Does Matt 17:20 teach that I can move Mountains with my faith?



My apologies for the slow down in blogging.  Expect this trend to continue, I have been busy with a new project at work and am spending many hours on the road and working overtime.  Spare time has focused on my family and less on the blog.  Until things change there will be less frequent blogging but I have not abandoned it.  If you follow me on facebook as well then you may see me there more often as I can do that from my cell-phone.


Back to the matter at hand….

“20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matt 17:20 KJV


This is a very popular verse and with all the bad press on it I think that the plainest meaning is lost on most people today.  The idea that is generally taught is that one should read “mountains” as figurative.

Specifically, your seeker sensitive charismatic preacher will teach that the mountain in this verse is a stand in for your mean boss, illness, lack of money in your bank account, or other obstacle in your life.  If you have enough faith and pray right then God will “move” this mountain of yours.  The implication either stated or left unstated is that if it doesn’t come to pass as you wanted then that just means you didn’t have enough faith.  And since we are saved by faith then that means you’re probably going to hell to.  It is this very bad twisting of the passage that I wish to rebuke with this blog post.


Before getting started let’s get the rest of the context…


“14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,; 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.; 16And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.; 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.; 18A nd Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.; 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?; 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.; 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Matt 17:14-21 KJV


Essentially what we see above is that the Apostles had been unable to cast out a demon in the manner they had been taught.  It was giving them problems and Jesus points out that their issue was a lack of faith.  I don’t think that this means they had suddenly lost faith or something, it seems from the context that this particular demon was simply stronger than most of the ones they had been dealing with based on Jesus comment in verse 21.

An interesting verse to cross reference this with would be another where Jesus commands a fig tree to die.


“19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.; 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!; 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” Matt 21:19-21 KJV


Above we see the same analogy again, and notice that faith is needed for such things.  If you read my post on faith you will see that Biblically, it is taught as a substance given to you by God.  You can’t muster it up or build it on your own, it’s something that God gives to you.

So let’s spin this right around, if you cannot command mountains to fall into the sea then that means you have not been given the faith to do so.  If you want to put this to the test step outside your house and give this a shot, let me know how it goes in the comments.

I think a more literal approach is the best way of reading this text.  Jesus is placing a premium on the power and necessity of faith.  It is something to be sought after, and it has the power to literally move mountains, cast out demons, kill fig trees, and save souls from hell.


“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:; 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9 KJV


The plainest reading of these texts is to be in awe of what faith in Christ is and how important it is.  If you were a Pharisee who thought yourself pious and surely in Gods Grace with more faith than anyone then why are literal mountains not moving for you?  Why can you not command a fig tree to die or walk on water?  Why do the dead not raise when you ask?

The clear answer is because you don’t have enough faith.  God has given faith sufficient to save your soul.  I would guess that this is even less than a mustard seed.  I like the idea of that because it turns us to Christ, he is our sufficiency and not anything of ourselves.  When you take this passage and try to make it about the doldrums of your job, finances, or personal victories then you strip the law and gospel right out of it.

And isn’t that really what this all gets down to anyways?  The narrative of scripture is the Cross, it is the body and blood of Christ shed for you.  Sincerely ask someone duped by the health and wealth false gospel where they think monetary riches factors in to the Cross.  Can one honestly say that Jesus died to make us rich with a straight face?  No, they can’t.  It doesn’t even sound right and that’s because it isn’t.

What you have in Matt 17 is a hyperbole, Jesus is giving an example of something that is simple for him to do but impossible for us in the same manner as saving our souls from hell is simple for him to do to us but impossible for us to do to ourselves.  Read it any other way and you strip mine the gospel right out of it and end up obfuscating the entire narrative of scripture.

About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
This entry was posted in Frequently Twisted Passages, Heresy & Heterodoxy, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Does Matt 17:20 teach that I can move Mountains with my faith?

  1. Eric Amoah says:

    I like your write up but why the picture of Joseph Prince in your blog.


  2. Eric Amoah says:

    Does that mean he is a false teacher because he’s one of the few preachers who preach the new covenant. And i have learnt from his teaching to stand firm in faith no matter the situation. Moreover he preaches Christ and the finished work so tell me what are you implying.


  3. Eric Amoah says:

    There is nothing like Gospel of prosperity only the Gospel of grace and it produces prosperity. And if I talk of prosperity it doesn’t mean financially it means prosperity in every area of your life. So do you want to say God doesn’t want His children to prosper off course he does. Maybe you misunderstood him because if you listen to his teachings he teaches the Bible in it’s context and it’s all about Christ. I recall seeing in one of your blog that if Christ didn’t die at your church then you didn’t have a sermon and in every teaching of his the cross is central so do you want to say preaching Christ finished work is false. Please don’t let me loose hope in the Gospel, and don’t judge him by just one message but do listen to other of his messages and see if all his teachings are false thank you.


    • ACTheologian says:

      That’s not accurate. Tell you what, send me a link of him teaching the bloody cross and I’ll take a look.

      So I guess you’re saying the apostle Peter wasn’t a believer? Or the apostle Paul? They both were very poor and died for the faith.

