Luke 9:41

ESV Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
NIV You unbelieving and perverse generation,' Jesus replied, 'how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.'
NASB And Jesus answered and said, 'You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.'
CSB Jesus replied, "You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."
NLT Jesus said, 'You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?' Then he said to the man, 'Bring your son here.'
KJV And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.

What does Luke 9:41 mean?

Jesus is presented with a young boy being tormented by a demon. Despite having been empowered to cast out demons (Luke 9:1), the disciples find themselves helpless. Jesus responds with frustration. But to whom is He referring? Which person or persons are the target of this cutting remark?

Certainly, the disciples are included. Jesus later tells them they could not cast out the demon because of their "little faith" and that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed, they can move mountains (Matthew 17:19–21).

But, also, Jesus includes the father. Luke describes the father giving Jesus a straightforward request. Mark notes that the father says, "If you can" (Mark 9:22; emphasis added). Jesus responds to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23). To this the father gives the famous response, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

Most likely, Jesus is also including the scribes who were arguing with the disciples. We don't know what they were arguing about, but when Jesus asks, the father immediately appears, suggesting they are fighting about the boy, the demon, and the disciples' inability to cast it out (Mark 9:14–17).

Jesus' description, "O faithless and twisted generation," comes from Moses' song. Moses, approaching the end of his life, compared the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of His people. He describes the Israelites: "They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation" (Deuteronomy 32:5).

"Faithless" describes someone who does not believe God's work; faithlessness also indicates a lack of loyalty or trustworthiness. "Twisted" has more of a sense of perversion or depravity. "Crooked" means something false, twisted, insincere, or dishonest. Instead of "faithless" or "crooked," the Septuagint uses a word for "rebellious" or "morally corrupted." All this combines to affirm that lack of faith in Jesus and His work indicates a morally twisted character. Disbelieving God is immoral and leads to immorality (Romans 1:21). The fact that they once could cast out demons and now can't indicates their faith in Jesus is decreasing.

"Generation" refers to people who live at the same time, specifically those with the same characteristics. Luke records Jesus using "generation" to refer to His countrymen who do not identify Him as the Messiah. They ignore the signs of His identity, contrary to the people of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba who responded to God's words immediately (Luke 11:29–32). Although the faithless Jews did not kill the Old Testament prophets, they are responsible for the prophets' murders because they reject their message and refuse to teach it (Luke 11:50–52). Finally, they crucify Jesus (Luke 17:25).

The use of "generation" in other passages frames Jesus' question, "How long am I to be with you and bear with you?" as a warning. There will come a day when Jesus will no longer have to bear with the faithless—those who rebelliously or carelessly reject the truth about Him. At the end, they will face the great white throne judgment and receive what they think want: eternity without Him (Revelation 20:11–15).

But the cry is also poignant. Jesus has just returned from the Mount of Transfiguration where He spoke to Moses and Elijah about His "departure." In context, that includes His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension (Luke 9:30–31). Moses, too, grew frustrated with the people he was responsible for, saying to God, "Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all the people on me?" (Numbers 11:11). Elijah not only complained about his responsibilities, he asked God to kill him, saying, "It is enough; now, O Lᴏʀᴅ, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19:4). Jesus knows He is soon returning to God the Father's presence. To express His frustration with those who refuse to listen and understand Him—including His closest followers—and look forward to the day He returns home is perfectly natural.
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