Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Lust (2)

LUST.—The noun ‘lust’ (ἐπιθυμία) occurs only twice in Authorized and Revised Versions of Gospels (Mark 4:19, John 8:44), and the verb ‘to lust’ (ἐπιθυμέω) only once (Matthew 5:28). Both noun and verb, however, are of common occurrence in the rest of the NT. In modern usage, ‘lust’ is confined to sexual desire; but, when the Authorized Version was made, the word had a much greater elasticity of meaning, corresponding in this respect to ἐπιθυμία and ἐπιθυμέω. In NT, as in classical Gr., these words properly denote strong desire whether good or bad, then evil desire in particular, and finally sexual desire specifically. Even in the Gospels we find illustrations of these varying connotations of both the Gr. and the English terms. When our Lord says of His desire to eat of His last Passover ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα (Luke 22:15), He simply expresses a deep longing. When He speaks of the seed of the word being choked by the lusts (ἐπιθυμίαι) of other things (Mark 4:19), these lusts are desires not necessarily evil, though the taint of evil is beginning to enter, because, while in themselves they may be harmless, these desires are allowed to hinder the operation of the word. When He says to the Jewish leaders, ‘Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts (ἐπιθνμίας) of your father it is your will to do,’ both ‘lust’ and ἐπιθυμία have passed into a distinctly bad meaning. And in Matthew 5:28 the Gr. and the English word are alike equivalent to lascivious desire. See also art. Desire, vol. i. p. 453.

Very little is said explicitly about lust in the Gospels, because little is needed. Lust is not to be dallied with or compromised with; it is to be totally and continually shunned and avoided. Inward lust is as heinous as outward adultery to the eye of God, which views alike the inside and the outside of man (Matthew 5:28).* [Note: See discussion of this passage in art. Adultery.] The lustful eye will make the whole body full of darkness (Matthew 6:23). The single eye and mind are free from lustful fancies and thoughts (Luke 11:34). The honest and good heart brings forth only good fruit (Luke 8:15). Either the heart must be pure, and its fruit pure; or else impure, and its fruit impure (Matthew 12:33). Adulteries, covetings, lascivionsness,—these delile a man (Mark 7:22). And lust, in its very nature, is unholy. Hence Christ’s Holy Spirit is opposite to, and inconsistent with, the lustful demon which makes its foul abode in the neglected heart of the careless or heedless or wanton. There is no limit to the iniquity and abandonment to which such evil possession or corruption may drag the blinded, besotted soul intent upon brutish delights never realized. Herod’s course was impeded only a little by the rebuke of a John Baptist (Mark 6:18). No man can serve two masters (Luke 16:13); and he that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin (John 8:34).

W. B. Frankland and J. C. Lambert.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lust (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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