GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
Edited by W.E. Vine (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981)
This is an excellent book to add to your library. Due to its consolidation of corresponding Hebrew and Greek terms under one heading, and its use of the Strong's number system, this is a very useful book. The paperback edition is conveniently small (6"x4"x1.5"), and its list price is only $10 (US). It is available at Border's Books at http://www.borders.com or Christian Book Distributors at http://www.christianbook.com.
GOOD, GOODLY, GOODNESS
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1. tob (Strong's Hebrew #2896), "good; favorable; festive; pleasing; pleasant; well; better; right; best." This adjective denotes "good" in every sense of that word. For example tob is used in the sense "pleasant" or "delightful," Gen. 49:15; or as in Gen. 40:16, "favorable" or "in one's favor." God is described as One who is "good," or One who gives "delight" and "pleasure." Ps. 73:28. tob often qualifies a common object or activity. When the word is used in this sense, no ethical overtones are intended, 1 Sam. 19:4; 25:15; 1 Kings 12:7; Gen 2:18. Elsewhere tob is applied to an evaluation of one's well-being or of the well-being of a situation or thing, Gen. 1:4 [and Gen 1:31].
tob is used to describe land and agriculture, Exod. 3:8; 1 Sam. 8:14. tob is used to describe men or women. Sometimes it is used of an "elite cors" of people, 1 Sam. 8:16, 27. In other passages, tob describes physical appearance, Gen 24:16. Sying "at a good old age" describes "advanced age," rather than moral accomplishement, but a time when due to divine blessings one is fulfilled and satisfied, Gen. 15:15. tob indicates that a given word, act, or circumstance contributes positively to the condition of a situation, Gen. 40:16. The judgment may be ethical, Neh. 5:9. The word may also represent "agreement" or "concurrence," Gen. 24:50.
1. yatab (Strong's Hebrew #3190) - [See Vine's book.]
2. tob (Strong's Hebrew #2896) - [See Vine's book.]
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1. agathos, (Strong's Greek #18) describes that which, being good in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used (a) of things physical, e.g., a tree, Matt. 7:17; ground, Luke 8:8; (b) in a moral sense, frequently of persons and things. God is essentially, absolutely and consummately good, Matt. 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19. To certain persons the word is applied in Matt. 20:15; 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17; 23:50; John 7:12; Acts 11:24; Tit. 2:5; in a general application, Matt. 5:45; 12:35; Luke 6:45; Rom. 5:7; 1 Pet. 2:18.
The neuter of the adjective with the definite article signifies that which is good, lit., ‘the good,’ as being morally honourable, pleasing to God, and therefore beneficial. Christians are to prove it, Rom. 12:2; to cleave to it, 12:9; to do it, 13:3; Gal. 6:10; 1 Pet. 3:11 (here, and here only, the article is absent); John 5:29 (here, the neuter plural is used, ‘the good things’); to work it, Rom. 2:10; Eph. 4:28; 6:8; to follow after it, 1 Thess. 5:15; to be zealous of it, 1 Pet. 3:13; to imitate it, 3 John 11; to overcome evil with it, Rom. 12:21. Governmental authorities are ministers of good, i.e., that which is salutary, suited to the course of human affairs, Rom. 13:4. In Philm. 14, “thy goodness,” R.V. (lit., ‘thy good’), means ‘thy benefit.’ As to Matt. 19:17, “why askest thou Me concerning that which is good?” the R.V. follows the most ancient mss.
The neuter plural is also used of material goods, riches, etc., Luke 1:53; 12:18, 19; 16:25; Gal. 6:6 (of temporal supplies); in Rom. 10:15; Heb. 9:11; 10:1, the good things are the benefits provided through the sacrifice of Christ, in regard both to those conferred through the Gospel and to those of the coming Messianic Kingdom. See further under No. 2.
