Can you explain “importunity” in Luke 11:8?


by Shawn Brasseaux


The context is the Parable of the Needy Friend, which we read now in chapter 11 of Luke: “[5] And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; [6] For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? [7] And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. [8] I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. [9] And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. [10] For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [11] If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? [12] Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? [13] If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

After delivering the “Our Father” Prayer as presented in Luke (11:1-4), Christ Jesus further enlightens Israel’s believing remnant concerning His Heavenly Father’s will for them. In the above parable, He describes Messianic Jews awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), an event several months away. The outpouring of the Spirit of God is necessary to ratify the New Covenant, empowering Israel to be God’s people in the Earth and do His will in the Earth (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-28; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-18). Jesus knows the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant) has needs to be met, and the passage currently in view underscores His awareness of that fact.

We are interested in verse 8: “I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” Although the man in bed wishes not to answer his door, his friend is outside knocking, and he finally gives in to the request because the friend is engaging in “importunity.” What exactly is that? This English word is derived from the Latin “importunus,” simply meaning “unsuitable, troublesome, relentless.” He will not stop knocking because his need is urgent! The Greek term is “anaideia”—literally “no shame, no honor, no modesty, no bashfulness, no reverence, no regard for others, no respect.”

If a sinner will inconveniently rise out of bed at midnight to help a bothersome and rude friend, how much more will Almighty God (loving, sinless, merciful, gracious, et cetera) pour out the Holy Spirit on believing Israel during the early Acts period to enable them to accomplish His ministry? The point is well driven!

Also see:
» Should we recite The “Our Father” Prayer?
» How is the Holy Spirit “the Comforter?”
» Was the Holy Spirit really given in John 20:22?
» Why did the Samaritan believers not receive the Holy Spirit upon believing in Acts 8?
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or a force?
» How should I pray?
» What about hindered and unanswered prayer?

» How can I have an effectual prayer life?