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, but of drawing closer to God and seeking His guidance. 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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