It is a physical fact that iron does not sharpen iron. No material is sharpened with the same substance. In order to sharpen anything the parent medal must be cut away, leaving the edge. The tool used to cut another must be harder than that which is to be cut. If it is not it will not penetrate the material. It will only rub against it, generating heat in the process.

I hope you do not take my word for this. I have sharpened many tools, from knifes to lathe tools and I know a lot more about how to sharpen than someone who has only listened to others that have not really sharpened anything. Everything that is sharpened, is sharpened with a stone, from the softest steel to carbide tools.

If you are reading this you have access to the internet, so research how to sharpen something. Not how to sharpen spiritually, but how to sharpen a physical tool.

You see that understanding the second part of Proverbs 27:17 depends on understanding the first part. If iron can sharpen iron then what is said in the second part of the verse is possible and if not then it is not possible.

Now that we know the verse says something can not be done (you did test me, didn’t you?) let’s think about what it is that can not be done.

There is a big difference of meaning between the King James translation and most of the others. I’m not going to research all translations so let’s just compare the NIV to the KJV.

(Prov 27:17 NIV)  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.(Prov 27:17 KJV)  Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. 

The NIV leaves out the word countenance, which changes the meaning. As I understand the verse from the KJV it means that one man can not make another happy. The NIV on the other hand seems to say that one can not make another wiser.

I know that if I am faced with a disaster that anyone trying to cheer me up is never successful. No amount of logic, or anything he might say will work. Only time and God will restore me. So I understand and, of course, agree with the KJV.

It might surprise you that I also agree with the NIV. I have yet to tell this to anyone that thought iron sharpened iron and have them accept it. I hope this strikes you as funny as it does me. I am trying to sharpen you by using the very verse that says I can’t! You see that it only proves the verse when I tell someone and they refuse to believe or test me. If you don’t agree with me you have not tested me.

The truth of the matter is this, God doesn’t want me, nor will He allow me to teach anything. He wants to teach you Himself. If you have the Holy Spirit, you have the perfect teacher. All you need are the questions. God is referred to as a rock, or stone many times in the Bible. Let Him sharpen you.

I am just sharing what the Spirit has made known to me. If you want to possess knowledge you must meditate on the Word yourself. Consider everything that I say as only a question and doubt it all. Be a true Berean and test what I said.


176 Responses to IRON SHARPENS IRON?

  1. ministrystudent says:

    thanks for your incite. It really does make a person think. I never looked at that verse that way or questioned it till now. I never really read the NIV translation, just the NKJV and Message or Amplified if I want to get a different spin on the verse I might be reading at the time.

    thanks for taking the time to post this.

    Blessings on your walk with HIM.

  2. James in Michigan says:

    Very good insight. However, I believe you need to look deep at two aspects. One: in biblical times, a novice person to ‘sharpening’ would make reference to ‘iron’ sharpening, loosely. Not understanding that there are degrees of hardness that actually sharpens softer degrees of iron, he might reference generically ‘iron sharpening iron’. Keep in mind, these were still relatively early stages of iron production, with ore being shipped in from Spain to the Lebanon plains, for production for tools, etc. In short, the intent, from a novice person, might still imply the trueness of the sharpening process. Two: take a look at the definition of ‘countenance’. Using Webster’s World Dictionary, you’ll discover that it means, among many things, not just a facial happiness, but also and more importantly: “bearing, conduct, self-control, restraint, composure, approval, control, support, sanction”. In looking at this, it can be taken clearly that “…so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend”, that one man is there to help the other man mold and maintain his character, in accordance to ‘countenance’. Therefore, YES, as Iron Sharpens Iron, so a man sharpens a man, in accordance to not just Growth in the Spirit, but better in Maturity in his walk, by brother taking brother, leaving no one behind. We are to support each other and help each other in our walks… as 1Cor 7 says, to build each other up, to gain the fullness and unity of the body of Christ.

  3. astudent says:

    There are no degrees of hardness of iron that would sustain an edge, if that edge were used to attempt to cut iron. Even carbide tools suffer a short life when used to machine iron. It is something like saying there are different degrees of hardness of wood and therefore one can sharpen wood with wood. It takes a tool that is many times harder than wood to cut wood, just as it takes a tool many times harder than iron to cut iron. It is not possible to sharpen anything without cutting the material away from the edge. Even the process that we call polishing is cutting material away from the object that is being polished.

    I think it is hilarious that no one wants to believe that iron will not sharpen iron. Well, I do now that I have gotten over the frustration that I can not sharpen anyone.

    I don’t think there are people that are novices to sharpening; it is not brain surgery. It is true, not only in Old Testament times, but today also, that though people sharpen tools they do not understand the physics of the process. You are probably right when you say “one in Biblical times would make reference to iron sharpening loosely”. Even though the technology has improved people haven’t and they still “make reference to iron sharpening loosely”!

    At the risk of repeating myself, if the first part of the verse can be accomplished then the second part can, but iron cannot be used to sharpen iron. It really doesn’t matter what definition one applies to the second part of the verse when the first part of the verse declares the second part to be impossible.

    I realize that almost all ministers do not want to view this verse this way; however that doesn’t change what the verse says. Ministers have great opportunities to present the Gospel, but until the sinner admits they are in need of a Savior and receive the Holy Spirit they will not be sharpened: and even that, the most basic part of salvation, will not happen if God, Himself, does not sharpen the man.

    James, I am indebted to you, not because you are right, but because you cared enough to comment. Because you did I have thought more about it. Though you do not possess the ability to sharpen me, nor I you, your efforts have helped me greatly. I now know why God included the verse. The answer came from God, but it was because of your efforts.

    It is God’s universe; He made it.
    We are God’s people; he created us.
    It is God’s plan of salvation; he designed it.
    God looked for a man to work His plan, but He found none, so He worked it Himself, and He still does to this day.
    It is God that sharpens all men, not man that sharpens. In the end times, when we stand before God, no man will be able to claim any glory for another’s salvation. All of the glory belongs to God; as it should. The verse, when understood, only reminds us of this truth.

    I believe your motives are pure, but the verse can not be changed: iron does not sharpen iron; therefore man can not sharpen man. The most that we can hope for is that we cause man to think about God.

    That is not to say that ministers or the efforts of men are not important. If men do not preach God and His plan there is no hope for mankind and I, for one, am grateful for the efforts of the minister that caused me to begin to think about God.

    I speak to you as though you are a minister, but I don’t know that to be true. If you are not then perhaps you should be, because your desire to help others is apparent.

    I agree with you when you say that we are to support and help each other in our walks and you have helped me, though not the way you planed. You have not sharpened me, nor have I sharpened myself. Any sharpening was accomplished by God.

    The world would not understand, but it is not success that pleases God. It is the desires of one’s heart that does. Success is in the hands of God, but we are free to control our desires. Though you didn’t change my mind I see that the desires of your heart are pure and if I, being only a man, can see this, how much more can God see it?

  4. 3:16 says:

    God is love. John 3:16. That’s reality. Those, the commandments and reverance are all the truths and understanding we need. Keep it simple brothers.
    Love and respect

  5. astudent says:


    Have you considered these verses?
    (Mat 13:19 NIV) When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

    (Mat 13:23 NIV) But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

    All of Proverbs chapter 2.

    (Prov 3:13-18 NIV) Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.

    (Prov 4:5-6 NIV) Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

    (Prov 4:7 NIV) Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

    (Prov 8:10-11 NIV) Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

    (Prov 9:9-10 NIV) Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

    (Prov 16:16 NIV) How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!

    (Prov 19:8 NIV) He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.

    (Prov 19:11 NIV) A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

    (Eccl 7:12 NIV) Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.

    If you apply these verses, especially Matthew 13:19, I think you will see that your view of what is necessary is very dangerous.

    If God had not told us to get understanding, even if it cost all that we have, I would still search out God’s ways because He is awesome, right, and my Father and I want to know and understand all that I can about my Father.

  6. cmac8803 says:

    This is an interesting topic, which I believe is being looked into too deeply to really comprehend the meaning of this scripture.

    As I look at the author’s meaning for inserting iron here, I’ve discovered that one has to be stronger (harder) than the other. The stronger iron has to possess 2 attributes: a diamond abrasive and a ceramic abrasive. The diamond abrasive is the pure material that is used to cut away the dull portions of the iron’s surface. The ceramic abrasive is a pressure-resistant material that has been tested and helps give the weaker iron a stronger shape. Both attributes combine to give an overall effect of polishing the weaker iron as dull iron can be more dangerous that sharpened iron.

    Likewise, the friend represents the weaker person and the man here described is the Christian witness. The man has to be pure, tested, pressure-resisting, and shaped by the Word of God. The man has to be intelligent & strong enough to make the friend better every time he leans on him. Therefore, the man has to get stronger every time he can so he can be of use to the friend. Meaning, the man has to study, meditate, and apply the Word of God in himself frequently. As iron is being used, it will get dull. As God continues to use us, we get more tiresome. Remember “The harvest is plentious, but the laborers are few.” It’s good to know that I can lean on a friend for additional assistance (Still relying on God though). This is the word that came to me. I hope someone finds value in this message.

  7. astudent says:

    There is no diamond abrasive, or ceramic abrasive in iron. Diamond and ceramics are stone and therefore would cut iron, but iron does not consist of them. I asked everyone to research the matter, but either you have chosen not to, or I do not understand your explanation of how you think iron can sharpen iron: that is quite possible for me. There is a slight difference in the hardness of pig iron, wrought iron, and cast iron, but not enough to allow one type to cut another. I again suggest that you research “iron” and “sharpening”. You really don’t have to look too deeply to find that iron does not sharpen iron.

    The meaning of the verse, when it was first written, was much easer for the people to understand. Most people, unless they were rich, worked with their hands in some form, or another and iron tools were used so it was common knowledge that one sharpened those tools with a sharpening stone: just as they do today. Ministers today do not work with their hands and as a rule do not know how, though the Bible says we should (1 Cor 4:12, Eph 4:28, and 1 Th 4:11). It is just another case of (though the motives are good) not doing what the Word of God says to do.

    I don’t want to sound too harsh, but this is a typical response to the correct understanding of Proverbs 27:17. If iron could sharpen iron, then one man could sharpen another. Ministers, because they think that their job is to teach, do not want to believe that iron does not sharpen iron, but it does not change the fact. If we had to depend on another man to teach us about God we would have to put our trust in a man to do so and the Bible tells us not to do that! We are even told not to put our trust in ourselves! (Psalms 118:8 NIV “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” Prov 3:5 NIV “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”)

    I believe we should do everything we can to enlighten others, but the success depends on God. We are given the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. We are not given brothers to teach us. Do you not see that if success depends on us then we are responsible for all that are lost? Laborers are responsible for telling those in the world that they are sinners and are doomed because of it and there is a way to escape that judgment. Whether it is the understanding of this (the very basics of understanding) or the understanding of God’s word it comes from the “Stone” and not from man. As servants we are supposed to bring our fellow man to God. God will explain himself, through the Holy Spirit, much better than we can.

    I believe that the idea that man can sharpen man has led to changing the formant of a Church service from a Bible study, open to all, with the Holy Spirit leading, to a lecture led and taught by one man. Though it seems good on the surface it does not follow the Bible and therefore it has to be wrong. It also puts a great strain on the one who wants to lead, because it is not possible to accomplish this task.

    Having said all of this, I believe that your motives are pure and we should all have the concern for others that you have.

    God says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”, if we can not even lean on our own understanding, how could we depend on leaning on a friends?

    You see we have only proved that one man can not sharpen another. Disregard what I have said except that I said “Iron does not sharpen iron” and do your own research. If you search for understanding you will find it, but first you must search.

  8. Kristi says:

    I came looking for some insight onto the definition of this verse only to be turned off by your “know it all” attitude. This reminds me why I struggle with being a Christian when people who are Christians think they “know” it all. Maybe someday God will share with you what this verse means,but right now it is all interpretation. I guess you proved your point though, you didn’t sharpen me, but there are others out there that I can lean on to lead me to Him.

  9. astudent says:


    Thanks for your straight forward comment. I really appreciate honesty and your comment was just that.

    You are correct when you said I didn’t sharpen you. That is my whole point!

    You say that you are a Christian and if that is true then you have the Holy Spirit to teach you all things. Why would you look for a man to teach you? All men are flawed and that includes me.
    (1 John 2:27 NIV) As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.
    (John 14:26 NIV) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

    If you were not a Christian you would need someone to teach you because you would not have the `Holy Spirit to teach you all things. As it is, because you have the Perfect Teacher, all you need are the questions and you will get some from me (If you can put up with my attitude).

    I wouldn’t recommend any man as a teacher. Look what God says about teachers (Mat 23:10 NIV) Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.

    You have ascribed a “know it all” attitude to me and it bothers you. Why? If you think that I am wrong then research the matter and explain to me how I error, not how I said it.

    I have played, studied, and worked at mechanics, machining, wielding and even designed and made electronic circuits for my own use for more than 50 years. I like understanding how things work and have always strived to understand the theory of anything that I do. I don’t know everything, but I do know that iron does not sharpen iron. It is not a matter of interpretation, it’s a fact!

    The web has many pages on sharpening and metallurgy. What iron consists of and how anything is sharpened is no secret.

    At the risk of repeating myself, everything that is sharpened is sharpened with a stone and that is the meaning of the verse. Man can not sharpen man only our “Rock” can.
    Almost every minister, preacher, or teacher that read my post does not want me to be correct, but no one has refuted what I said: unless you count fictional descriptions of the contents of iron, which would change the meaning of the verse and that would not help anyone.

    I must echo the words of Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, (Job 32:17-22) “I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply. I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man; for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.”

    If that makes me a “know it all” or even if that annoys someone it is their flaw: not mine.
    I am sure that you agree with me. If you don’t understand that statement then read your own comment as if you were me. I would say that you come off as a “know it all” too: at least you feel that you know more than I do. I don’t mind though. I am sure you do know more than me, but not about mechanical things.

    If and when you actually study whether iron can sharpen iron then God can share the understanding of the verse with you, but until you research it yourself I do not believe that He will.
    (Proverbs 2:1-6 NIV) My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

    “O”, by the way, thank you very much Kristi for making me think and rethink what I believe. I don’t believe there is anything better that one Christian can do for another, than to question what the other person believes they know about God and His principles, or even what they know about themselves.

    The truth, as I see it, is to judge “how” someone says something is to judge the person and that comes from Satan, but to judge “what” someone says is right and proper and that comes from God. Satan would, if he could, make it more important how something is said than what is said, because it would tie our hands and make it almost impossible to speak about God’s Word. It doesn’t matter how careful something is said it will offend someone.

    Please when you read what I write do not judge how I say it, but be very critical of what I say. I apologize to everyone that reads what I say, for how I say it, and for not even being qualified to say it. However someone must say it, because truth should be studied and studied without restrictions. I would rather be your friend, but not at the cost of truth.

  10. tminut says:

    I completely believe that iron does not sharpen iron but I think that’s what the verse intended to say – that it does. It doesn’t say “if” or “as” iron sharpens iron, it says iron sharpens iron. If these are proverbs of wisdom collected by King Solomon, why didn’t he or his advisers or scribes notice that and say something I wonder?

    We can’t go by context since this is a collection of sayings so the surrounding verses don’t necessarily have anything to do with it; that makes it more difficult. Your way of reading it is awesome! I like that that only the Rock can sharpen us, don’t know if that was the original intent or not but it’s what’s true. Why else would it be a saying? And in the Bible?

  11. astudent says:


    It would not be logical for anyone to use an allegory that inferred an opposite meaning to teach something. In all my studies I have found God to be perfectly logical. How could anyone have any confidence in understanding God’s word if He doesn’t always mean what He says: or if He used illogical allegories. The allegory “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV) is there for anyone to ponder the meaning. I think God hides understanding, because if it isn’t worth searching out then it isn’t worth anything.
    I don’t believe advisors or scribes could change the Word of God, it is there just as God wants it to be.
    Actually I don’t claim any credit for the way I understand the verse. It is the Rock that sharpens us and He should get all of the credit.
    Any understanding of the Bible should agree with all other verses, because all are true and if any disagree then the Bible would not be the Word of God. That sometimes creates problems because we do not properly understand some of the other verses.
    In this case consider (John 14:26 NIV) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
    I think that you have a good understanding when you say you don’t know if that was the original intent, but it is true. I would say “It is true, so that was the original intent”.
    I believe the more you think about the Word of God the more you will sound like me. Well, maybe that is not a good thing. Perhaps you will sound much better than me. Anyway you have questions and are truly looking for the answers and God says “Seek and you will find”. You are doing right! Don’t ever stop seeking.

    Hey, I just had a thought. That is one reason I like Bible study it brings theses thoughts to the surface. The Holy Spirit is a perfect teacher and God loves us too much to let an imperfect teacher teach us, lest we learn something that is not true!

  12. tminut says:

    The Bible itself says lying scribes changed the word. I’m not sure I agree that God hides understanding because it’s worth searching for. Hiding it means some will miss it and some will misunderstand. I almost believe though, that it DOES contradict in many places but that that’s how everyone gets what they need out of it. Somewhere it says the word or scripture is alive and that would make total sense. I’m not sure if that refers to the written word or not, i need to check that again.

  13. astudent says:

    Sorry about the confusion. I never made a smart mistake: they have all been stupid.


    Now that is interesting. I had not considered Jer 8:8 before and I thank you greatly for the comment.
    (Jer 8:8 NIV) “‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?
    I wondered if and where accounts of scribes handling the word of God falsely were given in the Bible. The only place I found it was in Jer 36:32 and I would not have realized it was handled falsely if you did not bring it to my attention. It doesn’t stand out until you realize that Baruch added to the words of God.
    I consider the Word of God the Bible and I believe it is written for all mankind and I believe He watches over it to keep it from change. That is not say that someone can not add to, take away, or distort the Word temporally as God has given everyone the power to sin or not to sin, but the distortion will not last and the Word will not change. John 10:35 says Scripture cannot be broken. Just to illustrate my point, what were the words that Baruch added? We do not know because God did not allow them to be added permanently.
    The idea that understanding is hidden, is not from me, (Prov 2:1-5 NIV) “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”
    You are correct when you say some will miss it and some will misunderstand, but that is not God’s fault, it is the fault of those who do not accept God’s words. There is a guarantee, given twice in the New Testament that anyone who seeks understanding will find it.
    (Mat 7:7-8 NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
    (Luke 11:9-10 NIV) “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
    It is fair and just to deny understanding for anyone who does not accept God’s words: could a man learn electronics if he did not believe there was such a thing as electricity? He could if he stuck his finger in an electrical socket: aw, but then he would believe!
    Everyone needs the same thing from God’s words and that is salvation and eternal life and anyone can have them.
    There are no contradictions in the Bible. There are only those who do not accept the words of God and therefore do not understand them that claim contradictions. Those are people that claim great understanding when they do not understand even the basics of this world. Life can not even be defined and Dark Matter makes up more the 96% of the universe and neither is understood. They believe in evolution with no proof, though if it were true it would be difficult to categorize any ancient bones.
    Then they call upon Christians to explain to them and defend something that they do not even believe. I would make the same charge to them. Explain to me what Dark Matter is. “O”, by the way, I don’t even believe in Dark Matter.
    You made reference to (Heb 4:12 NIV) “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I believe the phrase refers to the Holy Spirit here.
    The Word of God can mean the literal words, or the Holy Spirit, or Jesus; it depends on the context in which it is used: words in Jeremiah 36:8, Holy Spirit in 1 John 2:14, and Jesus in Revelation 19:13.

  14. Joe says:

    Wow! I came looking for the Biblical reference and this popped up.

    I personally love the hard-edged, critical (in a logical-minded way) look of the Bible. it’s interesting how Christians with one breath want to take the Bible literally and with the next breach want to talk about “intent” and “meaning” and “written in older times for simpler people”.

    I’m not debating the merits of the blogger’s post. I’m only pointing out that if you believe the Bible is the word of God, then there you. It says “As iron sharpens iron”. If that’s not true, then there you go. Try to understand it, but try at least to be consistent with your own method for interpreting God’s Word.

    The Bible is the Word of God. It says what it says. Accept it, try to understand it, but don’t make excuses for it.

  15. ccattie says:

    Have you thought about the iron hammer and iron anvil hammering the iron pulled from a furnace into a blade? There you would have iron sharpening iron.

  16. astudent says:


    Yes, I have thought about sharpening iron with a hammer. However it is only a process of shaping the blade. If you will research the complete process of making a sword, or any tool, you will find that after the blade is formed or shaped it is sharpened with a stone. I think that sharpening is always the last part of making a tool, but I am sure iron can not be used to sharpen iron. (It’s getting old isn’t it?)

  17. I just stumbled across this post while researching for myself how Iron could sharpen Iron for my own weblog. I am writing today about how the Taboo of not speaking of politics and religion has led to ignorance of both, and the ignorance of both has lead to the political and moral decline of this country.

    I find your comments on this verse fascinating. I’m actually having a round earth moment. My brain going 50-million miles an hour trying to absorb the fact that the earth revolves around the sun (or son, he he), and not the other way around. How foolish I am to think that it is my debate that could affect the nation. That anything I say at all could have affect. If God is not in my words than I am as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. If I as Iron have any effect on the sharpness of another (as Iron), it is only in that I have impenged their blade and consequently, my own. We then each go to the master who then uses the “rock” to sharpen our blade in the very spot that we needed sharpening in the first place.

    Don’t sell yourself short… You have sharpened me by this process– You have damaged my blade in the very spot that it needed sharpening… My ego. The master is reworking my blade and while my head is still spinning, I will come back from the master a sharper man.

    Don’t stop damaging blades as the spirit leads. You seem to be good at it.

  18. » Taboo says:

    […] out tonight, it is impossible to sharpen Iron with Iron directly but my point can still be made see this link).  The point is, when we discuss beliefs whether political or religious, we find our weaknesses; […]

  19. astudent says:


    Thanks for the comments. Your strength just may be that you are a great encourager.

    I read your blog and I agree with you that we do not talk about either enough. If I were to guess why it would be that our pride of being right leads to arguments and if the purpose of either party is to teach the other eventually the fun of the interchange is lost.

    I write this blog to be wrong. Nobody learns anything when they are right. One can only learn when they are wrong. However I always write as if my view is the right one and actually I hope someone, anyone, will show me wrong, because being a selfish human, I want to learn everything about our Father.

    Some times how someone else views a subject, though different than another’s, is as true as an opposing view. The man that stands on the side of the road says the car is traveling from right to left and the man in the car says the car is going forward. Both are correct and neither learns from the other if they do not try to understand the others view.

    Having said that I have spent some time trying to view this country as God does and I have an opposing view from yours.

    Though it is true that iron can not sharpen iron we might be able to push each other against the Sharpening Stone and be sharpened by Him in the process.

  20. Al says:

    Good stuff bro, I love how you make it about questions, not answers – so refreshing to hear someone saying it straight without the PC and perhaps feminine perspective of feeling over fact, that much of Christianity is built on today. Seek and ye shall find. Push me to the blade of the rock I say, and keep pushing mate. Appreciate your insight and cannot disagree – it is the rock that sharpens. What a beautiful picture.

    Prov 27:11 ‘My son be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.’

  21. astudent says:


    Thanks for the comment.

    When you see something that I do not please push me against the Rock in return, because I do not know everything: yet!

  22. Our views on the country may not vary as much as you think either. Much of what I write about on my blog is in effort to prevent what I feel from a biblical perspective is inevitable. God closes the eyes of many and then tells us to pray for them even thought the result may be the continual and worsening blindness of society.

    I do love your site. Thanks for reading mine.

  23. Excellent thoughts. My blog is built off this verse…please consider visiting, I would appreciate your participation.

    God Bless.

  24. astudent says:


    Please excuse my late response to your comment.

    I believe your motives are pure, but it seems to me that you waste your time trying to prevent the inevitable. As I understand the problem we should be trying to save the people rather than a nation.

    We will not find a democracy in Heaven. Jesus is not a president, but a king: the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

    Democracy is a system where man puts their trust in man. God is never on the ballet. We put our trust in ourselves to choose a man to lead us and then we trust in that man to lead properly. We should choose God to lead us and if He wants to choose a man to represent Him I believe we should not interfere. Although it is clear He has chosen Jesus and that is what we should be pointing out, or campaigning for.

    Though I am sure we agree on many things this country is not one of them. We have a basic difference of the understanding of democracy.

  25. Cameron Moberg says:

    i love this kind of stuff. great debates. i agree with you to a certain extent. iron can not sharpen iron in its rawest form, but, there are irons that are harder than other irons that have the capability to sharpen softer irons. i know what you are thinking, those irons consist of other elements on the periodic table that make them stronger. but we have to remember, this is on the brink of the discovery of iron works. everything was still very primitive. they did not understand the periodic table that we have come to understand today. to them iron was iron and they used iron to sharpen iron even if that iron was somewhat stronger.

    i see the point you are trying to make. God is unltimately in charge and we are to fully rely on God if we want to succeed in our Christian walk. but cant God use anyone or anything to help ensure that success. after all, we are filled with his holy spirit, cant he use us to sharpen eachother. God is using you right now to sharpen my belief and understanding right now. God used people in my life to bring me to him. God has used natural revelation in my life through a beautiful flower, a painting, a song, so why cant he use another person to edify my beliefs and sharpen my knowledge and understanding of him. if we were to take things to the extreme that you are speaking, what would happen to the fellowship of the body that the bible speaks so highly of?

    again, i see what you are saying and i agree, it is the triune God that does the sharpening, but that sharpening can be done through each other. if this were not the case, why did paul feel the need to continue to encourage the body of believers that were established through him by God?

    one more thing…Jesus feed the israelites loads of food in the desert. he feed the 5000+ people with the loaves and fishes, he healed the sick and provided for the needy….couldnt he use iron to sharpen iron?

