VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
Profit (wfeleia). Compare profiteth, ii. 25.
The oracles (ta logia). Diminutive. Strictly, brief utterances. Both in classical and biblical Greek, of divine utterances. In classical Greek, of prose oracles. See Acts vii. 38; Heb. v. 12; I Peter iv. 11. Not especially Messianic passages, but the Old Testament scriptures with the law and the promises.
Make without effect (katarghsei). See on Luke xiii. 7. The word occurs twenty-five times in Paul, and is variously rendered in A.V. make void, destroy, loose, bring to nought, fail, vanish away, put away, put down, abolish, cease. The radical meaning is to make inert or idle. Dr. Morison acutely observes that it negatives the idea of agency or operation, rather than of result or effect. It is rather to make inefficient than to make without effect. So in Luke xiii. 7, why should the tree be allowed to make the ground idle? 1 Cor. xiii. 8, prophecies shall fail, or have no more work to do. 2 Tim. i. 10 Christ abolished death. There is no more work for it. Rom. vi. 6, the body of sin is rendered inactive. Rom. iii. 31, Do we deprive the law of its work - render it a dead letter?
Let God be true (ginesqw o Qeov alhqhv). Rev., better, "let God be found true;" thus giving the force of ginomai to become. See on was, I am, John viii. 58. The phrase is used with reference to men's apprehension. Let God turn out to be or be found to be by His creatures.
Be justified. Acknowledged righteous. The figure is forensic. God's justice is put on trial.
Overcome (nikhshv). Rev., prevail. Gain the case. The word occurs only three times outside of John's writings.
When thou art judged (en tw krinesqai se). Rev., when thou comest into judgment. 26
Who taketh vengeance (o epiferwn thn orghn). Rev., much better, who visiteth with wrath. Lit., bringeth the anger to bear. The force of the article it is difficult to render. It may be the wrath, definitely conceived as judicial, or, more probably, as in Matt. iii. 7, referring to something recognized - the wrath to come, the well-understood need of unrighteousness. See on Rom. xii. 19.
As a man (kata anqrwpon). Rev., after the manner of men; i.e., I use a mode of speech drawn from human affairs. The phrase is thrown in apologetically, under a sense that the mode of speech is unworthy of the subject. Morison aptly paraphrases: "When I ask the question, 'Is God unjust who inflicteth wrath?' I am deeply conscious that I am using language which is intrinsically improper when applied to God. But in condescension to human weakness I transfer to Him language which it is customary for men to employ when referring to human relationships." Compare 1 Cor. ix. 8; Rom. vi. 19.
We have before proved (prohtiasameqa). The reference is not to logical proof, but to forensic accusation. The simple verb means to charge as being the cause (aitia) of some evil: hence to accuse, impeach. Rev., correctly, we before laid to the charge.
Seeketh after (ekzhtwn). Lit., seeketh out. See on 1 Pet. i. 10.
Good (crhsttothta). Only in Paul's writings. The radical idea of the word is profitableness. Compare have become unprofitable. Hence it passes readily into the meaning of wholesomeness. See on, Matthew xi. 30. It is opposed by Paul' to ajpotomia abruptness, severity (Romans xi. 22). It is rendered kindness in Eph. ii. 7; Col. iii. 12; Gal. v. 22. Paul, and he only, also uses ajgaqwsunh for goodness. The distinction as drawn out by Jerome is that ajgaqwsunh represents a sterner virtue, showing itself in a zeal for truth which rebukes, corrects, and chastises, as Christ when He purged the temple. Crhstothv is more gentle, gracious, and kindly Bishop Lightfoot defines it as a kindly disposition to one's neighbor, not necessarily taking a practical form, while ajgaqwsunh energizes the crhstothv.
"With head uplifted and with ravenous hunger, So that it seemed the air was afraid of him." "Inferno," 1, 47.
Have used deceit (edoliousan). Hebrew, they smoothed their tongues.
Guile is contrasted with violence in the previous clause. Wyc., with their tongues they did guilingly. The imperfect tense denotes perseverance in their hypocritical professions.
Saith - speaketh (legei - lalei). See on Matt. xxviii. 18. The former contemplates the substance, the latter the expression of the law.
May be stopped (fragh). Lit., fenced up. The effect of overwhelming evidence upon an accused party in court.
May become guilty before God (upodikov genhtai tw Qew). Rev., brought under the judgment of God.
