Copyright
James Hastings.

Dictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) online

. (page 5 of 234)
Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 234)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


as we have seen, admits that ' there is very little
asceticism, in the ordinary sense, in Paul's epistles,
while there is much that makes in the opposite
direction ' (op. cit. p. 136). These distinctions,
however, are largely irrelevant. To St. Paul the
Christian life was a life of sanctification, and this
included both aspects.

This positive principle, then, of Christian abstin-
ence is found in the very nature of the Christian
life, which includes the affirmation of all the per-
sonality and its relationships as instruments of
the spirit, and also the negation of the flesh and the
world, or of personality and its relationships as
alienated from the Spirit of God.

This principle, just because it contained these
two moments, was apt to be misunderstood. Its
twofold unity was apt to be disrupted, and we may
well believe that the later Gnostic dualism and
licentious libertinism may both have appealed to
the authority of St. Paul. The Apostle, however,
had a second principle of abstinence which helps us
to correct this antagonism. He clearly distin-
guished between those things that in their very
nature were hostile to the Christian life and those
things that were indifferent. The neglect or abuse
of this principle is apt to confuse the whole ques-
tion of abstinence. The difficulty is intensified by
the fact that in this region of the indifferent we are
dealing with the application of a universal principle
to changing conditions, so that, to use logical
language, while the major premiss is the same,
the minor premiss varies, and thus the right con-
clusion has to be discovered from the nature of the
conditions with which we are for the moment deal-
ing. Thus we find that the conditions at Rome
and Corinth were not the conditions present in
Colossians or the Pastorals, and accordingly St.
Paul deals with each according to its merits. His
general principle in regard to indifferent things is,
'All things are lawful.' This is universally ap-
plicable only inside this universe of discourse. It
is not applicable to our relation to those things
that by their very nature are inimical to the
Christian life. To apply the principle to the
latter sphere is to degenerate into libertinism such
as St. John, St. Jude, and St. Peter had to face.

While St. Jude and St. Peter are content with
combating this libertinism mainly by denunciation
and exhortations to Christians, St. John applies
St. Paul's positive principle of abstinence to refute
it. He points out the inadmissibility of sin ( 1 Jn
2 28f> )- By this neither he nor St. Paul means per-
fectionism, nor yet are they speaking ideally of the
Christian life. It is not true, as the Gnostics say,
that the gold of Christianity is not injured by the
mud of impurity (Irenaeus, c. Hcer. i. 6. 2). Some
so explained the saying ascribed to Nicholas (cf.
Rev 2*- 15 ), SeTv ira.pa.\pr)aOa.i. TTJ (rapid ( ' the flesh must
be abused'). According to Clem. Alex. (Strom.



ii. 20), ' abandoning themselves like goats to
pleasure, as if insulting the body, they lead a life
of self-indulgence.' It is this that St. John is con-
futing in these perfectionist passages, just as St.
Paul confutes ascetic severity towards the body in
Colossians, by pointing to the nature of the new
life the Christian has in Christ.

This Christian principle of abstinence, then,
' All things are lawful,' does not apply to sin. It
has further limitations. These are unfolded in
1 Cor. and Romans. The abstainers in both these
cases were in the minority. They did not base
their views on a material dualism. They were
under the influence of an atmosphere rather than
a system, and they were apt to be treated in a
high-handed fashion. They were not endangering
the very basis of Christianity as a free service of
God, as the Galatians were. Hence they had to
be defended rather than condemned. St. Paul
says all he can in their favour, although he ranges
himself in principle on the other side. He tells
the advocates of liberty that love is superior to the
Christian's freedom towards things indifferent, that
it makes liberty look as much on the weakness of
others as on its own strength. The interests of
brotherly love and Christian unity make liberty
impose restraints on itself. This restraint is a
noble asceticism. ' The liberty of faith is found
in the bondage of love ' (Sabatier, Paul, p. 163).
He warns the advocates of liberty also that they
may apply this principle to matters that are
essential and not indifferent. This warning was
necessary, because idolatry was so identified with
all social functions that it was difficult to escape it.
Why not to advert to the coming conditions
adore the image of the Emperor ? Why not throw
incense into the fire ? Just because by so doing
the first and major principle of Christian abstin-
ence was destroyed, viz. that it was a holy life in
fellowship with the risen Christ ; and its second
principle of freedom in things indifferent did not
consequently apply.