  26. Susejevoli says:

    This entry and all your follow up comments were so wow! Thanks for the insight, at this point i totally agree with your interpretation, it makes so much more sense than anything else presented.

    Thanks for this blog, i hope you keep it up so young Christians like me can read, learn and thus understand God’s Word deeper! I also just wanted to compliment your approach, it is as far as i can see at the moment heavily grounded in scripture, with Godly motivations and in humility!

    In Hope, Tony

  27. astudent says:


    You speak as if you know metallurgy, but you do not. There are no types of iron that are hard enough to cut another type. You also speak as if you understand the sharpening process and again you do not.

    In this age we have steel that will cut iron and the main ingredient of steel is iron, but the verse is not “as steel cuts iron”. It is “as iron sharpens iron”. Even today if we use a metal tool to cut another metal we only shape metal with it. We must still use a stone to sharpen it; just as it has always been. It doesn’t matter if the tool is made of iron, steel, or any other metal it is “always” sharpened with a stone.

    Please let me explain why it is clear to me that I should not and can not teach another.

    God says that it is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man (Psa 118:8 KJV). I am only a man. It would make me happy if you do not believe anything that I say. You did right by not accepting what I said, but you should have tested what I said.

    I can not sharpen anyone, but if someone will test what I say then the LORD can use it to instruct them. I try to always consider what the other says, because God, by the Spirit within me, will use what others say to instruct me. Usually God will enforce my understanding, but sometimes He uses what others say to show me that I am wrong and because I am only a man there are times that I am wrong. Either way it is the Spirit within that teaches me and not the other person. God gets the glory for teaching anyone and everyone His wisdom and understanding: just as it should be.

    Know this, if you gain any understanding from exchanging comments with me you got it from God, not me. You can say that I have instructed others, but it is only indirectly and that should be made as clear as one can make it. It is a dangerous trap to believe one can teach others, because it can lead to pride of understanding.

    God has given every Christian the Holy Spirit to teach and instruct them. Because we have the perfect teacher we only need all of the questions in order to understand everything that God wants us to know. My posts and comments are only questions and I like comments that disagree with my understanding, so you can see that I like your comments.

    Yes God can use iron to sharpen Iron, because God can do anything, but man can not.

    Please forgive my inept and half hearted rebuke. It is hard to rebuke a fellow Christian when it is obvious they meant only to help others.

  28. astudent says:


    Thanks for the encouragement Tony. I do try to be heavily grounded in Scripture, but the truth is I am a selfish man and my main goal is to gain more understanding for myself. It is only guilt that drives me to share what I believe God has taught me. Just as the four men with leprosy in 2 Kings 7 I reached a point where I also said, I am not doing right. This is a day of good news and I am keeping it to myself. If I wait until daylight, punishment will overtake me. I must go at once and report this to my brothers.

    Don’t think that because you are a young Christian that you lack understanding. You have the same teacher that I have. Listen to Him and rely on Him and your understanding will increase. I remember when I was a young Christian that I would get so excited when the Spirit would reveal something to me that I would almost bounce off the walls. I still get excited, but I have learned to control myself and I don’t almost bounce off the walls anymore.

    That’s a shame; isn’t it?

  29. Cameron Moberg says:

    again, i think you are mistaken or didn’t really read what i was trying to get across so i will try to make it more obvious. steel is made of metal and carbon, in there primitive era of iron making, this would still have been iron to them. reason being is that it has only about 2.4 percent of carbon in its make up to make it steel. that would leave about 98 percent of iron. you say that you can not even sharpen iron with steel and i say you are wrong. it is the cut off the steel that does the sharpening. a sirated steel rod has no problem sharpening iron. if you disagree, here is a link to the average steel rod that you can purchase

    i know what you are thinking, a steel doesnt actually sharpen a knife, it aligns the blade. yes, but we still call it sharpening…and im sure they did back then too. that is why i think digging in to the actual physics of this whole concept is a bit overboard.

    maybe they should have said “like 98 percent of iron, with a combination of 2 percent carbon with a sirated edge, sharpens (by shaprening i mean straightening the blade) 100 percent of iron, so does a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

    with all that said, i think you jumped the gun to my repsonse because you obviously did not read mine. you responded saying that it is the spirit using you to shapren me….thats exactly what i said.

    but, God still did give us a choice, i can choose to repond to the nudging of the holy spirit that is encouraging me to sharpen another person or not. God gave me gifts and talents that might sharpen you and vice versa. yes, he is the ultimate one who gave me those gifts to do that…but he still gave them to me to use.

    to close i just want to ask, have you not learned anything from your friends. if you havent thats a bummer because i know when i do it brings us closer to eachother and to God. some of those things i have learned have contributed to the strength in my walk even if, on the surface, it seems that those things have nothing to with God. i dont understand how you could negate this fact.

    it seems as if you are writing to prove that you are the worlds smartest blacksmith and not to truley seak out God. the reason i say this is because of the way you respond, it is with much arrogance.

    a woman came on here who was obviously young in here faith. to us, it is one thing to discuss these matters and debate, but the way you respond does reflect the faith well. i believe you have forgotten your apologetics.

    its one thing to say that you do not sharpen anyone, but its when the opposite actually occurs. it does seem in this case you have actually dulled that woman.

    you have to understand that your site is the first one that comes up on a google search for this subject. i am not saying that you should give up on your view of your belief, but there are ways to respond to people that is more humble and better representitive of our faith. just because you are studying a passage of scripture and feel that you have the right answers does not mean that you can negate the others. what about acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

  30. suzi says:

    can iron be sharpend with a iron file – cuz i prayed alot about this verse and i believe that is waht god ment by it. That movt with purpose and love can file away the roughness, not banging etc.

  31. Susejevoli says:

    “That’s a shame; isn’t it?”

    I wonder… I’ll have to see for myself when i get more mature. A sincere smile to express joy and gratefulness to Him in His presence doesn’t sound too bad at all.

  32. Cameron Moberg says:

    amen to that ^^^

  33. astudent says:


    First I would like to thank you for the rebuke. You said a lot of unkind things about me and it was very unchristian, as some would understand being Christian, to say them, but the truth is you can not rebuke someone with out doing so.

    I would not know what you thought unless you told me. That is why I have been slow to respond. I have taken and will continue to take what you said into consideration. (Prov 17:10 NIV) A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. (Prov 27:5 NIV) Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

    You have said enough that after I thought it over with the Spirit within me I can see that I had become a bit impatient and I will try not to loose my patience again.

    A steel blade must be sharpened already (With a stone) before a steel can be used to realign it. So anyone that uses, or makes a knife or sword would have to know that. Only those who do not know how a steel works would claim they are sharpening with it and after a few hours of trying to sharpen a dull blade with a “steel” a wise person would ask an expert why it isn’t getting any sharper. Also I might point out that God wrote Proverbs 27:17 and He knows one can not “steel” a blade sharp.

    Understanding that iron does not sharpen iron is critical for understanding the verse. If iron can sharpen iron, then man can sharpen man and because iron can not sharpen iron the verse means man can not sharpen man. So that is why I have made a point of stressing the importance of understanding that iron can not sharpen man.

    This is in agreement with the rest of the Bible. I started to list the verses that say understanding comes from the Lord but there are too many to list here. If your Bible is on a computer it is easy to search the word understanding. A wise man would search looking for truth and not to just find a way to support his own ideas.

    As I reexamined your and my comments I found an error in one of my comments. I said there was no iron that was hard enough to cut another type, but wrought iron is soft and cast iron would be hard enough to cut it. However one would have to sharpen the cast iron with a stone in order to cut wrought iron and then it would be too brittle to hold the edge. So you still can not sharpen iron with iron.

    Perhaps I was not clear enough when I tried to explain what I meant about someone else sharpening me. I do not accept anything another says at face value. Everything that anyone else says is only a question to me: just as you do not accept it when I say iron does not sharpen iron. I take the question to the Spirit within and I receive the answer as to whether it is true or not from Him. Sometimes I receive the answer quickly and sometimes it takes a while and there are some questions that I have yet to receive the answer, or perhaps I do not yet understand the answer. I have the perfect teacher, so I do not need another teacher; I only need the questions. In other words another man can only give me the questions to ask God. You could say that another sharpens me indirectly or perhaps pushes me against the Stone and I would agree. However it is God that gives understanding. (Psa 119:130 NIV) The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Job 12:13 NIV) “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.
    (Job 32:8 NIV) But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. (Prov 2:6 NIV) For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

    I said you can only shape a metal tool with another metal tool: not sharpen it. If you believe otherwise I invite you to try it and when you are done I will hone an edge on your attempt. This proverb can be proved physically and I have the experience to prove it. If you think that makes me arrogant it is only in your mind. Let’s stop talking and start proving.

    I might add that agreeing with error just to make others feel better helps no one and it would not be acting justly: or Christian for that matter. If I hurt anyone’s feelings because I have said they are wrong they have entirely too much pride in their own understanding.

    I appreciate your rebuke and I hope you appreciate mine. I also appreciate your attempts to prove me wrong. Others might have the same thoughts and did not comment, so my answer is also to them.

  34. astudent says:


    Your question caused me to think about how one would make an iron file. Files are made out of steel, because steel can be made soft, machined to shape and then hardened so it will retain the shape. Cast iron can not be softened and wrought iron can not be hardened so I see no way to make an iron file. But even if one could be made it would not sharpen iron.

    As I have said over and over “everything is sharpened with a stone, no matter what kind of metal it is made out of”.

    That is not to say we can not help others, but there is danger in thinking one can teach. The Bible says call no man teacher (Mat 23:10 NIV) “Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ”. Because no man knows everything, including me of course, some of what any man thinks they understand is not really understood. So some of their teaching is false. God, on the other hand, does know everything and therefore is the perfect teacher. Anything that I or anyone says should only be taken as a question; even when it is said as unequivocally true and the question meditated on with the Spirit leading.

    Perhaps one could teach someone who has not turned to God, because they do not have the Spirit to teach them. Though having said that I believe Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort (The Way of the Master) have the right understanding. If you are interested they are on the web: Google them.

  35. Susejevoli says:

    Can you not argue that although two mere men cannot ‘sharpen’ each other, the man that is lead by the Holy Spirit can indeed sharpen another…

    So although from the initial perspective one could say that a man sharpened another, but on second inspection, perhaps the Holy Spirit did.

    God does give us good gifts at our disposal, but ultimately it came from him so even though we choose to use it, can we really claim it as our own? Or our own doing?

    Indeed it would be good to hear your thoughts on this.

  36. astudent says:


    Ha, I think you understand completely and I couldn’t agree more. The only thing that I might add is there is danger in thinking we sharpen another. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches and it is God that should get all of the credit (glory) for anyone’s understanding. If we call ourselves teachers and tell others that we can sharpen them they will view us as teachers and possibly put their faith in us rather than God, but even if they do not put their faith in us they will call us teachers. Jesus said we should not be called teachers.

    The verse (Mat 23:10 NIV) “Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ” is there because we can not, in truth, claim the ability to sharpen another and therefore we should not
    However Paul though himself appointed a teacher and he called himself a teacher (1 Tim 2:7 NIV) And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (2 Tim 1:11 NIV) And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. But then Paul wrote most of the New Testament: we didn’t.

    Even after saying this, I believe God writes with men like we write with our own hand. I don’t believe Paul wrote one word in the Word of God that God did not direct. So is Paul a teacher or was he just being used to reveal the Word of God? Should he have claimed to be a teacher when Jesus said not to make such a claim?

  37. D. Harris says:

    I did not have time to read all the comments, however just wanted to add that what you have said makes sense to me. What came to mind, was: Not by might, not by power, but My Spirit. Also, I view your article as a piece of “hidden manna”. Jesus Is the Rock, in a weary land.


  38. babaluey says:

    The “Iron Sharpening Iron” process was carried out in a few steps.
    1. First was the pounding out of the sword with the iron hammer. They
    would flatten it around the edges like sheet metal.
    2. Second, they would use an iron file or and iron-ore stone to take create a
    3. Thirdly, they would use another piece of iron to rub and lift that edge. This
    would have to be done whenever the edge would become dull.

  39. astudent says:


    You are correct about your first point. However we are not talking about shaping something made of iron, but sharpening it.

    Because iron is not harder than iron an iron file would not cut a sword made of iron. I don’t think an iron file ever existed. Iron is very brittle and if the cutting edges were as fine as those of a file they would shatter the first time one tried to use it. I have never seen such a file; perhaps someone would document one for us. Though it could not be used to file anything made of iron I am curious if one ever existed.

    Because you do not seem to believe me when I say iron can not sharpen iron I suggest you study the sharpening process. Basically you must cut away the parent material which leaves an edge. The tool used must be able to cut the tool being sharpened and it must be harder than it to do so.

  40. GuardianMan says:


    I stumbled upon this post from a Google search. Quite an interesting take on the verse. You have really caused me to think. I appreciate your take on it. Thanks. I am in a small Bible study / accountability group called “Ironmen”. We have a few members that are very steady and a few that really dont come much. We want to make this group “mean something” and take it to the next level. We meet bi-weekly as a group and the off week for a 1on1 accountability group. We are seeking guidance on how to address the inactive members in a real and loving way while rasing the group. I suppose we need to show some tough love, the Rock.

    We cant make or cause anyone to do anything truly ‘good’ and that is where the ROCK comes in. He will either sharpen us or break us, I suppose.

    What makes one man rise and another fall when tragedy hits? I suppose only God knows.

    I am thankful he used tragedy to humble me and accept Him has Lord. AMEN!

    Nice job here on the post.

  41. astudent says:


    It seems as though I am always looking at everything from a different view point. I say that because I do not believe in accountability groups.

    Please don’t throw rocks at me, but it seems right to me that we are accountable only to God. No one is going to reach a point in life where they are free of sin. Anyone who has the Holy Spirit within them already knows when they have sinned as soon as they do so. We are already accountable to God. If God no longer looks at our sin then should we?

    (Gal 6:4 NIV) “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,” If you do not even know your brothers sin then you can not compare yourself to him.

    Studying the sin of others is depressing and not productive for me. I would not be a regular attendee of your group either. If you really want a group of enthusiastic Christians change the format to a study about God.

    I understand that you are all trying to do what you believe God wants, but if you fix your eye on God everything else will fall into place. As it is you are fixing your eyes on man and sin.

    Well, there I go again offering advice when it wasn’t even asked for. Please try to overlook me. I have a big mouth and a tongue that never stops.

    I believe God uses tragedy to get our attention. When everything is going right most people do not give God a thought, but as soon as some real tragedy happens to someone they begin to pray and think about God. Tragedy can be a good thing!

  42. Alex says:

    astudent –

    first of all my heart goes out to you. you are too hard on yourself! you are trying to sharpen yourself…and that definitely doesn’t happen. man CAN be a teacher, but only when he is at peace and ready to channel the light from above to his fellows around him.

    i’ve been through the same stages you’re currently struggling to get through. don’t read too much into these things…the message is simply a vehicle for you to understand something within it. think of a candy bar: regardless of the what the wrapper looks like on the outside, or how the candy bar inside is described, the candy bar will still be the same candy bar.

    one thing that helped me (I used to be very involved in church as a kid), is you have to go outside of the trappings of your particular church/religion in order to return and fully learn. you believe that you “aren’t permitted” to say these things in church…if Jesus was sitting next to you in church he would in fact ENCOURAGE you to speak your heart. he is love, love for all, regardless of the church you belong to. i’m not saying quit going to church, i’m just saying be careful of taking such a narrow perspective when it comes to religion/spirituality. read some eastern philosophy – it avoids playing the “us vs them” game that pervades many western schools of thought. you really have to gain some outside perspective in order to appreciate where you currently stand. a good “in-betweener” going from West-to-East is Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. it contains many eastern philosophies told in a way that us westerners can understand.

    and the tragedy thing…yes, i partially agree, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be tragedy. many times (more often than not), the “swift kick in the butt” comes in the form of falling in true love, dancing your heart out, singing your favorite songs, art that touches your soul, the ‘zone’ achieved in sports, meaningful -not promiscuous- sex, making/consuming food prepared with love, etc. it’s like that joke about the man that was stuck in a rising flood:

    “Sir, we’re here to rescue you.” “No, no, God will save me…” And it continues like that until he dies and goes to heaven, where he confronts God and asks “Well, I was waiting…why didn’t you save me!?” “Well, I tried, but you wouldn’t accept my help!” I’ve found that, just like the joke, God resorts to tragedy only when the person refuses to see the signs of help around him. and once you get helped, move on! don’t get attached to the ‘boat’ (the list of above things i mentioned in the previous paragraph) that saved you, don’t linger – move forward in your journey towards the higher light.

    speaking from my own life, the psychedelic experience helped me immensely. it’s not for everyone, but if you are ready and willing, it can be a tool to connect your inner light to the light of those around you, and you can finally start to open yourself up to the world. i’m not advocating we all drop acid, that’s what was wrong with the summer of love…too many people forgot the light it brought and started abusing out of selfishness and insecurity.

    find what gets you “high” and channel your energies into that. but be a channel, don’t get attached and confuse the wrapper for the delicious candy inside. the bible’s only a bunch of words written by men that were attempting to channel the light, the best way they knew how. but if you squint your eyes too much in trying to find the “fine print” of it all, you’ll miss the big picture…

    i would love to talk more and hear your thoughts. peace be with you, brother.

  43. astudent says:


    Well now, I have to laugh! We do not seem to be on the same page at all. That is not to make fun of you in any way. We just have a different understanding about the basics of life.

    You say the Bible is only a bunch of words written by men to “channel the light the best way they knew how”! I had to ask myself how these men knew that God would allow other countries to conquer Israel, scatter the people, lay waste to the land, and then restore the country and even the land!

    Don’t you think it odd that the whole world is against a country as small as Israel and yet Israel stands?

    Don’t you find it odd that those men understood what we have only recently discovered? (Heb 11:3 NIV) By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. We have discovered that matter is only energy locked into a matrix that holds it as a solid. Energy is only a force that can interact with matter. If there were no matter then what could energy do or what is energy. It should be clear that the universe is made of nothing! Or rather it is made only by the command of God! And by the way man can not duplicate the command of God. We can make an atomic bomb and destroy matter, but we can not recreate the matrix that would hold energy in the form of matter. It isn’t even possible, because one would have to destroy matter in order to acquire the energy to make matter so in the grand scheme of things we would change nothing.

    The Bible is the only book that gives man the key to world peace. Do to others what you would have them do to you. If everyone did this there would be no war, murder, thefts, or even adultery. And if someone should error and commit a sin there would be no punishment for it!

    I would explain the Bible to you if God would let me, but He has reserved that power for Himself. (Prov 2:6 NIV) For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
    If you ask God for understanding and search in truth for it you will find it. Do not be wise in your own eyes, but strive to be wise in God’s eyes.

    I could no more teach you anything about God than I could teach a man the odor of a rose if he lacked the ability to smell.

    To use your own analogy, God offers everyone the candy bar. But we can not unwrap it without His help. All we have to do is admit that we can not and ask for His help and He will unwrap it for us.

    I know that you do not believe me and it might surprise you but I think it is right not to!
    (Isa 2:22 NIV) Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?
    Do not look to me for understanding, but please take my advice about where to find it.

    You do not even have to believe there is a God. The only thing anyone has to do in order to begin the journey to understanding is ask God if He is real to reveal Himself to you. Ask not as a joke, but honestly and God will be faithful to do so. Test me.

  44. Conrad says:

    Well, friend, I must say that you present quite a strong argument for your case, and as luck would have it I cannot find any site that definitively says whether one can or cannot sharpen iron with iron (pardon me for not simply taking you at your word). But regardless of what you propagate to be true, should we not consider these verses (among others)?

    But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
    Luke 22:32

    Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
    1 Thessalonians 5:11

    Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men].
    1 Thessalonians 5:14

    But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
    Hebrews 3:13

    And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
    Hebrews 10:24-25

    It seems clear, at least to me, that God does, in fact, want us to exhort and encourage each other. He does want us to have accountability (which you claim that you neither have, nor seek – which is dangerous). Proverbs tells us that ‘there is wisdom in the council of many’ and if you are going it alone you are much more likely to walk in error than when surrounded by like-minded brethren encouraging you to press on to your reward.

    And secondly, ought we not to consider the context of the very verse in question?

    Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.
    Proverbs 27:6

    Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
    Proverbs 27:17

    Verse 6 seems to tell us that having people constantly being kind and gentle is far from good, but in fact the real good comes from a friend who loves enough to tell us when we are in error, as I believe you are. And so here we come back again to friends in verse 17. Iron and iron are on the surface equals, but the remainder of the verse seems to indicate that (at least with regard to the subject at hand) one of these ‘irons’ is in a better position to do ‘sharpening’ than others. It could be interpreted that we make each other better (and we certainly have opportunity to do that) but it can also be interpreted that if a man comes at another with anger he could incite the other to a like reaction. But in either case I think it would take a stubborn position to assert that the actions of men do not cause reactions from others.

    To say that we cannot learn from one another about the person and truth of God is, to be frankly honest, quite arrogant and stands in direct opposition to the experience of myself and, I’m sure, many others.

    Now brother, press on in your beliefs, and remember to shine the light of the gospel and speak to others as Christ, rebuke as necessary but at all time be motivated by love.

    Peace be with you.

    In Christ, Conrad.

  45. astudent says:


    I usually sound a bit harsh, but I mean no harm. When I attempt to sugar coat the truth it only muddies up what I am trying to say.

    Don’t depend on luck to find truth. The knowledge that iron can not sharpen iron is only high school science. If you limit your search to physical facts and eliminate religious opinions then you might understand the basic requirement for understanding Proverbs 27:17.

    You quote many verses, but they can not be applied to one man sharpening another if iron can not sharpen iron. Perhaps your understanding or definition of sharpening is different than mine.

    Thanks for telling me that you believe me to be in error. However iron doesn’t sharpen iron no matter what position is tried. I didn’t say that actions of one person would not cause a reaction from others. Just pointing out that iron doesn’t sharpen iron has caused a reaction from you. Why do you argue with truth? It is a fact that iron can not be used to sharpen iron. That is truth and knowing that it is apparent that what is said in the second part of the verse is not possible either. Why do you call me arrogant for agreeing with the Bible? I didn’t make iron and give it its properties and I didn’t write the Bible. All that I am trying to do is understand it. To proclaim that iron can sharpen iron, when it can not, can not lead to a correct understanding of the Word.

    There is a big difference between the NIV and KJV when comparing Proverbs 27:17.
    I understand the KJV means someone can not make someone else feel better when a disaster has befallen them. But the NIV seems to say man can not really impart knowledge to another. I believe both to be true, because I believe God to be alive and always protecting His Word.

    I agree that we should be always proclaiming God’s word, but if those who hear us do not learn it is not our fault. God’s ways are always for the good of His children. If we really had the power to sharpen another and we were not successful then we would be responsible for their demise. God does not put such a burden on man. If one takes pride in what seems like successful teaching then one should assume responsibility for the failure that results from unsuccessful teaching.

    The man that God uses greatly to proclaim His word that considers himself a successful teacher is in great danger of taking God’s glory. Consider Moses when he said “must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Num 20:10) Who was the we? He should have said “Must God bring you water out of this rock?” God did not forget what seems like a small mistake on Moses part.

    Knowledge is key to understanding, but understanding does not save. Consider Jedidiah.
    He was given the most wisdom of any man and yet he committed so much sin God took almost all of Israel away from his rule and only left enough that he could still be called a king.

    I can not convince my brothers that iron does not sharpen iron, because they do not want to be convinced. One should first learn truth before teaching and if one finds that they are wrong perhaps the best thing is to admit it and go on from there. One should make every effort to teach God’s Word as it is written and never let our own desires influence what we teach.

    I do not think teaching and sharpening share the same definition. Perhaps looking at the verse that way would make you feel better. Teachers should present the Word as the ultimate truth and let God take the glory for the sharpening.

    If you want to prove me wrong you must first sharpen iron with iron. It would be a good thing if teachers followed the advice of 1 Thessalonians 4:11 &12. Though those in the Church respect the teacher, those out side do not and the teacher becomes dependent on the Church for support.

    Now don’t get mad at me I didn’t write it. Should I keep quiet so I do not hurt anyone’s feelings and no one will call me arrogant or should I speak up that the reader might consider the verses?

    Being only a man and therefore full of error I choose to error on the side of arrogance. Please forgive me if I offended you.

  46. JoelDavid says:


    I must admit bro, that when I first read your paper I did what many here have tried to do. That is, figure out why and how you are so wrong. I can’t tell you how many men’s (and recovery) groups I attended that use that very verse are a foundation for the need to stay in fellowship with other men.

    And to hear you so succinctly obliterate the idea that men can (in any way) truly help “sharpen” each other…Wow! You have to be wrong, because it disagrees with my original viewpoint.