Upodikov under judgment, occurs only here. In classical Greek it signifies brought to trial or liable to be tried. So Plato, "Laws," 846, of a magistrate imposing unjust penalties. "Let him be liable to pay double to the injured party." Id., 879, "The freeman who conspired with the slave shall be liable to be made a slave." The rendering brought under judgment regards God as the judge; but He is rather to be regarded as the injured party. Not God's judgments, but His rights are referred to. The better rendering is liable to pay penalty to God. 28
Flesh (sarx). Equivalent to man. It is often used in the sense of a living creature - man or beast. Compare 1 Pet. i. 24; Matt. xxiv. 22; Luke iii. 6. Generally with a suggestion of weakness, frailty, mortality; Septuagint, Jer. xvii. 5; Psalm lxxvii. 39; Eph. vi. 12. The word here has no doctrinal bearing.
Be justified (dikaiwqhsetai). For the kindred adjective dikaiov righteous, see on i. 17.
A different shade of meaning is to judge to be the case. So Thucydides, iv., cxxii. "The truth concerning the revolt was rather as the Athenians, judged the case to be." Again, it occurs simply in the sense to judge. Thucydides, v., xxvi. "If anyone agree that the interval of the truce should be excluded, he will not judge correctly "In both these latter cases the etymological idea of right is merged, and the judicial element predominates.
In ecclesiastical usage, to judge to be right or to decide upon in ecclesiastical councils.
Applied to persons, the meaning is predominantly judicial, though Aristotle ("Nichomachaean Ethics," v., 9) uses it in the sense of to treat one rightly. There is no reliable instance of the sense to make right intrinsically; but it means to make one right in some extrinsic or relative manner. Thus Aeschylus, "Agamemnon," 390-393: Paris, subjected to the judgment of men, tested (dikaiwqeiv) is compared to bad brass which turns black when subjected to friction. Thus tested or judged he stands in right relation to men's judgments. He is shown in the true baseness of his character.
Thus the verb acquires the meaning of condemn; adjudge to be bad. Thucydides, iii., xl. Cleon says to the Athenians, "If you do not deal with the Mitylenaeans as I advise, you will condemn yourselves." From this readily arises the sense of punish; since the punishment of a guilty man is a setting him in right relation to the political or moral system which his conduct has infringed. Thus Herodotus, i., c. "Deioces the Mede, if he heard of any act of oppression, sent for the guilty party and punished him according to his offense." Compare Plato, "Laws," ii., 934. Plato uses dikaiwthria to denote places of punishment or houses of correction ("Phaedrus," 249). According to Cicero, dikaiow was used by the Sicilians of capital punishment: "Edikaiwqhsan, that is, as the Sicilians say, they were visited with punishment and executed" ("Against Verres," v., 57).
To sum up the classical usage, the word has two main references:
1, to persons;
2, to things or acts. In both the judicial element is dominant.
The primary sense, to make right, takes on the conventional meanings to judge a thing to be right, to judge, to right a person, to treat rightly, to condemn, punish, put to death.
A study of the Pauline passages shows that it is used by Paul according to the sense which attaches to the adjective dikaiov, representing a state of the subject relatively to God. The verb therefore indicates the act or process by which a man is brought into a right state as related to God. In the A.V. confusion is likely to arise from the variations in translation, righteousness, just, justifier, justify. See Rom. iii. 24, 26, 28, 30; iv. 2; v. 1, 9; Gal. ii. 16; iii. 8, 11, 24; Tit. iii. 7.
The word is not, however, to be construed as indicating a mere legal transaction or adjustment between God and man, though it preserves the idea of relativity, in that God is the absolute standard by which the new condition is estimated, whether we regard God's view of the justified man, or the man's moral condition when justified. The element of character must not only not be eliminated from it; it must be foremost in it. Justification is more than pardon. Pardon is an act which frees the offender from the penalty of the law, adjusts his outward relation to the law, but does not necessarily effect any change in him personally. It is necessary to justification, but not identical with it. Justification aims directly at character. It contemplates making the man himself right; that the new and right relation to God in which faith places him shall have its natural and legitimate issue in personal rightness. The phrase faith is counted for righteousness, does not mean that faith is a substitute for righteousness, but that faith is righteousness; righteousness in the germ indeed, but still bona fide righteousness. The act of faith inaugurates a righteous life and a righteous character. The man is not made inherently holy in himself, because his righteousness is derived from God; neither is he merely declared righteous by a legal fiction without reference to his personal character; but the justifying decree, the declaration of God which pronounces him righteous, is literally true to the fact in that he is in real, sympathetic relation with the eternal source and norm of holiness, and with the divine personal inspiration of character. Faith contains all the possibilities of personal holiness. It unites man to the holy God, and through this union he becomes a partaker of the divine nature, and escapes the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. i. 4). The intent of justification is expressly declared by Paul to be conformity to Christ's image (Rom. viii. 29, 30). Justification which does not actually remove the wrong condition in man which is at the root of his enmity to God, is no justification. In the absence of this, a legal declaration that the man is right is a fiction. The declaration of righteousness must have its real and substantial basis in the man's actual moral condition.