2. kalos, (Strong's Greek #2570) denotes that which is intrinsically good, and so, goodly, fair, beautiful, as (a) of that which is well adapted to its circumstances or ends, e.g., fruit, Matt. 3:10; a tree, 12:33; ground, 13:8, 23; fish, 13:48; the Law, Rom. 7:16; 1 Tim. 1:8; every creature of God, 1 Tim. 4:4; a faithful minister of Christ and the doctrine he teaches, 4:6; (b) of that which is ethically good, right, noble, honourable, e.g., Gal. 4:18; 1 Tim. 5:10, 25; 6:18; Tit. 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14. The word does not occur in the Apocalypse, nor indeed after 1 Peter.
Christians are to “take thought for things honourable” (kalos), 2 Cor. 8:21, R.V.; to do that which is honourable, 13:7; not to be weary in well doing, Gal. 6:9; to hold fast “that which is good,” 1 Thess. 5:21; to be zealous of good works, Tit. 2:14; to maintain them, 3:8; to provoke to them, Heb. 10:24; to bear testimony by them, 1 Pet. 2:12. Kalos and agathos occur together in Luke 8:15, an “honest” (kalos) heart, i.e., the attitude of which is right towards God; a “good” (agathos) heart, i.e., one that, instead of working ill to a neighbour, acts beneficially towards him. In Rom. 7:18, “in me … dwelleth no good thing” (agathos) signifies that in him is nothing capable of doing good, and hence he lacks the power “to do that which is good” (kalos). In 1 Thess. 5:15, “follow after that which is good” (agathos), the good is that which is beneficial; in ver. 21, “hold fast that which is good (kalos),” the good describes the intrinsic value of the teaching.
3. chrestos, (Strong's Greek #5543), said of things, that which is pleasant, said of persons, kindly, gracious, is rendered “good” in 1 Cor. 15:33; “goodness” in Rom. 2:4. See Easy. Note: Lampros denotes gay, bright, “goodly” in Jas. 2:2, A.V., (R.V., “fine”); in 2:3, A.V., “gay;” in Rev. 18:14 (R.V., “sumptuous”). See Gorgeous, Sumptuous. For asteios, “goodly,” Heb. 11:23, R.V., see Beautiful. For hikanos, Acts 18:18, A.V., “a good while.”
1. chrestotes, (Strong's Greek #5544) akin to A, No. 3, denotes goodness (a) in the sense of what is upright, righteous, Rom. 3:12 (translated “good”); (b) in the sense of kindness of heart or act, said of God, Rom. 2:4; 11:22 (thrice); Eph. 2:7 (“kindness”); Tit. 3:4 (“kindness”); said of believers and rendered “kindness,” 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12; Gal. 5:22 (R.V.; A.V., “gentleness”). It signifies “not merely goodness as a quality, rather it is goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds; yet not goodness expressing itself in indignation against sin, for it is contrasted with severity in Rom. 11:22, but in grace and tenderness and compassion.”
2. agathosune, (Strong's Greek #19), goodness, signifies that moral quality which is described by the adjective agathos (see A, No. 1). It is used, in the N.T., of regenerate persons, Rom. 15:14; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9; 2 Thess. 1:11; in the last, the phrase “every desire of goodness” (R.V.; the addition of “His” in the A.V. is an interpolation; there is no pronoun in the original) may be either subjective, i.e., desire characterised by goodness, good desire, or objective, i.e., desire after goodness, to be and do good.
Trench, following Jerome, distinguishes between chrestotes and agathosune in that the former describes the kindlier aspects of goodness, the latter includes also the sterner qualities by which doing good to others is not necessarily by gentle means. He illustrates the latter by the act of Christ in cleansing the temple, Matt. 21:12, 13, and in denouncing the Scribes and Pharisees, 23:13-29; but chrestotes by His dealings with the penitent woman, Luke 7:37-50. Lightfoot regards chrestotes as a kindly disposition towards others; agathosune as a kindly activity on their behalf. J. A. Robertson (on Eph. 5:9) remarks that agathosune is “the kindlier, as dikaiosune (righteousness) the sterner, element in the ideal character.”
3. eupoiia, (Strong's Greek #2140), beneficence, doing good (eu, well, poieo, to do), is translated as a verb in Heb. 13:16, “to do good.”