    I must admit I spent some quality time chewing on the point you brought up. And, as I often do when faced with difficult new concepts, I did the best I could to ignore it. But as he does from time to time, God kept kicking my conscience to look into this further for myself.

    Now, as for me, I have no where near the metallurgical knowledge that you clearly do. That being said, it doesn’t take more than a basic understanding of the material to acknowledge that no…iron cannot truly sharpen iron. But, as someone pointed out months ago, a blacksmiths tools for forming iron are, coincidentally, ALSO made out of iron.

    Not taking anything away from the undeniable truth that it still takes a rock to TRULY sharpen iron (and I love that part of your paper best). If an iron hammer pounding on another piece of iron changes its general shape from round to a point, wouldn’t that technically be “sharpening”, even if it is crude? Granted, it would be a uselessly dull tool, but isn’t it easier to sharpen something pointy than something rounded off?

    The point I’m trying to make (haha) is that I think there may be room here for more than the absolute yes or no interpretation. As I see it Proverbs 27:17 is a verse of the need for fellowship and accountability. When these two disciplines are exercised in good faith by godly men, awesome things can happen. I have seen men standing on the precipice of disaster saved because other men stepped in and called them on their downward spiral of sin. I have trouble accepting that God doesn’t expect men to help keep each other effective in our walk with Christ.

    Case in point: Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to, “…encourage one another and build each other up…”

    Now in both these examples I admit it is God that has the ultimate task of placing the edge on his tool, but don’t these passages point to our creators expectation that we should help keep each other pounded into the right general shape?

    As I have found (from personal experience) when God steps in to reshape his tools the experience can be quite painful. If however, a person is willing to be corrected by other brothers when necessary, a tool that is entirely dull can be brought to a point and more easily sharpened.

    I believe the strongest argument for this case comes from Galatians 6:1-2 “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

    You see brother, I think you are right, and wrong in the sense that we cannot sharpen each other. Just as iron can be used to bang another piece of iron into shape, in doing so it too can lose its effectiveness. I can help a friend from falling into sin but in doing so risk falling into the same sin myself, and we both need frequent sharpening by the master.

    Lastly, I have to admit (thanks to you), I feel as though I have a greater understanding of Proverbs 27:17. For all the reliance on other men that people use to help restore them from sin, it is only God that can perfectly sharpen them and restore the usefulness and purpose to his tool. I hate to tell you this brother, but in some small fashion, you have sharpened me.

  47. astudent says:


    I have to laugh. I did the same thing and had the same thoughts when it dawned on me that iron can not sharpen iron.
    Perhaps those that read this thread are reading something into it that I did not say. I did not say man can not help to sharpen others. A man can do everything for another except actually sharpen him. If the dull man does not wrestle with God in his own mind he will not be sharpened. God has reserved the role of teacher for Himself. He knows more about metallurgy than any man. He made iron and made it with out the ability to sharpen its self.
    It is important that we understand that it is only God that sharpens another so that we will not view ourselves as teachers. That will lead to pride in our false abilities.
    It already has caused us to stray from the Word of God. We are told in 1 Corinthians 14 how to conduct a service. It should be a large Bible study with everyone who feels lead by the Spirit to have an opportunity to prophesy (Speak about God), but it is mixed in with instructions about speaking in tongues and no one seems to grasp it. A proper church service is not a lecture by one man.
    We teach others to be teachers and leaders when we should be helping them to understand that God wants servants.
    That was a nice try when you said perhaps one can form a pointed tool, but can you really say it has an edge? As I see, it has a point, but no edge.
    We sharpen a tool in order to cut something with it. One cuts with an axe by striking a tree perpendicular to it on the first stroke. The second stroke is to strike the tree just above the first stroke and at an angle that will cause the blade to intersect the cut of the first stroke. This cuts off a small piece of the tree. One can not chop down a tree with a dull axe, because it only smashes the fibers of the tree and does not separate any of them from the tree.
    Though one can puncture a tree with a pointed tool I do not see how it would be possible to strike it the second time with an angle that would cut away a chip.
    Even having said that, it is not possible to pound an edge on to a tool. One must back up the piece that is being beaten with an anvil. If you strike a piece of metal that is supported on the back side it shrinks the top side. That would raise the edge that one is trying to pound thin and the next time it is struck, because it has curled up, it will not be backed up and it will break as a result.
    Spurring one another on toward love and good deeds along with encouraging is not teaching. God already taught us that we should do such things.
    I see Galatians 6:1&2 is a strong argument for what I have been saying. If the person is a brother he already knows he is caught in a sin. We are not teaching him anything, but helping him overcome his problem. That is as the last part of the verse says “in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. That is do to others as you would have them do to you.
    As for your words of thanks, please thank the one who sharpens you. I am not that one. I only prophesied about God’s Word and that is only because God is teaching me.
    It is my goal to present what I believe God has taught me and thereby cause others to at least consider the truth in it. Sometimes others will point out where I am wrong and cause me to go back to the Spirit and wrestle some more on the subject. Believe it or not, but I consider it a blessing to be wrong. No one ever learned anything by being right.

  48. Chris Barnes says:

    Round and Round we go (still). Is this your longest running post? I really just stopped by to let you know that I’ve added you to my blogroll.

  49. astudent says:


    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. This post is the most viewed and still the most read. It continues to tickles me that I tried to explain something that in my explanation I admitted it was not possible to do so! Life is a lot of fun if you don’t take it to serious!

  50. Chuck says:

    This really made me think about what it is that I believe. But I have to ask (because I dont have the resources to find out myself), if we are using the different versions of the bible and the different languages they were written in, is the word “sharpens” really the one and only translation of the original word? I havent had time to read all of the comments so you might have covered it but if not, is there a way to find out?

  51. astudent says:


    Yes, there is Strong’s Concordance which gives the original word from the language it was first written, the word sharpens is translated from the word
    chadad, khaw-dad’; a prim. root; to be (caus. make) sharp or (fig.) severe:–be fierce, sharpen.
    That should cause you to look up the word for “sharpen” which is
    shanan, shaw-nan’; a prim. root; to point (trans. or intrans); intens. to pierce; fig. to inculcate:–prick, sharp (-en), teach diligently, whet.
    It is translated whet in the KJV and sharpen in the NIV.
    I would recommend a good computer Bible that includes many translations along with Strong’s. There is a free program called e-sword that includes many translations and Strong’s (google it), but because the NIV is copy written (Yes that is amazing that the Word of God could be copy written by man!) the NIV has a price. As I see it one can not pay too much for the Word of God. If it cost everything one has it is a bargain.

  52. John A. says:

    Iron goes through many phases when heated to high temperatures. When quenched at a certain temperature, the structure of the iron is maintained at the level where the quenching takes place. In that case, one can quench from a cast iron phase and then the hardened iron could sharpen iron at a lesser hardness. This process, interestingly enough, is called transformation. In addition, there were metallurgists, in those days who understood those things.

  53. astudent says:

    John A.

    The process is correctly called “Tempering” – To harden or strengthen (metal or glass) by application of heat or by heating and cooling. (American Heritage Dictionary)

    Iron can not be hardened by this process. Steel can be, but iron can not.

    I believe that you are correct when you say that there were metallurgists that understood those things. There are today also and if you studied metallurgy a bit more you could even understand.

    Even if you used a cutter made of tool steel to shape a sword you would still sharpen it with a stone. Did then, do now, nothings changed.

  54. John A says:

    When I referred to iron, I should have used quotation marks. In that day, during the processing of the iron ore, elements (alloying contaminants)that changed the properties of the “iron,” were probably added to the molten mix. In essence, the result was iron and alloying elements which then could be seen as a somewhat random alloyed steel. When the ingot was cooled, the “iron” temperature could then be raised to a predetermined value and quenched so that the “transformed” phase structure would be maintained at the end of the quench. If you were to walk into a metallurgy processing facility and suggest that you want to temper a 50 lb. ingot, they would look at you strangely. Tempering is usually used as a word referring to tools. I found your comment that “if you studied metallurgy………………..” to be quite amusing. I was employed as a scientist in a metallurgy and ceramics laboratory of a major company as a transmission electron microscopist. My total TEM and SEM in that field spans 50 years. So, please do not be judgmental after you have read a few sentences in a blog. Luv ya!

  55. astudent says:

    John A,

    Well now we are both amused. I am amused by a scientist that worked in a metallurgy lab that can confuse iron with steel! Iron is an element and steel is an alloy of iron (Just for others that might read this) and I always viewed scientist as those who strived to be correct. I even admire scientist, because they strive to be correct and clear!

    I really was not clear when I said the process was tempering as it is a two part process where the item is first heated to either a red or white hot condition and then quenched. Then it is tempered.

    You are correct when you said tempering is usually used as a word referring to tools, but after all that is what we are referring to when we quote the verse “As iron sharpens iron”.

    Actually craftsman did make steel by beating carbon into iron, but they only knew that iron from certain areas made good swords. They didn’t understand what they were doing or they could have made steel with out the extra effort, although it wouldn’t and isn’t as decorative as Damascus steel. They also did not have blast furnaces and did not cast ingots. The process used produced small “blooms” of iron and as far as I know they did not posses a type of furnace that could melt these blooms into an ingot. I could be wrong about that, but it seems to me that a blast furnace is required to raise the temperature high enough to accomplish this and as I said they did not have the technology of a blast furnace.

    I am not and do not mean to appear judgmental about you personally. However I must judge your comments, as you judge mine. If either of us does not attempt to judge accurately then we waste our time and confuse others. (1 Cor 2:15 NIV) The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment. I apologize if I have offended you in any way. It is hard to judge a man’s sense of humor so I just look at every one as having the same as I do.

    I believe that understanding God’s word should be and is my main objective. The verse is not “as steel sharpens steel’, but “as iron sharpens iron” and I attempt to be as clear and correct as I can be. Also the verse is speaking about tools and not 50 lb ingots. Just to be clear those who cast 50 lb ingots do heat treat them for different purposes and they are tempered. All one has to do is Google “tool steel ingots” to check what I said! You are correct that they would look at me strangely, but not because of what I asked. Ha, I have even gotten to like being strangely looked at!

    I believe your comment was an honest attempt to clarify your views. However I do not believe you are correct and my comments are only an attempt to prove my views. I also love you and do not mean to judge you: only your views.

    I have spent most of my life trying to be the best at what I did and every now and then someone that had not spent a day working in my field would tell me something that would clarify a problem that had stumped me. When it happens the first time it really can anger someone because it hurts their pride, but then one shouldn’t have pride. Once I came to terms with that and realized I didn’t know everything, even about the career that I had chosen, I found that I could laugh at myself and enjoy the lesson.

    Have you reached that point yet?

  56. Pastor Wright says:

    To the Author,
    I underdstand your acknowledgement of man’s flaws and we all acknowledge our imperfections. But as we know the Bible also said that god gave us ascension gifts in the book of Eohesians 4:11 and one of those gifts was teachers. So for you to say that no one is qualified to teach, makes this passage of scripture a lie or you are saying that God intentionally gave us a defective gift- which he did not. Also if you look in your scriptures you will find that Jesus was called teacher or Rabbi (same thing) more than anything else in the bible. And because this gift has such a higher level of accountabilty because of the impact it has on human souls is the reason why the warnings to teachers and the rebuke to them was so harsh from Jesus. It is absoluely doctrinal error for you to say that no man is qualified to teach when Jesus himself decreed that after His departure, that we would do “greater works”- meaning the work He started would be multiplied. If Timothy 2:15 tells us to study to show ourselves approved and the proverbs tells us that a man that judges himself by his own standard is a fool- then when we study we must have another standard (that is verified by two or more witnesses )to establish truth. Someone more mature in understanding that can help us from the milk to the meat of the word. Why would God giv us teachers in the five fold ministry if they were not called and ordained by Him?

  57. astudent says:

    Pastor Wright,

    Well, it wasn’t my idea to say that no one is qualified to teach and I will be happy to say some man can teach, just as son as the laws of physics are changed and iron can sharpen iron! And I will be willing to call a man teacher when God’s Word is changed!

    You are correct when you cite Ephesians 4:11; however there is a difference between teaching and calling one’s self a teacher. You said that I should look in my scriptures and I thought that was odd. Scripture is God’s word: not mine and it is Scripture that I do consult. When verses are found that seem to contradict it is always because they are not understood.

    You might want to consider (Mat 23:8-10 NIV) “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. (1 Cor 2:16 NIV) “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

    The truth is we are all students, under one Master and Teacher. If we present the message of God one might view us as teachers, but it would be wrong to accept the title, or not to correct those who believe we are.

    Why would anyone call themselves a teacher when the very Book they claim to teach states clearly not to call themselves teachers and not to call anyone else teachers?

    If one is a good student of Scripture and lives accordingly they do right, but not doing as God says leads to problems that are not at first apparent. You see if one believes it is right to be called a teacher the next logical step is to form a school devoted to turning out others that call themselves and others teachers. Think about that. God says do not do it and yet we find an excuse and a way to do just what God said not to!

    Then after one becomes a teacher the next step is to teach! One is supposed to preach and those who are not so gifted or knowledgeable are supposed to sit quietly and listen, but all men are flawed and no one man understands everything so the flock is lead astray.

    God has given us a plan for meeting together and it is not a sermon given by one man. It is hidden in the verses about speaking in tongues. (1 Cor 14:26-31 NIV) “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”

    Of course Jesus was called teacher and Rabbi, because he is THE teacher and Rabbi! Jesus only said what the Father told him to say (John 12:50) so the words of Jesus are actually the words of God. That does not mean that we are teachers or Rabbis.

    When Jesus said (John 14:12 NIV) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”. He was speaking of the miracles that he preformed and the greatest of those were raising the dead. Those that Jesus raised from the dead were not raised spiritually a new person and they still faced the second death. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus those believers that are baptized are raised spiritually, a new person that will live forever and that is what Jesus meant when he said those who have faith will do what I have been doing and even greater things. It is a greater thing to raise someone to live forever than to raise someone to physical life.

    (Prov 26:12 NIV) “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him”. When God says you are not to be called teacher or Rabbi and you say, or imply that you should be are you wise in God’s eyes or your own?

    You ask why God would give teachers as though those teachers were correct in everything they do. God allows all kinds of errors, but that does not mean He approves of them.

    Now having said all of this there is a place for teachers. Those who are yet to turn, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit need someone to teach and convince them, because they do not have “The Teacher”. The problem seems to arise when that person believes he, or she is a teacher and must continue to teach those who have received the Holy Spirit. You see both Ephesians 4:11 and Mathew 23:10 are correct! It just depends on who the student is!

    Pastor Wright, God didn’t call me to be a Minister. It is obvious that I would run more people off than I would cause to stay, but He has given me some understanding of His Word because I asked. So I will say “If you want a strong Church then change the format to that which God has suggested”. He said it was necessary to strengthen the Church and He is never wrong. Consider yourself a prophet, not a teacher, change your title, and your service, and then 1 Cor. 14:24&25 can and will be fulfilled.

    Now, I am only a student and I suppose I have angered you, but that was and is not my intention. I only want others to consider what I say and consult The Teacher to determine if what I have said is correct. If you find truth it is not I that taught. I can only offer the questions that I have and the answers that seem correct to me. God is the only one that can teach, because He is the only one that knows everything and He is so wonderful that He has promised to give us the answers if we only ask.

  58. rita says:

    Just a note. Iron comes in many “hardnesses” and on the farm we use an iron file to sharpen our iron hoes. In the blacksmith shop we often anneal iron so that we can sharpen and shape it with iron and then we temper it to the hardness it needs for its job.

    Iron sharpens iron all the time. I think the problem comes in assuming that all iron is the same.

    Humans “sharpen” one another often. That is part of how we grow and mature as spirtual and emotional beings.

  59. astudent says:


    That is a name I love. It was the name my mother went by.

    Anyway, I know you mean well, however to watch someone perform a task does not impart the knowledge or skills required to accomplish it.

    Iron can be softened, but not hardened. Hoes are made of steel not iron and there is no such thing as an iron file. No one would waste their time making a file that can not be hardened.

    All iron is the same. It is an element. Steel is an alloy of iron and steel can be hardened.

    Humans will be able to “sharpen” one another when God changes the elements. At this time God has made iron too soft and without the ability to be hardened, so in the world which we live it is not possible to sharpen iron with iron.

    I ask everyone to research the question. The web is just full of answers and because anyone that reads my blog has the ability to do so, it did not sound like an unreasonable suggestion. However if it is too much trouble I will do some of the work for you.

    Try the article titled “Blacksmith” in the Wikipedia Simple English Encyclopedia.
    Notice the part that says, “If a blacksmith has a piece of iron or steel, but does not know which one it is, the blacksmith can heat-treat it like steel. If it does not become hard, then it is not steel. Iron will show the same temper colors as steel, but it will not be hard.”

    I hope I have not been to abrasive with my answer.

    It is odd that anyone would forge their own tools. I came from a farming region and no one forged their own tools even then. Better tools could be purchased even back then than one could make.

    The only instance where I know blacksmithing skill is still employed is to make horse shoes. There are those who blacksmith for a hobby, but then I freely admit that I do not know everything.

  60. Aaron says:

    Arguing semantics. I believe the verse can be interpreted as your point of view- man can be sharpened by God, rather than man alone.

    I also believe the verse can be interpreted as the classical thought- friends can help those around them when they stumble in their respective walks, or continually push each other to become better individuals (through the Spirit). The Word _is_ alive.

    You are quick to dismiss other thoughts different
    from your own as irrational or illogical, which is somewhat ironic, since it seems you’ve started this blog for being chastised in your specific beliefs.

    I was hesitant to post, but it seems some people walk away reading this specific post feeling conflicted, rather than feeling enlightened. You say about yourself, and man in general, are not teachers; but then why post a blog in cyberspace, where your thoughts and ideas are open to millions around the world? Were you not attempting to provoke some rational discussion, or have those who stumble across the blog to re-examine and re-think about this classical verse differently? I would imagine it was to exchange ideas and thoughts, and if you dont understand that to be teaching to some, than we can have a logical discussion on that as well.

    And if you are so in tune with being literal, I take it that women can be teachers, although not men, correct? Because you stated on August 5th, 2008, that “I wouldn’t recommend any man as a teacher.” Well since you did not specifically say “mankind” or “woman”, Ill take it to mean that only the male gender cannot be teachers, but that females can.

    And I have never seen a sharp man (or woman) in my entire life. I have seen astute, or intelligent men and women, but since we are inherently shapely and our bodies are covered with soft tissue, can we ever become “sharp” like a blade, whether through God or man?

    See? I can do that too. A rose by any other name..

    I think by taking this approach you take some illogical presumptions: for one, you claim all iron is equal. As stated by numerous other posts above, all iron is not equal, although it still remains iron. ((As an aside, I just re-read and saw that rita posted this. As a response to her you claim all iron _is_ equal but you contradict yourself on August 1st, 2008 when you explain the different types of iron, with varying degrees of hardness, which itself makes it different)) And as man goes, although we are all created equal, all life experiences are not equal. Levels of knowledge and understanding are not equal. So if one can impart knowledge or advice through their own experiences, I would be a fool not to, at the minimum, mull over their ideas to form my own conclusion, based on where I feel the Spirit is leading me.

    You can quote scripture with the best of them, and I’m sure you will pull up or redirect me to certain verses re-enforcing your point. But again, as others have done before, there are other verses that support a different point of view from yours as well. That is fundamentally the basis for my post.

    I appreciate finding this blog, because your interpretation has led me to see this great verse in a different light; whereas I can appreciate seeing things in different views, you seem to be near-sighted and stubborn in yours. You say 1+3=4, while I (and others) are saying that 2+2=4 as well. Same ending, different paths. We can see your interpretation and appreciate it, but you only are concerned with being “right” and all other interpretations as “wrong.”

    Can you see the forest through the trees? I would offer words of encouragement, but then again, as being only a man, it would probably fall on deaf ears. I will pray for you though. I enjoy your posts, but definitely do not enjoy your condescending replies to people.

    And when you respond to this post to explain to me how I am wrong, please refer to specific quotes in a linear path so this can continue as a logical progression.

  61. astudent says:


    After the blog and all of the comments how can you think that my point of view is man can sharpen man? I did not say we could be sharpened by God, rather than man “alone”. I said iron can not sharpen iron——-iron is always sharpened with a stone. God is the stone that sharpens man.

    Neither did I say that man cannot help those around them when they stumble.

    I am not quick to dismiss anyone’s thoughts. I try to carefully consider others interpretations and just as carefully explain what I believe.

    Of course others walk away feeling conflicted after reading my blog. I say things that they have not heard before and they go away thinking about what I said. My only hope is they will consult Scripture to see if what I say is true and not look to others for an answer.

    You bet I want others to re-think and re-examine this verse. I post this because I am a student of Scripture, not a teacher, and I invite comments from other students. It seems as though I have some problems from those who want to call themselves teachers even when Scripture forbids it.

    To be clear: again I am only a student just like any student in any class. I am not the teacher and I can not be the teacher. However any student in any class can discuss the subject with other students without being the teacher. If some student, because of their great understanding, should stand up in class and claim to be the teacher it would not make them the teacher. It would only show them to be disrespectful of the teacher and also more proud than intelligent.

    I am bound by Scripture not to let anyone call me teacher and if the roles are reversed it is just as wrong for me to call any man teacher. (Mat 23:10)

    I have accomplished my goal when you say my interpretation has led you to see the verse in a different light. However I can see from your first paragraph you do not understand my interpretation. We have not reached the same conclusion. My conclusion is man “can not” sharpen man and yours seems to be that man “can” sharpen man. One of us has 4 for an answer and the other has 3 or 5.

    Can you comment with out accusing? That is Satan’s job and I don’t think he really needs any help: certainly not when he is accusing me anyway.

    It helps to progress in a linear path if we start from the beginning quote and that would be mine, “It is a physical fact that iron does not sharpen iron”. It also helps if we do not try to cover too much ground at one time. So try not to add too many points at one time as that only serves to confuse and not clarify.

  62. Frank says:

    Good comments. Amazing what can be thought about and understood or constructively challenged from a short verse.

  63. Steve says:

    I have often wondered how iron can sharpen iron. And I am with the astudent for the most part. Most sharpening is done as he relates. The only possible way I can think that iron can somewhat sharpen iron would be for a piece to be heated to forging heat and beat out with a somewhat work hardened iron hammer on a somewhat work hardened iron anvil. A good blacksmith can make a narrower edge from a broader edge that will certainly be sharper than when he started forging it. I have watched African blacksmiths make arrows and spear points quite sharp by forging alone.

  64. Rocky says:

    Actually, knives ARE sharped by using a steel. Done it for years.

  65. astudent says:


    It is amazing what we sometimes do and do not quite understand what we have done: even for years. If you had read all of the comments and I understand why you did not as there are a lot of them, you would know that steeling a blade cannot sharpen it. A steel is only a tool to bend the edge straight. If the blade is dull, all the steeling in the world will not sharpen it. Do not take my word for it, just do as I suggested and test me. At least Google something about steeling.

  66. astudent says:


    Next time you are in Africa, ask the blacksmith if he is working iron or steel. Any way swords were made the same way, however after the sword was formed it was always sharpened with a stone. Just as the arrow and spear points would have been.

    The verse is not ‘as iron forms iron so one man forms another’. No matter how seemingly sharp the tool may look, after it is formed, it is always sharpened with a stone and any craftsman that makes tools would know that.

    It really doesn’t matter how badly we do not want to admit it. The truth is iron does not and cannot sharpen iron.

    As I try to understand all of the comments, I can see that I am just a big iron hammer pounding on other iron hammers and no one is getting any sharper.

  67. Steve says:


    I hear you and get your point. Iron cannot sharpen iron. A wrought iron hammer and anvil can forge somewhat of an edge on a blade of wrought iron but it must be stoned or filed in order to get a sharp edge. But it won’t last because it is iron and not steel. And even if it was steel would have to be heat treated. I have read many of your comments above and am not sharper because of it because you cannot sharpen me. Thanks but not thanks?

    Iron indeed cannot sharpen iron and not even filing with a fine file or or stoning with a diamond lap will give iron a lasting edge. If it is being used and not just sitting around, it will have to be stoned or filed often in order to provide even a transient edge and will eventually be all ground or filed away.

  68. astudent says:


    Yes, we agree. That is not to say that we cannot help each other. Because we have the perfect teacher, all we need are the questions! The more we talk and think about Scripture the more questions we have for the Spirit that dwells within us. Perhaps we can push each other against the Stone.

    One of the important points that I see in this understanding is that God receives all of the credit, or glory if we learn anything. And He should.

    Ha, your welcome, or not.

  69. Steve says:


    The Fruit of the Spirit should be our constant reality if he is indeed our life. By the way – what’s your real name? Mine is Steve.

    Here’s a question for you that I have researched extensively. What does Deuteronomy 32:11 and 12 mean?

    Not to sharpen you or anything, but just as a help from my limited perspective. Your stridency reminds me of myself a few years ago. I was sure zealous for the truth but was having trouble communicating it in love. To me the tone of some of your comments above don’t come across very loving. Just a thought.

    I really am curious about the eagle passage if you’re up to the challenge.

    Just in Jesus,

  70. Steve says:


    You wrote elsewhere:

    “nothing is ever sharpened with a metal tool. Metal can be cut and shaped with another metal tool that is much harder, but never sharpened with it. Everything is always sharpened with a stone; no exceptions”.

