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How to ENJOY the Bible
E. W. Bullinger
Part IIThe Words
The Biblical Usage of Words is
Essential to their Correct
Next to the Scope of a passage in determining the meaning of words must be placed the Biblical usage of words, as distinct from the meanings put upon them by lexicons, dictionaries, and commentaries.
These are too often based on etymology merely, or on the meaning put upon words by tradition; or on their usage at some time other than the time at which they were written or spoken.
The usage of words is prior in time, as well as in importance, to all dictionaries.
Indeed, in all languages, the dictionary has to be compiled directly from such usage, and is, in fact, only a record of it, so far as it can be gathered.
Hence the value of such a work is in direct proportion to the number of examples which it gives of usage by different writers recognized as standard authorities.
In the case of many words, changes of usage can be traced through different periods of time.
Words in a living language are like coins which are in constant use; and, as coins not only differ in value between different countries, but change their own values at different periods in the same countries; so it is with words; there is a constant change in value when measured by their purchasing power.
The greatest possible care, therefore, is required in dealing with "words," especially when they are the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
It is necessary that we should get not only the exact equivalent in changing words from one language to another, as we do in changing coins; but that we should know the relative value of the same words (or coins) in the same country at different periods of its history.
Over and above this, we read in Psalm 12:6:
a. The words of Jehovah are pure words,
b. As silver tried in a furnace:
a. [Words] of the earth,
b. Purified seven times.
The Holy Spirit has used words pertaining to this world. He has not spoken with "the tongues of angels" (1 Cor 13:1), but with "the tongues of men." In using men's words, and words pertaining to this world, He has used them in all perfection.
The Hebrew Old Testament we must regard as consisting only of Divinely chosen and inspired words, as we have no literature that goes behind it.
With the Greek of the New Testament the case is different, for there is the whole of Greek classical literature behind it.
It is intensely interesting to notice that while there are 97,921 words used by the classical Greek writers,* the Holy Spirit has chosen and used only 5,857 in the Greek New Testament.**
* This is the number of words treated in Liddle and Scott's Standard Greek Lexicon, 8th Edition, 1901. (It consists of 1774 pages.)
** This is the number of words treated in Thayer's (Grimm's Wilke's) Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament.
So that there are 92,064 Greek words which the Holy Spirit has never used at all.
That is to say, out of all the Greek words used in Greek Classical Literature the Holy Spirit has used only one in sixteen, or six per cent!
Those He has used, He has, in many cases, used in a higher sense.
Some He has used in a different sense.
While others, again. He has coined Himself.*
* These should, of course, be deducted from the 5,857 mentioned above.
It is unnecessary for us to consider those words He has never used at all.
There are five distinct divisions under which this subject of usage of words may be profitably considered:
- Where English words have gone out of use altogether.
- Where the usage of English words has been changed.
- Where the usage of Greek words had become changed:
a. By God;
b. By man
- Where different, but concurrent usages of Greek words should be observed in the English.
- Where a uniform usage of Greek words should not be departed from in the English; English words obsolete.
i. Where English Words have Gone out of Use Altogether.
In the English language certain words and expressions which were common in the seventeenth century have gone out of use altogether, and require explanation before they can be correctly interpreted.
The following are examples of words and expressions which have become obsolete:
All to brake (Judges 9:53) is the Anglo-Saxon tobrecan, which meant to smash. "All to brake," therefore, was used in the sense of to completely smash or break.
Away with (Isa 1:13), meant to tolerate.
Come at, meant to come near (Num 6:6).
Do to wit (2 Cor 8:1), meant make to know, to certify.
For to do, meant in order to do (Deut 4:1).
Full well (Mark 7:9), meant with full knowledge.
Go to (James 4:13), meant come now.
Trow (Luke 17:9), meant to suppose or imagine.
Wist (Luke 2:49; Mark 14:40), is the past tense of the Anglo-Saxon wit, to know. Unwittingly (Josh 20:3), meant unknowingly.
Very (Gen 27:21; Prov 17:9; John 7:26, 8:4), meant true, real.
These are only examples. There are many other such words for the Bible student to search out.
ii. Where the Use of English Words has Become Changed.
Another class of words, which have not themselves become obsolete, but of which the usage has become entirely changed during the centuries, requires careful discrimination.
We are familiar with some of these changes, notably in the word
Prevent, which originally meant to precede or go before, but now means to hinder. The importance of this is seen in such a passage as 1 Thessalonians 4:15, "We shall not precede those who are fallen asleep." So RV. (See also Job 3:12; Psa 17:13 (marg), 59:10, 79:8, 88:13, 95:2 (marg), 119:148; Amos 9:10.)
It is a strange commentary on fallen human nature to see words thus changing their usage; for this change is uniformly in one direction; it is always a change for the worse. We never find a word acquiring a higher meaning! It is always down, down, like fallen and falling man himself, who thus drags down with him the meanings of the words he uses.
How, for example, did the change in the usage of this word "prevent" come about? And why? It was because whenever one man got before another, it was generally for his own advantage, and to the hindrance, hurt, and loss of the other; hence the word came to have this new and lower meaning.
Other words may be studied with advantage, e.g., boor, pagan, brat, imp, bombast, oversight, wretch, vagabond, craft, inquisition, impose, meddle, impertinent, garble, equivocation.*
* The same may be seen in the word apology, which was used of a defence, as in Jewel's Apology (i.e., Defence) of the Reformation. But, because man's defences of himself are usually so poor, the word has come to mean a mere excuse.
Our word censure was used simply of judgment, which might be favourable or otherwise; but, inasmuch as such judgments have generally proved to be unfavourable, the word is used, to-day, only of blame.
Our word story was originally short for history, but because so many histories and stories are what they are, the word has come to mean that which is not true.
Knave was originally a boy, especially a servant boy; but his character has served the purpose of changing the usage of the word to describe what he so often proved himself to be. In Scotland a knave-bairn was a boy-child. Wyckliffe rendered Exodus 1:13, "If it be a knave child, sle ye him." While Paul calls himself "a knave of Jesus Christ."
Cunning meant merely knowing; but because knowing people generally know too much, or use their knowledge to a bad purpose, it has come to have its present usage.
Subtle meant finely-woven; hence, fine, accurate, clever.
Villain meant a servant of a villa, or of a country or farm-house. The house has kept its good meaning, but the man has lost it.
Parasite meant, in Greek, a sacred granary; but it is a word which has sunk low indeed, seeing that in Shakespeare's time he was able to write:
"'Most smiling, smooth, detested parasites.
Courteous destroyers, affable wolves, meek bears,
You fools of fortune."
Yet in Greece, where it originated, parasite was once a highly respectable word. The original parasites were 'all honourable men; in repute alike for their learning and integrity.' They held positions of trust in Church and State, for which they had salaries and a table furnished them by the State. This latter fact led to their name, and ultimately to the downfall of the word. For long, however, the profession of parasite was an honourable one, and so great was the public confidence in them that a sacred granary, the Parasitium, containing corn for the service of the gods, was placed in their charge. Mural inscriptions recording the services of the parasites were placed in the temples, and some of them obtained the civic crown of gold. Presently, however, the word began to be used for those who fed at the expense of others. The hungry tribe sank yet lower in public estimation, and became the toadies and sycophants at great men's tables."The Globe (London, Eng.), April 23, 1907.
Inn, again, is another example of a word which has seen better days. It is "now applied only to low places and the better sort of public-house in which travellers are entertained; it formerly signified a great house, mansion, or family palace." Yet, in London, it still retains some signs of its former grandeur in Lincoln's Inn, formerly the residence of the Earls of Lincoln, and Gray's Inn, once the mansion of the noble family of Gray. Clement's Inn takes its name from Clement, the Dane on whose burial place a church was subsequently built. Thavie's Inn was built by John Thavie in 1347. Clifford's Inn was denominated from Robert de Clifford, 1309; and Furnival's Inn, from Sir William Furnival, 1388.
