Q242 : Ask, Seek, Knock

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Q242 : Ask, Seek, Knock

In Rev. 3:20, Jesus says that He stands and knocks at the door and if we will open it He will come in. That makes sense, the handle is on the inside and only we have access to it.

Then in Matt. 7:7, Jesus says that if we ask we will receive, if we seek we will find, and if we knock the door will be opened. This kind of makes sense, that in this case the handle is also on the inside and only Jesus can open the door. It implies that we can enter into some place.

My question is this: there seem to be three levels of effort or endeavor implied in asking, seeking, and knocking. I would take it to mean we ask for salvation and receive it (least amount of effort on our part). We search by studying God's Word and we find treasures there (more effort on our part).

But how do we knock? And what is the place we enter into if Jesus opens the door.

I have considered that knocking means prayer, but it just seems that there is more implied here. Knocking implies the most effort on our part, and that we can enter into some place. I can't link that with prayer.

A242 : by Tony Garland

Perhaps you are trying to read more into these passages than they intend to convey. One clue this is probably the case can be found in the inability to clearly connect the various terms for seeking (ask, seek, knock) to specific actions on the part of those coming to God. This is a sign that the passages involved don't convey that level of detail—they are not intended to be understood as a specific blueprint for how one is to approach God.

Consider the passage you mentioned in Matthew 7:7-8.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.1

A careful reading of verse 8 indicates that Jesus describes three potentially different people (everyone who asks, he who seeks, him who knocks), each of whom God responds to. Although it is possible He has the same person in mind, the passage needn't be read in that way. Instead, it is more reasonable to take the three-fold verbal repetition (ask, seek, find) as an indication of persistence and zealous desire—rather than indicating three specific manners or levels related to approaching God.

Although this passage is not strictly a parable, some of the principles of interpreting parables are good to keep in mind when interpreting similar passages:

Determine the one central truth the parable is attempting to teach. This might be called the golden rule of parabolic interpretation for practically all writers on the subject mention it with stress. ‘The typical parable presents one single point of comparison,’ writes Dodd. ‘The details are not intended to have independent significance.’ Others have put the rule this way: Don't make a parable walk on all fours.2


1.NKJV, Mat. 7:7-8
2.Ref-0015, 283


NKJVUnless indicated otherwise, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ref-0015Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation (MI: Baker Book House, 1970).

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