    This is simply not true. Not all cutting edges are such that only a stone can sharpen them. There are many exceptions. Many edges are so hard that only a stone can sharpen them but not all and it is easy to prove. You can sharpen a knife with a file with which no one would want to be sliced and anyone including you would appreciate for its sharpness. Granted it would not be razor sharp but would rather have hundreds of thousands of microscopic teeth on the edge.

    If by sharpen you mean razor sharp, than say so! At best you are confusing people at worst you are causing them to stumble. How far can you swim with a millstone around your neck? This is serious!

    You have got to back it down at least a little!

    Just in Jesus,

  71. david kennedy says:

    If you think it is a physical fact that iron cannot sharpen iron then you need to take a course in metallurgy. Iron is a most interesting material, with many stable phases at normal temperatures and pressures, some harder than others. So, indeed a file made of iron (and some other alloyed elements, properly heat treated) can indeed sharpen an axe or sword of a different (or even the same) alloy (with a different thermal history). The steels are both of them comprised of more than 95% iron. I was googling for the bible verse, not physics. But the writer of the Proverb had superior knowledge to yours on this point. If I were you, I would fix my commentary.


  72. astudent says:


    And if I were you, I would take my own advice and read all of the comments to this post.
    All of your points have been addressed at least once.

    The writer of the verse shares my views, because He wrote the verse.

    If I were you, I would fix my understanding.

    Just to get you started, iron alloyed with other elements is steel not iron. The verse is not as steel sharpens iron. Just in case you miss it in the comments, nothing, not even steel, is sharpened with anything but a stone.

  73. astudent says:


    If you are still there I apologize for not answering you. I try to answer everyone that comments, but somehow I missed you.

    I purposefully do not give my real name. I try to let the Holy Spirit speak through me and if someone learns anything from these posts and comments it does not come from me; only through me. So the Spirit should get all of the credit, or glory, and I should only receive credit for my own mistakes. If I gave my real name someone might give me credit for what the Spirit does and I do not want that, so I have decided to stay in the background as much as possible.

    You raise a very good question when you ask me about Deut. 32:11&12. I have heard it used in sermons more than once and so I researched the physical meaning first. I could find no reference of an eagle catching it’s young. I have been told in sermons that is the way an eagle teaches it’s young to fly, but an eagle is full grown before it begins to learn to fly. I have seen a nature show where a young eagle was eaten by a predator because it was not strong enough to fly back to its nest. I am not saying it doesn’t happen, only that I have found no proof of it.

    Having found no proof of it I think it means that God did unnatural things to protect and teach His chosen people. You would have to admit that it was not natural for a God to protect and teach a people that treated Him as His chosen people did (and do).

    However, after saying all of this I certainly would be grateful if you could and would show me some proof of an eagle catching and carrying its young.

    Where do my brothers get the understanding that we have, or even should be politically correct with our answers? If I rebuke someone everyone thinks that I shouldn’t! If you want to understand me read about Elihu (Job 32 to 38). (Job 32:2122 NIV) I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man; for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.

    If my words make someone mad they should examine themselves to find out why it did so. If I say someone is wrong and it makes them angry isn’t it because they are proud of their opinion? If they are right and I say they are not, does that make them wrong?

    You can shape a knife with a file, but you can not sharpen it with one. You want me to put a modifier in front of the word “sharpen” that would mask the meaning of it. It is really a mute point because there was no steel when the verse was written and it was as true when it was written as it is today.

    If you took your knife to someone to be sharpened and he pulled out a file, I would suggest you go find someone that knew how to sharpen a knife.

    No, I do not, nor will I back it down; even a little. God’s word and the understanding of it is far too important to consider changing it, or me in order to appease anyone. And I am serious.

  74. BigWill says:

    I have found your comments to be very interesting. You raise some very interesting points. I have found several points that you have stated that I agree with. I have found some that cause me pause.

    A point that I am currently prayerfully considering is just how literally the word “sharpen” should be taken. Now please understand that I believe that the Bible should be taken literally whenever possible, however, we also have to remember that audience that the scripture was written for. Clearly, the world is not filled with blacksmiths. To most of the world, if a knife were to begin cutting ineffectively, it would be considered to be dull, when, in fact, the edge could simply be rolled over. A simple solution to this would be to straighten the edge, which could indeed be done by use of an iron or steel rod. To the common man, this would appear to be “sharpening” the knife.

    I find it disturbing that many Christians use this verse to defend “judging” other Christians. I do not believe that we are accountable to one another. I can not find that anywhere in the scriptures. However, given the understanding of this particular scripture, that I believe the Holy Spirit has led me to, I am compelled to believe that we are to help each other keep that edge straight. I do not believe that this is an adversarial process, but rather a cooperative one. Obviously, when using a steel “sharpening” tool, the angle of the blade to the tool is not perpendicular, but rather much closer to the angle of the blade itself.

    Early in the posts, you seemed to equate “sharpening” to salvation. If that is your position, I would agree that sharpening can only be accomplished with a stone. I believe that stone to be the “Rock” of Jesus Christ. However, I have not previously equated sharpening with salvation.

    Again, I have found your position to be interesting and thought provoking. Thank you for the opportunity to consider what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you.

  75. astudent says:


    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
    A steel used to bend an edge straight again is a reiteratively new tool. A knife made of the best steel is hard and yet is not brittle. It can be made thin and yet it will still not bend easily. An iron blade as thin as knifes that we enjoy now would, if made of wrought iron, bend before it cut anything harder than butter and if made of cast iron it would break.
    You have to already have an edge on a knife before it can be straightened so you have to use a stone to sharpen the utensil before you can bend the edge.
    It is true that people nowadays think that they are sharpening a knife when they steel it, however they are not. One who understands the process knows this. If you were to make a knife from scratch, you would have to sharpen it with a stone, not a piece of iron. There is no doubt in my mind that God knows how to make and sharpen a knife.
    You do not have to be a blacksmith to understand that a dull knife cannot be sharpened with a bending tool. You only have to try it. If you do try it, make sure the tool is dull and not just bent. The verse is “As iron sharpens iron”, not, “as iron bends iron”.
    You are right when you say, “To the common man, this would appear to be “sharpening” the knife. However, it would not be sharpening it. I believe that if that is what God meant then He would have said, “appear to sharpen”, but He said, “sharpen”.

    1Co 5:12 Is it my business to judge those outside the church? Aren’t you supposed to judge those inside the church?

    I think we confuse the word “judge” with the word “condemn”. I do believe we are accountable to each other. If I say to someone that I will do something, am I not accountable to them? If someone commits a crime against another, they are accountable, by law, to the victim. Consider Gen 43:9, Num 30:15, 1 Sam 22:22, especially Eze 3:18&20, 33:6&8, 34:10, and also Mal 2:14.
    I also think that we should help each other. However, we are not the teacher. We can examine Scripture together and give our interpretations, but it is God that gives understanding. The best that we can do is supply the questions.

    You did make me think when you said that I equated “sharpening” with salvation. I did not mean it that way. I equate “sharpening” with “understanding” However, one does have to understand the basics before they would even ask God for salvation. So, when viewed from that angle, I would equate “sharpening” with “salvation”, but only as a step in the process.

    It is my intention to provoke thought and you have pleased me by your comments. I do appreciate the comments of someone that has thought about the subject. Thanks again.

  76. BigWill says:

    I agree that God would understand the difference between sharpening and straightening. However, Proverbs was not written for God. It was written for “the common man”. The first verses of the book are very clear about this.

    I also believe that is is clear that the proverbs are not necessarily to be taken literally, word for word. or example, Proverbs 27:18 “The one who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever takes care of his master will be honored.” I feel reasonably certain that in history there has been at least one person who has tended a fig tree that did not eat it’s fruit. However, the symbolism of the proverb makes sense and delivers a point.

    Also Proverbs 27:22 “If you should pound the fool in the mortar among the grain with the pestle,
    his foolishness would not depart from him.” This Proverb uses a hypothetical illustration to make a point. Obviously it does not advocate crushing some one (foolish or not) and mixing them with mortar.

    Rather, it is my assertion that Proverbs uses imagery that people can relate to in making a point.

    I also appreciate your statements regarding accountability. I have my “knee jerk” reactions to your position, however rather than posting them now, I am going to reserve comment until I study your post and search the scriptures.

    Once again, thank you for your thoughtful responses. I appreciate the sharpening. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  77. astudent says:


    I think that we both agree that God wrote the Bible for man. I see it as God using men as we would use our own hand and I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that He didn’t want there and nothing left out that He didn’t want to be left out.

    I also agree that God uses hypothetical illustrations to give understanding. Because iron will not sharpen iron, I understand Proverbs 27:17 to mean man cannot sharpen man.

    You see we agree about the basics, it is only the understanding of the verse on which we do not agree.

    I see only two possible meanings for the verse. If iron could sharpen iron then man can sharpen man and if not, then not.

    This isn’t rocket science. It is grade school science. If I, being a man, could teach other men it would be accepted and understood, but God is the teacher, not me. If anyone really wants to learn what the verse means wouldn’t they attempt to sharpen iron with iron? It can be verified and would remove any doubt in the mind of one who attempts it! However, because men do not want to believe they cannot sharpen others it is argued over and over: and by those who really do not want to understand. Let me say it one more time “It can be verified”.

    You do right by not accepting what I say about accountability as truth. You do understand that understanding comes from the Word of God and not from a man like me. You see that by your actions you believe man cannot sharpen man. I gave only the questions and you knew they were only questions: not answers. You know that only God gives understanding and you are going to Scripture to see if what I said is true. Deep down in your heart you know man cannot sharpen man. Ha, Ha (Sorry, I couldn’t resist either)

    Sharpen or not it is a pleasure to trade ideas of understanding with you.

  78. jerie says:

    you write really good astudent! and this discussion continued on for almost 3 years now , just great!

  79. astudent says:


    Thanks for the complement. I didn’t realize it had been that long and I am glad you are enjoying the discussion. Isn’t it really great to be able to trade comments about the Word of God? I am learning as I go.

  80. Justareader says:

    Ok I have read every last one of the comments and I believe that Iron is a sturdy solid and nothing can sharpen hard can sharpen iron, i believe it takes a light substance to sharpen iron. I believe we are the sharpenee and God is the sharpener. Only HE can sharpen us and through him sharpening us we are able to build up and help our brothers and sisters in christ.

  81. Justareader says:

    correction, nothing hard can sharpen iron*

  82. astudent says:


    You win the prize! That is exactly what I believe. Though I do not claim to be the Teacher, perhaps I have helped other students understand. You have encouraged me. Bottom line is it takes a stone to sharpen iron and God is our Stone. I started to look up verses that refer to our Father as a Stone or a Rock, but there are so many I will let you look some of them up. Jesus, who was the perfect image of God, is also referred to as a stone. (STONE – Psa 118:22, Isa 8:13&14-28:16, Mark 12:10, 1 Peter 2:4) (ROCK – Gen 49:24 & 25, Deu 32:3&4 ——-

  83. james says:

    I have a difference of opinion on the verse in Proverbs–But to me that’t the great thing about two or more being gathered in His name. We don’t have to have the same dogma and theology, we just have to be together under his sun and the rain he sends down!

    I see a way in which two brothers/sisters in Christ ARE “iron sharpening iron.” It was certainly illuminating to read what sharpening really entails, though. I guess I am taking Proverbs literally because the book IS proverbial. It is full of “conventional wisdom” like Ben Franklin’s proverbs or others in our nation’s tradition (“all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” etc.).

    Jesus sort of turned conventional wisdom on its head, I believe. Loving one’s enemies makes about as much practical sense as workers who show up on the job late get paid exactly as much as those who are freshly scrubbed and on time.

    Maybe there’s something in the four gospels that could illuminate this saying in Proverbs.

  84. astudent says:


    Have you realized that the Holy Spirit is always with you, so there are always two? If you can get the Spirit to agree with you what ever you want will be done for you!

    I would say Proverbs is full of Spiritual wisdom. It just uses examples from the world to teach it.

    It is practical to love your enemies when you understand God’s word. We will not be here very long and neither will our enemies. If we hate our enemies, we will not properly represent God. Our enemies will hate us in return and we could never convince them to turn to God. Also, if you love someone they will be less likely to do something against you. They may still do so, but not so much.

    The Kingdom of God cannot be earned, so it makes no difference when one starts to do as God wants and we are all promised the same reward no matter when we accept Jesus as Lord.

    You pose a good question. Though I have found nothing about iron sharpening iron, I did find many verses that say God gives wisdom. Probably the best is Chapter 13 of Matthew where Jesus is explaining parables. Those who do not recognize God are not recognized in return. God does not teach them as He teaches us (if we will listen).

    As I was reading Chapter 13, I noticed that the NIV used the word teacher in 13:52. (Mat 13:52) He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” But the KJV correctly translates the word as “scribe”. (Mat 13:52) Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

    I am not saying that we should do nothing. I believe we should preach or talk about God, but if those that we speak to have calloused hearts even God will not teach them.

  85. Karlos says:

    Sharpen up your spelling…

  86. astudent says:


    Wish I could. I spelllll abot the same way I singggggg.
    But even at that, you still understood me.

  87. Doug says:

    Hi astudent,

    I came across this by accident. James in Michigan, I think, gave you a very good answer and I am somewhat surprised that you hold the same view now as you did in 2007. Iron does sharpen iron.

    I have not read all the other responses.

    The above video is of a blacksmith turning a rasp, which is very hard metal into a froe, which is used to split logs. No stone required, and he built it using much softer metal tools. If he used harder tools, he would be in danger of pieces flying off and injuring him.

    Did you also know that metal can be cut and sharpened with a water jet? Also that the final edge on a really sharp tool is finished with a leather strop?

    Have you ever seen a steel that chefs use to keep the edge on their knives? Did you know that chickens and cutting boards that are much softer that steel, will dull knives?

    Did you know that if you took a diamond out of a ring and placed it on that anvil and hit it with that hammer, it would turn into diamond dust?

    You should try taking a block of metal to a blacksmith and ask him if he can make it into a tool that would cut meat with only metal tools and never putting it to the stone. I bet he could make you an edge you could shave with.

  88. Doug says:

    Steel sharpening steel.

  89. astudent says:


    I do not mean to be cruel so don’t take this wrong. You do not have a clue about metalworking.

    The man in the video is not sharpening anything. Though I would like to work as fast as him, when he decides to sharpen the froe, he will “stone” it. Shaping a tool is not sharpening it. It is only the first step in the process: sharpening is the last step.

    I do know that one can cut metal with water, but at the pressures that are required to do so the water is harder than what you are cutting. I do not think one can sharpen too well with water. It is a single edge tool and a single edge tool will bend the edge of the blade when it becomes thin, which limits the ability to sharpen it. A stone has many cutting edges, spread over a large area and each cutting edge removes a small amount of metal with out bending the edge.

    Strops that sharpen have grinding compound on the surface of the leather. Most strops are only edge straightening tools like the steels that are used to steel knifes. I suggest you study “steels” and how they work. Or you could just read the comments.

    What does striking a diamond with a hammer have to do with sharpening a tool? The diamond wouldn’t be a bit sharper!

    How much do you want to bet? Perhaps you should take a block of metal to a blacksmith, before you suggest I try it. I strongly suggest you do so before you bet me.

    You certainly are correct when you say I hold the same view now as I did in 2007. I will continue to hold this view until God changes iron, or until He is no longer our Stone.

    By the way Doug, I am not trying to teach you that iron can not sharpen iron! I am only trying to get you to try it so God can teach you!

  90. astudent says:


    The verse is “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”, not as steel sharpens steel. Don’t change the verse and you will not change the meaning.

  91. Doug says:

    Silly engineers,

    All these years trying to invent better lubricants and bearings…

    When all they really needed to do was use 2 pieces of iron, because they will never have any effect on each other…

    You may be able to file for a patent;)

    How about Poverbs 26:4,5

    Sometimes iron is so dull – it needs to be whacked a few times before it starts to realize there is a point.

  92. astudent says:


    As a matter of fact iron when run against iron does last. That is why most early engines used both iron cylinders and iron pistons. Just ask a silly engineer! For gosh sakes ask someone or anyone other than that guy in the mirror!

    Not only can I not teach you iron doesn’t sharpen iron, but I can not even teach you to research your claims before you make them!

    Take your own advice and whack yourself a few times.

    There is a point. It is Pro 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Combine that with Psa 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

    Why would we rely on each other when we have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to teach us? We are all imperfect, but He is perfect. Jesus said, (John 14:26 NIV) “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

    We may speak to each other about what we think God says, but in order to really understand God Himself must teach us. Or said a slightly different way ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another’.

  93. Doug says:

    Hi astudent,

    One last try

    I was a welder in a machine shop for several years, I became the shop foreman and then the sales manager of a large manufacturer of drilling equipment in the mining and oil industry. As well about 25 years ago I bought a carving knife that was quite expensive, It was made by a craftsman, and he had sharpened it. I put it to a piece of walnut and it made a satisfying scritch sound as it almost effortlessly cut out a nice slice across the grain. I had no idea that a blade could possibly be so sharp. So I set out to learn how to sharpen tools, and some day I will make some YouTube videos on how it is done.

    Do I use a stone/grinder? Of course I do. It is a efficient tool to get your initial angle. It is also great for getting out nicks in damaged tools. However, a stone can dull a tool as easily as sharpen it.

    Sharpening is simply the process of wearing away material at the proper angle to get you an edge.

    Your grade 7 Mohs scratch test does not prove that if one material scratches the other, the other remains unaffected.

    Drilling holes with diamond bits wears out the diamonds, certainly more slowly that the material it is drilling, but the drilling action wears out the bit. I have gingerly poked my hand into many failed pipes, knowing that the action of one pipe spinning against the other is bound to produce sharp edges.

    I have the sharpest chisels, knives, and plane irons that I know of. I used to think that when you bought chisels at Home Depot they were already sharp.

    Anyway, in my travels, I have seen many instances of iron sharpening iron. One need only pass over the other at the correct angle, friction occurs, and metal is removed, sharpening occurs.

    I doubt that I have found the correct angle to pass over you to improve your edge, but I think most people who read this will get it.

    The facets on a diamond are formed by rubbing the diamond at a fixed angle through diamond dust on a spinning plate. They do not have to have Superman, who is much higher on Mohs scale to cut diamonds.

    All of my final edges are done on a leather belt. The material that is added to the belt to speed the removal of material is often iron oxide. But you do not need to load the leather. A strop will start to work better with use as minute particles of what you are polishing become imbedded.

  94. astudent says:


    I am beginning to like you a lot! Your impression of yourself and what you think you know might just be what these comments need. Perhaps you will generate enough doubt in others that they will research the question or even better try to sharpen iron with iron. Then there will be no doubt as to which of us are correct. That is my desire and would certainly please me.

    Did you think that I am young and still wet behind the ears? We have some things in common as I too have worked as a welder in a machine shop. Do you remember ever walking by someone who was turning a part on a lathe? Those shavings that were rolling off the work were carrying away the heat that was being generated when the part was cut. If for any reason the tool stopped cutting the heat was no longer being dissipated and the cutting tool, if not backed away from the work, would be destroyed in a matter of seconds. When metal is forced against metal and there is no metal removed the friction that results only destroys both parts. In order to cut anything the tool that is used to cut the work “must” be harder than the work. If it is not, then only friction results, and if the force is allowed to continue the result is the destruction of both parts.

    I have to laugh when you say; some day I will make some utube videos on how to sharpen tools!!! Perhaps you will learn how in the process!!! There already are videos on utube that show and explain how!!!! Nary has a one used iron!! But then if you really want to show others how it is done, like you claim, then you can always “Photoshop” it!!!!

    There is a slight difference between buying a knife and making one. I have made knives. Sharpening is not the process of wearing away metal to leave an edge. It is the process of cutting away metal to leave an edge. Big difference.

    I don’t like talking about myself, but I feel compelled to at least list some accomplishments that pertain to me being somewhat of an expert on sharpening. I never learned a thing about sharpening a tool while working as a welder and I don’t think you did either. Nor would working as a shop foreman or salesman qualify you as an expert craftsman.
    I have always worked with my hands: even when I operated my own business (about 35 years). I didn’t become a foreman or salesman: I hired them. I have built ultralight aircraft, racing karts, racing motorcycles (of all types), along with tools, trailers, electrical controls….. Well let me just say I am experienced in many fields. (Even radar when I was in the Air Force)

    I still own and use a complete machine shop. I only use it for my own pleasure now, but I know how to use and repair any machine I own, which includes a lathe, milling machine, band saw (which I made), three kinds of welders, plasma cutter, drills, well everything but a surface grinder and when I find a good deal on one I am going to buy it: just because I don’t have one!

    Doug, I really hate to say this, but when you say that in your travels you have seen many instances of iron sharpening iron, you are either just confused, or you are flat out lying. I would like to be less blunt, but you leave me no choice. It’s OK; I think most of us lie a bit. But then if you get mad enough at me then maybe you will actually try to sharpen iron with iron!

    By the way a cast iron dumbbell weight from a set would make a great iron grinding wheel: that is if iron would grind anything. When you burn your fingers, just remember I said you would and perhaps you will forgive me for laughing! Rest assured: I will. If you really try this then be careful. I am not trying to be funny about that. I really mean it.

    The angle of the sharpening tool doesn’t matter if it is not cutting the work. Friction is friction and that is all that is a result of iron against iron. Are you getting hot yet?

    You keep citing diamonds as if diamonds perform the same as iron! They do not. You are correct when you say diamonds are polished with diamond dust, but when was the last time you cut yourself on a diamond? I’m no expert on diamonds, but it seems to me that you might be able to cut yourself on a diamond before it is polished. It is a crystal lattice, something like flint, and it would seem to me that it would have sharp edges before it was polished, not after. But then being a poor boy, what do I know about diamonds? However I do know the difference between stones and metal, and polishing and sharpening.

    No, a strop will not sharpen better when minute particles of the work become imbedded in the leather. That is called “loading up” in shop language and the material must be removed in order to restore the stones ability to cut, or sharpen. One would never have to face a grinding wheel if particles of the work would make it cut better and a strop that has grinding compound embedded in its surface is only a straight, slow, grinding wheel. A strop that has no compound will not cut any of the work and therefore will never have any of the work imbedded in it. Iron oxide is merely rust, not grinding compound. Grinding compound is ground stone in a carrier of either water or oil.

    Perhaps, because this is your last try and you will not waste any more time trying to convince me and others of the impossible, you will have the time to test your claims. I anxiously await your comment after your attempt, but please wait until you have tested your claims.

    As I see these comments you are a salesman trying to sell yourself as a craftsman! You would have everyone believe that because you bought a knife and used it once that you are equal in knowledge and skill to the craftsman that made it! Or that because you worked as a welder, foreman, and salesman you are a craftsman! Doug, you are a salesman, not a craftsman and you are trying to sell yourself as something you are not! I’m not buying it and only those that want to believe iron sharpens iron are buying it. But then they are an easy sell.

    I’m not trying to find the right angle to pass over you to improve your edge. I said it was not possible to sharpen you: you are a man. I am only trying to show you that you are dull and need sharpening and I am only proving what I say true when you become hot in the process. (I bet you are getting a lot hotter than I am)

    By the way, I don’t quite understand your statement,”Your grade 7 Mohs scratch test does not prove that if one material scratches the other, the other remains unaffected.” If you scratch one material with another, the other has quite obviously been affected. It has been scratched! Did I make such a claim? What am I missing? What scratch test are you referring to? You seem to have it backwards. A scratch is the result of a cut. I said that a tool must be harder in order to scratch what ever you are trying to scratch. A diamond (10 on the Mohs scale) will scratch glass, but glass will not scratch a diamond. You can cut glass with a diamond, but you cannot cut diamond with glass. Is there some other way that I could say this?

    Now, for those who follow this thread let me say that if you look beyond the basic question (Does iron sharpen iron) there is a great lesson here.

    The world is full of students and Dougs. God made iron and gave it the properties that it has. God also made man and gave him the properties he has. One of man’s properties is that he does not know much, but if the person wants to know bad enough to test what he thinks he knows, God will give him the answers that he seeks.

    Spiritual answers are found in the Word of God, not in the words of man. If you want spiritual answers, test what is said with God’s word and He will make it clear to you. If you want physical answers God has given you a mind to reason with and hands to work with: so use them.

    In order to use your mind and hands to find the physical answer to the question ‘Will iron sharpen iron?’ You do not need to accept either my answer or Doug’s. If you really care find an old piece of rusty iron, whip out your knife, scrape the edge straight onto a hard surface, so as to dull it, and try to sharpen it with the iron! It’s not rocket science! By the way, before someone corrects me, you will not be proving iron will not sharpen iron. Only that iron will not sharpen steel. But Doug claims iron will sharpen steel, it is not my claim. If you happen to have an iron knife, then it will prove that iron does not sharpen iron. The odds that you have an iron knife would have to be greater than a billion to one in my opinion.

    After you waste a few hours, or more if you are determined it will work, go to a hardware store and buy a sharpening stone and repair the blade. Then read God’s Word with a better understanding than when you accepted someone’s word at face value: when they told you iron sharpens iron. If Christians did their own studying instead of just believing what some man said there would be no followers of men: only followers of God.