But in this section we are dealing with English words where the fall is not so great, but where the old meaning has gone out.
To take in, was the act of hospitality (Matt 25:35), but it stands on the border line, and is used of what it more often is than is not, viz., to deceive.
Adventure, meant to go (Acts 19:31; Deut 28:56).
Artillery, meant any instruments made by art; hence, weapons of any kind (1 Sam 20:40).
Assay, meant to attempt, to try (Job 4:2).
By and by, meant immediately. This change is very important in the interpretation of Luke 21:9.
Charity, meant love; not from the Greek cariV (charis), but from the old French charitet, which meant dearness. This dearness of affection has resolved itself into the mercenary act of giving money, which has passed into our word charity, which no longer, therefore, represents the Greek word charis.
Beeves, was the plural of beef, the Norman-French for an ox (Num 31:33).
Bonnet, was used of a man's head-dress (Exo 28:40), but to-day it is used only of a woman's (except in Scotland).
Carriages (Acts 21:15), was used of what was carried. To-day it is used of that which carries.
Clouted, meant patched (Josh 9:5).
To ear, meant to plow (1 Sam 8:12; Isa 30:24). And earing meant plowing (Gen 45:6; Exo 34:21); and eared meant plowed (Deut 21:4).
Earnest, meant a pledge, but of the same kind (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:14). A pledge might be of a different kind, and hence in that case it would not be an earnest. An earnest is to show that one is, as we say, "in earnest," or serious.
Fast was used in the sense of near, or close by (Ruth 2:8).
Libertine, was used originally of a class of freedmen among the Romans; but even in those days it came to be used (as now) of the licentious use of this liberty (Acts 6:9).
Lusty, meant vigorous (John 8:44; 2 Tim 4:3; 1 John 2:16). Lust meant desire; but to-day it is used of one particular kind of desire.
Naughty, meant worth nought, worthless (Prov 6:12, 17:4; Jer 24:2). Now it is used to gloss over any evil, or evil of some special kind.
Nephew, was used of a grandson (Judg 12:14; Job 18:19; Isa 14:22; 1 Tim 5:4).
Occupy, was used of carrying on any business or trade. This usage is still preserved in the noun occupation (Luke 19:13).
Penny, was used of any piece of money (Matt 20:2). Even silver money was called a penny. This usage is still preserved in our expression "to turn a penny." The word originally meant a little pledge or token, then any coin. Then it was used of a day's wage (Matt 20:2). In Luke 10:35 of two days' wage. Now, usage confines it to one particular coin, the twelfth part of a shilling. But that is not the usage in the New Testament.
Presently, meant immediately (1 Sam 2:16; Prov 12:16; Matt 21:19, 26:53; Phil 2:23).
Publican, was the Latin publicanus, or tax-gatherer (Matt 9:10, &c.). To-day it is used only of a vintner.
Quick, is the Anglo-Saxon cwic, alive, as opposite to being dead (Lev 13:10,24; Num 16:30; Psa 55:15, 124:3; Isa 11:3; Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; Heb 4:12; 1 Peter 4:5). To-day we use it in the sense of lively, as the opposite to slow.
Quicken, means to make alive (Psa 71:20, 80:18, 119:25,37,40,88,107,149,154,156,159, 143:11; Rom 8:11).
Quickened, means made alive (Psa 119:50,93; 1 Cor 15:36; Eph 2:1,5; 1 Peter 3:18).
Quickeneth, means maketh alive (John 5:21, 6:63; Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 3:6 (marg); 1 Tim 6:13).
Quickening, means making alive (1 Cor 15:45).
Simple, meant one fold, without guile, open artless. But because such an one says and does what more worldly-wise people would conceal, he is considered foolish. Hence the changed usage of the word. (See Psa 19:7, 116:6, 119:130; Prov 1:4,22,32, 7:7, 8:5, 9:4,13, 14:15,18, 21:11, 22:3; Eze 45:20; Rom 16:18,19).
Simplicity, has a similarly changed usage (see 2 Sam 15:11; Prov 1:22; Rom 12:8; 2 Cor 1:12, 11:3).
Sottish, meant dull, heavy, stupid (Jer 4:22), but because people are made so by intoxicants, it is used of dullness so caused.
Vagabond, meant a wanderer (Gen 4:12,14; Acts 19:13). Our modern usage testifies to the character of most wanderers.
Silly, is the Anglo-Saxon for inoffensive, harmless; but because persons who are such are regarded as an easy prey for designing persons, the word has come to be used of those who are easily duped. (See Job 5:2; Hosea 7:11; 2 Tim 3:6).
It will be seen from these examples how important it is that we should have due regard to these changes of usage in our own English language.
As we have exactly the same phenomena in the Greek (as in all living* languages) it will be necessary to consider this under our next heading.
* This is why Latin is used in all scientific terminology, because, being a dead language, the meaning of its words is fixed, and cannot now be changed by flux of time, or by use.
iii. Where the Usage of Greek Words had become Changed.
Greek being a living language, its words (like coins) became changed in usage.* Some words were thus changed by the Holy Spirit, and were purified as silver is purified in a furnace; and used in a higher, a better, nobler and a different sense from that in which man had ever used them.
* Similar changes are taking place to-day: cronoV (chronos), which, in Ancient Greek, meant time, is used in Modern Greek of a year; and kairoV (kairos), which meant season, is now used of weather!
We will consider first the
(1) Changes of usage made by God, the Holy Spirit
areth (arete). Man used this only of manhood or manly prowess, but the Holy Spirit uses it in the far higher sense of Divine glory and of what God could praise. The only occurrences in the NT: Philippians 4:8; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, 5.
hqoV (ethos) was used only of the haunt of an animal, but it came to have the moral meaning of custom, or character (1 Cor 15:33).
aggeloV (angelos) was the Greek word for any messenger, also for a messenger of the gods. But the Holy Spirit takes it up, and purifies it, by using it as a messenger from God, and "the Angel of the LORD."
corhgew (choregeo) meant simply to supply or furnish a chorus. But the Spirit uses it of the Divine supply of all his people's needs (1 Peter 4:11).
ekklhsia (ecclesia) was used, by the Greeks, only of a town's meeting of its citizens (Acts 19:39). But the Spirit uses it of the assemblies of God's elect.*
(* See above. )
paraklhtoV (parakletos) was used only of a legal assistant or helper. But Christ uses it of the Holy Spirit or "Comforter" within us that we may not sin (John 14:16,26, 15:26, 16:7). And the Spirit uses it of Christ as the Advocate with the Father if we do sin (1 John 2:1).
skandalon (scandalon) was used only of a snare to catch animals; but in the New Testament it is used in a moral and spiritual sense of that which causes anyone to stumble or fall (Matt 11:6); a sense in which the Greeks never used it.*
(* The noun is always translated offence in AV, except Romans 11:9; 1 Corinthians 1:23 and Revelation 2:14, where it is "stumbling-block"; Romans 14:13, where it is "occasion to fall." The Verb skandalizw (scandalizo) is always rendered offend.)
But there are other
(2) Changes of usage, made by man.
The Greek language was in use some four centuries before Christ, and had a wonderful literature. But, in the course of time the laws which operate to affect and change the usage of words wrought the same inevitable changes in many Greek words.
For this reason classical Greek usages are no infallible guide to the usage of Biblical Greek.
The vast moral and spiritual nature of the subject-matter of the New Testament necessitated of itself many changes, quite apart from those which were produced by the changes of time.
