Know Ye not what Manner of Spirit? How Do You Handle Rejection.

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56 KJV)

It is imperative that we have some prophetic insight into what is happening in the spiritual realm. It directly impacts what is happening in the physical realm, the realm that we live in. It is my opinion that the disciples, in the above mentioned verses, completely missed what was happening in the spiritual realm. Therefore, they made a judgment that was out of character for the situation that they were facing. Jesus understood this and rebuked them. Let’s look at the circumstances surrounding this event.

Jesus had “set His Face” to go to Jerusalem. The wording of the Greek text here suggest that He was determined and that He had resolved to accomplish this trip to Jerusalem. It is the same wording from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) in Isaiah 1:7 which states, “I have set my face like flint.” (1) Because Jesus lived constantly in the will of God, there were no coincidences in His life. His rejection by the Samaritans was an event that assisted Him in His mission to go to Jerusalem. The Bible gives us the reason for this rejection. It states, “And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:53). This suggests that God had ordained the rejection to assist Jesus in His rapid progress toward Jerusalem. This was something that was ordained in the spiritual realm and then had an effect on the physical realm. To this, the disciples completely missed it.

To get a picture as to why or how they missed it, let’s look the cultural differences that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. Samaria was located in the northern sections of Israel. In the times of the Kings, it had become the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Judah existed in the south, and Israel to the north. The kingdom of Israel fell to the king of Assyria and all the people were exiled. The king of Assyria repopulated the area with folks from different regions that he had conquered. God was not very pleased with this and He sent lions to attack them. So, the polytheistic people of the land sent to the King of Assyria and reported that the God of the land was not pleased and they knew not how to worship Him. Therefore, the King sent an exiled priest from Israel, with a copy of the law, to teach these people how to worship God. This race of people become known as the Samaritans. They were regarded with disdain by the Jews as being a “mixed breed” of peoples and a poor substitute for the Jews themselves. Hence, much discord existed between the two.

During the time of Jesus, Jewish travelers from the north, would pass through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem. Oftentimes, they were heckled, mocked, and ridiculed. (2) Traveling through Samaria was an action that the Pharisees wouldn’t even do. They felt even being in that place would contaminate them. So, it became vogue for the pious of the Jews to travel the long way around Samaria to Jerusalem. The shortest route was through Samaria and thus, we see Jesus taking this route. We can now begin to see the harsh reaction of the disciples. What the disciples did not see, however, was that God can use any circumstances to bring about His will. This is what we see happening as God uses the rejection of the Samaritans to allow Jesus to continue to Jerusalem. The disciples failed to “know” this piece of information. So, they judged the people of worthy of death because of their rejection of the Messiah. Jesus, thusly, rebukes them. Let’s look at this rebuke and see if this can give us some insight into what Jesus knew that the disciples did not.

The traditional teaching about this rebuke is beautifully illustrated by John Lightfoot. He writes, “What Elijah once did to those of Samaria, the sons of Zebedee had an ambition to imitate in this place; dreaming (as it should seem) that there were those thunders and lightening in their very name Boanerges (Greek for sons of thunder, a nickname that Jesus had given them) that should break out at pleasure for the death and destruction of those that provoked them. But could you not see, O ye sons of Zebedee, how careful and tender your Master was, from the very bottom of his soul, about the lives and well-being of mankind; how he healed the sick, cured those that were possessed with devils, and raised the dead? And will you be breathing slaughter and fire, and no less destruction to the town than what had happened to Sodom? Alas! You do not know, or have not considered, what kind of spirit and temper becomes the apostles of the Messiah.” (3 parenthetical note mine for clarity) We completely agree with Lightfoot’s commentary and it agrees with most traditional commentaries of the text. However, there may be something more here.

In His rebuke, Jesus tells them that they “do not know” the manner of the spirit. The Greek word here for know means, “to be aware, to perceive, to understand, to see.” (4) This may mean that the disciples lacked the prophetic knowledge to see the purposes of God behind the rejection of the Samaritans. They lacked the prophetic revelation that Jesus possessed to see that this rejection was further moving Him toward the accomplishment of God’s will in His life. The disciples lacked the information from the spiritual realm that told Jesus that this rejection was “because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.” Hence, they had condemned to die, the same death as the sodomites, those who had rejected them. This, Jesus would not tolerate. He has not come to destroy and burn with fire those who reject us. The Holy Spirit has been given to us that we may see rejection as Jesus saw it, as only fueling the advancement of the will of God in His life. Jesus then clarifies that His mission on the earth is not to bring destruction to those who reject Him; but, to bring life to those who will accept and receive Him.


1. Jamieson, Robert; Faussett, A.R.; Brown, David, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody Mass, 2002 second printing, page 263.

2. Keener, Craig S., The IVP Bible Backgournd Commentary: New Testament, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1993, page 215.

3. Lightfoot, John, Commentary on the New Testament form the Talmud and Hebriaca, Hendrickson, Publishers, 2003, volume 3, page 93.

4. Strong, James, The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN 1995, Strong’s number 1492.


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  1. […] 2. See also my post entitled, “Know ye not what Manner of Spirit?” […]


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