Matthew 17:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 17:20, NIV: "He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'"

Matthew 17:20, ESV: "He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”"

Matthew 17:20, KJV: "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."

Matthew 17:20, NASB: "And He said to them, 'Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."

Matthew 17:20, NLT: "'You don't have enough faith,' Jesus told them. 'I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.'"

Matthew 17:20, CSB: ""Because of your little faith," he told them. "For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.""

What does Matthew 17:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The nine disciples left behind when Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain (Matthew 17:1) have failed in a critical task. They could not cast a demon from a boy who was suffering greatly. Their public failure prompted both an argument with some Jewish scribes, as well as an exasperated response from Jesus about their "faithless and twisted" generation (Matthew 17:14–17).

Jesus healed the boy, but the disciples really want to understand what went wrong (Matthew 17:18–19). They have asked Him privately, away from the crowds, why they could not cast the demon out. Jesus responds to them directly, but relatively kindly in this verse. At the heart of their failure was their "little faith." They either did not trust the power previously given them by Jesus (Matthew 10:8) or they did not believe such power could be exercised through them. Perhaps they saw this specific case as too difficult. That they could perform miracles using Christ's power, at all, was an astounding reality. Jesus reveals here that the key to that power is faith in Him.

Part of the lesson here is the potency of genuine faith. In giving this reminder, Christ once again mentions the tiny mustard seed as a metaphor for living, active faith (Matthew 13:31–32). Even with that amount of faith, Jesus says, they will be able to tell a mountain to move and it will do so. With even a sliver of faith in His power and authority, nothing will be impossible for them.

This is an important and powerful lesson for the disciples. These men will eventually come to perform impossible-seeming miracles as they represent Jesus for the remainder of their lives on earth. The power to do so will never come from their own ability or goodness or status. It will always come through their special endowment, enabled by their faith in Jesus.