Persistent Petition (The Parable of the Unjust Judge) -- By: Curtis Mitchell
(The Parable of the Unjust Judge)
[*Editor's note: Curtis Mitchell, B.A. (Biola University), B.D. (Talbot Theological Seminary), Th.M. (Western Seminary), Th.D. (Grace Theological Seminary). Dr. Mitchell taught at Biola University for nearly 25 years and has contributed scholarly articles to journals such as Bibliotheca Sacra and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.]
This parable, recorded in Luke 18:1–8, is generally associated with the parable of the Persistent Friend (Luke 11:5–13). If anything, the parable of the Unjust Judge teaches persisting in prayer even more surely and more graphically. Some men who deny persistence in prayer in the former parable freely acknowledge it here.1 It is perhaps the most picturesque of our Lord’s parables on prayer.
Though a few men deny the immediate chronological sequence,2 all recognize that this parable must be seen in the light of Christ’s discussion with His disciples in Luke 17:22–37. The Lord had been describing to His disciples the conditions that would prevail at His second advent. In that day, men will be persisting in the normal and usual habits of life, even as they did in the times of Noah and Lot. As in those days, indifference to God and immorality will prevail. Suddenly, this immoral indifference will be shattered by Christ’s second coming in judgment. Having instructed His disciples on the nature of these eschatological times, the Lord proceeds to give practical lessons to His followers. While the day may be characterized by indifference, those who choose to follow in His steps are exhorted to pray persistently.
The basic thrust of the parable is to show that though the heavens appear to be silent, and prayers seem to fall on deaf ears, God, much more surely than the unjust judge, will respond to persistent prayer. In short, “men ought always to pray and not faint” (Luke 18:1). Thus Christ, in a departure from His normal procedure, declares explicitly the reason for giving the parable before it was uttered. The word “ought” (πρὸ̀ τὸ δειν) indicates not merely the duty, but the necessity of persistence in prayer 3 The word, “always” (πάντοτε), refers not to unending prayer so much as praying persistently in spite of temptation to cease praying through a d...
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