1. kalos, (Strong's Greek #2573), well, finely, is used in some mss. in Matt. 5:44, with poieo, to do, and translated “do good.” In Jas. 2:3 it is rendered “in a good place” (A.V. marg., “well” or “seemly”).
2. eu (Strong's Greek #2095), well, used with poieo, is translated “do … good” in Mark 14:7.
D. Verbs (to do, or be, good).
1. agathopoieo, (Strong's Greek #15), from A, No. 1, and poieo, to do, is used (a) in a general way, to do well, 1 Pet. 2:15, 20; 3:6, 17; 3 John 11; (b) with pointed reference to the benefit of another, Luke 6:9, 33, 35; in Mark 3:4 the parts of the word are separated in some mss. Some mss. have it in Acts 14:17, for No. 2.
Cp. the noun agathopoiia, well–doing, 1 Pet. 4:19, and the adjective agathopoios, doing well, 1 Pet. 2:14.
2. agathourgeo, (Strong's Greek #14), for agathoergeo, to do good (from A, No. 1, and ergon, a work), is used in Acts 14:17 (in the best mss.; see No. 1), where it is said of God’s beneficence towards man, and 1 Tim. 6:18, where it is enjoined upon the rich.
3. euergeteo, (Strong's Greek #2109), to bestow a benefit, to do good (eu, well, and a verbal form akin to ergon,) is used in Acts 10:38.
Notes: (1) The verb ischuo, to be strong (ischus, strength), to have efficacy, force or value, is said of salt in Matt. 5:13, negatively, “it is good for nothing.” (2) In Matt. 19:10, A.V., sumphero, to be profitable, expedient (sun, together, phero, to bring); is rendered with a negative “it is not good” (R.V., “it is not expedient”). (3) In Mark 14:7, the two words eu, well, and poieo, to do, are in some mss. treated as one verb eupoieo, to do good.
Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985)
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1. agathos [good], agathoergeo [to do good], agathopoieo [to do good], agathopios [doer of good], agathopoiia [doing good], agathosyne [goodness], philagathos [lover of goodness], aphilagathos [despiser of the good]
agathos. As both adjective and noun, agathos denotes excellence (Plato Cratylus 412c). As an adjective it is given specific content by the word it qualifies, e.g., status or quality (cf. Mt. 25:21; 7:17). As a noun it can mean “the good” or “goods,” whether material or spiritual.
A. In Greek Philosophy. The good is what gives meaning, e.g., what is pleasant (Sophists), the central idea (Plato), or such things as reason, virtue, the golden mean, and the necessary (Aristotle). People become good through instruction in the good (Plato Gorgias 470c).
B. In Hellenism. Being less humanistic, Hellenism gave agathos a religious flavor. “The good” is salvation, while “good” is “pleasing to God” in our case and “kind” in God’s. In the Hermetic writings God alone is truly good; we humans become good by mortification of material things and by divinization. In Philo the divinity who is the supreme good is the personal God (Allegorical Interpretation of Laws 1.47). Piety, faith, and wisdom are goods whereby, with God’s help, we may know and serve God (On the Special Laws 4.147; On Abraham 268; Who Is the Heir? 98).
C. In the OT and Judaism. The approach here is religious, as in Hellenism, but the self-revelation of the personal God is now determinative. “God is good” is the basic confession (cf. 1 Chr. 16:34). This God does “good” (cf. Ex. 18:9) in his work in history, which aims at final salvation and gives direction for life through the law. “Good” has already been done but is also awaited (Jer. 32:39, 42). Meanwhile we are shown what is “good” by the revelation of God’s will in the law. Those who do good are good, but whether this is possible without God’s help is debatable (Josephus The Jewish War 2.163ff.). Qoheleth thinks not (Ecc 7:20). The rabbis see a struggle between good and evil impulses, works of love being the true good works.