    Could men like Jim Jones have had followers if everyone tested what he said? I believe that is why God reserved the power to teach for Himself. He is the perfect teacher. Listen to Him and test “everything” that man says: especially what this man says! Testing what Doug says will, at the same time, test what I say.

    The time for talk is over. Get your knife out and get it on!

    You too Doug.

  95. Doug says:

    Hi astudent,

    Well we are starting to get someplace. Yes we do have some thing in common – the most obvious being that we are both more salt than light.

    You have agreed that diamond polishes diamond. When you polish, or cut a facet of a diamond – wherever it intersects with another facet, you have an edge. It would not be very good for the diamond industry if diamonds were sharpened in such a way as to wound the wearer or whoever they come in contact with, like their children. Most of the exposed edges are in the 140 to 160 degree range.

    However if the diamonds in wedding rings were mounted upside down, there would be far more scarred and blinded spouses and babies.

    Anyway, your statement that no material sharpens the same substance is proven false.

    Though you do seem to know the first thing about sharpening, you certainly do not know the last. If you did, you would certainly know that iron oxide is also known as jeweller’s rouge, and it is a grinding compound.

    Iron is only about 4 on Mohs hardness scale and a steel blade is about 5.5, yet the iron sharpens steel. How does that work? You should try it. I have.

    As I said, I have been in mining industry for a few years, and while you may have a low regard for sales people, they often know a few things. Mining is all about managing wear. Everything wears out, and fast. Some things become sharp when they wear out and other things dull. If you hardface a cutting tooth on both sides, as soon as the tip is worn off – it will become blunt and cut more slowly and require more energy to make it do it’s work. If you hardsurface only one side of the tooth, it will be self sharpening and cut with less effort, however it will wear out much more quickly. But replacing teeth more often is cheaper than the loss of productivity and heavier wear on machines.

    On a coal mine, trucks wear out probably 5x faster than most other places on the planet. Coal is only about 2 on Mohs hardness scale. It is everywhere on a coal mine, you can be working outside on a beautiful clear day, and at the end of the day when you blow your nose – it is coated inside with coal dust. Coal dust is in and on everything, and it is very abrasive, and if you knew what it did to mining equipment, and then used your brain, you could sharpen iron with coal dust.

    Simply noticing that coins in your pocket with older dates tend to be more worn out than the newer ones indicates that jingling around in a pocket against other pieces of the same material causes wear.

    Oh, and don’t tell me now what you think the definition of “sharpen” is. If I take a popsicle stick and rub it on cement until it has a point, I have sharpened it. If I beat a piece of iron until it has a point, I have sharpened it. The froe above is ready for action. A froe is for splitting cedar into shakes, it is not a cutting tool.

    I have a little oldtimer pocket knife that I have carried for over 20 years. I maintain the blades with nothing more than the leather belt and occasionally adding jeweller’s rouge. The blades are about half worn away now. I love it when somebody says, “Does anybody have a knife?” and I pull out my little knife and I can see in their eyes, “That is not a knife”. I make the cut, and then they always want to take it out of my hand and stare at it in disbelief – because it may be small, but it cuts like nothing they have ever seen.

    I can sharpen a whole set of kitchen knives in about 20 minutes, and lots of people bring me their knives. As I said, I will post a YouTube some day. My strop is not a little pad of leather or regular belt you wear. It is 1” wide continuous belt powered by a furnace motor and my blades see about 1000 times as much belt as you see on the YouTube videos. The angle matters.

    I have read some of your other stuff here and you have insight and I was thinking it would be fun to get into some theological discussion. But if you intend to stand firm on your misunderstanding of this scripture, I will not be going there.

  96. astudent says:


    Well you certainly are a determined salesman! I really like a challenge and I am just beginning to enjoy this exchange of ideas. This is really a contest of who is right, not basically a Bible study. However, after saying that, the meaning of the verse is proved by who is right, so it is fair.

    Thanks for the link to how to sharpen. If you will go back to that site and view the previous video you can see that a knife is sharpened with a stone (just has I have said; over and over). Then view the one you linked to and notice that the expert said stropping is polishing the edge. You have to have an edge before you can polish it and you have to use a stone to cut away the parent metal in order to leave, or produce the edge (Said it again, didn’t I). Also notice that the expert impregnated the leather with jeweler’s rouge. I said it would be necessary to impregnate the leather with grinding compound as leather is softer than the knife. The expert said that it would speed the process and that is certainly correct. After about twenty cows (necessary to supply the strops needed) he just might say grinding compound is “necessary” in order for stropping to work at all. If he is really determined it might take forty cows! Also the leather conforms to the shape of the edge so the angle, when one strops, doesn’t matter. Just as the expert (Thomas Stuckey) says!

    Iron oxide can be any of the hydrated, synthetic, or natural oxides of iron. If you meant jeweler’s rouge then it would have been more accurate to either say jeweler’s rouge or ferric oxide. Rust is also iron oxide and because I work with metals it is the first oxide I thought of, because it is the most common. Or at least the most common that I see. I should have been a little quicker as we were speaking of sharpening.

    You seem to think ferric oxide is the same as iron, but it is not. You are correct when you say the Mohs number of iron is 4. However the Mohs number of ferric oxide (Jeweler’s rouge) is 6.5. So when you say you have sharpened a 5.5 with a 4 you are mistaken. You have not! You sharpened a 5.5 with a 6.5. And to answer your question of how does that work (sharpening a 5.5 with a 4): it doesn’t!

    Your sharpening machine is a red rouge grinder, not a strop. The leather does not have time to conform to the shape of the edge with a powered strap. You are grinding an edge and in that case angle does indeed matter.

    You do right by questioning what I say as I am only a man, so because I do care about what you understand, test me. Remove the belt from your machine, clean the machine and the surrounding area to remove all traces of red rouge, wash your hands, and then install a new belt. Then attempt to sharpen a dull knife.

    I have told you over, and over, and over, and over to test what you say and yet you still haven’t! If you examined your claims with the same enthusiasm as you doubt my claims these comments would be quite a bit shorter.

    Being only a man and knowing that men cannot be trusted I even tested myself. I suggested everyone get a piece of rusty iron and try to sharpen a knife with it. Make sure you use a good knife, as the first knife I tried I had ruined the heat treatment on and the iron cut the heck out of it: because the iron was harder. But when I tried a good knife it cut the iron and of course dulled the knife in the process.

    Everything wears out and I did not mean to imply it did not happen. Only someone who was looking for any angle at all to argue over would try to imply that I disregarded wear. I said iron would not sharpen iron; not iron never wears out. However when two surfaces are subjected to pressure and movement, without oil to separate them, the softer of the two wears, not the harder. Sometimes the softer becomes imbedded with either a harder material, or particles of the harder one of the two, and then the harder one will wear out first, but that does not change the basic truth of the process.

    One more time the verse is “(Prov 27:17 NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It is not as iron wears iron, nor as steel sharpens iron, nor as iron sharpens steel, nor as diamonds polish diamonds, nor…………

    Doug, the definition and description of a froe is, “(froe also frow n. A cleaving tool having a heavy blade set at right angles to the handle.)” (American Heritage Dictionary). It is not a spike in shape: it is a blade and it must be sharpened after it is formed. Not only you don’t know what a froe is, or what it is used for, you didn’t even examine the end result or image at the end of the video! A froe is the kind of tool that one would use to hollow out a log in order to make a crude canoe. It is a hoe for digging out wood something like a hoe for digging out ground. You have it confused with a mall.

    Your claim that hardening one side of a cutting tool really interest me! You are referring to the mining industry, which uses diamond faced boring tools and I am most interested in how one can hard face a diamond! I bet those who are in the mining profession are even more interested! Ha, ha, to quote you, sales people really do know a few things!!!!
    I would guess that the tool has diamond dust imbedded in steel and when the dust is knocked off is when the tool becomes dull, so perhaps you meant only the leading edge was impregnated with diamond, but I am just guessing.

    Truth is I don’t know just how a mining drill is constructed and so I can not really comment on whether or not your statement is correct, other than to say it makes no sense to me right now. However it also has nothing to do with iron sharpening iron. It is only an attempt by you, to add creditability, to you.

    As far as trucks wearing out “about” 5 times faster in coal mining use, what other factors are involved? All trucks have air filters and if designed for the environment will keep coal dust out of the engines. They also have seals on all of the bearings. If they are wearing out faster than when used in other environments they either are poorly designed for that use, or poorly maintained. I am not sure if coal dust has a higher Mohs number than some of the bushings in the trucks, but any kind of dust can block oil lines and interfere with the separation of parts by the necessary oil cushion. Oil must separate the moving parts in order to stop wear and coal dust is not oil.

    Doug, if I were making a calculated guess about who you are and what you do, I would guess that you are a preacher that is trying to show his followers that he knows more about Scripture than I do and that a man can sharpen another man. No man should have followers, so I hope my calculated guess is wrong. Don’t bother to attempt to set me straight as I have no way to test you. You may well know more than me, but not about sharpening a tool and therefore not about Proverbs 27:17.

    If you were just a student and you disagreed with my understanding then you would just leave this site without saying anything, because it would be unnecessary and unproductive to say anything, But if you wanted to make it seem that I drove you away, you might say that if I stand firm on my understanding then it is my fault that you leave.

    Doug, I was married for six years and then was divorced, so I already know everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen is my fault! However, I do appreciate you pointing it out to those that do not yet understand.

    Seriously, I would rather you didn’t leave as you have raised many questions in my mind about iron sharpening iron and I really do appreciate that. However if I must change what I believe, and have tested, to be the truth in order for you to read what I post, then take your ball and go home.

    Feel free to quote (1 Cor 8:2 NIV) “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” to me, but don’t forget to quote it to yourself as well.

    (Gal 1:10 NIV) Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
    (1 Th 2:4 NIV) On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

    (Job 32:17 NIV) I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
    18 For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
    19 inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
    20 I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
    21 I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man;
    22 for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.

    Anyone can plainly see that I am neither skilled in flattery, nor am I attempting to learn it. My maker will indeed take me away, but it will not be for flattery! And maybe not soon.

  97. Doug says:

    If we are going to have a bible study, and you are going to flat out deny that what the bible says to be true is so, then it is hard to get started.

    Every time you answer me – you add a whole bunch of non-facts about the real world that are easily disproven and I am trying not to go there, because I only want you to understand that you are way off base on iron sharpening iron.

    I was not there when Proverbs was written, so I do not know how iron was used to sharpen iron, but that does not matter because I know it to be true. As we have proven – diamond sharpens diamond and we both know that to be true. I happen to know that diamond disappears from my wet saw blades as I cut tile and have to replace them. That, to me also proves that tile wears away diamond. Slowly, but it does.

    I also know that if someone uses one portion or the edge of a grinding wheel, that part of the grinding wheel will wear out faster than the rest. So steel also has an effect on stone. That is why we have dressing wheels.

    Oxidizing iron does not make it jump higher on the hardness scale any more than water ever becomes harder than steel.

    I know how to sharpen tools, that is what drew me to your blog. I believe I know more about sharpening than say the next 999 people. You however think you know that iron does not sharpen iron – probably to the tune of 1:30,000,000 Christians. I think all Christians can instinctively accept that iron sharpens iron without giving it a thought. If they were wrong – why would the Holy Spirit not have let us all know? Instead you are the only person who has figured out that iron does not sharpen iron? Maybe you should try harder – I have tried to give you some ideas.

    A froe will not in a thousand years dig out a canoe. I think you are thinking of an adze. But if you ever want a race, I’m in.

  98. Doug says:

    Hi astudent,

    Please know that I am having fun! I have thick skin and I am enjoying this and if there is any place where you feel I am being too sharp – please insert a little smily face.

    It is your good fortune that iron knives are not readily available. But I am coming up with ideas. As much as I would like to show the world how I sharpen knives, I would also like to prove that iron sharpens iron. Like you said somewhere else – scripture is like a big puzzle that all fits together.

    So when you understand that iron sharpens iron – I can think of a bunch more verses that will come into focus. Insert smily face here – and seriously –

    May God bless you.

  99. astudent says:

    Everyone that is following these comments and even Doug if he decides to listen,

    We are trying to discern what the Bible means: well I am anyway. I am not “flat out denying” what it says I am trying to explain it. Everyone should already know by now that I claim iron cannot sharpen iron and therefore man cannot sharpen man. Aren’t we proving the last part of the verse? Have I sharpened anyone? If you have consulted God’s word then He has sharpened you, but I have not.

    I have not added non-facts about the world and I have repeatedly exerted everyone to test what I said. I do as I say and so I tested Doug’s claim that I had confused a froe with an adz and he was correct. I did! For what it is worth I wasn’t sure when I wrote the comment and because I was at a location that did not have web service I looked it up in the dictionary (The American Heritage Dictionary (Third Edition)) and it stated a froe was “A cleaving tool having a heavy blade set at right angles to the handle”. A froe has the blade set parallel to the handle. Anyway, Doug proved my point again. That is, do not let any man teach you. I am a man and men are not perfect: test what any man says and especially what I say!

    By the way, if you tested my words when I questioned if a diamond could be hardened, I have studied it and it can be!

    I said that iron cannot be sharpened with iron and Doug starts talking about diamonds! Iron and diamonds are quite different and diamonds will cut diamonds. However, I also said that everything that is sharpened is sharpened with a stone and diamonds are stones! Even stones are sharpened, with stones!

    Grinding stones are eroded because the surface is knocked away from the face. If the dust is collected and glued to another surface, it will sharpen just the same as the original stone, because it still is stone.

    By the way, anyone that wants, can Google the Mohs number of ferric oxide. Doug may well be able to sharpen his little knife, but he doesn’t understand what makes the process take place. Something like most drivers of automobiles.

    Then we come to the statement that has no answer. Doug said, “I was not there when Proverbs was written, so I do not know how iron was used to sharpen iron, but that does not matter because I know it to be true.” Do you see that Doug puts his faith in himself? What he knows with no prouf or test! The Bible says plainly “do not trust in mortal men” (Psa 146:3). Don’t you put your trust in a man that says, “it doesn’t matter because I know it to be true”. It certainally does matter!

    The world demonstrates that iron cannot be sharpened with iron, if anyone cares to attempt it. That is the first part of the verse, but if anyone cares to ask God then He will make clear the second part of the verse, even if you will not accept the first part.

    God says do not put your trust in man, but even if He didn’t say that, do you really want to trust someone that says it doesn’t matter, because I know it to be true?

    Does not God say He will instruct us? (1 Cor 2:12) We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (2:16) “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    Do you see what He did not say? He did not say He would give us a man to instruct us. Every Christian that has been baptized into Christ has the Spirit to instruct him and he, or she, needs no man to teach. Because all men are flawed they only confuse, rather than instruct.

    Am I not proving that man cannot sharpen man? If I could teach you this, and God knows that I am trying, I would prove myself wrong! Listen, do you hear God laughing? I do! Don’t you see that the world testifies to the fact that man cannot sharpen man?

    Because men believe that they can teach we have a system that pays men to teach! The Bible says (Luke 16:13 NIV) “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” If you are paid to preach or teach then aren’t you attempting to serve two masters? If you are one that is paid to teach and you do not hate money then ask yourself which master you serve. And be honest with the answer. I really hope you hate the damn stuff.

    We have a system that demands payment to attend a collage where the graduate, usually less than thirty years old, is sent to a church to teach even sixty and seventy year old members!

    Ain’t no wonder the church is such a mess!

    Yes, God raised me up to explain Proverbs 27:17, because there are no teachers that will!
    Moreover, it is not because they cannot see. It is because they will not see.

    Be careful students. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39) Follow Jesus, not men.

    Look at the next verse (Luke 6:40 NIV) “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Do you want to be like Doug, a mere man, or do you want to be like your “TEACHER”? Follow Doug and you will be like Doug.

    Do not be like “all” Christians that instinctively accept that iron sharpens iron without giving it a thought. Give it a thought: test it.

  100. Doug says:

    astudent said:

    Yes, God raised me up to explain Proverbs 27:17, because there are no teachers that will!


    Could men like Jim Jones have had followers if everyone tested what he said?

    Well I have been to a blacksmith website as blacksmiths should have a grasp on the answer to the question, “Does iron sharpen iron?”

    It was very interesting to see that none of them ever stated that it does not. The consensus was that anything that can dull a blade can also sharpen it.

    There were many Christian metal workers and they brought up things like self sharpening sheep shears that have been around for centuries.

    Others thought that the scripture more probably referred to working the metal, like a hammer and anvil used to work a scythe edge.

    Anyway, one has offer to forge me an iron blade (pre carbon steel) Pretty cool eh!

    I think I have fairly exhaustively tested what you say.

    Which cup holds the wine and which the Koolaid?

  101. astudent says:

    Doug and others,

    Yes, I agree that blacksmiths should have a grasp on the answer. They all use stones in some way to sharpen anything that they make, but because none of them have tried to sharpen iron with iron, an honest blacksmith would say it might be possible: until he either thought about it, or tried it, or both. I don’t find it very interesting that none stated that iron does not sharpen iron. It is such an absurdly ridiculous question to someone that must sharpen tools in their everyday work that the possibilities have not even been considered. They use stone to sharpen tools. Either grinding wheels or sharpening stones and you are correct, they are somewhat an expert. Why didn’t you just ask the experts how they sharpen tools and then include their answer in your comment with out adding your ideas? Or at least report their answers truthfully and then add your opinion that they do not understand as you do. But then I have to laugh, because if they disagreed with you then they wouldn’t be experts in your mind!

    I find it interesting that none of them stated that peanut butter doesn’t sharpen iron. Using your logic, because none of them said it did not, then it must!

    You actually said that the consensus was that anything that can dull a blade can also sharpen it! If that were true nothing would ever have to be sharpened!

    I have said only trust God and not any man and that includes both me and Doug. That is what Scripture says, (Psa 146:3 NIV) Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. (Psa 40:4 NIV) Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. (Psa 118:8 NIV) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.

    I have said that we have the Holy Spirit to teach us: not man whom we should not trust. And that is also what the Bible says. (1 Cor 2:12 NIV) We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Cor 2:16 NIV) “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (So that He can instruct us)

    I am saying that if you want to know God then read the Bible and do not think some man is going to explain it better than the Holy Spirit. You do not need man. Men will only confuse you.

    God is life and that is just what I offer (though it is not I that offer, but God). I am only directing others to where life may be found. It should be clear that I have Wine and not Kool-Aid.

    Doug seems to believe that men should teach and implies man needs man to understand God, but Scripture says that we have the mind of Christ to instruct us. If I were to view myself as a teacher I believe that I would be interfering with the work of God. Do I understand better than Christ that I can instruct better, or that he needs me?

    That is not to say I or anyone should keep quiet. Scripture says, (1 Cor 14:26 NIV) “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”, but because men think they are teachers and know more than those who are not professionals (Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career. Performed by persons receiving pay. (American Heritage Dictionary)) in the Church, no one is permitted to speak a word of instruction: if it does not mirror what the head of that particular branch of the Church believes. We are called “laymen” and are controlled by those who believe themselves to be over laymen. And the Church is kept from being strengthened because of it.

    Does anyone realize that only Christians believe that iron can sharpen iron? Doug said out of 30 million Christians that I am the only one that believes that iron can not sharpen iron, but he doesn’t understand that it is the “teachers” of Christians that have caused this misunderstanding of physics and Scripture! All of the billions and billions of people that do, have, and will sharpen tools have “always” used stones to accomplish the task!

    I have been rather slow to answer this time because I feel that I am causing Doug to perjure himself and that is not my goal. I only want others to consider what I say and let the Spirit within teach them truth.

    I hope that it is as clear to others, as it is to me, that Doug “will not” consider what I say. It is leading him to make statements that are not true and if I continue to “try” to answer his statements it can only lead to a nasty argument. That would be unproductive to me, Doug, and anyone that is following these comments with the spirit of study in mind.

    I am not trying to justify myself. I am nothing more than a sinner that God, in His mercy, has promised salvation. Nor am I trying to justify God, as He needs no one to justify Him. But Doug is trying to justify Doug and it doesn’t matter who the man is, no man can be justified by himself or any other man.

    I have let Doug comment even though he has not been 100 percent honest: but then what man is, or even can be 100 percent honest. However, now one of us must go. Let me add that this is my blog so I am not going anywhere.

    I am not going to be like a radio host that hangs up on someone and then continues to speak as though the caller is still connected and has no answer to the host’s points. Doug may well have his own answers, but I will no longer approve his comments: unless he really does what I ask and checks the Mohs number of ferric oxide and then admits that he is wrong about it. Also he must attempt to sharpen his knife with virgin leather and truthfully report the outcome. I admitted when I was wrong and I am afraid that I must demand others do likewise. It seems that if I do not demand it, then it will not be. I do not believe that I am being unfair to Doug at all by demanding that he test what I said.

    In Doug’s defense, he is a product of others that believed themselves to be teachers and they have taught him to believe as they do. If he offers Jesus Christ as Savior then he also offers wine and not Kool-Aid. But the offer comes from a weak Church, because the congregation must sit and listen to one man. Scripture says, (1 Cor 14:24&25 NIV) But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

    Because of worldly wisdom everybody does not prophesy in today’s Church.

    Can a teacher still learn?

  102. Steve says:


    You have repeatedly said that one man can not sharpen another man, and that this verse supports your view. I’m curious how you can believe such a statement? Proverb 13:20 completely disagrees with you:

    Proverbs 13:20 – He that walketh with wise men shall be wise but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

  103. astudent says:


    I believe you have what I continually say backwards. I did not say the verse supports my view at all.

    I said, and say, that physics supports what I say and that changes the conventionally accepted understanding of the verse. By conventional understanding, I mean the normal Christian’s understanding.

    Because iron cannot be used to sharpen iron, the verse means man cannot sharpen man: even when the facts are readily available as they are on iron sharpening iron.

    It should be as obvious to others as it is to me that we cannot sharpen each other. Take my statements as only questions and check what I have said.

    Christians and others do not want to believe iron cannot sharpen iron and their desires stand in the way of truth.

    As for Proverbs 13:20, it does not say in any way that one can sharpen another (unless you want it to). If you walk (associate) with the wise as opposed to fools, you are a lot less liable to rob a bank. At least that is the way I understand the verse.

    Take that as a question, not an answer.

  104. Steve says:


    Sorry, but you are wrong. One man can sharpen another man. You, as a student, should know that. Why do we have teachers? Why do we have instructors? Why did Paul preach? Did Paul not “sharpen” those he preached too?

    The question I keep asking myself: Why are you SO determined that man can not sharpen another man?

  105. astudent says:


    I might ask you almost the same question. Why is it SO important for you to believe that man can sharpen man? Isn’t it all right to believe God will? Doesn’t Scripture say that we are given the Holy Spirit to teach us all things? Even the deep things of God? (1 Cor 2:9-16)

    All men are flawed. Why would God give us flawed teachers?

    We have teachers to make us think. If one could sharpen another then teachers could impart knowledge and the student would know as the teacher does. However, the student must grasp (earn) understanding of what he or she reads by thinking it over, while listening to the Spirit within. Then and only then can one fully understand.

    I didn’t write Proverbs 27:17. God did.
    I didn’t make iron. God did.
    If a piece of iron could sharpen another piece of iron, then a man could sharpen another man, but it is not possible to sharpen a piece of iron with another piece of iron. God made it so: not me.

    I speak from practical experience. Even knowing it is not physically possible, I tested it and retested it anyway. I am confident because I did not just take my own word for what I said. Moreover, you shouldn’t either.

    I believe in truth as well as God and that is why I am determined that man cannot sharpen man. It does not prove anything to just keep saying that I am wrong. It is a bit silly to make a claim that can be so easily tested.

    I have not sharpened anyone. But if a man really wants truth, rather than to just believe himself, he would try to sharpen iron with iron.

    Do not believe me. I am only a man. Nevertheless, try it. Truth is within your reach. In this case, you don’t even have to ask the Spirit within, you just have to want truth enough to test what I said.

    The question I keep asking myself is why don’t you test me?

  106. farmer says:

    I have yet to read all posts, so maybe this has been covered. Forgive me if it has. It seems God sharpens us, but what then are we doing to each other when we discuss interpretation?

    What is the purpose of a ‘sharpening steel’? Does realigning a slightly misaligned cutting edge constitute sharpening, since the edge can then cut better? Or is a ‘sharpening steel’ simply a misnamed tool? While honing is technically different than sharpening, the effect is seen as ‘sharpened’. Was God making a distinction between honing and sharpening in this verse? I don’t know but I’m glad I’m a farmer; I am not someone who dwells on the finest of points (or edges as the case may be). My best wishes to all involved in this discussion.

  107. astudent says:


    If we have the perfect teacher (The Holy Spirit), then all we need are the questions and I believe that is the benefit of discussing interpretations. (We get the questions)

    You answered your own question about sharpening steels. A tool for realigning the edge of a knife is a “steel”, not a “sharpening steel. It is usually called a sharpening steel to differentiate it from other tools with the same name. If the blade is dull, no amount of steeling will sharpen it, because it does not remove any metal. You will only have a straight, but still dull blade.

    There is a tool that is called a steel, that is made of ceramic and it will remove metal from the blade and in my opinion it will ruin a good knife, because it will remove more metal from the bent part of the blade, than from the straight part. In doing so it will also change the angle on one side of the bent part of the blade.