Hence justification is called justification of life (Rom. v. 18); it is linked with the saving operation of the life of the risen Christ (Rom. iv. 25; v. 10); those who are in Christ Jesus "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. viii. 1); they exhibit patience, approval, hope, love (Romans v. 4, 5). Justification means the presentation of the self to God as a living sacrifice; non-conformity to the world; spiritual renewal; right self-estimate - all that range of right practice and feeling which is portrayed in the twelfth chapter of this Epistle. See, further, on ch. iv. 5. Knowledge (epignwsiv). Clear and exact knowledge. Always of a knowledge which powerfully influences the form of the religions life, and hence containing more of the element of personal sympathy than the simple gnwsiv knowledge, which may be concerned with the intellect alone without affecting the character. See Rom. i. 28; x. 2; Ephesians iv. 13. Also Philip. i. 9, where it is associated with the abounding of love; Col. iii. 10; Philemon 6, etc. Hence the knowledge of sin here is not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith, and holy character.
Without the law. In a sphere different from that in which the law says "Do this and live."
Is manifested (pefanerwtai). Rev., hath been manifested, rendering the perfect tense more strictly. Hath been manifested and now lies open to view. See on John xxi. 1, and on revelation, Apoc. i. 1 The word implies a previous hiding. See Mark iv. 22; Col. i. 26, 27.
Being witnessed (marturoumenh). Borne witness to; attested. The present participle indicates that this testimony is now being borne by the Old Testament to the new dispensation.
Difference (diastolh). Only by Paul here, x. 12; 1 Cor. xiv. 7. Better, as Rev., distinction.
And come short (usterountai). Rev., fall short: The present tense. The A.V. leaves it uncertain whether the present or the perfect have come is intended. They sinned, and therefore they are lacking. See on Luke xv. 14. The word is not merely equivalent to they are wanting in, but implies want under the aspect of shortcoming.
The glory of God (thv doxhv tou Qeou). Interpretations vary greatly. The glory of personal righteousness; that righteousness which God judges to be glory; the image of God in man; the glorying or boasting of righteousness before God; the approbation of God; the state of future glory.
The dominant meanings of doxa in classical Greek are notion, opinion, conjecture, repute. See on Apoc. i. 6. In biblical usage: 1. Recognition, honor, Philip. i. 11; 1 Pet. i. 7. It is joined with timh honor, 1 Timothy i. 17; Heb. ii. 7, 9; 2 Pet. i. 17. Opposed to ajtimia dishonor, 1 Cor. xi. 14, 15; xv. 43; 2 Cor. vi. 8. With zhtew to seek, 1 Thess. ii. 6; John v. 44; vii. 18. With lambanw to receive, John v. 41, 44. With didwmi to give, Luke xvii. 18; John ix. 24. In the ascriptive phrase glory be to, Luke ii. 14, and ascriptions in the Epistles. Compare Luke xiv. 10 2. The glorious appearance which attracts the eye, Matt. iv. 8; Luke iv. 6; xii. 27. Hence parallel with eijkwn image; morfh form; oJmoiwma likeness; eidov appearance, figure, Rom. i. 23; Psalm xvii. 15; Num. xii. 8.
The glory of God is used of the aggregate of the divine attributes and coincides with His self-revelation, Exod. xxxiii. 22; compare proswpon face, ver. 23. Hence the idea is prominent in the redemptive revelation (Isa. lx. 3; Rom. vi. 4; v. 2). It expresses the form in which God reveals Himself in the economy of salvation (Rom. ix. 23; 1 Tim. i. 11; Eph. i. 12). It is the means by which the redemptive work is carried on; for instance, in calling, 2 Pet. i. 3; in raising up Christ and believers with Him to newness of life, Rom. vi. 4; in imparting strength to believers, Eph. iii. 16; Col. i. 11; as the goal of Christian hope, Romans v. 2; viii. 18, 21; Tit. ii. 13. It appears prominently in the work of Christ - the outraying of the Father's glory (Heb. i. 3), especially in John. See i. 14; ii. 11, etc.