D. In the NT.
a. The basic approach is again religious. Only God is truly good (Mt. 19:17). His goodness is the “kindness” which through Christ confers the “good things” of salvation (Heb. 9:11). Apostles are thus preachers of “good news” (Rom. 10:15; cf. Is. 52:7). Rightly, Matthew sees that God’s exclusive goodness does not rule out Christ’s sinlessness (Mt. 19:17 and par.).
b. Nothing in this world deserves to be called good (Rom. 7:18-19). The law is good, but even through the law sin works death (7:12-13). Distinctions can be made between good and bad people (Mt. 5:45), or speaking good and being evil (Mt. 12:34). Government can also be called a servant for good (Rom. 13:4). Yet these distinctions are only relative before God.
c. Salvation in Christ introduces a new possibility of knowing and doing the good (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 2:10; Col. 1:10). Christians must actualize this possibility (1Th. 5:15). Its supreme content is love, which is the purpose of the law and the meaning of the Christian life. Grasping this new possibility gives a “good conscience” (Acts 23:1; 1 Tim. 1:5, 19). Yet the good of salvation is still the determinative goal (Rom. 8:28). The “good work” that God has begun will come to “completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
agathoergeo. This rare word refers to God’s kindly action (Acts 14:17) but also to the loving liberality that is required of the rich (1 Tim. 6:18).
agathopoieo, agathopoios, agathopoiia. The verb and adjective are used in astrology for stars of benign influence. In the LXX the verb denotes the good in action. It is common in 1 Peter (2:15, 20; 3:6, 17) in the same sense; cf. the “doer of good” who is “of God” (3 Jn. 11). agathopoios in 1 Pet. 2:14 is contrasted with the wrongdoer; the Christian is to be a “doer of right.” agathopoiia (1 Pet. 4:19) is the right action that alone is the proper preparation for final deliverance.
agathosyne. This is the quality, or moral excellence, of the good person. It is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) or of light (Eph. 5:9), the content of the Christian life (Rom. 15:14).
philagathos. This word, found in Aristotle and Philo and used as a title of honor in Hellenistic societies, constitutes one of the qualifications of a bishop: he is to be a “lover of goodness” (Tit. 1:8).
aphilagathos. According to 2 Tim. 3:1ff. the attitude of people in the last time shows how serious this time is. Many of them, as “lovers of self,” will be “haters of good[ness].” In that false love, lovelessness will celebrate its triumph.
[W. Grundmann, I, 10-18]
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2. kalos [beautiful, good]
A. The Meaning of kalos. Related to Indo-European words for “powerful,” “excellent”, “strong,” kalos has the sense of a. “healthy,” “serviceable,” e.g., sterling metal, suitable place, or right time, b. “beautiful,” “attractive,” “lovely,” and c. “good.” All these senses may be brought together under the idea of “what is ordered or sound,” and with this basic sense kalos is a key term in Greek thought. The noun to kalon (ta kala ) means a. “the good,” “virtue,” and b. “the beautiful,” “beauty.”
B. kalos kai agathos.
1. This combination occurs from the fifth century, at first with a political and social sense. The agathoi are the worthy or outstanding, and the kaloi kai agathoi are leading citizens who also display some qualitative superiority related to character and culture. The phrase may be used for non-Greeks too.
2. Socrates then adds to the term a spiritual and ethical dimension. The kalos kagathos is a worthy citizen who has become such by instruction in virtue. kalokagathia begins inwardly and then expresses itself outwardly. Education is the secret, and the ordered life that results will bring happiness.
3. The influence of philosophical thinking on political life may be seen in the orators, e.g., Demosthenes, for whom the kalos kagathos is the ideal politician who considers only the public welfare and not his own interests or enmities.
4. The phrase later becomes stereotyped. Epictetus stresses the relating of desire to renunciation and the integrating of one’s will to that of the deity. Philo follows the older philosophy.
C. kalos and to kalon in the Greek World and Hellenism.
1. Plato relates the kalon very closely to the agathon. It is an aspect of it, or its form. The kalon is the moving force of the striving for harmony and fulfilment. It underlies education as the prototype of a higher image. An eternal idea of the kalon lies behind the earthly form. eros is the ability to perceive the kalon. From the vision or knowledge of the kalon through eros, come virtue and immortality. The kalon fuses deity, cosmos, and humanity, and in art and virtue it brings meaning, fellowship, and eternity into life.
