What Does the Story of Naaman Teach Us?

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Hi M____,

The one thing I will add is that when Naaman asked Elisha to ask God to forgive him when he bowed to his master’s god, this is what happened after Naaman humbled himself, did what was commanded, and was healed of his leprosy:

2Ki 5:15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
2Ki 5:16 But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
2Ki 5:17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
2Ki 5:18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
2Ki 5:19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

Elisha quietly refused to sanction Naaman’s weakness, and his inability to pay the price for what Naaman knew to be true, by simply telling Naaman “Depart in peace”.

You and I can learn from this story that we have no dominion over the weak faith of others. Nevertheless, we must never allow the weakness of the weak to cause us to compromise our own consciences. We must never become weak while we are bearing with the infirmities of the weak. “Depart in peace” is just another way of saying “what is not of faith is sin”, without agreeing with the weak who often want those whose faith is stronger than theirs to say that their strong meat is sin. It is not sin, and he that “eats all things [strong meat] will be held up by God, just as the weaker brother will be preserved until he is able to digest and be nourished by the strong meat of being cast out of the temples and synagogues of this world “because of the word”:

Rom 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Rom 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
Rom 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Rom 14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Rom 14:20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
Rom 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Rom 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

This story of Namaan and his interactions with Elisha, the prophet, with the double portion of Elijah’s anointing, is a type of the lesson Paul gives us in Romans 14. Elisha knew Naaman was weak in the faith, and he was not going to destroy Naaman with His meat. But neither was Elisha, under any circumstance, going to give up his meat just to accommodate Naaman’s weakness. So it was not at all hypocritical of Elisha to say “Depart in peace”, rather than ‘Sure, I will ask God to let you sin so His grace may abound in your life’, as so many seem to think “bear with the infirmities of the weak” means. Paul does indeed tell us in the very next verses to “bear the infirmities of the weak”:

Rom 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Rom 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
Rom 15:3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

‘Bearing the infirmities of the weak” does not mean that we can turn God’s grace into a license to sin. The Jews who were weak in the faith could not receive the fact that Christ has become our sabbath and that “He had broken the sabbath” as far as it was commanded by Moses to be kept. Christ was bearing the infirmities of the weak, but He was not exchanging His strength for their weakness, and that is not what Paul is exhorting us to do. Paul knew that it would have been a sin for the Jews, who wanted Christ dead “because He had broken the sabbath”, to break the sabbath just because Christ could do so. They did not yet have the faith to break the Mosaic sabbath as Christ had (Mat 12:1-8). The strong are able to let the reproaches of Christ fall on themselves, while the weak cannot yet do so, and it would be a sin for them to attempt to live beyond the measure of faith they have been granted. So look at what Paul says to all of us:

Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime [this story of how Elisha, a man who was in type “strong… in the faith”, dealt mercifully and bore the infirmity of Naaman, a man who in type was weak in the faith] were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Elisha, just like Christ, remained strong and did not allow those who were weak in the faith to dispute about discernments of spiritual matters as Paul commands us in the very first chapter of Rom 14.

Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Here is what we are told is the definition of the Greek phrase translated ‘doubtful disputations’:

Here is the Greek word translated as ‘doubtful’:


From G1260; discussion, that is, (internal) consideration (by implication purpose), or (external) debate: – dispute, doubtful (-ing), imagination, reasoning, thought.

Here are all the New Testament entries for this word:

Total KJV Occurrences: 14
thoughts, 8
Mat_15:19, Mar_7:21, Luk_2:35, Luk_5:22, Luk_6:8, Luk_24:38, 1Co_3:20, Jam_2:4
disputings, 1
doubtful, 1
doubting, 1
imaginations, 1
reasoning, 1
thought, 1
Luk_9:46-47 (2)

This Greek word, ‘dialogismos’, is generally used in the sense that 1Co 3:20 uses it:

1Co 3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts [dialogismos] of the wise, that they are vain.

Reading all of those entries makes it clear that the holy spirit uses this word in a general sense to speak of the vain thoughts of mankind.

Now this is the word which is translated as ‘disputations’:

From G1252; judicial estimation: – discern (-ing), disputation.

Here are all the New Testament entries for this Word, so we can see how the holy spirit uses this word:

Total KJV Occurrences: 3
discern, 1
discerning, 1
disputations, 1

This word’s primary definition is ‘discern’, and that is how the holy spirit uses it twice. Since here in Rom 14:1 is the only place where it is translated as ‘disputations’, and since the preceding word is normally translated as “vain… thoughts… disputings”, it is clear that this verse, Rom 14:1, would best be translated as “He that is weak in the faith, [as was Naaman and as were the Jews who believed on Christ and yet wanted Him dead (Joh 8:31-44) ], receive ye but not to disputing with those who are spiritually strong about discernments”.

That is how this 14th chapter opens up, and that is also how Paul concludes his point in the next chapter:

Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to [the doctrine and example of] Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So the story of how Elisha, a man of strong faith, dealt with Naaman, a man who was weak in the faith, happened to them, and it was written down so we would know how to deal with such situations in our own lives and within the body of Christ in this day:

Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

We must deal kindly and patiently with those who are weak in the faith, but we must never allow the weakness of the weak to infect our own heavens or the heavens of the body of Christ, and we must be willing to let the reproaches of Christ fall on us, just as our Lord and as all of His prophets did.

I hope this is of some help to you.



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