The Unjust Judge and Importunate Widow

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hi I____,

Thank you for your question concerning the parable of the unjust judge and the importunate widow. I welcome the opportunity to answer this question because this parable and the one concerning the man who was also asking his neighbor at midnight for a loaf of bread are both making the same spiritual point. The point being made is that God, our heavenly Father, wants us to ask him in “effectual fervent prayer” for our needs and our desires, just as you and I want our children to come to us and ask for the things they want and need. This is the point being made by both of these parables, and the need for prayer is completely lost on many who have just learned of the total sovereignty of God, and who, invariably, use that new found truth for an excuse to make no effort at all to follow any of the many admonitions in scripture to “be careful to maintain good works… be sober, be vigilant… be diligent… watch… read, hear and keep the things written therein… work out your own salvation, pray without ceasing, etc, etc, etc.”

Jas 5:16 Confess [ your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

It is simply beyond the grasp of many spiritually “carnal… babes in Christ” (1Co 3:1-4), to understand how we can be conscious of God’s total sovereignty and still be inspired to “fervent prayer, [ and to] work out our own salvation” (Phi 2:12). Of course, the very next verse of Php 2 explains how that is accomplished, but we will get to that later.
The first thing we need to do is to look at these two parables. Here are the ones you mention in Luk 18.

Luk 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Luk 18:2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
Luk 18:3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
Luk 18:4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Luk 18:5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
Luk 18:6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
Luk 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
Luk 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

This judge had no regard for man or for pleasing God. Yet simply ” because this widow troubles me by her continual coming” asking this unjust judge for justice against her adversary, this widow was avenged of her adversary.
Now notice the similarities between this parable and another parable earlier in Luk 11…

Luk 11:5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
Luk 11:6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
Luk 11:7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
Luk 11:8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
Luk 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Luk 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Luk 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [ he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Luk 11:12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Now look at these two verses side by side.

Luk 18:5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
Luk 11:8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

Is Christ teaching us in both of these parables that we are to have no regard for God or man, and yet we are to pester God until we wear Him down with requests which He simply doesn’t really want to grant us? Absolutely not! Is there a single, solitary word in either of these parables, which indicates that if we ask for anything that is contrary to God’s will, and that, if we pester him long enough, He will grant it to us? No, there absolutely is not! At least not to anyone who is seeking to understand “the sum of God’s Word.”

Psa 119:160 The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.

What then is Christ’s point in twice telling us to be persistent in prayer? His point is that when He tells us plainly that “He is working all things”, He wants us to understand that this “working is within you”; it is not without you or me. Here is the point ot these two parables.

Php 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [ his] good pleasure.
2Co 1:6 But whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer:
2Co 4:12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Php 2:13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.
Col 1:29 whereunto I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
1Th 2:13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.

God is not working anything He does simply to pacify you or me. He is working all that He does for “His good pleasure… after the counsel of His own will,” and not after the counsel of our wills.

Eph 1:11 In whom [ Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

God is doing everything He does for his own pleasure and purpose. He is not in the business of fulfilling our every whim. He wants us to know that “all things”, even our evil whims and desires, are His work in us.

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all [ things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

But that is the point of these two parables; His work is IN US and through us. We are to be engaged in doing the work that He is doing. That is what Paul tells us in the very next chapter in Eph 2.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [ it is] the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Verse ten makes perfectly clear that verse nine does not mean that we are not to “be careful to maintain good works”, as many of our Concordant brothers and many “once saved always saved” Baptist brothers teach. Christ did not die to sin so that we can live in it. Verse ten makes clear that “not of works…” simply means “not of [ our own] works, lest any MAN should boast.”
So are we really expected by God to “be careful to maintain good works?” Are we really expected of God to be constant and persistent in prayer? Here is the answer to that question, and here is the point of both of these parables:

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Tit 3:8 [ This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

I hope these two parables, along with “the sum of God’s Word” (Psa 119:160), helps you to see that Christ is not teaching us to pester our heavenly Father about our every whim. I hope this helps you to see that the point Christ is making in these two parables is that we are never, ever to become complacent and lackadaisical or lazy in His service, simply because we are the very instruments of “His workmanship” through which all of the soberness, vigilance and diligence of all of the exhortations of scripture are being accomplished. I hope all these verses of scripture have helped to make clear that there is absolutely no contradiction between understanding the total sovereignty of God and me exhorting you that it therefore behooves us to “be sober… vigilant… and diligent…” in our prayers, and in all that “He hath before ordained that we should” do in His service.

1Co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I feel sure you already realize this, but your question concerning this parable in Luk 11, has given me the opportunity to explain this dilemma to many who do not yet understand why I exhort anyone to do anything even if it is already written in God’s book. The answer is that it is already written in God’s book that we are to “exhort one another daily… to provoke to love and to good works” and to persistent prayer.

Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Your brother in Christ,

Other related posts