Yet this second principle was distinctly valuable.
It was a great step in advance to have it clearly
enunciated. For the weak brother, as in Galatia,
might become intolerant ; he might become the
victim of false views, which would look on the ob-
servance of indifferent rites as a necessary quali-
fication of full salvation and Christian privilege.
Then Christian liberty in its fullness must be
maintained (Gal 5 1 ). This liberty rightly under-
stood contains in itself the real principle of ab-
stinence from what is sinful. Nowhere have we
fuller lists of the works of the flesh given than in
the Galatian Epistle.

Or, again, as in Colossians and the Pastorals,
a false asceticism might be present which re-
garded matter and body as evil, in which case
both principles would be used to destroy such a
view.

(a) In regard to indifferent matters like food
and drink God has given freedom. The argument
is the same as that used by Jesus when He purified
all meats (Mk 7 19 ). These minutiae of fasting are
human inventions, not Divine commands ; and to
respect them casuistically is to blur the distinction
between the essential and the indifferent. We get
what God meant us to get from perishable meats
when we joyfully use them with a thankful spirit
towards God. They, like the bodily appetites
which they satisfy, do not belong to the eternal
world, but to the natural. Yet the natural world
and its relations to us, our bodies and their re-
quirements, are of God and can all be used to His
glory. Our bodies, souls, and spirits are His. It
is not by using severity towards the body or by
abstaining from marriage or leaving our earthly
callings that we can gain further sanctification. In



ABUSE, ABUSEES



ABYSS



11



fact, St. Paul says that this d<f>eidla o-w/uaros
severity towards the body is of little practical
value (Col 2 28 ). Its aim is to destroy the body, not
to fit it for God's service. Logically carried to its
issue, this false asceticism would not only enfeeble
the soul by debasing the body, but would destroy
the body and matter altogether. But God's ideal
for the body is different (cf. Ph 3 21 ), so that what
is to be aimed at by the Christian is the destruc-
tion of the flesh (<rdp|), not of the body as such
(ffufw.).

But (b) the Apostle uses the primary principle of
Christian abstinence to refute this dualistic asceti-
cism. He shows that Christianity is not a matter
of prohibitions, but of a renewed life a walking in
the Spirit. Asceticism at its best leaves the house
empty. It is doubtful from history and physiology
if it can even do that, but the new life in Christ
has an expulsive power against sin and a construc-
tive power of holiness.

These, then, are the principles that govern Chris-
tian abstinence: (1) The Christian life as a 'holy
calling ' demands abstinence from all sin. This pro-
hibits not only sinful actions but sinful thoughts.
This is what may be called essential abstinence.
(2) Besides this, there may be abstinence in in-
different matters, but it rests with the individual
conscience to determine when this is necessary
for the furtherance of the new life in Christ.
This sphere by its very nature is not subject to
obligatory ecclesiastical rules, nor must such ab-
stinence be made the basis of salvation or of a
higher moral platform, nor must it be based on a
false view of matter or of the human body or of
human relationships.

See also artt. SELF-DENIAL and TEMPERANCE.

LITERATURE. Consult the books referred to in the article and
the various Commentaries. See also J. B. Ligrhtfoot, C'olos-
siantf, 1879, p. 397 ff. ; C. E. Luthardt, Christian Ethics
before the Reformation, tr. Hastie, Edinburgh , 1889 ; O.
Zockler, Kritische Gesch. der Askese, Frankfurt am M., 1897 ;
A. Harnack, History of Dogma, Eng. tr., 1894-99; H. J.
Holtzmann, NT Theologie, Tubingen, 1911, bk. iv. ch. vii.;
A. B. D. Alexander, The Ethics of St. Paul, Glasgow, 1910 ;
A. Ritschl, Entstehung der altkathol. Kirche, Bonn, 1857, p.
173 f. ; E. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages
upon the Christian Church (Hibbert Lecture, 1888), London,
1890, Lecture vi. DONALD MACKENZIE.