The Septuagint Version (of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek) marks many of these changes. But within the last few years the evidence from this source of information has been vastly increased by the multitude of papyri which have been discovered, and dug up, in Egypt. These are daily increasing in number, and are being bought up for deposit and study in the principal libraries of Europe. Some students are engaged in their discovery, others in their translation, while others (like ourselves) are at work in applying them to the language of the Greek New Testament. All these are rendering great service to God's Word by making their discoveries public.*
* Notably Professor Deissmann, of Heidelberg; Professor Flinders Petrie, of Oxford, and others.
These papyri consist of documents of all kinds; exactly what would be found centuries hence in a house, buried suddenly to-day in sand, or put away in tombs. There
are business-letters, love-letters, contracts, estimates, certificates, agreements, accounts, bills of sale, mortgages, school-exercises, receipts, bribes, charms, litanies, tales, magical literature, pawn tickets, and every sort of literary production.
All these are of inestimable value in enabling us to arrive at a true knowledge of many Greek words of which our translators, and, indeed, the Revisers, did not possess; having merely the help of lexicons, which gave the usage of words only in classical Greek.
It is impossible for us, in a small work like this, to give anything like even a general view of so vast a subject. We can only indicate the existence and nature of such a field of study, and give a few examples by way of illustration of its usefulness in connection with this our third Division, which concerns the changes of usage in Greek words brought about by man, but used by the Holy Spirit.
We must take them at random, and cannot even attempt to observe alphabetical or other order.
The word zwopoiew (zoopoieo), was used in classical Greek as meaning to produce live offspring; but the usage became in NT Greek to make alive again, either of spiritual or of resurrection life (John 5:21, 6:63; Rom 4:17, 8:11; 1 Cor 15:22,36,45; 2 Cor 3:6; Gal 3:21; 1 Tim 6:13; 1 Peter 3:18).
paroikoV (paroikos), which meant neighbour, had come to mean sojourner (Acts 7:6,29; Eph 2:19 (foreigner); 1 Peter 2:11 (strangers)).
praktwr (praktor), which is literally a doer of anything, came to mean the man who did the most objectionable thing, viz., the tax-collecotr. But the papyri show us that it came to have a still lower meaning. The tax collector was the one who put them into prison; hence, it came to be used of the jailor! The word occurs twice (Luke 12:58), and should not be rendered "officer," but jailor.
phra (pera), is rendered "scrip" in the AV, and "wallet" in the RV, but commentators are quite undecided as to whether it means a "portmanteau" or a "bread-bag"; though the latter seems superfluous after the word "bread."
The following are the passages:
But a special meaning is made known to us by an ancient stone monument. A Greek inscription of the Roman period has been discovered at Kefr-Hauar in Syria, in which a "slave" of the "Syrian goddess" speaks of the begging expeditions he has undertaken for the "Lady." This heathen apostle who speaks of himself as "sent by the Lady"tells with triumph how each of his journeys brought in seventy bags. Here he uses this word phra. It means, not bags filled with provisions and taken on the journey, but a beggar's collecting bag. This is evidently the meaning in the passages cited above: and when we connect it with the context in St. Matthew, we learn the Lord meant that they were not to earn money, and they were also not to beg. The nature of the Lord's commission is at once seen from what is involved in this interpretation of the word phra (pera). In the days of early Christianity the mendicant priest of the ancestral goddess wanders through the Syrian land; from village to village the string of sumpter animals lengthens, bearing his pious booty to the shrine, and the Lady will not be unmindful of her slave. In the same land, and in the same age, was One who had not where to lay His head, and He sent out His apostles with the words:
- Matthew 10:10, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver, nor brass in your purses: nor scrip (RV 'wallet') for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves."
- Mark 6:8, "And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only: no scrip (RV 'wallet'), no bread, no money in their purse."
- Luke 9:3 (compare 10:4 and 22:35,36), "Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, (RV 'wallet'), neither bread, neither money, neither have two coats apiece."
"Freely ye received, freely give. Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses: no wallet (or beggar's collecting bag) for your journey."
He who sent them had "all power" to provide for their supply
presbuteroV (presbuteros), which meant one older in years, is, in the papyri always used of official position, civil as well as religious (just as we use our word "alderman"). This is its usage in the New Testament.
anaginwskw (anaginosko), meant to persuade; then, to know well, gather exact knowledge; then, to read. But later usage extended this reading to reading aloud with comments, with a view to persuade. This is its meaning in the New Testament. (See Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14; Luke 4:16; Col 4:16; 1 Thess 5:27; Rev 1:3, etc.)
apostomatizw (apostomatizo), meant to dictate to a pupil what he was to write or recite. But its later usage was to examine by questioning on what had been taught. This is its usage in Luke 11:53: "They began to urgently press him and question him about many things" [as though he were their pupil]. They were not seeking for information, but for grounds of accusation.
grafw (grapho), to write, is always used in the papyri of legal, official, and documentary writing. The perfect gegraptai (gegraptai), it standeth written, always implies an appeal to authoritative, incontestable authority, definite and regulative.
In this we see the position held by Holy Scripture over oral tradition. In this, too, we may see a reference to the certainty and nature of the revelation of the Mystery (or secret) in the grafwn profhtikwn (graphon prophetikon), prophetic writings, of Romans 16:26 (compare Eph 2:20, 4:11, and 2 Peter 1:20, etc.). We may also see in this a reason for Paul's desire to have "the parchments" which he asked Timothy to bring with him (2 Tim 4:13): for, Bible truth is based on documentary evidence, and not on oral tradition.
apecw (apecho), to have from, to receive or be [distant] from. But the papyri show that it was the common form of giving a receipt in full. This is its usage in Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; Luke 6:24, and Philemon 15, which shows that when the scribes prayed they did it to be seen of men; men had seen them; they had got their receipt, therefore, in full; and there was nothing more for them to receive: no real answer to their prayers to be expected. The rendering "reward" (AV and RV) conveys no sense.
bebaiwsiV (bebaiosis), confirmation. In the papyri it is the guarantee of the seller to the buyer as to the validity of the sale (Phil 1:7; Heb 6:16, where it is rendered "confirmation").
to dokimion (to dokimion), the trial or trying. In the papyri this is always used as an adjective, meaning genuine, tested, and is found especially on pawn-tickets and marriage-contracts in the sense of certified. This is its usage in the NT, which had come to denote the result of trial, and had been changed from the act or process of trial. Hence 1 Peter 1:7 means "your tried or genuine faith"; and James 1:3, "your tried or tested faith enables you to be patient."
dikaioV (dikaios), just, or righteous, is used in the papyri of that which comes up to the required standard expected or looked for. It is used of a horse, of cattle, of a cubit; as it is used in the Septuagint (Prov 11:1) of "a just weight."
This is its New Testament usage, showing that God's righteousness, when it is bestowed, brings its recipient up to the standard which God Himself requires and looks for. The saved sinner is therefore by it "made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col 1:12), and hence can be declared "complete in Christ."
ilasthrion (hilasterion) comes to us through the Septuagint; where, in Exodus 25:17 (Heb 16), "thou shalt make a trep@&k@a (kapporeth), cover, of pure gold." This word kapporeth (cover) is rendered ilasthrion epiqema (hilasterion epithema), propitiatory cover, because the cover, on which the blood was sprinkled, was the means of propitiation.
The word in Hebrews 9:5 must retain this usage, and be rendered "the cherubim of glory shadowing the propitiatory [cover]." By the figure, Metonymy, the result (propitiation) is put for the means by which it was obtained (the cover of the ark on which the blood was sprinkled). That was what the cherubim shadowed, not the propitiation itself.
