Fasting That Is Pleasing To The Lord: A NT Theology Of Fasting -- By: Sigurd Grindheim

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 58:4 (Dec 2015)
Article: Fasting That Is Pleasing To The Lord: A NT Theology Of Fasting
Author: Sigurd Grindheim

Fasting That Is Pleasing To The Lord:
A NT Theology Of Fasting

Sigurd Grindheim*

* Sigurd Grindheim is professor of NT at Fjellhaug International University College in Sinsenveien 15, 0572 Oslo, Norway

In this article I will argue that, as an expression of Christian piety, fasting is only appropriate in exceptional circumstances. It should not be a habitual expression of devotion to the Lord. Fasting belongs in the OT, but after the coming of Christ the appropriate sentiment for believers is joy, not grief. That is not to say that it is wrong for Christians to fast, but that it reflects a state that should not be a habitual one. Instead of fasting, Christians should express their piety through joy and through sharing their resources with those in need.

After a brief overview of fasting in the OT, I will discuss the implications of Jesus’ words about fasting in Mark 2:19–20 par. Next, I will examine the references to fasting in the rest of the NT and see if they reflect an exceptional or a habitual practice. In the final section, I will sketch the outlines of a new kind of fasting. Without ignoring individual differences in expression, emphasis, and focus, my argument will assume the basic unity and coherence of the NT theological witness.

I. Fasting In The OT

In the OT, fasting frequently accompanies prayer (2 Sam 12:16, 21, 22, 23; Isa 58:4; Jer 14:12; 36:6; Joel 1:14; Esth 4:16; Ezra 8:21, 23; Neh 1:4; 2 Chr 20:3). Fasting is associated with mourning (1 Sam 31:13; 2 Sam 1:12; Zech 7:5; Esth 4:3; 9:31; 1 Chr 10:12) and humility (1 Kgs 21:27, 29; Isa 58:3, 5; Ps 35:13

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