ABUSE, ABUSER3. The Latin abiltor means
either (1) ' use badly,' ' misuse,' or (2) ' use to the
full.' In this second sense Cicero uses the word
of spending one's whole leisure time with a friend
(see Lewis and Short, Latin Diet., s.v. ' Abutor ').

The Greek verb Karaxpao/JMi had both these mean-
ings. Thus in Plato (Menex. 247 A) it means
' use wrongly ' ; and Clem. Alex. Peed. i. (p. 142,
Potter) speaks of ' using fully every device of wis-
dom.' In older English the verb had both mean-
ings. Cranmer's Bible has ' abuse ' = ' use to the
full ' in Col 2 22 . In both 1 Co 7 S1 and 9 18 KaraxpdofMi
means ' use to the full.' The RV translates it so in
9 18 and marginally so in 7 S1 .

(a) i Co 7 31 . The connexions (e.g. marriage),
circumstances (e.g. sorrow and joy), and concerns
(e.g. business and wealth) of life have in Christianity
an emotional interest. Stoicism would expel these
emotions and leave the soul empty. Christianity
determines them eschatologically (cf. 1 Co 7 29a 3lb ).
To avoid abuse of the world is to use it sub specie
finis. Abuse here borders on our meaning of
misuse (cf. French abuser on abuse celui qui se
laisse captiver ; and Mark Pattison's note on Pope's
Essay on Man, ii. 14) ; and that perhaps is why
RV retains 'abuse.' Texts like this apply in
their original freshness and strength to times of
crisis (cf. Luther's hymn, ' Gut, Ehre, Kind, und
\Veib . . . lass fahren dahin '), when the dissolu-
tion of society seems imminent, but in essence they
are applicable to all time, as human life is always



uncertain. They do not, however, encourage aloof-
ness from or slackness in social duties (cf. St. Paul's
attitude towards the non-workers in Thessalonica,
2 Th 3 lom ).

(6) 1 Co 9 18 . One phase of St. Paul's accommodat-
ing conduct (irvyKardpaffis) for the gospel's sake
was the voluntary abridgment of his rights of
maintenance by the Corinthians ( 1 Co 9 7 " 14 , 2 Co II 8 ).
This accommodation must be distinguished from
men-pleasing (cf. Gal I 10 ). As the height of right
may be the height of injury (summum ius summa
iniuria), so conversely the abnegation of Christian
rights for the gospel's sake enhances the power of
both Evangelist and Evangel (cf.. Mk lO 2911 ).

Summary. A lawful use of the world (1 Co 7 S1 )
or even of Christian rights (9 18 ) becomes harmful
when dissociated from eternal issues, or pursued
without regard to others. The lower planes of life
gain significance in subordination to the highest.
Rights legally due may, if pressed without regard
to love, become injurious.

(c) In 1 Co 6 9 and 1 Ti I 10 apffevoKotrat is translated
' abusers of themselves with mankind ' (cf. Ro I 27
written from Corinth). This unnatural vice is that
known in Greek literature as ircuSe/jacrWa. In St.
Paul's view sins of uncleanness were the inevitable
Divine penalty of forgetfulness of God a view
strengthened by the association between unclean-
ness and the worship of Aphrodite in places like
Corinth.



LITERATURE. Grimm-Thayer, *.. (caraxpao/iai ; HDD,
vol. i. art. 'Abuse'; the Comm. on above passages, e.g.
Edwards in EGT and Hand-Corn. ; cf. also C. J. Vaughan,
Lemons of Life and Godliness, London, 1870, Sermon xix. ;
F. W. Robertson, Sermons, vol. iii. sermon xiv. ; W. G.
Blaikie, Present Day Tracts, no. 4, 'Christianity and the
Life that now is.' On irauSepaorio. consult W. A. Becker,
Charikles, 3 vols., Berlin, 1877-78, voL ii. p. 252 ff.

DONALD MACKENZIE.

