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Holman Bible Dictionary


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Sincerity and intensity of purpose or a deposit paid to secure a purchase. 1. Earnest does not relate directly to any Hebrew or Greek word, but represents the attempts of translators to relay the sense of several grammatical constructions and words. For instance, KJV uses “earnest” or “earnestly” 24 different times as the translation of 13 different words, phrases, or constructions in the original languages. Some expressions have important theological significance. The fallen creation waits earnestly for redemption (Romans 8:19 ). The Corinthians' earnest desire for Paul's welfare comforted him (2 Corinthians 7:7 ). Believers should give earnest heed to Christian teachings (Hebrews 2:1 ). In the agony of the cross Christ prayed earnestly (Luke 22:44 ). Paul urged the Corinthians to “covet earnestly the best (spiritual) gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31 ). Christians earnestly wait the new resurrection body (2 Corinthians 5:2 ). Meanwhile, they earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 1:3 ).

2. The Greek arrabon is a first payment on a purchase which obligates the purchaser to make further payments. A payment made in advance, it secures legal claim to an article or validates a sales contract before the full price is paid. The concept is a Semitic one with the word being adopted into Greek. The related Hebrew term appears in Genesis 38:17 , where Judah promised to send Tamar a young goat and she asked for a pledge to hold until she received the promised animal. God has given believers the Holy Spirit in their hearts as an earnest or pledge of the salvation to come (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14 ). Daily relationship with the Spirit brings total confidence that God will complete His plan and the believer will share His gift of eternal life.

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 'Earnest'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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