    Honing is not different from sharpening; it is sharpening. It is the last step in the sharpening process. One must remove metal from the blade to leave an edge. A hone is a stone that has a smoother surface than the stone that was used in the previous step. It removes less metal leaving a smoother and therefore sharper edge.

    I was raised in a small town and often worked as a farm hand. We had many tools that needed sharpened: such as scythes and knifes and it was important to understand the mechanics of sharpening. I suppose things have changed a great deal now. We used to bale hay in blocks and store it in a barn. Now you guys bale it in a large roll and leave it in the field!

    Farmer, I’m always giving advice when I haven’t been asked so here is some: learn everything about everything that you can. It will help you be a better farmer or anything else that you attempt. Especially learn everything about God that is possible. We cannot do what God wants us to do if we do not know what God wants us to do.

    By the way, I understand why you haven’t read all of the comments. That is a lot of comments. Thanks for yours.

  108. farmer says:

    Honing/steeling a knife is not the same as sharpening it. Honing/steeling realigns the metal on the cutting edge to make it keen. The effect of this realignment produces an outcome that is perceived as sharpened. Sharpening removes metal to create the edge. Because Semantics sometime fail, concept differentiation is sometimes inadequate. Honing and steeling are often used interchangeably.

    My question was how you know the verse is not addressing the effect of honing steel with steel, or steeling as you prefer. There are verses that refer to the sun rising; verses talking of perceived effect rather than actuality.

    My concern is that this blog produced a sharp edge. Some of your posts seem sharp in response to others. Your interpretation is interesting, but often defended at an expense of charity. (Something I may be guilty of at this moment, by commenting again rather than leaving you with your blog.)

    Ideas sometimes become as enthralling as the playing of a game. Your interpretation, even if correct, does not change the Gospel.

  109. astudent says:

    preacher, “O” I mean farmer,

    You might want to check your facts. One hones with a stone in order to smooth a surface: whether they are smoothing a knife edge or honing a cylinder to fit a piston. It is not possible to smooth the surface without removing some of the metal. It is accomplished by careful stroking the surface with a “STONE”.

    Steeling of a blade is accomplished by rubbing a cylindrical tool against the side of a blade. The tool should be made of metal that is no harder than the material that the blade is made of, so as not to remove metal. It is used only as a bending tool.

    It is quite apparent to the craftsman that steels a dull blade that it is not possible to sharpen with a steel. There is no possibility of a craftsman deceiving himself. If he refused to believe it was possible, it would not make it so. It is not something to only perceive, it is a task to accomplish.

    I have never talked to a farmer that did not understand that one must use a stone to sharpen iron, but I have talked “at” many preachers that wanted to believe a stone was not the only way.

    I wonder if one refuses to believe physical laws that rule in this world, which we can see, touch, and taste, then can they really understand spiritual laws. Laws that we cannot see.

    If one refuses to believe iron does not sharpen iron, then no amount of explaining will convince that person.

    I know the verse is not referring to “steeling” because it says sharpening, not “steeling”. Someone that sharpens knifes or swords or any tool, knows the difference. It is preachers that could know the difference, but it is impossible for them to see when they cover their eyes.

    You are quite correct when you say that my words do not change the Gospel. You are wrong when you call it an interpretation: it is a fact. If you wanted truth then my words would help you understand and not change a thing about the Gospel.

    If my words could accomplish anything, I hope it would cause those who preach the Gospel to rid themselves of their pride and point to the real teacher.

    Pride seems to me to be the crux of the arguments that are created by this post. Those who think they know much want to teach. I do not think that is wrong, until others begin to look to them for understanding, instead of looking to God: and they do, and they are not discouraged from doing so. The only mediator between man and God is Jesus Christ. Not a preacher, nor priest, nor mother: just one and it is not me or you.

  110. farmer says:

    I did not mean to preach. I am a farmer not a preacher. I have no vested interest in the interpretation of this verse. I said “your interpretation” because I hold truth to be the mind of God. My mind is broken from the fall and I question human ability to fully know what is true. You may be right in what you claim is an ‘evident truth’, based on your empirical understanding of metal. When we see God after this life ends, I suppose we can ask about this verse if we still feel it is important. We agree that God is Good.

  111. astudent says:


    I apologize for calling you a preacher. Well, now I am laughing.

    I agree that we cannot know all truth as God knows, but I am trying to understand as much as I can.

    We can know much about spiritual things.

    1Co 2:9-13 (NIV) However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

    The fact that iron cannot sharpen iron does not change the Gospel, but it serves to confirm 1 Corinthians. A man may pose a question, but it is the Spirit that teaches the answer.

    As Christians, we all have a vested interest in understanding God’s Word.

  112. farmer says:

    “’I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.’ Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.”

    Searching for God’s wisdom should be an unending search. “As Christians, we all have a vested interest in understanding God’s Word,” seems to me wise. Never being too certain we hold wisdom in our hand seems wise. God’s speed on your search for True Wisdom.

  113. astudent says:


    Thank you for your comment.

    Searching after the wisdom of this world is chasing after the wind, but searching for spiritual wisdom is priceless.

    Pro 4:5-9 (NIV) Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.”

    May God bless you with even more wisdom than He gives me.

  114. jimmy says:

    Wow you are high on the iron sharpening iron thing. You ruined, with your iron will to be right, a very good song by Culture. Who by the way are harder than the rest. Get over yourself and take it to be a poetic statement. God is way too old and rich to care about the ramblings of some self proclaimed cyber-Oracle. I can’t hardly wait for you to be smugly amused at my post. My guess is that you remain anonymous because you have a face for radio and a voice for blogging. Ha ha. I’m amused now.

  115. astudent says:


    I am greatly saddened by your comment.

    It saddens me when anyone would declare their love of a song, or group of singers, over the love of Scripture.

    In my defense, I have never stated that any understanding came from me. It can only come from God through the Holy Spirit. If you understand this basic rule, then you would also understand the group “Culture” can teach you nothing.

    I have said over and over, that the concept that iron can sharpen iron can be physically tested. Instead of insulting my appearance (which might, or might not be true), test what I said.

    When you laugh at something that you do not know, you reveal that you are making up reality in your own mind, which is exactly what someone is doing when the idea that iron can sharpen iron is not believed, but then not tested.

    By the way, if money were to be removed from musical performances, there would be few performers left. Not trying to be cruel. Just saying.

  116. Just passing Through says:

    Good discussion and many valid view points. Are we just as excited and motivated in witnessing to those about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. How much time has been spent on this blog, while your next door neighbor doesn’t even know you. How will all this knowledge, if self contained do anyone any good, if he or she is lost because we haven’t tried. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15
    I love a good debate, but let’s get busy with the command of Christ.
    Go Ye Therefore.
    Just passing through.

  117. astudent says:

    Just passing Through,

    (2 Tim 3:16&17 NIV) “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” That includes Proverbs 27:17.

    I believe that not understanding this verse has greatly contributed to the condition of the church today. It is the church of the end times, the last church spoken of in Revelations, a church that is lukewarm, a church that is trying to become like the world, so to attract the world. The sad part is the church is succeeding in becoming like the world and those that it attracts become like the church: which has become like the world!

    You say that you love a good debate, but this is not supposed to be a debate. It becomes a debate when someone, that believes themselves a teacher, does not “want” to admit that it is not possible for iron to sharpen iron.

    You infer that one can either study the Word, or speak to the lost, as if it is only possible to do one: that is absurd! One must do both, as it is not possible to do what God wants, if you do not know what God wants. Would anyone want a surgeon that believed it was more important to begin operating; before studying?

    I do not appreciate your attempt to lay a guilt trip on those who would study the Word of God. To use your own conception of what one should do; how many of your neighbors are doomed, because you read, debated, and commented on this blog? Is this the first blog you came upon, or have you wasted time reading the blogs that you agreed with?

    (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

    Do not be distracted by all the preparations, choose what is better and the fruit will be produced as a result. Trees do not produce much fruit because they choose to, but because they are healthy and cared for. Calm down and sit at the Lord’s feet listening to what he says “first” and you will become “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Then “Go ye therefore”.

    Yes, I do agree with you in that we must obey Jesus and “Go ye therefore”, but not at the expense of trying to understand Scripture. A good surgeon has studied for a long time, before he/she makes their first incision and to stay a good surgeon one must continue to study. You cannot take what is better from those who sit at the feet of Jesus. Why do you try?

  118. Clyde Naidoo says:

    Wow, wow, wow, I have spent hours reading every comment and I am in awe of the magnificence of God. Please excuse my ignorance as I am new to this and this is my very first comment.

    My journey in a nutshell got me pondering on this very verse “as iron sharpens iron..” and I wrote down questions on Sauturday 1st October 2011 that needed to be answered. I have had many setbacks and have always believed the best in everyone – “do unto others..” even to the point of accepting being ignored, trampled on and given the third degree in the name of Christianity. My response was “a.i.s.i.” (abbrev) I need to be sharpened (taught, rebuked, endure these afflication – hey Jesus suffered more) and therefore need to accept this as good for me, God spoke to me and I pondered on this very verse with a zeal to find truth.

    My very first question was “what does it mean?” and thank, sir for this vision-opening blog. Am I convinced about what you say? “YES” – thank you. As I read portions aloud to my wife, my reaction was this: it is as if I was writing these replies, not so much about the actual sharpening process but the truth about this BIG God that has made His abode in me and it is He gives life and teaches us all things. If there’s “sharpening” to be done then He is responsible enough to do it with love.

    I am not a preacher, just one who wants to know more about my Father as I am now born from above and owe my birth to Him – born of the Spirit. I can boldly enter the throne-room and seek audience with my Father.
    My comments are thus: if the old was to usher in the new (Christ) then could this verse not indicate the suffering of Christ at the hands of the Pharisees?
    Do we use science to prove God?
    Can an axe head float?
    Can a virgin give birth? + other miracles
    Science says impossible …
    So I ask “Can iron sharpen iron?” NO, says science – fact

    Here to Stay
    Eternal Life

  119. astudent says:

    Clyde Naidoo,

    The funny part (for me) is when I read what seems to come from my own hand, I say to myself, this could not have come from me!

    I know that it came from the Holy Spirit and that is why, it seems to you as if you wrote the replies. The Spirit that you have is the same that is in and part of my mind and that is who wrote them.

    1Co 2:16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    Praise and thanks be to God, for being so wonderful!

  120. Jim says:

    How do you explain away that the stone that you talk about being so hard can sharpen iorn can be shaped by water passing over it over a long period of time.
    Is water harder than the rock? God is not limited by time nor is he in a rush like we are, You are correct in saying that God does the work but he uses the ones that trust him to knock the rust of as we walk in him.

  121. astudent says:


    That is a fair question and a good one.

    Due to the surface tension of water, the drops act like small hammers. The water does not cut the rock, but hammers away at it breaking off small pieces.

    Water can be used to cut iron or steel by spraying it at very high pressures. The water leaves the jet in the cutting head at around 900 miles an hour. At that speed, and pressure (29,000 to 55,000 PSI) the surface tension of water is harder than iron or steel and it will cut cleaner than a torch: probably cleaner than a plasma cutter, but I have not studied it or even used a waterjet. It is my understanding that abrasives must be added to the stream to cut hard materials.

    Having said all of that the verse is “As iron sharpens iron” not as water sharpens iron, so your question does not apply here.

    Well, it does still prove that people usually believe what they want to believe.

    We should train ourselves to accept the truth even when we do not like what it says.

  122. Susie says:

    Amazing Grace

    Wow, I’ve only read half way down and have been sitting here now reading for a couple of hours. I only wanted to get the literal meaning for my web and how it is possible for iron to sharpen iron and to what effect. My initial feeling was that we challenge each other becoming so uncomfortable which then (if a follower of Christ) allows God to sharpen us. Reading through all these comments, I’m so glad I have the holy spirit to rely on for the truth.

    Yes we are his vessels to be used for his purpose, if we allow him. And to discover if we have received the correct info from our fellow man, we have been given an invitation to run it past him.

    I pray that God will touch your hearts and give you all understanding of his word. That he blesses you coming in and going out, as this has blessed me. Let’s continue to encourage each other in his word.


  123. astudent says:


    Please forgive my late response.

    I applaud your efforts in reading half of the comments on this post. They are only the same thing repeated over and over.

    It seems so simple for those who want to learn the truth: and such a simple truth! However, those who want to think of themselves more highly than they should choke on Proverbs 27:17.

    As I have said over and over, the concept of whether or not iron can sharpen iron can be proved, with some effort, but those who do not want to hear the truth “will” not test it.

    Understanding is very important and we are told that with the parable of the seeds that were sown in Matthew chapter 13. The parable is repeated in Mark and Luke, but only in Matthew is the importance of understanding given.

    It is not possible to build understanding of the truth, when one refuses to accept any part of the truth and that is why I keep pounding away with my iron.

    It seems to me that we all think more highly of ourselves than we should and it seems that those who view themselves as teachers have a hard time seeing this. I have very few comments from students, but many from “teachers”.

    Having said this, my post is an oxymoron. Because iron cannot be used to sharpen iron, I cannot teach anyone anything. However, I can place the doubt in others mind and if they really want the truth they will test what I said.

    Anyway thanks for the comment. God will grant understanding to us and anyone else that will seek it in truth. He has given us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things (John 14:26) and man to confuse us. I hope I have not confused you, but I probably have.

  124. Susie says:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments 🙂

  125. Chuck says:

    Wow this is probably one of the longest actively running arguments on the Internet I have ever seen. I struggle with wether I should even comment. I came across your post while doing some quick research of this verse in the preparation of a Sunday morning lesson. Your view caused me to leave the verse out until I had a better understanding.
    While I agree with some of the comments that we are possibly going a little deep into the metal working specifics, I do think your point brings some interesting insight. I think most people are so against your point because you call into question a verse that has probably meant a lot to them in the past.
    I will be honest and say I came to this post with the normal view that iron could sharpen iron. You abruptly pounded my view of this verse and in a way pounded a point onto my understanding. I could look at this situation and say wow this astudent guy just sharpened me. As I know very little about metalwork, I would stop there. But, as I seek to know and understand God more each day, I take this piece of iron that is my understanding and I take it to the next step and I seek the Holy Spirit to finish what you started and truly sharpen me to a fine poin.
    Perhaps this is the deeper meaning of the verse. Just as iron sharpens iron, an incomplete but starting point. So a man can challenge a man and thus become less dull. But, if he truly wants to become sharp he must submit himself to the Holy Spirit who is the only Rock that can sharpen man.
    Therefor you have “sharpened” me more the I was, but I was not satisfied with the point you produced and I sought the only One who could finish what you started.
    Thank you for your interest in sharing the truth of scripture. Your insight from your experience has helped some but only those who are willing to continually look critically at their understanding of the scripture. I pray that you continue to look critically at the text in the Bible and continue to grow in you understanding of the scripture.

    May God bless you and keep you. May He continue to make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.

    Much love to all who read this post.


  126. astudent says:


    You really made my day. I have been years commenting on this one post and finally someone understands.

    That is all that I am saying: that God is the only one that can really sharpen someone.

    Those that God has given the gift of teaching to can only press others against the Stone. The Stone does the sharpening.

    I believe it is important to understand all that we can about Scripture and one cannot build true understanding on a false belief. So that is why I believe it is important to understand that iron cannot sharpen iron.

    I also believe that if God grants understanding to anyone, it is their responsibility to attempt to share it. However, if the other person gains understanding it is God that grants it.

    I suppose it is something like planting seeds. There is much work in planting, but it is not the farmer that causes the plants to grow and he or she cannot take credit for anything except planting.

    It is such a pleasure to finally answer a comment with ‘Yes, we agree!’ It has been years coming.


  127. Gordon says:


    As an old blacksmith may I say you dont have to rub iron with iron to sharpen it. You tap the forge heated iron edge(beveling) with an iron hammer, meticulously flattening it to a sharp edge like a craftsman. “Modern” Japanese sword makersdemonstrate this process more precisely. You are applying too much modern perpective to an age old, hand crafted, process from an age where craftmanship was technology. Different types of naturally occuring wet grit were sprinkled on an iron anvil and the blade was then drawn across it to give it a sharper edge if desired. Most mass produced swords were not something you could shave with but you could hew a man assunder with it just by beveling the edge.Iron does in fact sharpen Iron

  128. astudent says:


    There are blacksmiths that know what they are doing and those that do not.

    Read all of the comments, with an understanding that you might not understand what you claim to know, and you might just learn something.


    If a dull sword was as good as a sharp sword, no one would brother to sharpen it. Same for a knife.

  129. Chuck says:

    The scary thing about all the push back you are getting on this verse is that people are so ready to defend their view, that one man can sharpen another yet completely disregarding the role of the Holy Spirit. Up until recently I quoted this verse all the time. I love discussing Theology with my friends and we often find ourselves in a heated discussion much like this one. I used to feel like we both walked away from the discussion sharper then when we started. But this blog post challenged me and I realized we both walk away even more stubborn then when we started. The point of the verse is that we can help form and mold one another, but we can not reach our full potential without then going to God. I’m baffled by the amount of people not willing to see this point. I also find it very interesting that people keep mentioning that you’re thinking to modern, as though the way iron reacts to iron has really changed. The ironic thing is that most people then start talking about sword making from other times or cultures that bring no understanding to how the Hebrew people would have understood it at the time it was written. Especially since the Philistines keep the technology of iron from the Israelites for a long time.

    Ask anyone with a sharp blade what they use to sharpen it. They will say some sort of stone. The process that was used in the time of the Old testament that is still used today, uses a metal hammer to shape a blade that has been heated in a fire. This blade is less dull then when it started, but is it really sharp? In the same way you can be satisfied with a piece of metal that has a point on it, you can only let other men form you into who you are. Just like a blade can become truly sharp when you use a stone to cut away all the useless parts that keep it dull, you can choose to submit to God and allow Him to sharpen you to your full potential.

    Another neat thing about blades is that when you use them you need to continually get out the stone and sharpen them again. In the same way we must continually go back to God to stay sharp. If we find our selves not needing to be sharpened it’s because we’re not being used. A sharp blade that never gets used is just as useful as a dull one that never gets used.

    I challenge everyone who reads this, to seek God for understanding and for sharpening. I pray that you never stop going to God to be renewed and strengthened.

    God Bless,


    p.s. Also the fact that this verse is a proverb means it is a wise saying. It is not a promise. It is not set in stone. Since all wisdom and ?Knowledge comes from God we can use wisdom to unfold this text and give us a deeper understanding.

  130. Paula says:

    WOW !!!
    “Looks like I made it” song comes to mind.
    After readying all, I have come to my own conclusion and that is, YOU put way to much emphasis on proving YOUR point. If all you really wanted to do was share what the Holy Spirit revealed to you as true revelation of this Proverb, then take comfort in knowing that all who are led by the Spirit to this blog was devinly sent there to read and interpret it for themselves. It is the Holy Spirits job to lead and teach. The Holy Spirit will not argue a point, He will not hammer you, He lovingly guides and corrects.
    To my understanding of scripture as you yourself points out to be true – that the Holy Spirit teaches us, guides us into ALL truth, why not put the revelation, this new found truth of Gods Word out there and let Gods Word stand for itself.
    As the scriptures tells us,
    Let Gods Word be true and every man a liar. You repeatedly state that you keep repeating yourself over and over. My question is why?
    Why do you insist on doing the Holy Spirits job?
    Let the teacher be the teacher!!! Stop trying to do it yourself, less you be a stumbling block to another.
    It sounds to me, what I’m hearing is that you don’t want a good debate as you stated, you want to argue this point. You are hammering away at it and hammering away at it. God doesn’t need you to teach it remember – just bring it to light and you did that! Let the Holy Spirit stir up within the reader to research it out further. Give the Holy Spirit a chance to do what only He can do. Just as He did with you.
    Maybe there is wisdom in Farmers reply, I thought it WORTHY to repeat it ….
    “’I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.’ Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom,
    and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.”

    Searching for God’s wisdom should be an unending search. “As Christians, we all have a vested interest in un-
    derstanding God’s Word,” seems to me wise. Never being too certain we hold wisdom in our hand seems wise.
    God’s speed on your search for True Wisdom.

    Thanks farmer …
    May God truely Bless all who visits this blog


  131. astudent says:


    Again, you demonstrate that you truly do understand.

    I might say that when we have a discussion that it is beneficial to both parties. If we have the perfect teacher, and we do, then all we need are the questions and because we cannot think of all of the questions, we gain some of them from others.

    You make a very good point about the necessity of always sharpening the edge. Faith comes from the Word and the more one studies the Word the more faith results.

    Ha, all wisdom comes from our Rock, so it is indeed set in Stone!

  132. astudent says:


    Thanks for the criticism. I am only a man and we need to be criticized often.

    At the risk of defending my actions, I do not view my understanding as “my point”. I believe God opened my eyes to this understanding. It seems that He had to choose someone that has worked with iron, or steel as almost all ferrite material that we use today is steel. Most teachers of today make a career out of teaching, instead of following the advice of the Bible and working with their hands and because of this, they do not understand: nor do they seem to want to.

    I suppose that you did not like my comment directed to Gordon, but he deserved it. This argument as been in progress for years and every now and then someone comes along and without reading the comments posts their opinion as if they are an expert. That has become very irritating. Almost any way possible, my understanding has been challenged, and I do not intend to continually post the same information over and over: well no longer any way.

    I have continually posted the same things over and over because those who commented were different people and I felt that they deserved an answer from me, because I started it. Most of the time they have had a slightly different way of viewing the text, or a different way of explaining it.

    Farmers verse came from Ecclesiastes and that Book is all about earthly wisdom, not Spiritual wisdom.

    See what Proverbs says about wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 (NIV) Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

    It seems wrong to me that, if God were to grant me understanding, to keep it to myself. Even though the very verse that I posted states that, I cannot!

    Anyway, I will write a reply for those who do not read the comments and just copy and paste it. Perhaps my frustration, though it will exist, will not be so plainly revealed.

    Please be patient with me. I am only a man. However if you think that I am doing something that is wrong please tell me. (Prov. 9:8, 15:31, 17:10, 19:25, 25:12, & 27:5)

    Thank you.

  133. aram2255 says:

    I came across your blog as I was researching another topic on the meaning of iron in the Bible. I was specifically studying 2 Samuel 23. As I read your analysis I immediately agreed with what I was reading. Or to put it correctly; the Spirit in me confirmed this as the truth.

    As I read the comments above I am reminded that it’s important to remember that the Word of God is spiritually alive. It is God inspired to reveal the fullness of Jesus from the first to the last word. Some of the comments above argue what the “author” meant. The author is the LORD God Himself. Every word that is the the Bible is there for an absolute purpose. The author didn’t make a mistake and God is not about confusion. He is about revelation. But it is only under the fullness of Jesus (His grace upon grace) that we can read the Word with Holy Spirit revelation. As Paul says in Galatians, to be led by the Spirit you must be under grace.

    So I started studying more on the meaning of iron in the Word. Gold represents righteousness/deity, silver represents redemption, bronze is judgement… and so on. Iron represents inflexible rule/power and strength that usually crushes anything that comes against it. So why would the Holy Spirit purposely compare man with iron if inflexible rule/power against inflexible rule/power cannot change each other since they are inflexible. Because we are not meant to sharpen each other. Iron cannot sharpen iron, it simply creates friction and heat (I researched many online explanations on iron sharpening iron and the conclusion is that it is not possible).

    Our sharpening can only come from Jesus. He is the rock. He wants us to enter into His promised land and allow Him to change us more and more into His image. As I studied the words “promised land” it translates into “His rest”. He wants us to enter into His rest. And if you think about sharpening iron, it is the stone that does all of the work. But as people we always want our self effort to be involved, instead of resting in the fullness of Jesus and living a Spirit led life.

    The world calls it self help, they are after self improvement and finding the people that will make them better people. Yet they switch friends and get divorced once they feel the person is not doing what they need them to do, not “making them happy”. And the church for the most part has fallen into the same trap. Instead of receiving the fullness of Jesus they look to each other to change and provide guidance for self improvement. The messages are usually a list of “10 steps to improve your marriage” or “5 habits to be more successful”. People are bouncing from church to church finding who will sharpen them better. Instead they should be teaching them to receive the fullness of Jesus (His grace upon grace) and His finished work. That will lead them into the supernatural life.

    In my marriage we look to Christ to transform us as individuals more and more into His image. Instead of trying to change “sharpen” each other (we’ve tried that and it doesn’t work). As people God wants us to be of support and encouragement to each other and not the ones responsible to change each other. We wants us to stop relying on each other or looking to our leaders for our individual improvements and start looking at Christ and His finished work.

    People comment that you are trying so hard to prove your point. I find the opposite. Your experience with sharpening means your revelation came effortlessly. Out of resting in Jesus is when our lives are most fruitful. The ones that try the hardest with their flesh are the ones that find it the most difficult to accept new revelations. I’ve written about this in one of my blogs

    Grace and Peace to you


  134. astudent says:


    Alex, I had not thought of studying other metals. Your understanding seems to fit most of the thoughts that I have or that have been given to me. Thanks for sharing.

    I agree with your other thoughts. The more I understand about our Father, the less I find that I “must” do.