The sense of the phrase here is: they are coming short of the honor or approbation which God bestows. The point under discussion is the want of righteousness. Unbelievers, or mere legalists, do not approve themselves before God by the righteousness which is of the law. They come short of the approbation which is extended only to those who are justified by faith. 30
Freely (dwrean). Gratuitously. Compare Matt. x. 8; John xv. 25; 2 Corinthians xi. 7; Apoc. xxi. 6.
Grace (cariti). See on Luke i. 30.
Redemption (apolutrwsewv). From ajpolutrow to redeem by paying the lutron price. Mostly in Paul. See Luke xxi. 28; Heb. ix. 15; xi. 35. The distinction must be carefully maintained between this word and lutron ransom. The Vulgate, by translating both redemptio, confounds the work of Christ with its result. Christ's death is nowhere styled lutrwsiv redemption. His death is the lutron ransom, figuratively, not literally, in the sense of a compensation; the medium of the redemption, answering to the fact that Christ gave Himself for us.
Propitiation (ilasthrion). This word is most important, since it is the key to the conception of Christ's atoning work.
In the New Testament it occurs only here and Heb. ix. 5; and must be studied in connection with the following kindred words: iJlaskomai which occurs in the New Testament only Luke xviii. 13, God be merciful, and Heb. ii. 17, to make reconciliation. Ilasmov twice, 1 John ii. 2; iv. 10; in both cases rendered propitiation. The compound ejxilaskomai, which is not found in the New Testament, but is frequent in the Septuagint and is rendered purge, cleanse, reconcile, make atonement. Septuagint usage. These words mostly represent the Hebrew verb kaphar to cover or conceal, and its derivatives. With only seven exceptions, out of about sixty or seventy passages in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew is translated by atone or atonement, the Septuagint employs some part or derivative of iJlaskomai or ejxilaskomai or Ilasmov or ejxilasmov is the usual Septuagint translation for kippurim covering for sin, A.V., atonement. Thus sin-offerings of atonement; day of atonement; ram of the atonement. See Exod. xxix. 36; xxx. 10; Lev. xxiii. 27; Num. v. 8, etc. They are also used for chattath sin-offering, Ezek. xliv. 27; xlv. 19; and for selichah forgiveness. Psalm cxxix. 4; Dan. ix. 9.
These words are always used absolutely, without anything to mark the offense or the person propitiated.
Ilaskomai, which is comparatively rare, occurs as a translation of kipher to cover sin, Psalm lxiv. 3; lxxvii. 38; lxxviii. 9; A.V., purge away, forgive, pardon. Of salach, to bear away as a burden, 2 Kings v. 18; Psalm xxiv. 11: A.V., forgive, pardon. It is used with the accusative (direct objective) case, marking the sin, or with the dative (indirect objective), as be conciliated to our sins.
Exilaskomai mostly represents kipher to cover, and is more common than the simple verb. Thus, purge the altar, Ezek. xliii. 26; cleanse the sanctuary, Ezek. xlv. 20; reconcile the house, Dan. ix. 24. It is found with the accusative case of that which is cleansed; with the preposition peri concerning, as "for your sin," Exod. xxxii. 30; with the preposition uJper on behalf of A.V., for, Ezek. xlv. 17; absolutely, to make an atonement, Lev. xvi. 17; with the preposition ajpo from, as "cleansed from the blood," Num. xxxv. 33. There are but two instances of the accusative of the person propitiated: appease him, Gen. xxxii. 20; pray before (propitiate) the Lord, Zech. vii. 2.
Ilasthrion, A.V., propitiation, is almost always used in the Old Testament of the mercy-seat or golden cover of the ark, and this is its meaning in Heb. ix. 5, the only other passage of the New Testament in which it is found. In Ezek. xliii. 14, 17, 20, it means a ledge round a large altar, and is rendered settle in A.V.; Rev., ledge, in margin.
