SPECIAL TOPIC: FASTING
Fasting, though never commanded in the NT, was expected at the appropriate time for Jesus' disciples (cf. Matt. 6:16,17; 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:35). Proper fasting is described in Isaiah 58. Jesus set the precedent Himself (cf. Matt. 4:2). The early church fasted (cf. Acts 13:2-3; 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27). The motive and manner are crucial; the timing; the length and frequency are optional. OT fasting is not a requirement for NT believers (cf. Acts 15:19-29). Fasting is not a way of showing off one's spirituality (cf. Isaiah 58; Matt. 6:16-18), but of drawing closer to God and seeking His guidance (i.e., Jesus, Matt. 4:2). It can be spiritually helpful.
The early church's tendencies toward asceticism caused scribes to insert "fasting" in several passages (i.e. Matt. 17:21; Mark 9:29; Acts 10:30; 1 Cor. 7:5). For further information on these questionable texts consult Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, published by United Bible Societies.
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