    Actually the less it is possible to do. The only thing that we can, and are supposed to do, is tell others about Jesus. The big problem with that is most of the world are so proud of themselves that they will not even consider that there is a God. If there is no God, then there is no need for a Savior. How can we tell anyone about a Savior when they feel that they do not need one?

    I have to laugh when others say that I am trying so hard to prove my point and they miss that others are trying so hard to disprove “the” point.

    It is just physically impossible to sharpen iron with iron. It isn’t really a point and I ask, and have continually asked those who do not believe me, to attempt it, but they “will not”.

    I pray that God will watch over you and protect you as you step out for Him. We both know that He will, just keep your faith if it seems as though He isn’t watching.

    I like your blogs.

  135. […] As iron sharpens iron […]

  136. aram2255 says:


    Sorry for the late reply, It’s been a busy couple of weeks. You are correct, the more we understand about our Father the less we realize we have to do. In fact because of Jesus’ finished work all we have to do is believe and receive. So all we actually have to do is believe in Jesus and receive His abundance of grace and His gift of righteousness. With this we reign in life as per Romans 5:17. The power of this truth cleanses us of our sin consciousness, and allows us to live a life led by the Spirit with the fruits of the Spirit flowing through us. This type of life actually produces more then if you were to try with your self effort (flesh). You will end up doing more for God when your focus is in receiving and taking from Him. Daily receiving His abundance of grace and daily reminding ourselves that we are the righteousness of God in Christ.

    You asked “How can we tell anyone about a Savior when they feel that they do not need one?” As it says in Romans, it is the goodness of God that leads a man to repentance. I find that the world is extremely attracted to the fullness of Jesus, to the perfect love of God. But we (the church in general) have not received the fullness of Jesus ourselves and therefore do not show the world the fullness of Jesus. Jesus came to put us under the new covenant of grace but yet very few believers live under grace. They live under a mixed covenant (putting new wine in old wine skin). It says in Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” That is a scary thought, Christ becoming of no effect to us. Yet most believers live a “do good, get good. do bad, get bad” type of life. We are continually trying to justify ourselves by what we do and don’t do. We still believe that you must do certain steps, pray right and so on in order to receive. When in fact all we have to do is sit at Jesus feet and receive. That will produce the supernatural life that the world will be attracted to, the goodness of God.

    But the typical sermon teaches you to change your habits. God is not about habit modification. He is about heart transformation. The world sees us as hypocrites, we preach better habits and steps to having a better life. But because it all involves self effort the world is not attracted to it and we often fail at living that better life.

    I find that the world is very attracted to the truth. Jesus does not condemn, He cleanses them of all of their sins. He makes them righteous, not because of their self effort but because of His perfect sacrifice. His perfect love casts out fear (the fear of God not being for you). You become a success because the Lord is with you. Sin has no dominion over you because you are not under law but under grace. It is not self effort to stop sinning. And as Jesus is at the right hand of the Father so are we in this world.

    When the world hears the truth they are attracted to it. They see the goodness of God and believe. They receive their salvation, their redemption, their healing, their provision….and it’s not self effort but Christ’s finished work.

    I truly believe that now is the time to start reigning in life by receiving His abundance of grace and gift of righteousness. Then like Issac, the world will believe when they see God’s goodness.

    All the best!

  137. astudent says:


    I do agree with most of your comment, however I do not agree with your statement, “When the world hears the truth they are attracted to it”. They do not even know what truth is. Just as Pilate did not know, ” John 18:38 (NIV) “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

    Those who want truth are attracted to truth (God), but the world as a whole does not want truth. It interferes with their desire to believe their own greatness.

    You are not the only one that is late to comment. However, because we live forever, it is not all that important.

  138. aram2255 says:


    I would have to disagree with you. We have to remember that Jesus came to minister to the Jews. It was only the Jews that God had revealed about the coming of a Messiah. The gentiles like Pilate where not aware of this and Jesus was not ministering to gentiles as they had no understanding of the Law (scriptures) to receive what He was saying. And the Holy Spirit had not been given to us yet, to convict us of truth. It took Him giving up His life and shedding His blood for us and being raised from the dead by God to sit at His right hand to proclaim His finished work. But the days of people asking like Pilate “What is truth?” have passed. Jesus completed work is perfect. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. And as per John 16 it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the world of only 1 sin. This is the sin of not believing in Jesus.

    So then it is our job to present the true Jesus, His finished work, the fullness of Jesus and His grace upon grace. The Word says that one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to convict the world so that they believe in Jesus. So we know that the Holy Spirit is perfect and will always do His job perfectly. Is it safe to say that the reason why the world does not receive is because we don’t present the fullness of Jesus. The church mixes covenants and creates obstacles. It becomes a self help seminar that is not full of the truth. We tell people that they must tithe to receive, that in order to have an abundant life they must perform certain steps. But the truth is that all we must do is receive Jesus fullness. The Bible says that “deep calls to deep”. So even though their flesh and their own reasoning doesn’t want Jesus their spirit does, their heart does and the Holy Spirit is waiting for an opportunity.

    I have read many salvation prayers online that say “confess that you are a sinner” as part of the salvation prayer. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that this needs to be done to be saved. It simply says confess that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Simply calling on the name of Jesus is what is needed. John in 1 John talks about confessing your sins, but he is talking to Jewish people that had been taught that there is no sin. So are we putting an obstacle for people but saying that they must confess that they are sinners in order to be saved? The only sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of is not believing in Jesus as per John 16. Yet we try to make people admit that they are sinners, trust me people know. The reason they call on the name of Jesus is because they know they have fallen short and need a savior.

    I truly believe that the world is searching to fill their void with the Truth. But we must live and proclaim the truth so that they can see the truth. If it`s not the truth there is no power in it.

  139. astudent says:


    I really like it when someone says that they disagree with me. It seems to always lead to a better understanding on both of our parts.

    Having said that, it does disappoint me when someone says they disagree and they do not state plainly just what we disagree about. I am a simple man and I believe in being simple: not having little intelligence, but being uncomplicated (both are possible definitions of the word simple).

    I am not trying to be critical of your comment. You said that you would have to disagree with me and then immediately started to explain why you do so, without stating just what we disagree on! (The cart, before the horse) It seems that we disagree on more than one thing.

    I know, that you know, what we disagree on, but you make the assumption that I also know! Please, if you feel that we disagree then state what we disagree on first and then state your views.

    It is the same mistake that we, as Christians make, when trying to tell others about Jesus. We put the cart before the horse. Because we know, we make the assumption that everyone else also knows and they do not always know.

    If you think that Pilate didn’t really already know the answer to “what is truth” then consider Cain. (Gen 4:6&7 NIV) Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” You see everyone has always known what truth is. Those who refuse to acknowledge God call it a conscience, but it is the law. (Rom 2:14&15 NIV) (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

    By the way, all of the Law comes from just two commandments. (Mat 22:37-40 NIV) “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” Because the Law is written on everyone’s heart, no one is innocent of violating either of these two Laws: no matter if they are pagan or Christian, or when they were or will be born. Pilate knew that the Spirit is the truth (1 John 5:6), because it was written on his heart.

    Having said that, I assume that we disagree on your statement, “When the world hears the truth they are attracted to it” and if that is what you meant, then yes, we certainly disagree.

    I have been on this earth for a number of years. Not counting short trips, I have lived in the United States for all these years. I have never met anyone that didn’t know the name “Jesus Christ”; in all of my life! If people are attracted to truth, then why are they not all Christians?

    Even most, if not all, of my Christian brothers and sisters only believe “in” God, but they do not believe God. God says that He appoints the authorities and my brothers say ‘We must vote’! God says that we cannot serve both Him and money and yet my brothers are always trying to acquire money in order to serve God!

    You are right when you say, “Jesus completed work is perfect”, if you mean for the world, but the work of Jesus for an individual is not complete until they accept him as the Savior that he is. New human beings are born every minuet, so the work of Jesus will continue until he comes again. If individuals were looking for truth, then everyone would be a Christian, but obviously they are not looking for truth.

    I believe that you are right when you say, “The church mixes covenants and creates obstacles” and it is because they believe “in” God, but they do not believe God. The truth is, they believe in themselves and money.

    I believe that it is a great error to separate the teachings of the Old Testament from the New Testament. God does not change, so what He said to the people of old, He would say to the people of today. Just because the work of Jesus was not complete, in the Old Testament, does not mean it was not complete in God’s sight. If that were the case then all of the people in the Old Testament would be condemned and we know that all were not. Viewing that from a different angle, if no one had the law until Moses, then everyone before him should be saved. God would not condemn the innocent.

    You say, “I have read many salvation prayers online that say “confess that you are a sinner” as part of the salvation prayer. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that this needs to be done to be saved”, but consider (Jer 3:12&13 NIV) “Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt– you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,'” declares the LORD.” God says acknowledge your guilt. It is a requirement in order to return to God and it is in the Bible.

    You said, “John in 1 John talks about confessing your sins, but he is talking to Jewish people that had been taught that there is no sin.” You might want to reread the Old Testament. They were taught little else than there was sin and they were quite guilty of it. Even more than the pagans that were all around them, because the pagans did not have the law spelled out for them as the Jews did. Read Ezekiel chapter 18 and ask yourself if Jewish people were taught there was no sin.

    Anyone can say that Jesus is Lord, but the one that truly believes it, is the one that tries to live as though they do. (James 1:27 NIV) “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

    Consider the Words of God written in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV). Though the people of the end times (now) have a form of godliness they deny its power. The power of God is both to save and to condemn. It seems to be fashionable to say ‘Simply calling on the name of Jesus is all that is needed’ but one would have to remove all of the teaching about sin from the Bible to say that: and that would remove the reason for Jesus!

    Those spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:7 are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” The truth is we are sinners and in need of a Savior. It is necessary to acknowledge the truth, to be saved. It is not ‘Simply calling on the name of Jesus is all that is needed’. Jesus came to save us from our sin. Can we accept a Savior that took our punishment, for our sin, without admitting our sin? That makes no sense to me.

    You say, “But we must live and proclaim the truth so that they can see the truth”, but I would say, “But we should proclaim the truth so that they can see the truth”. The difference is that God does not “need” anything from us to work His plan. It is up to the unsaved to acknowledge the need for a Savior and if they are genuine they will live as someone that needs a Savior. That is a Savior that saves them from sin. First the horse and then the cart: not first the cart and then the horse.

    I believe that it is especially important that you understand that most of the world does not want to believe, so that you do not become discouraged in your work. I hope that I have not discouraged you by disagreeing. Neither one of us is perfect in understanding, but I believe both of us are trying.

  140. Kelli says:

    Wow !!! Haven’t read every comment… However, the one about how the iron can shape another iron for then the Rock to sharpen… I think back about all of the teachers in my life from childhood through Bible school to even now when even children and teenagers can “teach” great truth with their childlike faith. They have helped shape me… their teaching, their love,… Yes, God is the only one to “change” us. Only through Him are we made righteous. “How beautiful are them…” He gave gifts “teachers”… Some of my greatest teachers are those that work with me and under me in children’s ministry. Humility keeps us open to learn from each other… I pray with “age” that my countenance is ready to receive instruction… LOL That’s the question … I have so much more to learn.

  141. Kelli says:

    Always ready to receive instruction.

  142. astudent says:


    I am slow to answer, because you have raised a question that I have been struggling with for quite some time.

    Scripture says (Mat 23:10 NIV) “Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” and yet Scripture also says (1Co 12:28 NIV) “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”

    I know both verses are correct, because both come from Scripture. I think that I am beginning to understand, but I will take a little more time to think about it.

    That little voice inside my head asked me if I could be an apostle and of course there were only twelve, so the answer was “no”. Then I wondered if the prophets that were spoken of were those in Scripture and Scripture was completed before I was born, so the answer was again “no”.

    Still thinking along the same lines, and applying Matthew 23:10, I understand that God had already appointed the teachers that are spoken of and they are Jesus and The Holy Spirit.

    I see more, but I think that I should take a bit more time, to put it together.

  143. steve says:

    How does something as soft as jewelers rouge on a leather strap put a sharp edge on something as hard as steel?

  144. astudent says:


    A very fine powder of ferric oxide is known as “jeweler’s rouge”, “red rouge”, or simply rouge. It is used to put the final polish on metallic jewelry and lenses, and historically as a cosmetic. Rouge cuts more slowly than some modern polishes, such as cerium (IV) oxide, but is still used in optics fabrication and by jewelers for the superior finish it can produce. (From

    Jewelers rouge (also known as red rouge) is a very fine compound originally developed by the jewelry trade for buffing precious metals. Jewelers rouge will bring out the maximum luster and a mirror like finish in jewelry and other items made of soft metals. Other polishing compounds can be used to finish harder metals and materials to a mirror like finish. (From PJ Tool and supply)

    Hematite (also spelled haematite) is iron oxide Fe2O3. It is the most important iron-ore mineral. – It has a hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale – it is a stone. Though it is iron oxide, it is combined with oxygen and therefore not iron. Iron has a hardness of 4 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Therefore, jeweler’s rouge can sharpen some steels.

    If I have not been clear, let me say this: jeweler’s rouge is not “soft”.

  145. Peace says:

    “Text criticism (TC) is a discipline founded on a hermeneutics of suspicion. TC of the Hebrew Bible looks for, and evaluates, grounds for departing from a received text, on the basis of the inherent ambiguities of the case, and/or other textual witnesses, and in conjunction with clear lines of argument. The “inherent ambiguities of the case” are often major, once the vocalization of the received text is stripped away. But TC must also, if it is sound, look for, and evaluate, grounds for retaining the received text. At journey’s end, the hermeneutical circle is set aside, and a solution embraced. Prov 27:17 may illustrate.

    MT Proverbs 27:17
    The MT reads as follows.
    בַּרְזֶל בְּבַרְזֶל יָ֑חַד
    וְאִישׁ יַחַד פְּנֵי־רֵעֵהוּ
    Iron on iron, together;
    a man, the face of his fellow, together.
    More woodenly, so as to approximate the syntax in translation:
    Iron on iron, in the same unit of time and place;
    a man; in the same unit of time and place, the face of his fellow.
    יחד means as a unit, in the same unit of time and/or place. יחד precedes or follows the syntactic string it modifies. From HALOT, examples of the former: Hos 11:8; Mic 2:12; Ps 41:8; Job 3:18; examples of the latter: 1 Sam 11:11; Isa 27:4; Jer 48:7; Ps 40:15; Job 34:15; Ezra 4:3. When it precedes, יחד modifies what follows, but is also anaphoric to a preceding semantic whole. For example, Psalm 141:10 as construed in the MT:
    יִפְּלוּ בְמַכְמֹרָיו רְשָׁעִים
    יַחַד אָנֹכִי עַד־אֶעֱבוֹר
    Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    with me, right there, until I pass by.
    That is, Let the wicked . . . ; in the same unit of time and place, (may) I (be), until I . . . MT Prov 27:17 has an equivalent construction in miniature: ואיש יחד פני־רעהוּ and (the case of) a man; in the same time and place, the face of his fellow.
    On this understanding, Prov 27:17 contains no verbs. Perhaps that seems strange. But compare e.g. Prov 27:19.
    An understanding of the text along these lines has found scholarly support. Tur-Sinai, whom Fox essentially follows, provides an interpretation of Prov 27:17 that fits the MT as analyzed above. To be sure, Fox sets aside the Masoretic vocalization in favor of one of his own devising (discussed below). Key graf (Fox 2009: 811):
    Just as (magnetized) iron is attracted to iron, so is a man attracted to his fellow’s face; he is drawn to look into it, for the sake of fellowship and communication (Tur-Sinai, p. 24). [Prov 27:]17-19 share the theme of fellowship.
    The interpretation of the verse depends on two ambiguous words, both spelled יחד consonantally. In the MT’s vocalization they mean “together,” hence, “Iron on iron together, and a man together (with) the face of his fellow.”
    This was Ewald’s interpretation (1870, § 217h), though he unnecessarily thought of יחד as a preposition in Prov 27:17b. Fox’s diction suggests but does not require the same assumption.
    Thus far MT Prov 27:17, and a plain sense reading thereof, in harmony with 27:19. But that is not the Prov 27:17 Bible readers know and love. KJV: Iron sharpeneth iron;/ So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his fellow.”

    according to this site (and common knowledge of transliteration as well) …ambiguities play a role and the word sharpen or the direct meaning thereof had no place in it to begin with…. what I think we should take from it is that we affect eachother period whether we sharpen or dull hate love encourage inspire discourage etc… we must be mindful of the effects we have on eachother, in our journey to the rock… as far as the text criticism i would like to know what you think, as i couldn’t fully understand with the wording and all what to make of it besides the obvious or if i may have missed anything…. what do you think of it?

  146. astudent says:


    Pro 27:17 in the version of the Bible (NIV), which I usually refer to says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It was translated from the original language by over one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. I have to ask myself if over one hundred of the best scholars could agree on Proverbs 27:17, should I, not being a language scholar, accept one man’s opinion. I also believe that God protects Scripture and therefore all major translations are correct.

    I compared eleven texts and though the second part of the verse varied somewhat, the major translations quoted the first part the same (As iron sharpens iron).

    The first part of the verse explains the second part. If iron could sharpen iron, then what is stated in the second part of the verse would be possible, but if iron cannot sharpen iron, then what is said in the second part of the verse is impossible.

    Understanding the original language is not only unnecessary, but also counterproductive: if God has not given that talent to you. God has appointed some to translate Scripture, so that we all can understand. However, if one does not have the Holy Spirit to reveal the understanding of what is written, their attempts will fail.

    It is vitally important to those who want to call themselves teachers, or rather want others to call them teachers, that everyone thinks that iron can sharpen iron. It seems to make no difference to them that Scripture says not to call anyone teacher. Calling someone teacher moves the glory from the Holy Spirit to the one that claims to be a teacher.

    What I make of it is the same thing that I make of the infamous question, “What is the definition of is?”

    It can be seen as an attempt to create an argument about words. My argument is about understanding and my understanding can be physically tested. I cannot argue with someone that says the Bible doesn’t really say, what it really does say, because the words do not mean what they say! “What is the definition of is?”

    1Timothy 6:3-5 (NIV) If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

    If anyone thinks that they are teachers, then they should get a job, working with their hands, and teach free of any charge. 1Thessalonians 4:11&12 (NIV) Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

  147. Excellent!

    I admire your blend of humility and confidence– a combination severely lacking in both the ‘world’ and the church. When more people start responding thoughtfully to criticisms instead of emotionally reacting, life as we know it will change for the better- in our families, churches, communities, and beyond.

    Ironically, if readers could manage to suspend judgment on your perspective until after fully understanding it, they’d realize that your interpretation of Prov. 27:17 is the only one which points to the fullness of God’s glory!. Sadly, many of us have been conditioned to develop a mental pattern of paying attention just long enough to grasp the general idea of what we think someone is saying, and then completely lose focus by jumping the track to mentally building our argument.

    At the risk of appearing blasphemous (which is certainly not my intention), I’ve written v. 17 in a way that illustrates what I presume is your perspective. I added the second sentence for clarification.

    “As iron cannot sharpen iron, neither can one man sharpen another. Trust not in the follies of men, but in the Holy Spirit, for God alone is Perfect.”

    (This is strictly for purposes of elucidation, and nothing more.)

    Never stop asking questions . . . an unexamined life is not worth living.

  148. astudent says:

    Amy Clifford Roy,

    It is quite different and a great pleasure to read a comment from someone that thinks for themselves. However, you have an advantage over many that comment, because you have no vested interest in wanting to believe that iron sharpens iron.

    Those who consider themselves leaders of the church do not “want” to understand that iron cannot sharpen iron and therefore respond with emotion, instead of thought.

    I agree with you and yet I understand why there is so much resistance to the truth.

    Your interpretation of verse 17 is accurate and the second sentence has already been written by God. (Psa 146:3 NIV) Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

    I am afraid that we put way to much trust in the leaders of the church.

    I agree that we should never stop asking questions. When a person is baptized into Christ they receive the Holy Spirit and He is sent to answer all questions. (John 14:23 NIV) Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
    (John 14:26 NIV) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.)

    (1 John 2:12 NIV) I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
    (1 John 2:20 NIV) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
    (1 John 2:26&27 NIV) I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    This is what should be taught. But the people listen to the leaders instead of searching Scripture themselves. And the leaders encourage such an error by giving sermons instead of conducting a service as defined in 1 Corinthians 14.

    (1 Cor 14:29-31 NIV) Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

    We cannot all speak: only the preacher speaks.

    By the way, as we read just a little farther in Corinthians it says that women should remain silent in the churches, as the law says, but the law comes from just two commands, which are, (Mat 22:37-40 NIV) “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    I see no command for women to be silent in the churches. It would not fit the second greatest commandment. The law that says a woman must be silent in the churches must surely be Old Testament law and does not apply to the church of today.

    (Mat 7:12 NIV) “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” I do not want a woman to tell me to be silent in church, so applying the second greatest commandment to myself and women; I do not want them to be silent either.

    I think this line of thought was triggered when I read your comment. You understand more than many men and the thought that some would say that Scripture commands you to be silent in church just cannot be correct.

    I hope that you are not silent in church. If someone should quote 1 Corinthians 14:34 to you (women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” (NIV)) Ask them which law is that? Would you please quote that law and if they can, please quote it for me.

    Sorry, I did get a bit off topic: didn’t I?

    Anyway, thanks for the comment. It was encouraging.

  149. Bob says:

    Wiki says: “Pure iron is soft (softer than aluminium), but is unobtainable by smelting. The material is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities from the smelting process, such as carbon.”

    A person who has been smelted more than another person would be harder. (more wisdom?) so that harder iron could sharpen softer iron in this example.

  150. astudent says:


    Steel is an alloy made by combining iron and other elements, the most common of these being carbon. (Wiki)

    The verse is ‘as iron sharpens iron’; not as steel sharpens iron.

    You do make a great point though. Iron with impurities can do great damage to pure iron.

    I would suggest that everyone strive to be pure and let God do the sharpening.

  151. Bryn says:

    I know this comment is nearly 6 years after the original post, but in an effort to offer some further insight into the verse, I came across this background on the verse and the process of “iron sharpening iron”. It’s a very good “alternative” view on the matter. Hopefully someone finds it helpful, I know I did.

  152. astudent says:


    There is no “alternative” view of the matter.

    There are only those who want to believe that iron will sharpen iron and the true understanding of the process.

    Again, and again, and again, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO SHARPEN IRON WITH IRON. NO WAY, NO HOW.

    Because it is not possible, the verse means man cannot sharpen man. God is our rock (stone) and only He can sharpen.

    When we are baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit to teach us all things.

    1Cor 12:13 (NIV) For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

    When we drink in the Holy Spirit He becomes part of us.

    1 John 2:27 (NIV) As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE TO TEACH YOU. But as HIS ANOINTING TEACHES YOU ABOUT ALL THINGS and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    If we have the perfect teacher, and we do, then all we need are the questions.

    It might seem that those who do not have the Spirit could benefit from a teacher, but even they can only be convinced by the Spirit.
    1Cor 14:24-26 (NIV) But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

    Because we have appointed teachers (that take money for teaching) not everyone is allowed to proclaim a word of instruction, a revelation and the church is weak as a result.

  153. kevin says:

    Iron can and will sharpen iron just as stone can and will sharpen stone. What occurs is over time one piece of iron rubbing against another piece of iron will sharpen both pieces. You are correct that one piece of iron will not sharpen another piece without itself being changed. I have several scars from working on worn farm equipment to prove this to be true.

  154. astudent says:


    With all due respect, please read all of the comments on this post, and then spend a little time studying metallurgy, before you try to defend your comment.

    No farm equipment, which must hold an edge, is made of iron. It is made of steel. Your scars only serve to highlight your mistakes, not how the equipment was made, or what it was made of.

    The verse is not ‘as steel sharpens steel’, but even steel is not sharpened with steel.