2. Aristotle divides the kalon into the naturally beautiful and the morally beautiful. Defined by order, the kalon is the good in an absolute sense. Stoicism accepts this ethicizing of the concept. The main meaning now becomes “the virtuous,” and the concept is that of a norm.
3. The religious aspect emerges again in Hellenism. Philo, influenced by the OT as well as Stoicism, gives the term a religious sense. The divine is the kalon, and the world is conjoined with it. Those who seek and achieve the kalon are God’s children.
4. Plotinus revives the view of Plato. He begins with perceptible beauty, but presses on to the idea of the beautiful as true being. The beauty of this world reveals the glory and goodness of the spiritual world, where true beauty belongs. To see this transcendent beauty brings happiness. It is the goal of life, since the beautiful is the good and vice versa. We achieve it through beauty of soul attained in purification and in such virtues as self-discipline, courage, magnanimity, and wisdom.
5. In the Hermetic writings the kalon belongs to God’s world. The ideal cosmos is the kalos kosmos. The kalon is here a transcendental thing like deity. Dualism shuts us off from it except by the knowledge of revelation and the corresponding piety.
D. kalos in the OT (LXX) and Judaism.
1. Used in the LXX for yapeh <Strong's Hebrew #3190>, “beautiful” (e.g., Gen. 12:14), and tob <Strongs' Hebrew #2896>, “useful” (Gen. 2:9) or “morally good” (Prov. 17:26), kalos plays only a meager role in the OT. The more personal concept of the doxa of God replaces much of what the Greek philosophers meant by it, and in an ethics determined by the law the ideal of life and education expressed in the kalos kagathos has no place. Where kalos means the good it denotes conformity to God’s will, and while the sense of ordered beauty may be present in the creation story (cf. Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31), the aesthetic dimension is usually absent. 2. In the sense of “morally good,” i.e., in accordance with the law, kalos is a synonym of agathos and occurs in Num. 24:1; Dt. 6:18; 2 Chr. 14:1; Is. 1:17; Mic. 6:8. 3. In parallelism kalos has the sense of “lovely” or “pleasing” in Ps. 135:3 (cf. also 1 Macc. 4:24).
E. kalos in the NT.
1. Synoptists. In the message of the Baptist and the preaching of Jesus we find the metaphor of “good fruit” (Mt. 3:10; 7:17ff.). The summons here is to metanoia with a view to becoming the good tree that produces good fruit. In the parables we also read of “good seed,” i.e., the word of the kingdom of God (Mt. 13:24, 27, 37-38), and “good fish,” i.e., those who come under the lordship of God by metanoia. Always, here, kalos is oriented to God’s basileia.
2. The kala erga to which Jesus summons us (cf. Mt. 5:16; 25:35ff.) are works of love and mercy such as we find in the OT (Is. 58:6-7) and the rabbinic writings, where God’s own works of love and mercy are the model, e.g., his clothing of Adam and Eve (in Gen. 3:21), or visiting the sick Abraham (in Gen. 18:1), or comforting Isaac (in Gen. 25:11), or burying Moses (in Dt. 34:6). Jesus requires mercy and not sacrifice (Mt. 9:13), and displays this himself by coming to save sinners. Yet such good works are integrated into the divine lordship, so that even a work like burying one’s parent must not be an end in itself (Lk. 9:59). Furthermore, all good words are now done to Jesus himself (Mt. 25:40). As he is our advocate with the Father, he is also an advocate with us for others. He comes to us in the needy, and seeks to pursue his saving work through us. The reward for this saving work is that God is glorified thereby (Mt. 5:16). All thought of reciprocity is thus eliminated (cf. Lk. 14:12ff.). Inheritance of the kingdom is the only recompense, and in this kingdom there is no scale of payment. The Good Samaritan is the model of the divinely willed mercy that acts spontaneously and seeks no reward (Lk. 10:30ff.). The anointing in Mk. 14:3ff. is extolled as a memorable work of love—more important than the almsgiving on which the disciples would have used the money (vv. 4-5)—because it meets the need of the moment and is proleptically performed for one who faces a criminal’s death and the related threat of a criminal’s grave without anointing.
