A Question I Was Asked:

'Can You Explain Luke 11:12 in relation to Luke 10:19?'

The Actual Question

'Could you help to explain Luke 11:12, especially as it relates back to Luke 10:19? You have said to allow the Bible to interpret itself, so I'm thinking that in 10:19, "snakes" and "scorpions" represent Satan, and in verse 11:12 an "egg" represents the Holy Spirit and again, "scorpion" represents Satan. Jesus is speaking directly to his desciples in these verses, but do these verses also apply to us directly, and how are we to apply them?'

My Reply

Luke 11:12 is a very good example of where the context explains any seeming scriptural difficulty. Look at the context from Luke 11:1. This section is all about prayer and how God answers it. Forget Luke 10:19 which has no obvious connection although both mention scorpions. We will look at that other verse later but the first point is that Luke 11:12 is about God's willingness to answer prayer. Read Luke 11:11-13 again and note the context about answered prayer.

Now turn to Luke 10:19 and note how the context is quite markedly different. The whole section from Luke 10:1 is about the first disciples and how they handled the preaching of the Gospel. Jesus gives them some much-needed advice. From verse 17-20 Jesus tells them about certain divine protections which had been granted to those who first took the Gospel around the Mediterranean world (not, by the way, to all preachers of the Gospel of all time - Modern snake-handling Christian groups are without excuse in their plain foolishness). So this included protection from the often deadly scorpions and snakes of Judea (verse 19). And that is it. There is no connection between the two verses which you bring together. It is true that snakes and scorpions here could also be a subtle reference to evil spirits (apart from literally referring to these dangerous creatures), especially in view of the section which follows but sometimes one just gets confused in going beyond the immediate context.

You ask how you and I may apply these things right now in this early 21st century. Well the topic of answered prayer is always applicable but the other verse is probably only applicable in that we should all do our best to avoid danger and evil at all times.

By the way, there is good evidence that God also granted special divine protections to preachers of the Gospel in other parts of the world when preachers first reached those places in later times.

Hopefully these comments will help.
Robin A. Brace. May 16th 2009.