So that the word can be taken in this sense here; as it must be in the other passage where it occurs, Romans 3:25: "Whom God hath set forth as His propitiatory gift."
In the papyri and on inscriptions and monuments this word is used in the sense of votive or propitiatory gift.
So here, Christ was God's propitiatory gift, the gift of Divine love. Not man's gift to God; but God's gift to man.
The rendering of hilasterion by "mercy-seat" is quite wrong. The RV puts in the margin, "Greek the propitiatory"; but, not seeing the Figure of Speech, nor knowing of the usage of the word in the papyri, the Revisers did not add the noun, "cover," after the adjective "propitiatory"; and with the AV rendered "propitiatory" in Romans 3:25 as a noun, "propitiation."
The saints of God in Rome would hardly know the technical "mercy-seat," but they would know the common usage of the word at the time as being a propitiatory gift.* (* In 1 John 2:2, 4:10 it is the noun ilasmoV (hilasmos), propitiation. )
euergethV (euergetes), meant a well-doer, but our Lord uses it in Luke 22:25 in the particular and almost technical sense which recent discoveries have revealed. The word had been restricted from the extended sense of well-doing to the limited and special sense of a well-doing on behalf of the public, which deserved the public recognition of one as being a BENEFACTOR.
The discoveries of inscriptions and coins, added to the literary evidence already available, establishes this special usage of the word in our Lord's days.
plhqoV (plethos), is generally rendered multitude. In the papyri it has a technical usage applying to associates in a community or congregation. This appears to be the usage in Luke 1:10, 19:37; Acts 2:6, 4:32, 6:2, 5, 15:12, 30, 19:9, 21:22.
mikroV (mikros), small, little. In the papyri this word is used in the sense of junior in contrast with megaV (megas), great, which is used as senior. This is clearly the sense in Mark 15:40; and it is a question whether it is not also in Matthew 11:11, 18:6, 10, 14; Acts 8:10, 26:22.
kuriakoV (kuriakos), the Lord's, is used in the papyri of what is imperial, and especially pertaining to the kurioV (kurios), the Lord, as Ruler.
ceirografon (cheirographon), hand-writing. In the papyri this is the technical term for a bond or certificate of debt. Many have been found; some of them are scored through and thus cancelled. This is the sense in Colossians 2:14, where only it is found.
adoloV (adolos), occurs only in 1 Peter 2:2 and is rendered sincere. In the papyri the usage is in the sense of unadulterated, referring to food.
sfragizo (sphragizo), to seal. In the papyri it is used of delivering property into the possession of the receiver. To seal a thing to a person was used of delivering and securing that thing to him, sealing being the last thing done prior to such delivery. Thus we read "Seal the wheat and the barley," i.e., seal [the sacks containing] the wheat and the barley [and deliver them].
This is the usage in Romans 15:28; Ephesians 4:30.
caragma (charagma), a mark. In the papyri this word (1) is always used of a mark connected with the emperor; and (2) it always contains his name or effigy, and the year of his reign. (3) It was necessary for buying and selling. (4) It was technically known as charagma.
It is found on all sorts of documents, even on "a bill of sale." In Acts 17:29 it is rendered "graven." Elsewhere it is used only of the "mark" of the Beast (Rev 13:16,17, 14:9,11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, 20:4). He will be the Overlord in that day!
anapempw (anapempo), to send up. This word is used in the papyri of sending up to a superior authority. This is the usage in Luke 23:7, 11, 15 and Acts 25:21.* (* Here all the Critical Greek Texts prefer this word to the simple pempw (pempo), to send by an escort.) It is also used of sending up with pomp and dignity.
biazomai (biazomai), to use force or press with violence. Commentators tell us that it occurs only twice in the New Testament, and that it must, in the former of the two passages, be taken as a Passive. The former passage is Matthew 11:12, "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence." The latter is Luke 16:16, "every man presseth into it."
But the meaning of the word, and the interpretation of both passages is settled for us by an inscription found in a temple near Sunium,* built not earlier than the imperial period which commenced in BC 24. (* Sunium is a promontory at the SE extremity of Attica, Greece, now known as Cape Colonna. It contains to-day the ruins of a temple measuring 44 by 98 feet. Twelve columns are still standing.)
It was founded by Xanthus the Lycian as a sanctuary.
In this inscription certain ceremonial purifications are prescribed as a condition of entrance into the temple; and it goes on to say that no one may sacrifice in the temple without permission from its founder. Then the regulation continues:
- ean de tiV biashtai
"But if any one forces [his way in]
- aprosdektoV h qusia para tou qeou
his offering is not pleasing to the god."
This settles the usage of the word in the two passages:
- Matthew 11:12, "But from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven forces itself [on the people], and the pushful seize on it."
- Luke 16:16, "Since that time (John's) the kingdom of God is announced [as good news] and every one forces [his way] into it."
- Thus, both passages harmonize; the usage in both is the same; and, both accord with the usage which obtained in the New Testament period.
katakrima (katakrima), is an important word, occurring only three times in the New Testament.
- Romans 5:16, "The judgment was by one offence unto condemnation."
- Verse 18, "As by one offence [judgment came] unto all men for condemnation."
- Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."
- In deeds of sale found among the papyri this word is found in its legal usage. It is used of a burden on land, such as debts, taxes of all kinds, arrears, and all payments of every kind. All are mentioned, but the effect of the legal document is to declare that the land sold is free from all burdens of every kind. Note the bearing of this in such passages as Romans 8:1.
upostasiV (hupostasis), rendered "substance" in Hebrews 11:1, is used in the papyri in the sense of title-deeds. This shows that believing what God has said and promised, is our title-deed for which He has caused us to hope.
iv. Where Different but Concurrent Usages of Words Should be Observed in the English.
Quite apart from age or clime there are many Greek words which the Holy Spirit Himself uses in different connections, and with varying meanings. These can be easily seen, observed, and classified; and our English renderings can and must be made to conform to them.
Unlike our last division (No. iii. above) this is work for the English reader, who is at no disadvantage with the Greek scholar, provided he uses our Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament. It is designed for English readers; and, though the Greek words are given, the truth can be gained without looking at them; for they are numbered, and the reference is to the meaning given under that number.
The use of that book will enable the student to find out, at a glance, under the English word, the Greek word which is so translated. The index will tell him whether the word is translated otherwise elsewhere; and, if so, under what renderings he can find them. At this stage he will be able to use more readily the Englishman's Greek Concordance and easily make out a list of all the occurrences of the word in question.
It is here that his real study of this branch of our subject will begin. For now he must turn to every passage, and note how the Holy Spirit uses the word; and when he has all the data before him he will soon discover whether the usage is uniform; or whether there is more than one sense in which the word is employed.
This part of the study requires a spiritual understanding (1 John 5:20; 1 Cor 2:14), common sense, and strength
of mind to follow the leading of God's Word in spite of all that has been imbibed and "received from the fathers by tradition."
When difficulty is experienced in receiving the truth of God, it is because we try at the same time to hold on to tradition, and try to combine the two. But the moment we let tradition go all will become easy. It is not the simple truth that is difficult, but it is the endeavour to hold on to the traditional belief as well as the simple truth. Let one of the two beliefs go, and either will be easy; it is the effort to hold both that creates the real difficulty.
Let us illustrate this by looking at the word.
1. "Parousia."parousia (parousia).
This word furnishes us with an excellent and useful example, showing the necessity of discriminating between its different usages.
Many take it as a proper noun, and speak of "The Parousia" as though it always refers to one separate and distinct act, viz., the coming of the Lord as revealed in 1 Thessalonians 4.
The next step is that, when they find that this same word is used of the coming of Christ in Matthew 24, "immediately after the Tribulation of those days," there is no alternative but to interpret 1 Thessalonians 4 as being after the Tribulation.