This term has been unduly pressed into the sense of explanatory sacrifice. In the case of the kindred verbs, the dominant Old-Testament sense is not propitiation in the sense of something offered to placate or appease anger; but atonement or reconciliation, through the covering, and so getting rid of the sin which stands between God and man. The thrust of the idea is upon the sin or uncleanness, not upon the offended party. Hence the frequent interchange with ajgiazw to sanctify, and kaqarizw to cleanse. See Ezekiel xliii. 26, where ejxilasontai shall purge, and kaqariousin shall purify, are used coordinately. See also Exod. xxx. 10, of the altar of incense: "Aaron shall make an atonement (exilasetai) upon the horns of it - with the blood of the sin-offering of atonement" (kaqarismou purification). Compare Lev. xvi. 20. The Hebrew terms are also used coordinately.
Our translators frequently render the verb kaphar by reconcile, Leviticus vi. 30; xvi. 20; Ezek. xlv. 20. In Lev. viii. 15, Moses put blood upon the horns of the altar and cleansed (ekaqarise) the altar, and sanctified (hgiasen) it, to make reconciliation (tou exilasasqai) upon it. Compare Ezek. xlv. 15, 17; Dan. ix. 24.
The verb and its derivatives occur where the ordinary idea of expiation is excluded. As applied to an altar or to the walls of a house (Leviticus xiv. 48-53), this idea could have no force, because these inanimate things, though ceremonially unclean, could have no sin to be expiated. Moses, when he went up to make atonement for the idolatry at Sinai, offered no sacrifice, but only intercession. See also the case of Korah, Numbers xvi. 46; the cleansing of leprosy and of mothers after childbirth, Leviticus xiv. 1-20; xii. 7; xv. 30; the reformation of Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34; the fasting and confession of Ezra, Ezra x. 1-15; the offering of the Israelite army after the defeat of Midian. They brought bracelets, rings, etc., to make an atonement (exilasasqai) before the Lord; not expiatory, but a memorial, Num. xxxi. 50-54. The Passover was in no sense expiatory; but Paul says, "Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us; therefore purge out (ekkaqarate) the old leaven. Let us keep the feast with sincerity and truth;" 1 Cor. v. 7, 8.
In the Old Testament the idea of sacrifice as in itself a propitiation continually recedes before that of the personal character lying back of sacrifice, and which alone gives virtue to it. See 1 Sam. xv. 22; Psalm xl. 6-10; l. 8-14, 23; li. 16, 17; Isa. i. 11-18; Jer. vii. 21-23; Amos v. 21-24; Micah vi. 6-8. This idea does not recede in the Old Testament to be reemphasized in the New. On the contrary, the New Testament emphasizes the recession, and lays the stress upon the cleansing and life-giving effect of the sacrifice of Christ. See John i. 29; Colossians i. 20-22; Heb. ix. 14; x. 19-21; 1 Pet. ii. 24; 1 John i. 7; iv. 10-13. The true meaning of the offering of Christ concentrates, therefore, not upon divine justice, but upon human character; not upon the remission of penalty for a consideration, but upon the deliverance from penalty through moral transformation; not upon satisfying divine justice, but upon bringing estranged man into harmony with God. As Canon Westcott remarks: "The scripture conception of iJlaskesqai is not that of appeasing one who is angry with a personal feeling against the offender, but of altering the character of that which, from without, occasions a necessary alienation, and interposes an inevitable obstacle to fellowship "(Commentary on St. John's Epistles, p. 85).
In the light of this conception we are brought back to that rendering of iJlasthrion which prevails in the Septuagint, and which it has in the only other New-Testament passage where it occurs (Heb. ix. 5) - mercy-seat; a rendering, maintained by a large number of the earlier expositors, and by some of the ablest of the moderns. That it is the sole instance of its occurrence in this sense is a fact which has its parallel in the terms Passover, Door, Rock, Amen, Day-spring, and others, applied to Christ. To say that the metaphor is awkward counts for nothing in the light of other metaphors of Paul. To say that the concealment of the ark is inconsistent with set forth is to adduce the strongest argument in favor of this rendering. The contrast with set forth falls in perfectly with the general conception. That mercy-seat which was veiled, and which the Jew could approach only once a fear, and then through the medium of the High-Priest, is now brought out where all can draw nigh and experience its reconciling power (Heb. x. 19, 22; compare Heb. ix. 8). "The word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld His glory. We saw and handled" (John i. 14; 1 John i. 1-3). The mercy-seat was the meetingplace of God and man (Exod. xxv. 17-22; Lev. xvi. 2; Num. vii. 89); the place of mediation and manifestation. Through Christ, the antitype of the mercy-seat, the Mediator, man has access to the Father (Eph. ii. 18). As the golden surface covered the tables of the law, so Christ stands over the law, vindicating