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In a book that I’m reading, I find it difficult to understand the meaning of two sentences.

a)

He never sent anyone out to preach the Gospel without specifically instructing and equipping that person to take action against demons in the same way that he himself did.

In this paragraph, what I can’t understand is the whole paragraph. Especially this line, ‘he never sent anyone out to preach the Gospel without specifically mentioning’ what does that mean? Did he send them by giving instructions or he objected the idea? Or to follow his ways? Can you explain in a simpler way?

b)

I can find no basis in New Testament for an evangelical ministry that does not include the expelling of demons.

In this paragraph, is the writer expressing that the New Testament doesn’t support the idea of expelling demons in the evangelical ministry. Correct if I’m wrong.

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  • a) He prepares a person before he sends them out to preach the Gospel. b) The author couldn't find any evidence for "an evangelical ministry that does not include the expelling of demons" in New Testament. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 14:43
  • I suspect OP is confused by the double negatives in each sentence: never sent . . . without specifically instructing and no basis . . . that does not include. That might be a good place to begin answering. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 15:47
  • He never did A without doing B means Every time he did A, he did B first. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 16:42

2 Answers 2

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The author of the book that you are reading is evidently arguing that the spreading of the Christian Gospel always involves the expulsion of demons from people who are possessed by them. The practice is known as exorcism.

To begin with, you need to accept the existence of demons and of demonic possession. Many psychiatrists would argue that what was once interpreted as demonic possession can today be understood in terms of mental illness, especially schizophrenia.

The first sentence presumably refers to Christ. It says that before sending anyone out to preach the Gospel, he would always first instruct that person and equip that person to cast out demons in the same way that he did himself.

In the second sentence the writer is saying that in the New Testament he cannot find any basis for the practice of an evangelical ministry (ie. spreading the gospel) that does not require the expulsion of demons.

In other words, as he understands the New Testament, the spreading the Gospel always involves the casting out of demons from those who are possessed.

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  • Hi Ronald, I agree with what you explain but I always wonder about questions like these as they seem to come from native speakers.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 14:56
  • @Lambie Confess that it didn't occur to me; but it wouldn't surprise me either. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 21:36
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Your problem understanding has much more to do with the author than yourself. The author appears to like double negatives.

  1. Translating "never sent without specifically instructing":

Remove the negatives. Substitute "always" for "never" and substitute "and" for "without". The sentence now becomes positive and more understandable: "always sent and specifically instructed". For me that is a more clear sentence.

  1. Translating "I can find no basis ... that does not include..."

To translate this sentence, remove the "no basis". Just remove it. Then remove "doesn't" (does not). The sentence becomes "The New Testament ... includes". The sentence would be better re-arranged, but still, positive sentences are much easier to read.

A a native English speaker, I find people -- such as this author -- who speak in negatives to be difficult to understand. I always have to mentally translate as noted above.

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