“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”


I am suddenly thankful Spider-man like web fluid is one of the few things i won’t have to clean up when my son is born.

For many us of we can’t remember when we first heard those words, but knew they were the defining message of Spider-man. If your reading this post your certain to know that Peter Parker puts on some funky tights (that he sows at home btw) and zips across the night sky of Manhattan as Spider-man because an accident gave him great power (that of a spider obviously) and due tragic circumstances he realized that it was duty to his fellow man to use those abilities to help others. Those tragic circumstances involved the loss of his Uncle Ben to a robber he could have stopped earlier but didn’t because he was being a selfish jerk (hey, we’ve all been there.)  His uncle Ben had always told him the famous quote, ” With Great power comes great responsibility,” Peter Parker finally took the lesson to heart as he saw that his actions with his power were selfish and lead to his uncles death.

This story has obviously had an impact on society:

a subtle tat if I ever saw one

What are the real origins of this quote?  Was uncle Ben quoting the bible as I seemed to outrageously claim on facebook? Okay he wasn’t quoting the bible directly but we can trace this idea back God’s word. The original issue in the Marvel Comics had the good old Uncle Ben say:  “With Great Power Must  Also Come Great Responsibility.” If you do more Googling you will find that you can trace a french version of the quote to Voltaire.  But let’s look even further back.  In Luke 12:48 Jesus says, ” From everyone who has been given much, much will be required”  Sound familiar?

If you aren’t a Christian and just a nerd this may be cool as a neat fact that will shed light on the most influential father figure in Peter Parker (Spider-man’s) life. You can’t say for certain were Uncle Ben may have learned the lesson but you can agree it was an important one.

As a Christian nerd, or parent of a small child you can also see a perfect conversation starter.  You can let someone (probably a short little child one) who likes Spider-man thanks to his countless comics, movies, toons, or toys, in on a biblical truth.

I always look at things from a Bible teacher’s perspective.  I can’t help point put out a few key additional applications from biblical text not found in quote from Ben Parker. Spider-man’s powers have their origin in a radioactive spider bite, but the biblical quote says, “To whom much is given,” which  suggests a giver. Someone gave you your talents and skills, and while they may not seem as marvelous as Spiderman (okay that is a rather lame pun,) we should express thanks for them. As Christians we know this is God the father created us as unique individuals and had final say on what circumstances we would encounter. He molded us with these events in our lives to strengthen and equip these gifts, and thus deserves thanks.  It should also be noted that the saying of Jesus also says “required.” More than being responsible to act as we should, we are required to uphold a set of expectations. When we fail to meet our responsibilities we are just  irresponsible, but if we fail to do what is required, we have broken a rule or law, we are in a single word, guilty. Sadly all are guilty, but wonderfully all can be forgiven.

Spider-man often struggles to keep on his spandex suit, stay in the web slinging business, and do has he should, much the same all of his do (minus of course the tights and web slinging.)  Keeping this connection in mind may be  good illustration for self encouragement, or for sharing or teaching.

– revsears


2 thoughts on ““With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

  1. The bible stole it from the Jews. The Jews stole it from pagans. It is a very old and very common saying. It’s worse when the bible misquotes something. “Do unto others as you would have done to you” for example is a misquote of the Jewish “Do unto others as THEY would have you do” It is a subtle but important difference, as the Christian version implies that you know what is best for the other person, and should enforce it, while the Jewish version implies that you should find out and respect how the person wants to be treated, regardless of how you, yourself would want to be treated.

    • Thanks for your reply and your time reading the article. As to your comments, there are several points you seem to be confused on.

      It would be difficult for the bible to steal something from the Jews as it was written primarily by the Jewish people. The Old Testament is entirely Jewish, and while there was an obvious break with those that accepted Christ, the majority of the NT writers were Jewish people who accepted Christ as the promised savior of their people (and the entire world.)

      Your exposition of the golden rule does not fit the context in which we find it. Yes it was a turn on a popular teaching, but this was an intentional turn as Jesus often used, “you have heard it said… but I say unto you.” This is a teaching tool still used today, qouting something and expanding on it. Christ was not teaching us to have high minded attitude towards others, but instead to be pro-active rather than reactive. Many of the earlier forms of the golden rule are in the negative, “do not due to your neighbor what you would not have done unto you.” Etc. Christ put into the positive. We should be actively doing good to others, not simply seeking not to do bad or avoiding harm.

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