ABYSS. This is the RV rendering of the word
<J/3i/er<ros which occurs in Lk 8 S1 , Ro 10 7 , Rev 9 U * "
II 7 17 8 20 L 3 . In Lk. and Rom., A V translates 'deep';
in Rev., ' bottomless pit ' no distinction, however,
being made between rb <f>ptap rijs afifaffov in 9 1 - 2
(RV ' the pit of the abyss ') and i) afivo-cros simply
in the remaining passages (RV 'the abyss').
&fiv<rffos (from a intens. and ^3u<r<r6j, Ion. for fivQ&s,
' the depth ') occurs in classical Greek as an adj.
meaning ' bottomless,' but in biblical and ecclesi-
astical Greek almost invariably as a substantive
denoting ' the bottomless place,' ' the abyss.' The
word is found frequently in the LXX, usually
as a rendering of the Heb. t'hdm, and primarily
denotes the water-deeps which at first covered the
earth (Gn I 2 , Ps 103 (104) 6 ) and were conceived of
as shut up afterwards in subterranean storehouses
(32 (33) 7 ). In Job 38 16f - the abyss in the sense of
the depths of the sea is used as a parallel to
Hades ; and in 41 23 (LXX) the sea-monster regards
the Tartarus of the abyss as his captive. In Ps
70 (71) 20 ' the abyss' is applied to the depths of the
earth, and is here evidently a figurative equiva-
lent for Sheol, though it is nowhere used in the
LXX to render the Heb. word. In the later Jewish
eschatology, where Sheol has passed from its OT
meaning of a shadowy under world in which there
are no recognized distinctions between the good
and the bad, the wicked and the weary (cf. Job 3 17 ,
EC 9*), and has become a sphere of definite moral
retribution, the conception of the abyss has also
undergone a moral transformation. The Ethiopian
Book of Enoch is especially suggestive for the
development of the eschatological conceptions that
appear in pre-Christian Judaism ; and in the earliest
part of that book the fallen angels and demons are
represented as cast after the final judgment into
a gulf (xdos) of fire (10 13 - 14 ), while in 21 7 the chasm
(Sia/coTn?) filled with fire (cf. TO <f>pap in Rev 9 1 - 3 ) is
described as bordered by the abyss. Apparently



12



ACCEPTANCE



ACCEPTANCE



the abyss was conceived of as the proper home of
the devil and his angels, in the centre of which
was a lake of fire reserved as the place of their
final punishment.

The previous history of the word explains its use
in the NT. In Ro 10', where he is referring to Dt
30 13 , St. Paul uses it simply as the abode of the dead,
Sheol or Hades a sense equivalent to that of Ps 70
(71 P. In Lk 8 31 the penal aspect of the abyss conies
clearly into view ; it is a place of confinement for
demons. In Rev. we are in the midst of the visions
and images of apocalyptic eschatology. In 9 1 - 2
' the pit of the abyss ' sends forth a smoke like the
smoke of a great furnace. The abyss has an angel
of its own whose name is Abaddon (q.v.) or Apoll-
yon (v. 11 ). From it 'the beast' issues (II 7 17 8 ),
and into it ' the old serpent which is the Devil and
Satan ' is cast for a thousand years (20 1 ' 3 ).

LITERATURE. The Commentaries and Bible Dictionaries ; art-
'Abyss' in ERE. J. C. LAMBERT.

ACCEPTANCE. The noun itself is not found in
the AV of the NT, though we come very near it in
'acceptation' (dirodoxri), 1 Ti I 15 4 9 . Instances of
the verb and adjective are frequent, and are mostly
equivalents of d^xonat and its derivatives, as the
following list shows: 3^xA, 2 Co 6 1 8 17 II 4 ;
5eT<k, Ph 4 18 ; dTrddexros, 1 Ti 2 3 5 4 ; Tr/wo-S^o/tai,
He II 35 ; fv-n-p&ffdeKTos, Ro 15 16 - 31 , 2 Co 6 2 8 12 , 1 P 2 5 .
We also find \a/j.pdvw, Gal 2 s ; cMpevTos,* Ro 12 1 - a
14 18 , 2 Co 5 a , Eph 5 10 , Ph 4 18 , Col 3 M , Tit 2 9 , He 13 21 ,
nndevapdffTus,* He 12 28 ; x<i/>is, 1 P 2' 20 ; and xapir<5w,
Eph I 6 . It should be noticed that in the RV the
adjective ' well-pleasing ' often takes the place of
the AV ' acceptable ' ; and that in Eph 1" the
familiar expression ' (his grace) wherein he hath
made us accepted in the Beloved' gives place to
the more correct ' which he freely bestowed upon
us,' etc. See the commentaries of Westcott and
Armitage Robinson, in loc.

