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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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1. The word ‘honest’ in the Authorized Version bears the Latin (honestus, fr. [Note: fragment, from.] honos = ‘honour’) and the older English senses of (a) ‘regarded with honour,’ ‘honourable,’ and (b) ‘bringing honour,’ ‘becoming’ (article ‘Honest, Honesty’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ). It is used in translating (1) μαρτυρουμένος (Acts 6:3); the ‘deacons’ must he men of ‘honest report’ (Authorized Version ), i.e. of honourable repute (cf. Hebrews 11:2; Hebrews 11:39, etc.). (2) καλός; it is a Christian duty ‘to take thought for things honourable (Authorized Version , ‘honest’) in the sight of all men’ (Romans 12:17), i.e. to live morally above suspicion in the eyes of the world. The same phrase (taken from the Septuagint translation of Proverbs 3:4) occurs in 2 Corinthians 8:21. St. Paul’s precautions to avoid slander in the administration of Church funds provide an illustration of the principle. καλός is translated in the Revised Version ‘honourable’ (‘honest,’ Authorized Version ) in 2 Corinthians 13:7, and ‘seemly’ (‘honest,’ Authorized Version ) in 1 Peter 2:12. Since integrity wins men’s moral respect, ‘honestly’ is retained as the Revised Version translation of καλῶς in Hebrews 13:18, and the Revised Version margin rendering of καλῶν ἔργων in Titus 3:14 is ‘honest occupations.’ (3) εὐσχημόνως (Romans 13:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:12); both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version translate ‘honestly,’ but ‘becomingly’ or ‘worthily’ seems preferable (the same adverb is translated ‘decently’ in 1 Corinthians 14:40). (4) σεμνά; ‘whatsoever things are honest (Authorized Version ; ‘honourable,’ Revised Version ) … think on these things’ (Philippians 4:8). Various renderings have been suggested-‘reverend’ (AVm [Note: Vm Authorized Version margin.] ), ‘seemly’ (Ellicott), ‘venerable’ (Vincent), ‘whatever wins respect’ (Weymouth), ‘the things which produce a noble seriousness’ (M. Arnold). The corresponding noun in 1 Timothy 2:2 is translated in the Revised Version ‘gravity.’

2. The idea of honesty in our modern sense is fairly conspicuous in the writings of the Apostolic Church (contrast the Gospels, where there is practically no direct reference to this virtue; see article ‘Honesty’ in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels ). Thieves and avaricious men shall not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:8-10). Liars cannot enter the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15): their part is in the fiery lake (Revelation 21:8). Deceit (δοῦλος) finds its place in the black list of pagan vices (Romans 1:29): it is one of the signs of an unregenerate world (Romans 3:13; cf. Romans 2:21); the Christians, becoming new men, must put away falsehood, and speak truth, each man with his neighbour (Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9). He that stole must steal no more, but must work with his hands ‘in honest industry’ (Ephesians 4:28). None must suffer disgracefully for thieving (1 Peter 4:15). The dishonesty of Ananias and Sapphira meets with terrible punishment (Acts 5). Fair dealing in sexual relations is recognized (1 Corinthians 7:5). A contemptible form of dishonesty is that of a religious teacher whose motive is self-interest, and who is so degraded as to trick his hearers (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 11:20, Romans 16:18, Ephesians 4:14). St. Paul, in contrast, asserts his own purity of motive (1 Thessalonians 2:3 f., 2 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:16 f., Acts 20:33) and honesty of message (2 Corinthians 4:2). The burden of the social-reform prophets of the OT is repeated in the denunciations of the unscrupulously rich-‘Behold, the hire of the labourers, who mowed your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth out’ (James 5:4). See further article ‘Honest, Honesty’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) for literary illustrations of the use of the word ‘honest.’

H. Bulcock.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Honest'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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