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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Not only from the Gospels, but from the rest of the Revised Version as well, the word ‘damnation’ disappears, ‘condemnation’ taking its place in Romans 3:6 and 1 Timothy 5:12, ‘destruction’ in 2 Peter 2:3, and ‘judgment’ in Romans 13:2 and 1 Corinthians 11:29. The reason is that the process of degeneration, which had begun before the translation of the Authorized Version , linked up the term with conceptions of finality and eternity, originally alien to it, and thus made it no longer representative of apostolical thought. With the exception of 2 Peter 2:3, the same Greek root occurs in all instances, and the context in the various passages is mainly responsible for the different shades of meaning. In the case of the verb, an exception must also be made of Galatians 2:11, where the idea is that the act of Peter needed no verdict from outside, but carried its own condemnation, as in Romans 2:1; Romans 14:23 and Titus 3:11.

Little difficulty attaches to the use of the term in the sense of ‘destruction’ in the case of Sodom (2 Peter 2:6), to the reference to the ark as a visible sign of the destruction about to come upon the unbelieving (Hebrews 11:7), or to the denunciation by James (James 5:6) of men who unjustly ascribe blame to others and exact penalty for the imagined fault. The wanton are rightly condemned for the rejection of the faith whose value they had learnt by experience (1 Timothy 5:12). Sound speech, on the other hand, cannot be condemned (Titus 2:8). The man who fails to judge and discipline himself is reminded of his duty by Divine chastening; and if that fail, he shares in the final judgment with the lost (1 Corinthians 11:31 f.; cf. Mark 9:47 ff.). In Romans 5:16; Romans 5:18 condemnation is the consequence of an original act of evil, and suggests the antithesis of a single act of righteousness, the effects of which overflow to the potential justification of all men; and the freedom from condemnation continues beyond the initial stage of forgiveness and ripens into all the assured experiences of union with Christ (Romans 8:1).

In several passages the term is involved in a context which to some extent obscures the meaning. The justification of evil as a means to good is indignantly dealt with in Romans 3:8; with the authors of the slander that he shared that view the apostle refuses to argue, but he leaves them with the just condemnation of God impending. That God ‘condemned sin in the flesh’ (Romans 8:3) has been taken to mean that the sinlessness of Christ was by contrast a condemnation of the sin of man, or that the incarnation is a token that human nature is essentially sinless; but the previous phrases connect the thought with the death rather than with the birth of Christ. For Him as man death meant the crown of sinlessness, the closure of the last avenue through which temptation could approach Him; and in virtue of union with Christ, the believer who is dead with Him is free from sin, though not immune from temptation. In 2 Corinthians 3:9 ‘condemnation’ is antithetical to ‘righteousness,’ and synonymous with ‘death’ in 2 Corinthians 3:7. The argument appears to be that sin is so horrible that the law which reveals it is glorious; a fortiori the covenant that sweeps it out exceeds in glory. ‘This condemnation’ of Judges 1:4 ought grammatically to be retrospective, but NT usage allows a prospective use with an explanatory phrase in apposition. The meaning is that ungodliness of the kind described is self-condemned, as has been set forth in various ways in Scripture (cf. John 3:19, 2 Peter 2:1-3) as well as in Enoch, i. 9 (cf. Judges 1:14-16). ‘The condemnation of the devil’ (1 Timothy 3:6) is a comparison of his fall with that of any vainglorious member of the hierarchy. Both being God’s ministers to the people, the similarity is one of circumstance, not necessarily of degree.

R. W. Moss.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Condemnation'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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