3. John. A significant use in John is in the description of Jesus as the “good shepherd.” This carries with it a unique claim in opposition to the shepherd gods of Hellenism and the shepherds (leaders) of the people. The basis of the claim is the shepherd’s knowledge of his flock, and his giving his life to save it from the wolf. Taking up the flock into his own fellowship with the Father thereby, he proves himself to be the true shepherd, good, competent, and worthy of praise. In 10:31-32 Jesus asks for which of his good works the people wants to stone him. These works are good because they are works of God. As such, however, they carry with them a messianic claim that the people cannot or will not accept.
4. Paul. At times Paul uses to kalon in the absolute as a synonym of to agathon. Thus in Rom. 7:18, 21 to kalon is the good that we want to do but cannot. In 2 Cor. 13:7 doing to kalon is the new Christian possibility. We are not to tire of doing it (Gal. 6:9). The term may also denote specific things that are good or praiseworthy, e.g., sexual restraint (1 Cor. 7:1, 8, 26), or respecting the consciences of others (Rom. 14:21). As an adjective it characterizes the law in Rom. 7:16 but cannot be used for the Corinthians’ boasting in 1 Cor. 5:6. Paul demands good works in the sense of works of love and mercy (cf. Rom. 12:13, 20; 1 Cor. 16:11), but he does not use kala erga for these.
5. The Pastorals. kalos is a much more important term in these epistles. We read of kala erga in 1 Tim. 5:10, 25; 6:18; Tit. 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14, and kalon ergon in 1 Tim. 3:1. Good works are Christ’s intention for us (Tit. 3:8). To pray for all people is good (1 Tim. 2:3). We are to wage a good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18), and be good soldiers (2 Tim. 2:3). The author has fought a good fight (2 Tim. 4:7). Like Christ, we are to make a good confession (1 Tim. 6:12-13). We must also be rich in good works (1 Tim. 6:18). The law is kalos (1 Tim. 1:8). Bishops must have a good report (3:7), and deacons will gain a good standing by good service (3:13). The good minister teaches good doctrine (4:6). Finally, everything created by God is good (4:4). In these passages, kalos has for the most part the philosophical sense of “right,” “orderly,” or “excellent,” manifested in such things as right conduct, correct teaching, and a proper attitude to the world. All this, however, is in orientation to Christ and the gospel. The usage in James, 1 Peter, and Hebrews is similar (cf. Jms. 2:7; 1 Pet. 4:10; Heb. 13:18; also Jms. 1:27; 1 Pet. 4:9; Heb. 13:2-3; 3 Jn. 5).
[W. Grundmann, III, 536-50]
F. kalos in Christological Statements in the Early Church.
1. The Influence of Is. 53 on the Early Church View of an Ugly Christ.
a. Is. 53 is one of two main passages that govern the early concept of Christ. Especially significant (with Is. 52:14) is Is. 53:2b in the LXX version. The actual terms play no role in the NT itself, which stresses Christ’s humility rather than any lack of beauty, and which does not have outward appearance in view when it calls Jesus either God’s image (2 Cor. 4:4) or Son of Man (Heb. 2:6-7). 1 Clem. 16 agrees with the NT when quoting Is. 53 and Ps. 21: Christ’s humility is the point at issue.
b. Justin shows a similar concern to that of 1 Clement in his use of Is. 53 in Apology 50.1ff.; Dialogue 100.2, etc. Outward appearance is not the issue, but the renunciation of divine glory. This does lead, however, to human dishonoring, so that the heavenly powers, at Christ’s ascension, have to ask: “Who is this king of glory?” (Dialogue 36.6). The theme of nonrecognition finds a basis in 1 Cor. 2:8.
c. That Christ’s humility involves ugliness comes out in Acts of Thomas 45, though again divine glory rather than human beauty is the opposite. In similar works this is linked with a dualistic depreciation of humanity which ignores the biblical doctrine of the divine image.
d. In its striving against docetic trends the church is led to lay more stress on the physical appearance of Christ, and it turns to Is. 53 for guidance. Thus many Christians accept the view that the Lord intentionally does not appear in a beautiful form so as not to distract from his teaching. Origen, replying to Celsus’ objections in this regard, discounts the relevance of Is. 53. Among other fathers there is vacillation and disagreement; the only consensus is that Is. 53 refers to the lowliness of Christ, and supremely to his passion.
