is likewise not worthy for Jesus to see. However, he says that he is under authority and has authority over others. When he says go, they do. When he says stay, they do. This is a mindset that appears to be common with the officers of the Roman army.

These stories are, indeed, similar. Yet, there are many differences. In Matt., the Centurion comes face to face with Jesus. In Luke, he feels unworthy to see Jesus in person. Instead, he sends out elders of Israel. In the first, we do not know much about the Centurion. In the second, we know that he is well connected, fairly wealthy and has servants. There are other differences. For instance:

The word "servant" is translated differently in Matt. and Luke. The first one is, according to Strongs dictionary, translated like this:



Perhaps from G3817; a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy) a girl, and (generally) a child; specifically a slave or (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God): - child, maid (-en), (man), son, young man.

In the Luke account it is translated like this:



From G1210; a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): - bond (-man).

As you can see, the words are very different both in the word itself and in the translation. In the New King James version, they use the word "son" for the word "servant". As we understand it, the New King James was written from the original text.

For years, I was mistaken in what I was reading because I believed those who preached and taught on this. I saw movies portraying this story. Actually, I was seeing only the Matthew version. Because I listened to the person and did not check it out for myself, I even read the stories and believed that I was reading the same account still not seeing any differences at all.

The lesson here is that we must learn to check all things out for ourselves. Why? Two reasons.
1) Because this is where the idea of the Bible being inconsistent comes from.
2) Because even the most trusted preacher, pastor, priest, friend or stranger is human and subject to mistakes just like the one I have been making for years.
We have to learn to trust what we read and study for ourselves, not in someone who may have good intentions but may be very wrong.

If you are reading this and do not know the Lord Jesus as your very personal Savior, please seek Him by asking forgiveness for your sins and asking Him into your heart today. He is waiting on you! He loves you so much. There is no sin that you have committed that He won't forgive. Just ask Him! And if you have already asked Him into your heart but are no longer living the way you should, come back to the Lord. He still loves you and is waiting on you to seek His Face. When you have done that, get out your Bible and start to read. Believe me, it is worth every minute that you do it.