But is Jesus talking about making a scene and shouting out Jesus name? Not exactly. Let's examine the text for its deeper meaning:
"I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others..."
But these translations are both using less commonly used meanings of the Greek word. It's primary definition relates to following ones teachings and then teaching accordingly: "to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent." It can also mean "to concede" or "not to refuse."
Ecclesiastical sectarian teachers interpret this to mean being focused upon proclaiming Jesus name to others. Yet Jesus is not so interested in this, as he also stated:
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:22-23)So why wouldn't prophesying in Jesus' name not be important to Jesus, given this translation that Jesus is interested in his followers "publicly acknowledging" him?
Because that wasn't Jesus' interest. He wasn't interested in being famous or receiving the acclaim of others. This is confirmed in the statement preceding Matt. 7:22-23:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)This clarifies that Jesus' interest is not so much in his followers "publicly acknowledging" him. Rather, he wants his followers to follow in his footsteps. He wants them to pass on his teachings, and do what is pleasing to the Supreme Being. This is what "one who does the will of my Father" means: Actively seeking to pleasing God.
Jesus stated his interest to please God elsewhere:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)The Greek word translated to "acknowledge" also means to affirm. To affirm is to be consistent with who or what is being affirmed. In this context, this relates directly to what Jesus is teaching. Remember how Jesus began this discussion with his disciples:
"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees..." (Luke 12:1)
This "yeast" was the teachings of the Pharisees. Jesus was telling his students to not follow their teachings, but rather, to follow his teachings - and carry on those teachings to others.
"... the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God."
This part of Jesus' statement confirms that neither "publicly acknowledge" nor "confesses" are correctly translating this statement, because ὁμολογέω (homologeō) is used in both phrases, and neither of these could be applied with respect to the angels of God.
But if "affirm" is used as suggested above, it makes sense. The word "affirm" can be used in both contexts, because an affirmation of someone means that person is being accepted.
And while Jesus is speaking of his students affirming him with respect to following him and carrying on his teachings, he was also speaking of affirming them within the spiritual realm.
So why is this important? Why would affirming them before the angels of God be important?
Because the angels of God are God's loving servants. Like Jesus, they are each involved in a confidential loving relationship with the Supreme Being. And being favored by such a confidential loving servant of God means that one will be favored by God. Why?
Love. Just imagine if a man were in love with a woman. Would the man reject the friend of the woman's? Certainly not. Because of his fondness for the woman he would automatically accept the woman's friends.
This is natural because this is how the spiritual realm operates. It is a world of love. A world where love for God is rampant and God exchanges loving relationships with those around Him.
But the physical world is a lonely world - a world where everyone is seeking to outdo each other. Where we are competing for the top post. Where each of us wants to be the champion of the world - or the ruler of the world.
This is why there are so many wars and so much violence.
We are thinking that we are these temporary physical bodies, and this world belongs to us.
This is also why people with differently colored skin fight with each other. We think we are these physical bodies and my body color is better than another's body color. We are identifying ourselves and others as physical bodies without seeing the person within.
The fact is, we are each the same within these temporary physical bodies. Within this body is a spirit-person - a person with a spiritual identity that has nothing to do with the identity of this body including its skin color.
So treating people differently because they have a different skin color would be the same as treating a person differently because he drives a different make or model car.
This teaching is consistent with Jesus' teachings, such as:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)This obviously means the body is temporary and the "soul" - the spirit-person within - is our identity, since Jesus is saying do not be afraid of those who kill the body.
And to teach this - to teach what Jesus is teaching - not only affirms Jesus because it affirms his teachings - but it has the ability to resolve all those conflicts that are based upon skin color, race, religious sect membership and so on.
This also relates to why Jesus is referring to himself as "Son of Man." See the definition of "Son of Man" here.
"But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God."
Here the Greek word translated to "disowns" is ἀρνέομαι (arneomai), which means according to the lexicon "to deny" or "not to accept, to reject, to refuse something offered."
But there is no indication the word ἀρνέομαι (arneomai) means to "disown." To "disown" would be the opposite of "own" - which means that Jesus would be saying that his followers would own him.
But this is somewhat of a modern language misnomer because people will loosely say they "own" something when they are actually simply accepting or agreeing with it. In modern English to "disown" typically means to abandon something or someone.
And in that case, "disown" might be applicable, but "abandon" would be a more accurate description of what Jesus is saying because the Supreme Being is the only real owner of anything. In other words, we can each choose to abandon the Supreme Being and the teachings of God's representative - or accept (affirm) them.
"Abandon" is better aligned with the word's true meaning - "to deny" or "not to accept, to reject, to refuse something offered."
This is because Jesus is warning his followers of the consequences of abandoning Jesus' teachings. And abandoning Jesus' mission to please God. Jesus confirmed his mission clearly:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)What does doing someone else's will mean? There are only two circumstances: If one is forced to do someone else's will, or one does someone else's will voluntarily - out of love.
Jesus is indicating the latter. He is indicating that he is doing God's will out of love for God. And he wants others to come to know and love the Supreme Being, and also do God's will out of love, because this and only this will make us truly fulfilled. And because Jesus loves us, he wants us to be fulfilled. Jesus confirmed this in his most important teaching:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)