Luke 9:50—Did Jesus contradict Himself when He referred to those who are for Him (cf. Luke 11:23)?

Problem: In Luke 9:50, Jesus says that “he who is not against us is for us.” Yet in Luke 11:23 Jesus says that “He who is not with Me is against Me.” Which position is correct?

Solution: First, Luke 9:50 is better translated “he who is not against you is for you.” The kjv translates the word “you” for “us,” but it is better translated the other way around. The original Greek is clear on which pronouns should be used. Most all Greek manuscripts older than the 8th century ?._. do not contain the “against us ... for us” rendition. If this is so, then the problem dissolves.

Second, the contexts of each particular account are different. In both passages, the casting out of demons are in view. In Luke 9, an individual who is not one of Christ’s 12 disciples is casting out demons in Christ’s name and John tried to stop him (9:49). Jesus instructed His disciples not to hinder him “for he who is not against us is for us.” In Luke 11 the situation is different. Here, Jesus has cast out a demon from someone and some people were saying that Jesus casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons (vv.14–15). The people here were against the work of the Lord while the man in Luke 9 was doing the work in the name of the Lord. One was for the Lord while others were against Him. Thus there is no real contradiction.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.