2. The Concept of a Beautiful Christ in the Early Church.
a. Another influential passage is Ps. 45. The idea that beauty is intrinsic to deity predisposes many theologians to claim outstanding beauty for Christ in spite of Is. 53. This Hellenistic idea finds echoes in Wis. 13:5; Sir. 39:16, in obvious allusion to the creation story. In the LXX we also find such passages as Pss. 49:1, 96:6. Christian apologists like Athenagoras refer to the beauty of creation (Supplication 10.1 etc.), and 1 Clement speaks of the beauty of the bond of divine love (49.1). This view of beauty makes an ugly Christ unthinkable.
b. In this light we can understand the messianic application of Ps. 45:2-3. Jewish writers take the passage messianically too. Types of Christ are also found in the handsome Moses (Ex. 2:2) and Joseph (Gen. 39:6). The bridegroom of the Song of Songs serves as a messianic type, and sometimes Is. 33:17 (where the LXX has doxa) is given a messianic interpretation.
c. Gnostic depictions go beyond the OT data with their depiction of the eternal youth and beauty of the exalted Lord. While human terms are used, these depictions lack historical realism, so that the total result is docetic.
d. In the art of the catacombs we also find a young and beautiful Christ, usually in connection with the good shepherd (though perhaps on the basis of Ezek. 34:23; Zech. 11:7ff. rather than Jn. 10:1ff.). The divine shepherd is an ideal embodiment of the Christian view of salvation even if formally religious and secular models from the contemporary world have had some impact. Popular piety takes up the thought of the beautiful Christ, in spite of gruesome depictions of the passion, and gives it expression in both art and song.
[G. Bertram, III, 550-56]
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chrestos [good, kind], chrestotes [goodness, kindness], chresteomai [to be kind, loving], chrestologia [“friendly” speech]
A. Greek Usage.
1. This word has the basic sense of “excellent,” “useful,” “good of its kind.” Nuances include “orderly,” “healthy” (of food), “propitious” (offerings), “serious” (a wound or bite), “good” (experiences), and as noun “benefit” or “fortune.”
2. When used of people the term means “worthy,” “decent,” “honest,” morally “upright” or “good.” The term may thus be used for a “good” character or disposition, or for someone who is “good” at a particular task. Other meanings are “kind,” “gentle,” “clement,” “good-hearted,” and even “simple.” An ironical address is chreste, “my dear fellow.”
3. We sometimes find Chrestos as a proper name.
4. Only rarely does chrestos describe the gods, for the term often arouses disdain and is thus thought to be incompatible with the majesty of deity.
B. The LXX and Judaism.
1. The LXX.
a. The LXX uses chrestos for various Hebrew terms in the senses “excellent,” “genuine,” or “costly.”
b. With reference to people it means “good,” “serviceable,” “kind,” “benevolent.”
c. Since the OT more readily associates majesty and condescension, it commonly uses chrestos for God (Ps. 106:1; Jer. 33:11) or his name (Ps. 52:9) or mercy (Ps. 69:16). One can hope and trust in the Lord who is good (34:8). God is good and upright (25:8; cf. Dt. 32:4). Yet the severity that God shows in the law is the presupposition of this goodness; his ordinances are good (119:41, cf. 65ff.).
2. Philo. Philo uses chrestos in the senses “serviceable,” “helpful,” and “good.” He relates it to the goodness of God that the righteous seek to follow. Rulers are “gracious,” and “friendly” or “kind” is implied when God is called chrestos.
3. Josephus. In Josephus the term means “morally good” but also has the nuances “kind,” “gentle,” “benevolent,” “considerate,” and “well disposed.”
C. The NT.
1. Secular use occurs in the NT in the proverbial saying in Lk. 5:39 and in the quotation in 1 Cor. 15:33 (“good morals”).
