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Feet (2)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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FEET.—The word occurs frequently in the Gospels. Figuratively it has a wide range of meaning. It is employed in phrases which express worthlessness (‘to be trodden under foot,’ Matthew 5:13), supplication (‘fell at his feet,’ Mark 5:22; Mark 7:25), great honour or reverence (Luke 7:38-46 the woman who kissed Jesus’ feet; John 11:2 Mary; Matthew 28:9 ‘held him by the feet’), ignorant or blasphemous contempt (Matthew Mat_7:6 ‘trample under foot’), righteous condemnation or rejection (Matthew 10:14 ‘shake dust off feet’), salvation through sacrifice (Matthew 18:8 || Mark 9:45 cutting off hand or foot), discipleship (Luke 8:35 cured demoniac sitting at Jesus’ feet; Luke 10:39 Mary), helplessness (Matthew 22:13 ‘bind hand and foot’), complete triumph (Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36 || Luke 20:43 enemies of Messianic King put under His feet), absolute safety (Matthew 4:6 || Luke 4:11 ‘lest thou dash thy foot against a stone’), subjection (Matthew 5:35 earth the footstool of God’s feet). In washing the feet of the disciples Jesus inculcates lessons of humility, mutual service, and the need of daily cleansing from sin (John 13:5-14). See artt. Bason, Foot.

Of the feet of Jesus Himself mention is made in the NT very frequently. Before His feet suppliants fell down (Mark 5:22; Mark 7:25, Luke 8:41), and also a Samaritan who returned to give thanks (Luke 17:16). At His feet sufferers were laid to be healed (Matthew 13:30). Neglectful of the courtesies of a host, Simon the Pharisee gave Him no water to refresh His feet (Luke 7:44); but a sinful woman on the same occasion wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed them, and anointed them with ointment (Luke 7:38; Luke 7:44 ff.); and Mary of Bethany showed her great love and gratitude in a similar fashion, when she lavished the contents of her alabaster cruse of precious spikenard (John 11:2; John 12:3; cf. Matthew 26:7, Mark 14:3) upon the feet which had brought the Lord from beyond Jordan (John 10:40; John 11:7) to speak the life-giving word at her brother’s grave (John 11:43 f.). At Jesus’ feet the restored demoniac sat (Luke 8:35), like Mary afterwards when she ‘heard his word’ (Luke 10:39). The two angels who guarded the sepulchre were seen sitting ‘the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain’ (John 20:12). It was His feet that the two Marys clung to when they first met Jesus on the Resurrection morning. [Though love prompted them to lay hold of Him, did reverence forbid them to touch more than His feet?]. When Jesus in the upper room showed His hands and His feet to His disciples (Luke 24:39 f.), it was doubtless to prove to them that He who now stood before them was the same Jesus who by hands and feet had been nailed to the cross (cf. John 20:20; John 20:25; John 20:27). St. Paul says of the ascended Christ that all things are put under His feet (Ephesians 1:22), and that beneath His feet death itself shall be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:25 ff.). And in the Book of Revelation, when the heavenly Jesus appears to the seer of Patmos, the place of His feet has been made glorious (cf. Isaiah 60:13). Those feet which were dust-stained in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and weary by the well of Sychar (John 4:6), and pierced with nails on the cross of Calvary, are now ‘like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace’ (Revelation 1:15; cf. Revelation 2:18).

It has been questioned whether the feet of Jesus were nailed to the cross. The doubt is based on the facts that in the Fourth Gospel Jesus mentions only His hands and side (John 20:20), and that sometimes in crucifixion the feet were simply tied to the cross. The nailing of the feet of Jesus would not have been disputed were it not part of an argument to prove that He did not really die on the cross. ‘That the feet were usually nailed (in crucifixion), and that the case of Jesus was no exception to the general rule, may be regarded as beyond doubt’ (Meyer on Matthew 27:35). There is a difference of opinion as to whether the feet of Jesus were nailed to the cross separately, with two nails, or the one over the other with the same nail. In early art the feet are more frequently represented as separately nailed, but in later art as nailed together, the one over the other. Tradition favours the opinion that the feet were nailed separately. See art. Crucifixion.

Literature.—Meyer’s Com. on St. Matthew; Ellicott, Historical Lectures on the Life of Our Lord, p. 353; Andrews, Bible Student’s Life of Our Lord2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 462 f.

John Reid.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Feet (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​f/feet-2.html. 1906-1918.
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