2 Co 8 17 (Titus 'accepted the exhortation') and
He II 89 ('not accepting deliverance') do not call
for comment. With 2 Co II 4 on the non-accept-
ance of another gospel than that of Paul, compare
1 Ti 1 s and 4 1 , 2 Ti I 15 4 10 ; see also for the ' accepted
time' (the day of opportunity for accepting the
Divine message) 2 Co 6 1 ' 2 (cf. Lk 4 19 ). In Ro 15 31
St. Paul hopes that the collection for the Jerusalem
poor may be acceptable to the saints ; and, refer-
ring to the same project in 2 Co 8 12 , lays down the
principle that contributions are acceptable in pro-
portion to the willingness with which they are given.

We are now left with the passages which speak
of God's acceptance of man. Christians are ' child-
ren of light,' are to 'prove what is acceptable (or
well-pleasing) to the Lord' (Eph 5 10 ; cf. Col 3-'), to
test and discern the Lord's will (Ro 12 2 ). They are
'to make it their aim,' whether living or dying,
' to be well-pleasing to him ' (2 Co 5 9 ).

What then are the principles and practices that
ensure this happy consummation ? We may first
notice the familiar negative proposition set forth
in Gal 2 15 and Ac 10 34 'God accepteth no man's
person ' (i.e. the mere outward state and presence) ;
and over against it the comprehensive declaration
of Ac 10 35 ' In every nation he that feareth God
and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him.'
This furnishes a starting-point for a detailed enum-
eration of the courses which are ' well-pleasing ' to
God, and which may be set forth as follows : the
offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice (Ro 12 2 ) ;
the serving of Christ by not putting stumbling-
blocks before weaker brethren (14 18 ) ; missionary
work the ' offering up J of the Gentiles ( 15 16 ) ; the
gift of the Philippian Church to St. Paul in prison

* On the use of these words in inscriptions see A. Deissmann,
Bible Studies, 214 f. The use of ipeords, ' pleasing,' and the
verb apeVicw in the NT should also be noted.



(Ph 4 18 ; cf. Mt 25 31 ' 46 ) ; filial affection to a widowed
mother (1 Ti 5 4 ) ; supplication and intercession for
all men (1 Ti 2 3 ) ; undeserved suffering patiently
endured (1 P 2-'). All these may be looked upon
as examples of the 'spiritual sacrifices' (1 P 2 s ),
the offering of ' service with reverence and awe '
(He 12 28 ; cf. 13 16 ), which are 'acceptable' to God.
He it is who ' works in us that which is well-pleas-
ing in his sight through Jesus Christ ' (He 13-').

It is interesting and instructive to compare the
grounds of ' acceptance ' in the circle of OT thought
with those in the NT. In the former these grounds
are partly ceremonial (Lv 22*), and partly ethical
(Is I 12 ' 15 , Jer 6' JO etc.), though here and there a
higher note is struck (cf. Pr 21 3 , Mic 6 8 , Dt 10 4 ) ;
in the latter the ceremonial association has entirely
vanished except in a metaphorical sense, and be-
come purely ethico-spiritual, as the above references
prove. It was largely due to the prophets that the
old ceremonial ground was gradually ethicized ;
and, though it never died out under the earlier
' dispensation ' (which, indeed, reached its most
rigid and mechanical development in the degener-
ate Pharisaic cult of NT times), the way was
effectually prepared for the full proclamation of
the spiritual message of the gospel by Jesus, who
was Himself the perfect embodiment of all that was
acceptable and well-pleasing to God (cf. Mk I 11 ,
Mt 17 5 , JnS^etc.).