Thus, trouble and confusion is created; and the loss of the blessed hope and waiting for God's Son from heaven is shrouded in darkness.
But all is made clear, the moment we discriminate between the various usages of the word parousia. There is no dispute about the meaning of the word. All are agreed that its only meaning is presence; and when translated coming it always denotes the actual presence of the person who thus comes.
From our Greek and English Lexicon and Concordance we find that parousia (parousia) occurs twenty-four times; and that it is rendered twice presence, and twenty-two times coming.
Our object, now, is to find out how the Holy Spirit uses it; and whether the teaching of some is correct, who
tell us that it refers always to the coming of Christ for his Saints before the Tribulation, and not the coming of Christ with His saints, after the Tribulation.
No one can help us in making this discovery; neither do we need any help beyond collecting all the data, and looking closely at every passage, and noting the different usages.
Having got our complete lists of twenty-four Texts, we read each (with its context, of course), and we find that:
- Six times it is used of the presence of INDIVIDUALS, and that it is always their personal, bodily presence.
- 1 Corinthians 16:17, Stephanus.
- 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7, Titus.
- 2 Corinthians 10:10, and Philippians 1:26; 2:12, Paul.
- Six times it is used of Christ's presence in the air, when He comes forth thither to meet His raptured saints, before the Great Tribulation (1 Thess 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23; 2 Thess 2:1 and 1 John 2:28). We note that all but one of these six are in the Epistles to the Thessalonians.
- Eleven times it is used of Christ's presence on earth, when with His Church He comes unto the earth, in the Day of the Lord, "Immediately after the Tribulation of those days" (Matt 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Cor 15:23; 2 Thess 2:8; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16, 3:4,12).
- Once it is used of the presence of "that lawless one," who shall be destroyed by the glorious advent of Christ (2 Thess 2:9).
Here are all the usages; and we see, at once, that it is not correct to speak of "The Parousia" as though it related only to Christ; or to His coming as being one single act; or to one part only of that coming.
We note that there is one chapter (2 Thess 2) where the word is used of three distinct acts of being present:
There is the presence of Christ in the air before the Tribulation (2 Thess 2:1) and our gathering together unto Him there;
- There is the presence of the Lawless one on the earth during the Tribulation (2 Thess 2:9);
And there is the presence of the Lord on the earth, in all His glory, by which the Lawless one will be destroyed. This will be after the Tribulation (2 Thess 2:8).
If we are not careful to distinguish these various usages of the word parousia, we shall only create confusion in the Word, and trouble in our own minds. We shall find ourselves taking a passage which speaks of the Lord's presence on earth after the Tribulation, and interpreting it of His presence in the air before the Tribulation; and, if we thus take the word parousia as being used of the latter, then we shall interpret 1 Thessalonians 4 by Matthew 24, and not only take the Church through the Tribulation, but we shall defer the realization of the Rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4 until after the Tribulation, and take all the blessedness out of it. We shall give a flat contradiction to 1 Thessalonians 5:4, which categorically assures us that "the Day of the Lord shall not overtake us as a thief"; and plunge ourselves into that very "darkness" which the same word declares that we are "not in."
2. Pneuma, spirit.
The word pneuma (pneuma), spirit, is a word of the greatest importance.
When we have made out our complete list (as before we made of Parousia) we find that there is practically little or no difference as to its translation; for it is rendered spirit every time, except John 3:8, where it is rendered wind; Revelation 13:15, where it is rendered "life" (marg. breath); Matthew 27:50 and John 19:30, where it is rendered ghost.
In this case, though there are different usages, they are all confined to interpretation and not to translation.
We need not say more on this word here, for in our work, The Giver and His Gifts, or, the Holy Spirit and His Work, we have given a complete list of all the occurrences of the word pneuma; and have set out, in an exhaustive manner, all the data.
Fourteen different usages are given, and classified lists are appended, from which the reader can gather for himself all that can be learnt from those lists.
It is used of (1) God, (2) Christ, (3) the Holy Spirit, (4) the Operations of the Spirit, (5) the New Nature, (6) Psychologically, (7) of Character, (8) by Metonymy for what is not of the body, (9) by Synecdoche for one's self, (10) Adverbially, (11) of Angels, (12) of Demons, (13) of the Resurrection Body, (14) in combination with the word "holy," without the article.
The usages of this word are so important that it requires a separate volume for their full treatment.
One great fact may be noted here, viz., that the expression pneuma hagion (pneuma hagion), holy spirit, occurs fifty times (out of 388), and it always refers to the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit, and never to the Holy Spirit, the Giver.
The evidence is simple and clear. In Luke 24:49 the Lord Jesus calls "the promise of my Father" (for which the apostles were to tarry in Jerusalem), "power from on high."
In Acts 1:5 He calls this same promise "pneuma hagion."
Therefore pneuma hagion is "power from on high."
This proves that pneuma hagion is what is given, and not the Giver.
If further proof is needed, then it is furnished by that crucial passage, Acts 2:4, "And they were all filled with pneuma hagion, and began to speak with other tongues as THE SPIRIT gave them utterance."
Here the Giver and His gifts are quite distinct. What was given was "the gift of tongues." The Giver, who "gave," was "The Spirit."
Nothing could be clearer than this.
Unfortunately the AV and RV have, in all these fifty occurrences of pneuma hagion, arbitrarily inserted the article, and used capital letters for "Holy Spirit," so that the English reader is entirely misled, and is compelled to understand that it is the Person who is meant; while he is kept quite uninformed of the fact that it means His gifts and operations.
The subject is so important, and the information so difficult to be obtained, that it will be necessary for us to give a list of the fifty passages. They will repay abundantly any pains that may be taken in their careful
study. The reader should take his or her Bible, and mark in the margin every one of these
Fifty occurrences of pneuma hagion: Matt 1:18,20, 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 1:15,35,41,67, 2:25, 3:16, 4:1 (first), 11:13; John 1:33 (second), 20:22; Acts 1:2,5,8, 2:4 (first),33,38, 4:8,(25),31, 6:3,5, 7:55, 8:15,17,(18),19, 9:17, 10:38,45, 11:16,24, 13:9,52, 19:2 (twice),6; Rom 5:5, 9:1, 14:17, 15:19; 1 Cor 2:13, 6:19, 12:3 (second); 2 Cor 6:6; 1 Thess 1:5,6; 2 Tim 1:14; Titus 3:5; Heb 2:4, 6:4 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:20; Jude 21.
Some of the above passages are very important, and will be found most instructive if studied in the following order: Acts 6:3; Luke 11:13; John 20:22; Acts 8:15, 17, 19, 20.
We have already considered this word under "Dispensation Truth and Teaching. But there is something further to be learnt from the usage of the word ekklhsia (ecclesia), of which it is generally the translation.
This rendering is unfortunate, considering the fact that our English word "church" has also, itself, several usages.
It is important therefore that we should carefully adjust the two usages, and rightly adjust and appropriate the one to the other.
The Greek word ecclesia means a convocation of persons called out. Hence, an assembly of persons so called out.
It is used (1) of Israel as a People called out from the rest of the nations (Gen 28:3); (2) of the Tribal Council of Simeon and Levi, a smaller company, called out from each Tribe (Gen 49:6); (3) of an assembly of Israelites called out for worship or any other purpose (Deut 18:16, 31:30; Josh 8:35; Judg 21:8; 1 Kings 8:65; 1 Chron 29:1; Acts 7:38); (4) any assembly of worshippers as a congregation (Psa 22:22,25; Matt 16:18, 18:17; 1 Cor 14:19,35; Gal 1:13; Heb 2:12); (5) of separate assemblies in different localities (Acts 5:11, 8:3; 1 Cor 4:17, etc.); (6) of the Guild or Company of
Ephesian Craftsmen (Acts 19:32) as distinct from the population of Ephesus; (7) of a Town's meeting (Acts 19:39).