      There is no promise that you will be rich or even comfortable. In fact you might even die for it. The promise is in the eschaton friend. You’re basically saying that the goal of the cross was to make you rich. Oh yeah and save your soul too but we don’t talk about that or why it’s necessary.

      I’ve seen prince on TBN before and in other outlets. I didn’t pick him arbitrarily. He teaches a false gospel and many other false doctrines. He is going to be called out on this blog for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Eric Amoah says:

    Armchair i don’t think i can provide a link for you because his teachings i have is audio podcast but any time I listen to to his teaching your blog on the new covenant also comes to mind. Myself am not rich but if God makes me rich I know it’s for the benefit of the church. The purpose of the cross is to save us and off course liberate us financially as well. Or are we saved to be indebted to others and always be in need to the point of begging. To be frank am not defending him blindly as some people do, I make sure every preacher I listen is teaching the new covenant and honestly he does that. He even stresses in his teachings that when he talk about prosperity what he means is to prosper in every area of our lives not just to be full with plenty money. It’s quite unfortunate i couldn’t provide any link for you but please do me a favour and listen to his other teachings because I don’t want to be a victim of false teachings. I will be very disapointed if it turns out to be true because for once I felt liberated from religion and condemnation through his teachings.Thank you


    • ACTheologian says:

      Well you have said it just fine yourself:

      “The purpose of the cross is to save us and off course liberate us financially as well”

      The Bible never teaches this. There is no promise that you will be rich just because you are a believer. You didn’t answer my point about Paul or Peter, and quite honestly, are you going to say that every poor believer is really an unbeliever? This is the heresy I am rebuking. I do not deny that God blesses people, I’m just saying that this is not something you can entice, control, or claim.

      Yes I would love to see a link to Prince actually preaching the gospel of Jesus dying for our sins. If you can find one of him preaching on sin and our need for a savior due to the Holiness of Almighty God that would be great. I haven’t even heard him preach on sin. He talks about speaking in tongues and how to live healthy and be rich and things like that. This is all I have ever heard him preach.


  5. Eric Amoah says:
    This is link I got and get to listen these messages please. Gift of righteousness, Am not ashamed of the Gospel, Grace is higher than law, Grace leads to repentance, keep confessing righteousness, will the real Gospel please stand, unleash the power of the Gospel, the beauty of Christ, live the overcoming life, can you loose salvation, and many others.


    • ACTheologian says:

      I went to your site and I can’t find the gospel there at all friend. Let me help you out, here it is:

      Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
      1 Corinthians 15:1‭-‬4 ESV

      By this you are saved from sin, death, and the devil. Notice Paul says nothing about money there though.

      I’m happy to hear you are not ashamed by the gospel. But it appears the website you shared with me us and that’s my point.

      If you have a link to Prince preaching the gospel let me know. A YouTube video is fine, just let me know what time in the video he starts.

      If this is a difficult thing for you to find I understand. This is why I stopped listening to people like prince.

      The pastor’s I listen to now proclaim the Biblical 1 Cor 15 Gospel in every single sermon. They proclaim Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

      I don’t want money and I don’t care if I get sick or even die. I only want the Body and Blood of Christ that he has shed for me.

      I encourage you to pray over this friend I really do.

      Below is a link to a podcast that I hope you spend some time listening to. It’s called fighting for the faith. This pastor critiques sermons of people like Prince, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and others like them.

      He covers their sermons point by point and compares to scripture.

      When I first started this guy made me mad. He was telling me all my favorite false teachers were preaching heresy and I didn’t like it. I thought of a million excuses to stop listening but I didn’t. In the end I’m better for it so I’m going to share it with you.

      You will hear the gospel in every episode. That I promise you. Please at least give this a 30 day challenge or something. You won’t regret it.


  6. Eric Amoah says:

    Am surprise how things are turning out because it is through his teachings that I got to know about justification, sanctification by the blood of Jesus and not by our obedience to the law. So when I read some of your post I thought i was on right teachings. Like myself all I want is salvation and nothing else,if I don’t get money it doesn’t bother me but sometimes I believe God makes his children prosperous so that they can help others and the ministry of God. You made mention of being saved from the power of sin and death, but sin brought lack, sickness, death so if we are saved from sin then i believe we are also saved from all these destructive situations or? Thank you Armchair for your contribution will look at the link you gave me God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ACTheologian says:

      Thanks for taking a look.

      Tge consequences of Sin is not a lack of money. There was no money before the fall anyways.

      My issue is not the concept of God blessing people my issue is you linking it to the cross and making financial gain a purpose of it.

      Even faithless pagans are rich, and many Christians are not.

      There is no Biblical promise that you will be rich. We praise God in rags and riches whatever they may be in this life.

      Please do take a look friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lady Jay says:

    Hi! Despite the differences in opinions, I absolutely love how as believers you both were able to remain calm, polite, and kind to one another in differences and come to a biblical solution. I strive to model this behavior daily, but when I feel misunderstood often I go into attack mode. Thanks ACThelogian for modeling what a godly disagreement should look like!


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