There is a theological problem of importance
raised by these passages What is it that consti-
tutes the ground of our acceptance with God ? The
full treatment of this problem must be sought
under the art. JUSTIFICATION, but the following
considerations may be properly adduced here.
Unquestionably the Christian religion is a religion
of Grace, as contra-distinguished from Judaism and
other faiths, which are religions of Law. Salvation,
according to the NT throughout (explicitly in the
writings of St. Paul, more or less implicitly else-
where), is of God, and not of man ; not our own
doings, but willingness to accept what He has done
for us, and what He is ready to do in us, is the
condition of initial inclusion within the Kingdom
of Divine love and life. This is the watershed
which determines the direction and flow of all
subsequent doctrinal developments in Christian
theology ; it is what settles the question whether
our thoughts and practice are distinctively Christian
or not. There are, however, two alternative perils
to be carefully avoided antinomianism, on the
one hand, which assumes our continued acceptance
with God irrespective of our moral conduct after-
wards ; and the doctrine of salvation by works, on
the other, which makes moral conduct the condi-
tion of acceptance, thus surreptitiously introduc-
ing the legal view of religion once more. This
' Either Or ' is, however, a false antithesis, from
which we are saved by the recognition of the
' mystical union ' of the believer with God in Christ.
By that act of faith, in virtue of which the sinner
' accepts ' Christ and appropriates all that He ia
and has done, he passes from a state of condemna-
tion into a state of grace (Ro 8 1 ), and is henceforth
'in Christ' organically united to Him as the
member is to the body (1 Co 12 12L ), as the branch is
to the vine (Jn 15 1 "*). This 'justifying faith' is,
however, not an isolated act ; it is an act that
brings us into a permanent relation with the source
of spiritual life. Now, ' good works ' in the
Christian sense are a necessary proof and outcome
of this relation, and as such are well-pleasing or
' acceptable' to God, because (a) they are a mani-
festation of the spirit of Christ in us (Gal 2 20 ; cf.
v. 21 ) ; and (b) a demonstration of the continuance
of the believer ' in Christ' (Jn 15 8 ; cf. Mt 5' 6 , Ph
jiof.j T ne re l a tion of the believer to Christ, in
other words, while it is religious in its root, ia



ACCESS



ACCESS



13



ethical in its fruit, and the quality and abundance
of the latter naturally show the quality and potency
of the faith-life of which it is the expression and
outcome. Thus our ' works ' do not constitute our
claim for acceptance with God after entering the
Kingdom of Grace any more than before ; but they
determine our place within the Kingdom. There
is an aristocracy of the spiritual as well as of the
natural life ; the saved are one in the fact of salva-
tion, but not in the magnitude of their attainments
or the quality of their influence ; and they are more
or less acceptable to God according to the entireness
of their consecration and the value of their service.
There is thus an adequate motive presented to us
for perpetual striving after perfection, and St.
Paul s spiritual attitude ' not as though I had
already attained, but I follow after' (Ph 3 12 ) is
the normal attitude of every true believer (cf. Col
I 10 " 12 , 1 Th 4 1 ' 3 , 1 Jn S 22 ). It was given only to One
to be altogether well-pleasing to God ; but it is the
unfading ideal, and the constant endeavour of His
true disciples to follow in His steps, and in all
things to become more and more like Him, as well
as ' well-pleasing ' to Him.

See, further, artt. JUSTIFICATION, etc. , and Litera-
ture there specified. E. GRIFFITH- J ONES.

ACCESS. This word in the Epistles of the NT
is the translation of the Greek word irpoffayuyti
(Ro 5 2 , Eph 2 18 3 12 ; cf. IP 3 18 , where the verb is
used actively). It has been treated very thoroughly
in DCG (s. v. ). Here we shall confine ourselves to

1. The connotation of the word. In classical
Greek, the term irpo<ray(ayeijs was used primarily
for ' one who brings to,' ' introduces to another as
an intermediary,' mainly in a derogatory sense (cf.
irpoffayuyetis X^/u.yu.d.roH', one who hunts for another's
benefit a jackal [Dem. 750. 21 ; cf. Aristid. ii.



Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 234)