Then there is the special Pauline usage, which was quite different from any of the above. Other assemblies consisted of called out ones from Jews, or from Gentiles (as in Acts 19); but this new Body is called out from both and yet consists of neither (Gal 3:28, 6:15). This calling out is the Secret (or Mystery) which was hidden in God, and never revealed to men until the administration of it was committed to the Apostle Paul.*
* See Part I, Chapter III (pp 141-143).
The usage of the English word "church" is just as varied. It is used (1) of any congregation, (2) of a particular church (as Rome or England), (3) of the Ministry of a church, (4) of the Building in which the congregation assembles, (5) of Church as distinct from Chapel, (6) it is used of the Church as distinct from the world, and (7) it is used in the Pauline sense, of the Body of Christ.
This shows us the extreme care with which we should note the usage of words.
4. "Elements" or "Rudiments."
The Greek word stoiceia (stoicheia) has at least two different usages, one material, and the other moral.
It is used of what is material in 2 Peter 3:10, 12; of the material elements of which creation, or this world, is made up.
In the other five passages it is used of the moral and religious ordinances which make up the outward acts of religion, with all its rites and ceremonies.
Four times it is used in the Epistles which are addressed to churches; twice in Galatians and twice in Colossians, these two being the Epistles which are written to correct errors in doctrine. Galatians corrects errors in connection with the doctrine as taught in the Epistle to the Romans concerning justification, Colossians being written to correct errors in doctrine as taught in the Epistle to the Ephesians concerning the Mystery.
In these, the outward ordinances of Religion are contrasted with the spiritual truths of Christianity (as distinct from Religion).
The AV renderings show the confusion of thought in the mind of the Translators. In Galatians 4:3 and 9 they render it "elements" in the text, and "rudiments" in the margin.
In Colossians 2:8 and 20 they render it "rudiments" in the text, and "elements" in the margin.
The RV agrees with the AV translation in Colossians; and in all four passages renders the word "rudiments" in the text, and "elements" in the margin.
The usage of the word in the Church Epistles is seen to be peculiar to them, and this fact must be borne in mind in the interpretation of these four passages.
The word agioV (hagios), holy, is when in the plural agioi (hagioi) always translated saints.
Of course it means the same, holy, i.e., or, holy ones, except that it is left to be inferred from the context who the holy ones are who are so designated.
A brief examination of the usages of the plural, hagioi, will show us that they are four in number.
Of course, ordinary readers, who are, as a fact, more familiar with the New Testament usage; and, as a matter of selfishness, more prone, as well as accustomed, to interpret everything of the church! will have neither the inclination to study its usage, nor the willingness to part with the meaning which they have appropriated to themselves.
This is sufficient to show us the necessity of studying the usage of this word "saints."
(1) It is used of Angels (Deut 33:2).
"Jehovah came from Sinai,
And rose up from Seir unto them;
He shined forth from mount Paran,
And He came with ten thousands of holy [ones]:
From His right hand went a fiery law for them."
Here, it is evident that the word "angels" should be supplied after the word holy, thus "holy [angels]" for these celestial beings are meant. This is proved by a reference to Psalm 68:17; where, in a reference to the same Divine descent at Sinai, the word "angels" is used instead of "holy ones," as another name for them.
(2) It is used of Israel in the very next verse (Deut 33:3).
"Yea, He loved the People;
All His holy ones are in Thy hand."
Here the word is used of the People of Israel. For the preceding words are"This is the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death."
It is a blessing which is yet to receive its full consummation when the Lord shall have come again, and the People of Israel shall know Him to be their Divine Redeemer, their King, and their God.
(3) It is used also of individuals and other godly Israelites, as in Psalm 16:3, 34:9, 89:5, 7, 106:16; Hosea 11:12.*
* The English word "saints" represents quite a different Hebrew word in 1 Samuel 2:9; 2 Chronicles 6:41; Psalm 30:4, 31:23, 37:28, 50:5, 52:9, 85:8, 97:10, 116:15, 132:9, 16, 145:10, 148:14. Here the Hebrew word is dysixaf (chasid), pious, Godly.
(4) It is used in the Church Epistles specially of the members of the one Spiritual Body, whose holiness is that of Christ; and whose saintship therefore, though enjoyed on earth, is higher than that of any other created beings, being merged in their higher title, "the sons of God."
This is its usage in the commencement of the Epistles, as in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.
With this key, Bible students will have no difficulty in determining what the usage of the word is in any particular passage; for the Context alone is the all-sufficient guide as to what it must be.
We need not go through all the passages where the word "saints" occurs; this would be doing the work which it should be our readers' pleasure and profit to carry out.
One or two passages may be doubtful; in which case it may be well to come to no conclusion, but to wait for further light.
A few other passages will receive a new interpretation and lead to a change in our traditional views.
With Matthew 25:31 before us we shall find that several passages which we have been in the habit of referring to the Church of God, really refer to angelic beings.
"When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matt 25:31).
Here we have the word "angels" associated with the word "holy" (pl.), which leaves us in no doubt.
In harmony with this passage we must take 1 Thessalonians 3:13. "To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his holy [angels]."
On the other hand, in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 the word "saints" is used synonymously of "all them that believe," and in contrast with "the mighty angels" of verse 7, because
"At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven" (v 7), those who have been troubled now will be at "rest."
This revelation in judgment (v 10) will take place "when He shall have come to be glorified amid His saints on earth (Israel), and wondered at (in that day) amid all raptured believers."
In Jude 14 the word "saints" clearly refers to angels; "Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all."
In Revelation 15:3 the word "saints" should be "ages" according to the RV, or "nations" according to the RV margin. The Structure (Introversion) requires "nations."
v. Where a Uniform Usage of Greek Words should not be Departed from in the English.
It is not always that Greek words have different usages. The vast majority have one uniform usage; and this must not be departed from in the English, and cannot be ignored without serious loss.
Even where it does not lead to a misunderstanding or a wrong interpretation of a passage, it creates great and unnecessary confusion.
1. Withhold, katecw (katecho).
Who would imagine that "let" and "withhold" of the AV; and "restrain" of the RV in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7, are all the rendering of one and the same Greek word?
The word katecw (katecho) occurs nineteen times, and is rendered by thirteen different English words.
Who is to help us in coming to a true interpretation of this word, and of the passages in which it occurs?
There is no help outside the Word of God.
It is rendered hold fast three times, and hold three times, so that these are the most frequent renderings.
The only way of finding and testing the correct rendering is to look at every one of the passages and see if the one rendering hold fast can be consistently used. It will not follow that this word will be the very best according to our English idiom; and we need not make it the uniform rendering. We may use other words more in harmony with the genius of the English language so long as we keep the uniform sense hold fast in our mind:
- Matthew 21:38, "let us seize on his inheritance" (let us hold fast).
- Luke 4:42, "and stayed him, that he should not depart" (held him fast).
- Luke 8:15, "having heard the word keep it" (hold it fast).
- Luke 14:9, "with shame to take the lowest place" (to hold).
- John 5:4, "of whatsoever disease he had" (he was held).
- Acts 27:40, "and made towards shore" (held their course toward).
- Romans 1:18, "who hold the truth in unrighteousness"* (hold fast).
- Romans 7:6, "having died to that by which we were held" (so margin and RV).
- 1 Corinthians 7:30, "as though they possessed not" (held nothing fast).
- 1 Corinthians 11:2, and keep the ordinances" (hold them fast).
