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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Gnashing of Teeth

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GNASHING OF TEETH (ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν δδὁντων, Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42; Matthew 13:50; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:30, Luke 13:28).—A phrase describing a gesture which expresses mainly fury or baffled rage: Job 16:9, Psalms 35:16; Psalms 37:12, Acts 7:54; cf. Psalms 112:10 ‘The wicked shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away’; but these OT parallels* [Note: βρυγμος is used in Proverbs 19:12 of the roaring of a lion, and in Sirach 51:3 of beasts ‘ready to devour.’] seem hardly sufficient to account for the set form which the phrase has in the Gospels. [Note: The notion of some, that the phrase in the Gospels is based upon a conception of Gehenna as a place of extreme cold, and that ‘gnashing’ = ‘chattering of teeth,’ is very precarious.] The expression occurs in every case but one in parables of the Last Judgment, and even that exception (Matthew 8:12) may be called a parabolic representation. This does not detract from the force of the warning, but rather the pictorial element is added because of the Speaker’s passionate desire to make the terrific consequences of sin vivid and memorable in order to the salvation of those that heard Him, and to deter them and us from the course that would lead to such a fearful end.

T. Gregory.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gnashing of Teeth'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/g/gnashing-of-teeth.html. 1906-1918.

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