2. God is “kind” even to the ungrateful and selfish in Lk. 6:35; he seeks saves the lost (Lk. 15). The fullness of the divine kindness also lies behind the statement of Jesus that his yoke is “easy” in Mt. 11:30. In Rom. 2:4 Paul has to chreston as a noun to describe the divine kindness which allows space for repentance, but which the impenitent disdain and hence store up wrath for themselves. What is meant is God’s gracious restraint in face of his people’s sins prior to Christ. chrestotes is used interchangeably in Rom. 2:4, and it occurs again in 11:22 with reference to God’s gracious act in Christ. As Paul sees it, kindness constantly characterizes God, but this kindness finds particular expression and completion in his saving work in and through Christ. The continuity of God’s kindness may also be seen in 1 Pet. 2:3, which applies Ps. 34:8 to Christ: “You have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
3. Eph. 4:32 takes up the saying of Christ in Lk. 6:35-36 and shows the implications of God’s gracious action for the mutual relationships of believers.
D. Early Christian Literature.
1. 1 Clem. 14.3-4 demands mutual kindness with an appeal to Prov. 2:21. If God’s work as Creator is here in view, Diog. 8.8 plainly refers to his saving work in Christ.
2. As the names Christ and Christian suggest, Christ is chrestos and Christians are chrestoi for Justin in Apology 4. 1. A Marcionite inscription substitutes Chrestos for Christos. This is a rejection of the OT christos, but the referring of OT quotations to Christ (e.g., Ps. 34:8) suggests it.
1. Secular Greek. This noun has such senses as a. “honesty,” “respectability,” “worthiness,” and b. “kindness,” “friendliness,” “clemency.” Negatively it denotes a false “pliability” or “softness” toward evil.
2. The LXX and Judaism.
a. The LXX uses the term for “piety” or “clemency” but also for God’s “kindly disposition or action,” or for the “benefits” he confers.
b. Psalms of Solomon often uses the word for the “goodness” of God and the plenitude of his gifts.
c. Philo puts it in the list of virtues, although negatively it can take the form of “indulgence.” God’s dealings are motivated by it; he prefers forgiveness to punishment.
d. Josephus uses the word for God’s “grace” and “magnanimity,” but mostly he refers it to outstanding human figures in such senses as “piety,” “hospitality” (Abraham), and “benevolence” (David).
3. The NT.
a. The word is a human attribute in Rom. 3:12 (quoting Ps. 14:1).
b. In Rom. 2:4 and 11:22 it denotes God’s gracious attitude to sinners either before Christ or in and through Christ. In Tit. 3:4ff. the fullness of salvation in Christ elucidates it. Eschatological consummation forms its content in Eph. 2:7. chrestotes, then, is an equivalent of chaµris. It implies that God’s work in Christ is appropriate to his nature. In this work he acts, and is manifested, as the one he is by nature.
c. Used in lists of virtues, the term has a richer sense than in parallel Stoic lists. The experience of the love of God that is manifested in Christ and shed abroad by the Spirit works itself out as chrestotes toward others. chrestotes is a fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22, it is again associated with the Spirit in 2 Cor. 6:6, and it is based on the similar attitude of the Lord in Col. 3:12.
4. The Apostolic Fathers. Diog. 9. 1ff.; 10.4 relates God’s chrestotes to his saving work in Christ and more generally to his fatherly acts as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Consummator. 1 Clem. 9. 1 asks for submission to the divine chrestotes, 2 Clem. 15.5 relates it to the promise of Is. 58:9, and in 19. 1 it is the goal of Christian striving. Ignatius Magnesians 10. 1 finds it specifically in the salvation effected by Christ’s resurrection.
1. This word is first found in Ps. Sol. 9:6 for God’s proofs of grace to those who call upon him.
2. Paul uses the verb in 1 Cor. 13:4 to describe the work of love as an actualizing of chrestotes.
3. 1 Clem. 13.2 derives kindly conduct to others from the divine goodness, which is a basis of the demand for it in 14.3.
chrestologia. This word occurs only in Rom. 16:18, where Paul shows that the “friendly speeches and fine words” by which the readers are wooed are simply a mask for deceitful purposes.
[K. Weiss, IX, 483-92]
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