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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Door

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The examples of the concrete use of θύρα, ‘door,’ are all found in Acts, and may be treated under three heads: (1) house doors, (2) prison doors, (3) Temple doors. The first two occur in the narratives of miraculous events.

1. In Acts 5:9 the feet of them that buried Ananias are said to be ἐπὶ τῇ θύρᾳ, nigh at hand, if not actually heard by those within. More vivid still is the instance of Acts 12:13, where one required to knock at, or beat, the door, to make oneself heard within. (The presence of a knocker for the purpose is not to be inferred, for Jewish doors at least.) τὴν θύραν τοῦ πυλῶνος (cf. Ezekiel 40:11 [Septuagint ]) is best understood as a door abutting on the street or lane, which gave the entry to a covered passage communicating with the court of the house, in which the living rooms were situated (see Gate). Rhoda stood in this passage, hearing, but seeing not (besides, it was night), the Apostle Peter, who was without, and being in command of the way so long as the door, not the gate, remained locked or barred. ἀνοίξαντες (Ezekiel 40:16) implies door, which is rightly not expressed in Revised Version . For modern usage see Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs, 1898, p. 95.

2. With one exception (Acts 12:6) the doors of prisons are found in the plural (Acts 5:19; Acts 5:23; Acts 16:26-27). The indications afforded by the narrative of Acts are too meagre to enable us to reconstruct the form of these places of detention, either in Jerusalem or at Philippi. Security seems to have been given by guards, chains, and stocks rather than by any peculiar strength of door. Of necessity the bolt or bar was attached to the outside, of cell doors at least. For the situation at Philippi, see Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, 1895, p. 220f.

3. In Acts 3:2 the Beautiful Gate of the Temple (cf Acts 3:10) is described by the word for ‘door,’ which Revised Version brings out. As in the private house, so here, the door forms part of the gate, the latter being in reality a portal. This particular gate of the Temple is now believed to be the Corinthian Gate, which is identical with the Nicanor Gate, on the east side of the Temple precincts. Its doors, and other parts, were of Corinthian brass (or bronze), probably solid, being shut with difficulty by twenty men (Josephus, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) VI. v. 3; cf. Ant. xv. xi. 5, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. xvii. 3, V. v. 3, c. Ap. ii. 10). They seem to have been double doors (Encyclopaedia Biblica , article ‘Temple’), standing at the entrance to the portal. Compare, for Babylonian Temples, PSBA [Note: SBA Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology.] , 1912, p. 90ff. For the Beautiful Gate of the Temple see the full and illuminating account by A. R. S. Kennedy in Expository Times xx. [1908-09] 270f.; also article Temple.

We read (Acts 21:30) that the people laid hold on St. Paul, and dragged him out of the Temple, and straightway the doors were shut. Farrar (Life and Work of St. Paul, 1897, p. 532) locates this turmoil at the Beautiful Gate, but, considering the number of doors that gave access to the Temple precincts, there are other possibilities.

In Revelation 21:25 we can picture the gates as provided with doors, although these were not in use.

The metaphorical use of θύρα in Acts, Epistles, etc., may be briefly noted. In this sense the word appears without the definite article, Acts 14:27 being no exception: ‘a door of faith’ (Revised Version ). In St. Paul’s Epistles mention is made of a great door and effectual (1 Corinthians 16:9), a door being opened (2 Corinthians 2:12), a door for the word (Colossians 4:3), all with the notion of opportunity and facility. The idea of the nearness of judgment is brought out by James 5:9 (cf. Matthew 24:33): ‘The judge standeth before the doors,’ where Revised Version replaces the singular of Authorized Version by the plural, following the Greek.

In Revelation 3:7-8 a door is set or given, ἠνεῳγμένην (note peculiar verbal form), i.e. a door already opened, which none can shut (see Key), and in Revelation 4:1 a door is already opened in the heavens at the moment the vision commences. In contrast to this is the closed door of Revelation 3:20, a passage in which is concentrated great wealth of meaning.

W. Cruickshank.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Door'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/d/door.html. 1906-1918.

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