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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


(ψεύδεσθαι, ‘to lie’; ψεῦδος, ψεῦσμα, ‘a lie’; ψευδής, ‘false’; ψεύστης, ‘a deceiver’)

1. It is the glory of Christianity that this religion reveals ‘the God who cannot lie,’ ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεός (Titus 1:2), qui non mentitur Deus (Vulgate ). He is true in both senses of the word-ἀληθινός and ἀληθής, verus and verax. He cannot be false to His own nature, just as men, made in His image, cannot lie without being untrue to themselves. It is likewise impossible to imagine His Revealer departing from the truth in word or deed. While Hermes, the so-called messenger of the gods, was often admired for his dexterous lying, Christ is loved because He is the Truth (John 14:6), the faithful and true Witness (Revelation 3:14), through whom men are able, amid all earthly changes and illusions, to lay hold on eternal realities.

2. The detection and exposure of imposture was an urgent duty of the early Church. The speedy appearance of false teachers was one of the most remarkable features of the Apostolic Age, and the Church was enjoined not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits (1 John 4:1). There were ψευδάδελφοι (Galatians 2:4), ψευδαπόστολοι (2 Corinthians 11:13) ψευδοπροφῆται (Acts 13:6, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 John 4:1, Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10), ψευδολόγοι (1 Timothy 4:2), ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι (2 Peter 2:1). These deceivers were as the shadows which always accompany the light. To the apostolic founders of Christianity the bare thought of being ever found false witnesses of God (ψευδομάρτυρες τοῦ θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 15:15) was intolerable. St. Paul often protests, and solemnly calls God to witness, that he does not lie (Romans 9:1, 2 Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 1:20, 1 Timothy 2:7). The Church of Ephesus was praised because she had tried soi disant apostles and found them false (ψευδεῖς, Revelation 2:2). If there were false teachers, there were also false disciples, who claimed the Christian name without having Christ’s spirit, and John had to formulate some clear and simple tests by which ‘the liar’ (ὁ ψεύστης) could be known (1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:20).

3. The same writer emphasizes the gravity of certain moral and intellectual errors-the denial of personal sin (1 John 1:10), the rejection of the historical Christ (1 John 5:10). He brands them as blasphemous assertions that God (whose Word calls all men sinners, and whose Spirit inwardly witnesses to the truth of the gospel) is a liar.

4. Christians must not lie one to another (Colossians 3:9). In the pagan, e.g. the Cretan (Titus 1:12), lying is bad; in the Jew (Revelation 2:9) it is worse; in the Christian it should be impossible. The Law was made for the repression of liars (1 Timothy 1:10); the gospel gives every believer the spirit of truth (1 John 4:6). ‘All liars,’ ‘every one that loveth and maketh a lie,’ end the black list of the condemned (Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15), who shall not in any wise enter the City of God (Revelation 21:27).

James Strahan.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lying'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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