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Holman Bible Dictionary


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describes the state of being pained or distressed by oppressors. In the Hebrew language as many as eleven words can be translated “affliction.”

Old Testament The two primary Hebrew words used for affliction mean “to lower, humble, or “deny” (anah ) (Leviticus 16:29 ,Leviticus 16:29,16:31; Leviticus 23:27 ,Leviticus 23:27,23:32; Isaiah 58:3 ,Isaiah 58:3,58:5 ) and “depressed” (oni ) (Genesis 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:3; Job 30:15 , Job 30:29 ). Both came from the same Hebrew root word.

In the Old Testament, the source of affliction is (1) God's retribution upon disobedience (Lamentations 3:32-33; Isaiah 30:20; Jeremiah 30:15 ); (2) the natural conditions of life (Genesis 16:11; Genesis 29:32; Psalm 25:18 ); (3) personal sin (Psalm 107:17 ); (4) forces of opposition (Isaiah 51:21-23 ); and (5) evil spirits and/or Satan (1 Samuel 16:14; Job 1:6-12 ).

New Testament Three Greek words may be used for “affliction,” including words meaning oppression, mistreatment, and misfortune. Suffering is sometimes used interchangeably for the word “affliction,” particularly in the KJV.

In the New Testament the source of affliction is (1) the natural conditions of humanity (James 1:27 ); (2) persecution because of faithfulness to Christ (2 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:6 ); (3) discipline for the purpose of maturing the Christian faith; and (4) the result of personal sin (Galatians 6:7 ).

Practical Concerns Affliction can be an individual matter (Philippians 4:14 ) or a corporate condition (Exodus 3:7; 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 ). We can experience affliction directly (Deuteronomy 16:3 ) or indirectly (James 1:27 ). Affliction is sometimes described as overflowing all of life (Psalm 42:7; Psalm 69:1; Psalm 88:7; Psalm 124:4; Isaiah 30:20; Jonah 2:5 ). Thus, affliction is one of the inevitable facts of our human existence. We find comfort in our affliction by remembering the promises of God and by taking specific personal actions. The promises that God has given to help mankind cope with situations of affliction are: (1) God sees and knows our affliction (Genesis 29:32; Genesis 31:42; Exodus 3:7; 2 Kings 14:26; Acts 7:34 ); (2) Affliction is only temporary (2 Corinthians 4:17 ); and (3) God can deliver from any affliction (Exodus 3:17 ).

To endure during times of affliction, Christians should: (1) pray to the Lord (Psalm 25:18; Lamentations 1:9; James 5:13 ); (2) comfort others (James 1:27; Philippians 4:14 ); (3) remain faithful through the patient endurance of suffering (2 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Timothy 4:5; James 1:2 ,James 1:2,1:12; 1 Peter 4:13 ); (4) cultivate an attitude of joy (James 1:2 ); and (5) follow the example of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:19-23 ).

Bob Sheffield

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Affliction'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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