  155. jburditt says:

    In order to fully explain this verse one must have an understanding of the history of metal. While The Book of Proverbs does not have an established date of when it was written, some say as long as 900 B.C. others around 300 B.C., we can safely assume that it was around the Iron Age. To fully understand this verse we must understand the use of the word iron. Iron would have been most likely used to describe any metal tougher than bronze, as the words: steel, pig steel, Damascus steel, Wootz steel and any other such words would not have been coined yet. Now you might be thinking well what about 2 Samuel 22:35, Job 20:24, Psalm 18:34, and Jeremiah 15:12 which all contain the word steel. Well the word used in those verses is “Necuwshah” Strong’s number 5154 which doesn’t refer to steel as in a metal as we know it, it just so happens that steel is an English word that fits the definition well. During the time Proverbs was written the process of making steel or better yet iron containing carbon was just being discovered by man. So now we can understand that each ‘iron’ tool could be much different than another ‘iron’ tool in terms of carbon content. (If I’m losing anyone here just do a quick search on ancient steel)Because in the beginning ‘steel’ making was really a guessing game as it was in its beginning stages. Now that I have established that it is very logical that the word ‘iron’ could very be describing “pig steel” that would allow tools to have varying degrees of hardness I believe it is time to address the act of sharpening metal. For my explanation I will describe how to sharpen a sword. (My source… Step one lay your sword on a table with one side propped up on the block of wood. Be sure there is enough lighting to see the sword edge clearly. Step two place the (metal) file at a 30 degree angle. Carefully use measured downward strokes on the sword blade to roughly sharpen it. Third apply oil to the whetstone. Place the sword blade across the stone at a 30-degree angle in a slow and measured stroke. You are polishing the blade here so this is a back and forth motion, not a circular one. Steps four dampen a small piece of 400-grit sandpaper with water. Glide the paper down the blade at a 30-degree angle. This must be done very gently because your fingers can easily slip and you can cut yourself. Now that I have explained the physicals facts I would like to expand on how this can be applied to the spiritual side. However before I begin I would like to make a few comments that are fundamental. First I would like to say that this only works for two individuals involved in a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just one. Now I would like to go over the steps of metal sharpening again. Step one involves metal on metal contact which can be regarded as our fellowship with other Christians. The “strength” of each “tool” will dictate how much filing is done. Now step one says that you should put the sword on a wooden block, that wooden block would be the Holy Bible. Step two says to hold the sword at a certain angle that can be thought of as being totally surrendered to God. Step three involves the oil and whetstone, in this step we are removing the metal shavings and giving the blade a polish. This part can be thought of as the blood of Christ which removes our sins and gives us a clean new edge. Finally we come to the sandpaper; this step is to blend the new edge with the entire blade. This can be related to our daily actions, keeping Gods commandments. This process will decide if the new edge is fully blended into the sword. We must be very careful with this step. However if done correctly the blade will become much sharper. Now I would like to make a few comments on the Hebrew words of Proverbs 27:17. (I will be using the Transliteration as well as the Strong’s number). First I would like to make a note on the word Chadad (Strong’s #H2300), which is translated into sharpen, however another word quibble which means to make trivial objections: to argue over unimportant things and make petty objections. Next the word paniym (#H6440) which in the KJV is translated into countersense is defined as characteristics, sight, or edge among many other possible meanings. Finally the word rea (#H7453) which in the KJV is translated into of his friend, which is defined as a brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, neighbor. Before I close I would like to make this point very clear without a relationship with the savior Jesus Christ then interactions with Christians will not give you a new sharpened edge it will most likely only, as you said earlier, create a lot of friction. Check out what the rest of proverbs has to say about rebuke. However in closing I would like to encourage everyone to earnestly pray about what this scripture means that the Holy Spirit would reveal it’s true meaning to each of us. Thank you for posting your viewpoints I feel that you have allowed me to grow in Christ thought this study.

  156. astudent says:


    The word “iron” means iron, not steel. I believe that you are correct when you say steel and its many variants had not yet been discovered, but that doesn’t change the verse.

    The word that you use (Necuwshah – H5154) is the word for copper, not steel, or any form of iron. The KJV is the only version that translates it as steel, which would have to be wrong, because when the verse was written steel was not yet.

    You did not establish anything by trying to substitute the word copper for the word iron. Both words are used in Jeremiah 15:12 and it is apparent that they are different.

    Your whole comment falls apart where you describe sharpening and you say, “Third apply oil to the whetstone”. Isn’t that what I said, “It takes a stone to sharpen everything”?

    You have made a long and flowery comment to say that we must depend on man to understand God’s Word, but that is not what God says.

    I have concentrated on one verse, manly because it is physically provable, but it is not a stand-alone verse.

    Consider Proverbs 2:6 (NIV) “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” He did not say from the mouth of man, or second hand from the mouth of man.

    This idea that man must, or can, learn from man, has cooled the Church to the lukewarm condition that it is in today. Instead of relying on God to teach them, they rely on a man.
    God warns about placing faith in man, instead of Him. (Psalms 118:8&9, 146:3)

    No one understands tithing as God gave it to Israel, because it is not about giving back to God at all. Men twist it to convince the Church to give money when God’s Word plainly says that one cannot serve both God and money. Because the Church has placed their faith in man, they do not seek understanding from God and so they do not have understanding.

    Consider 1 John 2:27 (NIV) “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” Could God be any plainer “you do not need anyone to teach you”. I do not find it at all strange that I have never heard a preacher use this verse as a base for a sermon. It is not the best verse to use for job security!

    By the way, sharpening depends on stone-to-metal contact, not metal-to-metal contact. One doesn’t sharpen a knife with a knife, or a sword with a sword. It is sharpened with a stone, whether it is a whetstone, or a dry stone, always a stone.

  157. Jordan says:

    Umm….I hone (sharpen) my kitchen knives with a honing steel all the time and unless you know something I don’t about those, they aren’t made of stone. But yes, stone sharpens metal much better than that. I sharpen my own chisels and I use wet stones.

    You have to take the whole of scripture into account when interpreting it. You can’t just rip a verse out and do with it what you please. If we are only to rely on the Holy Spirit within us to grow, then why is there an office of teacher in 1 Timothy?

    Or what do you do with a verse like 1 Thessalonians 3:2?
    “and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,”

    God uses men for His purposes and glory in the lives of other men and sharpens people through scripture, others, and sometimes direct communication. So even though wrought iron may not sharpen wrought iron well, the interpretation of this verse from nearly 2 millennia of Christian tradition still remains the same.

  158. astudent says:


    It is discouraging to answer the same questions over and over. However, yes, I do know something about steels that you do not know.

    A steel is not a sharpening tool. It is a straightening tool. If a knife strikes a bone or something hard, it will sometimes bend the edge. Not all of the edge, but part of it. That part will not meet the article that is being cut at the same angle as the rest of the edge. Although the blade is still sharp, it seems as though it is dull. The steel bends the edge straight again. No amount of steeling will sharpen a dull blade. You will only have a straight, dull blade.

    1 Thessalonians 3:2 does not say Timothy was sent to sharpen (teach), but to strengthen and encourage. You read sharpen into the verse, but it is not there.

    Those who have yet to come to their senses and turned to God need a teacher, but once the believer has been baptized and they have received the Holy Spirit, they need no one to teach them. God does not grant that authority to any man. It should be obvious that only God can teach about God, because only God knows God. That job, or pleasure, is too important to trust to a mere man.

    You ask me how I reconcile 1Thessalonians 3:2 and I explained, so how do you reconcile 1 John 2:27 (NIV) (As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE TO TEACH YOU. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.)? How about Matthew 23:10 (NIV) Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.

    You are correct the traditional interpretation of Proverbs 27:17 seems to remain the same. It is time that we ignore tradition and listen to the Spirit that God has given us, instead of listening to ourselves and others that think more highly of themselves than they should.

  159. AB says:

    I agree that your interpretation may be true since it is a scientific fact that metals alike cannot sharpen each other but I have to disagree with you on one point which I believe everyone is getting to and not only that but I don’t believe this verse is the ultimate measure or source of reference that says that God is the only source of wisdom and make disregard for the people he does use in our lives to share knowledge and wisdom witg us. In fact this verse really only draws attention to one Biblical truth that God is the ultimate refuge and strength which is a trending Biblical theme in Scripture. It doesnt mean that God doesnt use people in our lives to bring us wisdom or make us stronger which is also a major theme in Scripture : God using people to spread the gospel or share the good news like Paul did with the churches when they were in time of need in the NT. I just want to point out that there are many places in Scripture that are proof to this. In actuality, God does place people in our lives that build or help make us stronger and he has given each and everyone his or own spiritual gift(s) to bless others with whether it is discernment, self-control or wisdom. God has given us these unique gifts that we are able to use to make our brothers stronger. It doesnt mean that just anyone can teach me but he does use people in our lives to make us wiser. Im not diagreeing with you that God is the ultimate discernment of truth but you cant make disregard that he does use people in our lives as spiritual tools in times of adversity.

  160. astudent says:


    How about 1John 2:27 (NIV) As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    Or Matthew 23:10 (NIV) Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.

    Consider Paul when Jesus spoke to him (Galatians 1:15 thru 1:20). He did not look for a man to teach him.

    The bottom line is, when we are baptized we are given the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. By that, I mean all things about God. If we have the Holy Spirit, the one that has all of the answers, then why in the world would we look to any man for answers?

    You do right when you doubt me. However, do not doubt Scripture, even when you think it wrong. 1 John 2:27 is very clear. As is Proverbs 27:17.

    Do not put your trust in man. Doubt everything that any man says and go to Scripture to see if what is said is correct.

    Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The only way you can know Scripture is from Scripture.

    There are glaring mistakes taught in church today because men teach men.

  161. NATE says:


  162. astudent says:


    Read Scripture for yourself.

    You have either been depending on someone else (preacher) to read Scripture for you, or you are a preacher.

    Read this, 1John 2:27 (NIV) “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” Notice, “YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE TO TEACH YOU.”

    And this, 1Corinthins 2:11&12 (NIV) “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

    Do not ignore Mat 23:10 (NIV) “Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.”

    The verse that you almost quoted Rom 10:14(NIV) “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” is speaking about Israelites (10:1).

    Read and think about Rom 10:18 (NIV) “But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

    Church was not meant to be led by one man, other than Jesus Christ. It is supposed to be led by elders. 1Co 14:26 (NIV) “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” It has become a system where one man preaches and everyone else just sits and listens.

    1Co 14:30&31 (NIV) “And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” That no longer happens in a church service and it is because of preachers.

    The church has become weak, just as 1Corinthins 14:26 warned against.

    I didn’t forget how they sharpened iron ‘back then’. I didn’t live back then. I know that you cannot sharpen iron by beating it, even though I didn’t live then. Perhaps you should study how to sharpen iron, before you make claims about how it is done.

    Go to church to celebrate Jesus Christ and to worship God, but learn Scripture at home, reading the Bible and listening to the Spirit explain it to you.

  163. Bub21 says:

    wow haha the technicalities of the literal meaning of the verse should not be argued to this point. yes, you cannot sharpen one metal with the same metal. but there is no need to make this huge deal about that specific technicality. the point is that us christians, as a body, can all help each other grow closer to christ. and you have made the church body look like an indoctrinating system where people go but do not grow. while this is doubtlessly true sometimes, it is hardly an absolute statement. the bible encourages us christians to lean on each other and grow with each other. the iron sharpens iron verse is a metaphor to helping each other grow closer to christ, which IS possible. when 2 or more are gathered in HIS name, the He is present. so before we all start arguing about whether iron really does sharpen iron (which it doesnt, thats true) lets understand what Christ is trying to accomplish through the verse, cuz this argument is not it.

  164. astudent says:


    The fact that iron cannot sharpen iron and therefore man cannot sharpen man is the point. That specific technicality makes the point clear.

    If you disregard the facts, then how can you learn anything from the verse?

    Do you not understand that there are always two gathered together if one is a Christian? The Holy Spirit is always with the Christian, every Christian, so there are always two gathered together in his name.

    The verse has nothing to do with growing together or leaning on each other. By the way, why would I lean on a man when I have the Holy Spirit to lean on?

    I have no argument with anyone. I only stated that iron cannot sharpen iron. The argument is from those who do not want to accept the facts.

    Why anyone would even want to believe we need man’s input when Jesus said, (John 14:26 NIV) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
    1John 2:27(NIV) As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    If the Holy Spirit is sent to teach us all things then what is left for man to teach? If we have the perfect teacher then why would we even want a different teacher?

    Doesn’t anyone understand that God wants to teach us? It is too important a task to trust man to accomplish. Only God truly knows and understands God, and only God is qualified to teach about Himself.

    You do not grow in church. You grow as you understand more about the Word of God and He will teach you.

    The church is full of yeast (wrong teaching and wrong teaching comes from man, not God). Mat 13:33(NIV) He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

    Teach the gospel to those who do not have the Holy Spirit and let God teach those that do have.

  165. Pat says:

    “Iron sharpening Iron” has bothered me ever since I first read Proverbs 27:17.
    I work in a metal fab shop and foundry and absolutely know that Iron does not sharpen Iron. There is also a huge difference between Iron which is a natural element and Steel which most people think of when they “think” of Iron. Steel is an Alloy which in it’s simplest state is just adding carbon to Iron.
    We do everything possible in my line of work to keep steel from rubbing against other steel. For instance, inserting bushings and bearings between the steel as in hinges.
    Enough about the “not possible” argument.
    In my quest for an answer, I read every verse in the Bible that was translated “Iron” I found something very consistent. People are often refereed to as “Iron”, See the list below:
    Deuteronomy 4:20
    But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.
    1 Kings 8:51
    (for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace),
    Jeremiah 11:4
    which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be your God,’
    Ezekiel 22:18
    “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver.
    Ezekiel 22:20
    As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you.

    Proverbs 27:17 could very possibly, simply mean that people whom God calls Iron sharpen each other?

  166. astudent says:


    I find it amazing that no one wants to accept Proverbs 27:17 just as it is written.

    I can somewhat understand preachers not understanding, because most of them have never worked with their hands and very few of those that have worked with their hands have not worked with metal.

    You however know that iron cannot sharpen iron and yet you “will not” understand that is what God meant!

    God does indeed sometimes use iron to symbolize men. I do not understand how you quote verses about melting iron and connect that process to sharpening iron.

    Read the verse slowly and think about it. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. If iron could sharpen iron then man could sharpen man. If you are a baptized believer God has given you the Holy Spirit to teach you all things (John 14:26). If you have the Holy Spirit then why would you want a man, who is imperfect in knowledge, to attempt to teach you? Those who have not been baptized need a teacher, because they do not have the Spirit.

  167. bryn says:

    At the time Proverbs was written the “perfect teacher” or Holy Spirit, would not have been in people or guiding them like the Holy Spirit does now or since it “showed up” permanently once one has excepted Christ, I think somewhere in Acts, so looking at it from that angle, who taught everyone before the HS showed up? What of all the prophets who God commanded to go tell the people things? What about Moses being given the 10 commandments? I understand your POV but if you look at all the times God commanded individuals to teach others, the verse as interpreted literally, can’t be accurate because God cannot contradict Himself.

  168. astudent says:


    Consider 2Tim 3:16 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

    And then 2 Peter 1:20&21 (NIV) Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    You see the Holy Spirit was in people at the time they wrote Scripture, but you are correct when you say the Spirit was not permanently in them.

    God wants us to teach those who do not have the Holy Spirit: the unsaved. After we become a child of God He will teach us. We are only students to each other and I think it good to discuss scripture, because it generates questions and if we have the perfect teacher all we need are the questions.

  169. Saint Mick says:

    lol this has been going on for over 6 years!!?? I skipped from 2009 so I don’t know whether somebody has given a meaningful answer yet, but I certainly don’t understand why not.
    I googled how a blade is sharpened. It applies quite well to scripture.
    There are 3 stages. First a stone is used to produce an edge. Jesus is The Rock that produces the edge in us.
    Secondly, same metal-on-metal is used to straighten a dulled edge. Fellowship is a part of this.
    Thirdly, the edge is polished. This makes a sharp edge “as new”. Make that edge shine brothers and sisters 🙂

    So does iron sharpen iron? Yes it does – if it has an edge. So it only works with brothers and sisters. First fall on The Rock, then the fellowship will keep you nice and sharp and shining.

  170. astudent says:

    Saint Mick,

    Speaking of lol and presto, I do.

    No one has given a meaningful (to you) answer is because iron cannot be used to sharpen iron and it doesn’t matter if you or anyone else wants to believe it or not.

    You skipped 4 years of answers to my claim and went to Google for your answer. Perhaps you should try to sharpen something instead of just making claims.

    You have the first part almost right. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us all things (John 14:26). If you have been baptized into Jesus, then you have the Holy Spirit to teach you all things and if we already have the perfect teacher then who needs man, to make a mess of it?

    I somewhat agree with your second point, but it has nothing to do with sharpening. No amount of steeling will produce an edge.

    In order to polish an edge one must use a polishing compound, which is made of ground up stone. It is not iron sharpening iron, but stone that does the work.

    1Th 4:11&12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

    Do you see the wisdom in these verses? If you worked with your hands and actually tried to sharpen something, then you would not have made your claim and then I for one would gain respect for you.

  171. aBrother says:

    Wow what a stir you have caused lol.

    I have a few questions.

    1)Do you believe the Holy Bible that you have taken this verse from to be the Inspired Word of God, With no errors in it at all?
    I ask this because the verse is very plainly worded that even a child would say. “cool according to God iron sharpens iron!” God said it and I don’t worry about science to prove it. Science says that we came from an explosion and over billions of years we have evolved from the likes of tadpoles and monkeys. Gods Holy Word said He spoke both the world and man into existence in a weeks time. Scientist and metallurgist are much much more book smart than I am but think I will stick with the one that created it on all this. He said that “iron sharpens iron” and I believe Him. Perhaps we will be intelligent enough some day to figure that out (like all science).

    2)Have you done a word search to see if there is a given process of the entire sword making and sharpening process in Scripture?
    I have not found anything in scripture going into the minute details of sharpening and metallurgy. Perhaps I am overlooking something. And perhaps we are making a mountain out of a simple idea God is trying to convey to all people not just a few master craft men of metal working.

    3)Have you done a word search to see if the word steel is used in the NIV?
    I don’t use the NIV personally as it seems to try to do more interpreting than translating the words, but I did a search on the word steel as it seems to be much of the what is being talked about here and the word does not come up in the search. It does in fact come up in the KJV (4 times) which I find to be much more reliable than the NIV. I am assuming God is speaking in general terms when He uses the word “iron”(over a hundred times) and it appears most here are looking at the details. Generally speaking when the average person sees a cloud he just says “look there is a cloud”. Not…”look there are billions of tiny droplets of water vapors surrounding dust particles” or if it rains “cool those billions of tiny droplets of water vapors surrounding dust particles have banged together and gotten so heavy they are falling because the force of gravity” I personally think God is talking to the average person and uses the word “iron” as a general reference. As most of the proverbs are short and simple to be understood by the simplest of minds….of which mine is chef 🙂

    4)Have you done a thorough study search of the word teach or teaching in the Holy Scriptures?
    Jesus told us to Go and teach. Mt 28:19
    We can teach wrong doctrines. 1Tim 1:3
    The bishop/pastor must be “apt to teach”. 1 Tim 3:2
    The aged women are to teach the young women. Tit 2:4
    and that is but a small portion of the time the word teach is used in Scripture with many more referring to mans part in the teaching process.

    Please forgive me if you have answered these questions previously as I did not read all the comments above. Only your earlier ones from YEARS ago lol. Very interesting blog for sure.

  172. astudent says:


    Yes, I do believe any major translation of the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and therefore without any errors. I usually use the NIV, because it is written in the language that I am most familiar with. However, there are times when God uses the KJV and other translation to clarify what He is teaching me. I find all of the translations to say the same thing: just using different words to convey His meanings.

    Because you only consider the KJV, I can understand your take on the subject. As you point out, the KJV says, “Iron sharpeneth iron”, but it does not! So, because God does not lie, then He is using it as an example that man does not sharpen the countenance of his friend. I agree that a child might say, “cool according to God, iron sharpens iron”, but we are not children. I have not only researched the question, but I have also physically tested it. Perhaps you should also test it.

    I have to be careful if I take the same point of view that you do, when you say God said something and therefore it is true. You see the Bible also says, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.” (Ecc 10:19) If I took the same approach as you, I might say, “cool God says money is the answer for everything” and we know it is not. Children do not yet have the background to understand that Solomon is only speaking about the world and that money is really not the answer for all things.

    The verse says, “As iron sharpens iron” It makes no reference to any specific item, such as a sword or knife. Steel is not mentioned in the Bible, because the word had yet to be used. There were swords that were made of Damascus steel, but the craftsmen did not understand that they were making steel. Before you ask, they were sharpened with a stone. Just to correct you, steel is not the subject here. It has come up in the comments and therefore deserves to be answered, but it is not the main subject.

    I might add that though the Bible says nothing about steel that it in no way negates the existence of it. It also says nothing about computers, but you are reading this because there are computers.

    Yes, I have searched Scripture for the understanding of teaching. Notice John14:26 (KJV), “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    That is why I claim to be only a student. If we have the Holy Spirit, to teach us all things (Acts 2:38), then all we need are the questions. Also, ask yourself why God would entrust someone to teach His Word, when we are all flawed? Only He is perfect and only He knows all, so it stands to reason that only God is qualified to teach about Himself.

    The NIV says, (Mat 23:10) “Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” The KJV uses the word “master” instead of teacher, but Strong’s Concordance list either as correct.

    I believe much of the confusion about Scripture comes from mere men claiming they understand and others do not. Now, before you throw stones at me, let me just say, “Test me. Try to sharpen iron with iron”. You might learn something.

    (KJV+) GoG4198 ye therefore,G3767 and teachG3100 allG3956 nations,G1484 baptizingG907 themG846 inG1519 theG3588 nameG3686 of theG3588 Father,G3962 andG2532 of theG3588 Son,G5207 andG2532 of theG3588 HolyG40 Ghost:G4151

    Strong’s G3100 – from 3101 – to become a pupil. It does not say become a teacher. Perhaps you can do a deeper study on teaching and explain your views and I might learn something. I do not claim to know everything and that is why I post: for the questions.

    You are correct, it has been years, and it seems that no one has tested their claim that iron can sharpen iron. On the other hand, perhaps, after testing it, no one has admitted that it cannot.

  173. astudent says:


    I see that I did not answer your claim that steel is mentioned 4 times in the Bible.

    You are correct; it is mentioned 4 times in the KJV. However, Strong’s Concordance lists the word as copper, or brass three times (H5154) (2 Sam 22:35, Job 20:24 & Psa 18:34) and only copper the other time it is used (H5178) (Jer 15:12). Strong’s does use the word steel, but not as the main meaning of the word. I think the translators of the KJV did not understand that steel has no connection with copper or brass: other than being a metal.

    There are eleven translations on my computer and all of the other nine use copper, bronze, or brass for the word. That would be a bit more logical, because the process of making steel was not understood before the 1800s. Please read all of the comments before attempting to argue this as I probably have already answered any argument that you might have.

    Do you see why I use more than one translation in my search for understanding?

  174. creationwitness says:


    Technically you may be correct. I have never sharpened iron with iron, but I have sharpened steel with steel. Taking two identical blades and turning one over, you can sharpen the blade of one on the backside of the other. I believe the same would work with iron, but I cannot say for sure. I would suggest that if both are made up of the same crystal and one is rubbed against the other properly (crystal edge against crystal surface), then one will sharpen the other as steel knives do and also diamonds come to think of it.

    I am no person to say one way or the other as I have little study on the subject. I do however take the verse for exactly what it says. The reason I say this is that I know for a fact that you sharpen my countenance with all of our conversations. God being our rock is an even more important statement here. Certainly a hard stone will sharpen the iron quicker than iron against iron. It would be erroneous of me to say that you have not sharpened my countenance.

    The word countenance in the concordance reveals some truth. Strong’s H6440 – paniym:
    1. face, faces 2. presence, person 5. face, surface

    Iron can only scratch the surface of iron. It goes no deeper.

    P.S. I don’t know how accurate the references given are, but I thought to myself that steel must have been used before the 1800’s if even by accident. Not too hard to heat up some iron and have it mix with carbon.

  175. astudent says:

    I am old now. All my life I have enjoyed repairing, modifying, and making mechanical and electronic machines of many kinds.

    I have found that the more one knows and understands about any subject the better the out come of the task. So, I have always tried to learn more about almost everything.

    When I read Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. I knew it meant that a man cannot sharpen another man, because I know and understand how something is sharpened.

    In my ignorance and unbelief, I thought that others should know and understand how something is sharpened, so they might also understand the verse. So, I wrote a post and when someone commented I attempted to explain what I knew, but no one could understand!

    Seven is the number of completeness and I have been trying to make others understand, as I do, for seven years and not one has said, “You are correct, iron cannot sharpen iron”.

    Do you see that my attempt to teach others was a sin of unbelief? The very verse that I was trying to teach stated that it was not possible for a man to teach another man! If I had been successful, even once, I would have proven myself wrong!

    The Holy Spirit that lives in me had taught me the meaning of the verse and because I am a sinner, who would like to sharpen others, I tried to sharpen others! What a stupid sinner I am.

    I tell myself that I believe God, but God has given me seven years to prove to me that I do not really believe Him.

    I am just like the father spoken of in Mark 9:17-24 and I make the same request to God “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

    If iron could sharpen itself, then I could sharpen myself, but I cannot. I need the Spirit, along with the Word of God, to sharpen me and He has just given me a seven-year course, just for my benefit, that I might believe God when He says something.

    Trying to do something, that Scripture says is not possible, only leads to frustration for both the speaker and the one that listens. Frustration leads to anger, So, I apologize to all that I have angered for these last seven years.

    I give up. That is quite a statement for me to make, as I am not one to give up, but I am only opposing God and that was not my intention.

    I will not remove the post. However, I will no longer return a comment on this thread. I will also remove any comment that is posted.

  176. astudent says:

    Kay and creationwitness,

    I am encouraged by your comments and I am sure your thoughts encourage others. However, I did say that I would remove any future comments from this post.

    I have heard it said that a man is only as good as his word and I believe it. When I said that I would remove any comments I was just wore out trying to teach, when the very verse said that I could not. Fools may wear out fast or slow, but a worn out fool is just too tired to oppose God any more. So, this fool stopped trying to teach, even though I did not even consider it teaching!

    Scripture says not to make a vow and a vow is only a solemn promise. Any promise made by a Christian would have to be a solemn promise, so I have been caught doing something that I should not have done. Just as Jephthah made a vow and did not consider all of the possibilities, so did I.

    Thanks for your comments, but to keep my word I must remove them. I hope you understand.

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