- 1 Corinthians 15:2, "if ye keep in memory what I preached" (hold fast).
- 2 Corinthians 6:10, "and yet possessing all things."**
- 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "prove all things, hold fast that which is good."***
- 2 Thessalonians 2:6, "ye know what withholdeth" (holds [him] fast).
- 2 Thessalonians 2:7, "only he who now letteth" (he who now holdest fast).****
- Philemon 13, "I would have retained" (held fast).
- Hebrews 3:6, "if we hold fast the confidence."
- Hebrews 3:14, "if we hold the beginning of our confidence" (hold fast).
- Hebrews 10:23, "let us hold fast the profession of our faith."
* This is done in cases where any may "hold the truth," and where the truth does not hold them. In that case such may continue to act unrighteously; e.g., when the proprietor of a journal, who holds the truth, allows an editor or writer to regularly teach what he knows to be error; and this for the sake of gain. That is holding the truth in unrighteousness; and, unfortunately such a thing is not unknown even in religious journalism.
** The context shows that this rendering could not be improved, though the idea is there.
*** Here the correct rendering occurs in one of the very Epistles where we have the wrong rendering, 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7.
**** This is Satan, who holdeth fast to something. What it is may be suggested in Revelation 12:9-13:1, viz., to his position in the heavenlies; from whence when he is cast out, he stands upon the sand of the sea, and "the man of sin" is revealed in his appointed season.
Thus, we see, that hold fast is, and must be, the only correct rendering in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7. This gives us, therefore, the key to the true interpretation of that prophecy.
2. Temptation.peirazw (peirazo), tempt; peirasmoV (peirasmos), temptation.
These words are of frequent occurrence. The latter word occurs twenty-one times, and in all but one is rendered temptation.
But the usage of peirasmos in the Bible is always in the sense of trial: hence specially of trouble or tribulation, because it is that which really tries a man better than anything else.
Our English word "temptation" meant, originally, much the same: to stretch out, handle, try the strength of.
This is stated to be the object of trial (Deut 8:2).
In the Old Testament the word is used of the troubles themselves (Deut 7:19, 29:3. Compare Wisdom 3:5, 11:10; Sirach 2:1; Judith 8:24-27).
This is also clearly its use in Luke 8:13: "in time of trial or trouble [not temptation in the sense of enticement, as we now use the word almost exclusively] fall away." (So Matthew 13:21, and Mark 4:17.)
In Acts 20:19 Paul is evidently alluding to what he calls, in 2 Corinthians 11:26, the "perils by mine own countrymen."
In Hebrews 2:18; 1 Peter 1:6; Revelation 3:10 the meaning is the same.
From all this we see that in the Lord's Prayer the word should be trial or tribulation, viz., the Great Tribulation.
In Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:13, and Luke 4:2 the physical sufferings of our Lord are meant (compare Hebrews 4:15).
3. Poor, penhV (penes).
The words used for and rendered "poor," penhV (penes), prauV (praus), ptwcoV (ptochos), and tapeinoV (tapeinos), all mean oppressed.
Our Western idea of being poor has come to mean being without money, because the condition of the poor in modern times has lost the one great characteristic of the poor in past centuries, and of present times still, in the East.
But the Biblical usage of the word has not changed, though customs have.
In the Greek civilization the word had much the same meaning as that in which we use it to-day, because oppression was not then associated with poverty.
But the Bible deals with and describes Eastern conditions, and hence though in classical Greek penhV (penes) meant poor as opposed to rich, ptwcoV (ptochos) meant destitute as opposed to affluent, and prauV (praus) meant easy-tempered as opposed to violent, yet in the Bible these words are all used of the oppressed class of any country: the peasantry or fellahin, who then, as now, lived quiet lives and were the victims of constant oppression, ill-treatment, and plunder at the hands of their autocratic rulers.
This is the meaning of the words poor and meek.
See Psalm 10:9, 37:14, "He lieth in wait to catch the poor"; or Psalm 35:10:
"All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto Thee,
Which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him,
Yea, the poor and needy from him that spoileth him."
This is why God is represented so often as the deliverer of the poor, or oppressed (Psa 12:5, 34:6, 37:10,11, 40:17, 72:4,13, 76:9, 147:6).
In the New Testament this usage is the same.
4. Paradise, paradeiosoV.
Paradise is an Oriental word, and was apparently first used by Xenophon to indicate the parks of the Persian kings. It originally meant an enclosed park, planted with trees, and stocked with game. In such paradises eastern monarchs were wont to take their pleasure in hunting.
But the Holy Spirit has exalted it, and used it in a sense higher than that in which man had ever used it. For "the Paradise of God" is the "garden" which God planted in Eden for man's blissful abode. And when the curse shall have been removed, the whole earth will be a paradise where God shall again dwell with man.
The Bible knows no other Paradise. The Greek word paradeisoV occurs in the Septuagint twenty-eight times. In nine it represents the Hebrew word "Eden"; and in nineteen places the Hebrew word Nga (gan), garden. In English it is rendered Eden, Garden, Forest, Orchard.
The Hebrew word Eden occurs sixteen times; and Garden, is used of Eden, thirteen times in Genesis; and six times in other passages of "the Garden of God" (see Gen 2; Neh 2:8; Eccl 2:5; Song 4:13).
It is man who has changed the usage of the word from its only Biblical usage, and dragged it down and fastened on it the meaning given to it in Babylonian, Jewish, and Romish traditions.
5. "Sheol" and "Hades."
Here, again, the Biblical usage of these words is uniform, and we must refer our
readers to our separate pamphlet on this subject, in which will be found every passage in the Bible where these words occur, with their renderings.
These renderings are so various that, they are not only confusing to the mind, but misleading as regards the truth.
The Hebrew Sheol, and the Greek Hades are rendered thirty-one times the grave, thirty-one times hell, three times pit; sixty-five times in all. Four times the grave is put in the margin for hell, which increases the rendering the grave to thirty-five times and reduces the rendering hell to twenty-seven times.
On the face of the matter, this gives the preference to the grave, not "A grave," for which there are other words: but "THE grave," for which there is no other word. Grave-dom, or the state of the dead as being in the dom-inion of the grave, is the idea associated with the word. Not the act of dying, but the state of the dead, the present condition of death.
The Old Testament Biblical usage must settle the meaning of the heathen (i.e., the Greek) usage of the word Hades, because the Holy Spirit uses it of His own Hebrew word Sheol in Acts 2:27 by quoting Psalm 16:10.
From these last two passages it is clear that Sheol or Hades is the place where "corruption" is seen (Acts 13:34-37); and from which Resurrection is the only exit (Rev 20:4,5). Those who are raised in the First Resurrection "live and reign with Christ a thousand years." Of those who are not raised then it is written they "LIVED NOT AGAIN until the thousand years were finished."
This is conclusive as to the Holy Spirit's own usage of these words.
6. "Mystery," musthrion (musterion).
This English word is a transliteration of the Greek word musthrion (mysterion), but its usage by us to-day in no sense corresponds with the meaning of the Greek word.
The Greeks used it of a secret, pure and simple; a secret which can be perfectly well understood when made known; whereas we use the word "mystery" of what cannot be understood at all; and is past comprehension
even when it is revealed. Thus our usage of the word to-day is quite different from the Biblical usage.
We must be careful, therefore, not to read our present usage of the word into the past usage. Not so very long ago the word was used in its true sense. This was in legal language, when an apprentice was articled in order to learn the "mysteries" or secrets of a certain trade or business. This is the sense also in which we still use it when we speak of the Greek "mysteries" or secrets of a certain trade or business. This is the sense also in which we still use it when we speak of the Greek "mysteries," i.e., the secrets of that religion into which persons were initiated. This is the usage of the word in the Greek Testament, and in our transliteration of it.
