Matthew 17:20 (NIV) – He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
In this series we argue that the answer to the question in the title of this article is NO! You may click here to read the first argument.
Argument 2: Adding the words “small” or “size” to Matthew 17:20 causes Jesus-Christ to contradict himself right here in this very verse
The KJV, NIV and NASB all agree with the Greek texts when it comes to how Jesus-Christ describes whom He is speaking to: He saw them as people of little faith. The Greek word translated unbelief (KJV), little faith (NIV) or littleness of your faith (NASB) is the word oligópistos, formed from olígos, meaning “little in number or low in quantity” and pístis, meaning “faith”.
Jesus-Christ is describing these people as people of little faith, not people of no faith. Furthermore, Matthew 17: 16, 19 tell us that these were disciples of Jesus-Christ.
Matthew 17: 16 and 19 – “…I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”…Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
As disciples, followers of His teachings, these people must have had some faith. This is also evident by the fact that they were surprised that they were not able to cast the demon out (Matthew 17:19). They must have had some faith if they thought they could cast a demon! May be because they had done it before…?
Therefore, if Jesus-Christ acknowledges that his disciples had some faith (although little), how can He at the same time imply they had no faith (their faith is not even the size of a mustard seed, which is sufficient to move even mountains)? This certainly appears like the kind of contradictory statement that would leave anyone scratching his or her head!
We believe that Jesus-Christ implied just that – that their faith was insufficient. But He certainly did not mean to say that their faith was smaller than even the tiniest of seeds…which would mean non-existent.