No matter what the context may relate to, the usage of the word is uniformly secret.
It is used in connection with the duration of Israel's blindness (Rom 11:25). That blindness itself was not a secret: for it was clearly foretold in Isaiah 6:9, 10. But the duration of that blindness was not revealed (Isa 6:11; Rom 11:25).
- It is used in connection with the rejection of the kingdom, the fact of its remaining in abeyance, and the duration of that abeyance. The Lord revealed this secret to the Apostles "in the house" (Matt 13:11,35), while it was still hidden from the people "out of the house." (Compare verses 1 and 36.)
In this revelation, the duration of this present interval between "the sufferings and the glory" was also kept secret (1 Peter 1:10,11).
Hence, the secrets which the Lord then revealed, concerned the kingdom only; and all that He said about it must be read on, leaping over this (as yet, to them, secret, and unknown) present interval: and taking up the kingdom again, as though such interval had no existence.
- It is used in connection with the counsels and purposes of the lawless one (2 Thess 2:7), which, though secret, were already beginning to work themselves out.
- It is used in connection with the word Ecclesia. There was nothing to show that that word was going to be used in a sense altogether different from any in which it had before been used.* (* See pp. 141-149; 248, 249.)
It is used also, and specially of "the great secret" (1 Tim 3:16; Rom 16:25,26; Eph 3:1-11; Col 1:24-27).
This secret does not refer to the fact that Gentiles were to be blessed with Israel. That was never a secret, but was revealed to Abraham at the moment of his own call (Gen 12:3, 22:18, 26:4, etc. Compare Psa 72:17, 67:1,2, 18:49; Deut 32:43; Isa 11:10, 49:6; Luke 2:32).
Thus though the connections are different, the meaning and usage of the word are uniform; and the translation and usage of it in English should be uniform also.
7. "At hand," enisthmi (enistemi).
The word occurs seven times, and though its usage is uniform, it is rendered in four different ways in English. One of them is of great importance, and most misleading. The word means to be present, and is so rendered in Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22, 7:26; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 9:9.
In 2 Timothy 3:1 it is "perilous times shall come": i.e., be present.
But in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 it is rendered "at hand," in connection with "the Day of the Lord" as being "now present" (RV).
The interpretation of the verse is thus shown to be that the Day of the Lord could not then have been present, inasmuch as the foretold Apostasy had not taken place, and the Man of Sin had not yet been revealed.
This being the case they were not to be troubled or disturbed in their mind.
On the other hand, however, if that had been the case, and the Day of the Lord had set in, there was every reason why they should have been troubled; for, the Apostle's word would in that case have failed; the revelation made in 1 Thessalonians 4 would not have been fulfilled; and the comfort would have been given in vain. That day would have overtaken them as a thief, which he had assured them should not be the case (1 Thess 5:4). And they had not "gathered together" unto Christ in the air as He had promised them.
The rendering "at hand" makes the whole context of none effect.
The English expression "at hand" occurs in twenty other places, but in not one of them is it the Greek word enistemi as in 2 Thessalonians 2:2.
8. "Depart," analuw (analuo).
The word rendered depart in Philippians 1:23 must be taken in the same sense as that in which it is used in the only other passage where it occurs; viz., Luke 12:36: "when he shall RETURN from the wedding." It does NOT mean to depart, in the sense of setting off from the place where one is, but to return to the place that one has left. The verb does not occur in the Greek translation of the Canonical books of the Old Testament, but it does occur in the Apocryphal books; which, though of no authority for the established of doctrine, are invaluable as to the use and meaning of words. In these books, this word always means to return, and is generally so translated.
This settles for us the uniform usage of the word rendered "depart" in Philippians 1:23, and shows that it must have the same rendering as it has in Luke 12:36.
It was the return of Christ and to be with Him for which the Apostle longed; and this longing pressed him out of the other alternatives of living or dying.
It was not his personal gain of which he was thinking, but the gain to the Gospel. The Scope of the whole passage is the Gospel. The argument is that, If his imprisonment had turned out for the "furtherance" and gain of
the preaching of the Gospel, what might not the gain be by his death.
It ought to be added that there are no less than twenty-two Greek words rendered "depart" some one hundred and thirty times: but this one word analuw (analuo) occurs only twice, and in one of these it is rendered "depart" and in the other "return." If this is not convincing evidence as to what should be the correct rendering in Philippians 1:23, we know not what evidence is required.
We have the noun analusiV (analysis) in 2 Timothy 4:6, but it has the same meaning, returning or dissolution; i.e., the body returning to dust as it was, and the spirit returning to God who gave it.
9. "Leaven," zumh (zume).
The usage of this word is uniformly in a bad sense throughout Scripture.
- It must be put away at the Passover (Exo 12:15).
- It must not come into contact with any sacrifice (Exo 34:25; Lev 2:11, 10:12).
- It is likened to the corrupt doctrines of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matt 16:6); and of Herod (Mark 8:15).
- The Corinthian Church was commanded to purge out corrupt persons (1 Cor 5:7) because "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (v 6); and
- It is used of "malice and wickedness" (1 Cor 5:8).
In the face of this, How can anyone dare to use "leaven" in a sense totally opposite, and interpret it of that which is good in itself and in its workings and effects?
The supposed exceptions are
- Leviticus 23:17. From verse 9-14. The wave-sheaf or first-fruits was to have no leaven. But in verse 17 the "Two wave loaves" offered fifty days after were to have leaven with them. This distinction was made because the "wave-sheaf" represented Christ the first-fruits in resurrection, without sin (1 Cor 15:23); while the two wave-loaves represented those who were endued with His gifts (fifty days later, Acts 2:1-4): but who had sin
and corruption in them. This is why leaven was used in the two wave-loaves and not in the wave-sheaf.
- Amos 4:4, 5. But here the offering "a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven" is what is described as the multiplying of transgression.
- Matthew 13:33. The Parable of the Leaven hidden in three measures of meal. It is one of seven parables which all have to do with the "Kingdom," and therefore not with the Church. This we have already seen under our chapter on "Dispensational Truth and Teaching."
The Kingdom was proclaimed by John the Baptist, by Christ, and by Peter. But since it was finally rejected, it is in abeyance, and is not recognized as having any place in Scripture.
"We see not yet all things put under Him" (Heb 2:8), who is now "henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool" (Heb 10:13).
Till that day, the Kingdom has no place on earth, and it must not be read into those Scriptures which concern the present position and portion of the "Church of God."
The Scriptures relating to the Kingdom must be confined to the Kingdom period which is before and after this present Church-Interval: they must be read on from its rejection in the Acts of the Apostles to the coming of the King; leaping over this present Dispensation as though it had no existence.
Only thus shall we understand the Seven Parables of Matthew 13.
The Kingdom was proclaimed by John the Baptist and Christ: The seed was sown. But from that moment the enemy (likened to the "fowls of the air") was on the watch, not only to catch it away, but to sow and mingle tares with the good seed. The tares appear, but nothing more is said about them "till the harvest": nothing is done till "the time of harvest." "The harvest is the end of the age": i.e., after the present Dispensation.
The mustard-tree, rooted in the earth, gives shelter for the same "fowls of the air" (Rev 18:2).
The leaven follows immediately to illustrate the inward corruption (as the mustard-tree shows the outward).
If the leaven be taken here in a good sense it would reverse the whole course and point and scope of the previous teaching; and this parable would be the very opposite of the others.
It cannot mean the preaching of the Gospel in this present Dispensation; for the woman hides it, but the Gospel is proclaimed openly.
The usage of the word "leaven" here must be taken in this sense; and thus, uniform with all the other passages where the word occurs.
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