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Reproach (2)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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REPROACH.—The word is found in Authorized and Revised Versions as a rendering of four Gr. terms that either occur in the Gospels or are used in the NT with reference to Christ Himself—the nouns ὄνειδος, ὀνειδισμός, and the vbs. ὀνειδίζω, ὑβρίζω. ὄνειδος = ‘shame,’ as the ground of reproach (whereas ὀνειδισμός is the actual reproaching), is found only in Luke 1:25 (of Elisabeth’s barrenness). ὑβρίζω is once rendered ‘reproach’ (Luke 11:45), but properly means to ‘insult.’ὀνειδισμός and ὀνειδίζω are the terms with which we are specially concerned. The subject comes before us in three forms: (1) reproach as uttered by Christ; (2) reproach as borne by Him; (3) reproach as falling upon His people.

1. As uttered by Christ.—The language of rebuke (ἐπιτιμάω) is several times ascribed to Jesus (see art. Rebuke), but seldom the language of reproach. When we distinguish between the two, the difference seems to be that rebuke denotes the simple censure of a fault, while reproach carries with it some emphasis upon the personal shame (ὄνειδος) attaching to it. And so it seems to be part of the method of Jesus, as understood by the Evangelists, to point out faults rather than to fasten the stigma of disgrace upon the culprit; He was more anxious to effect improvement than to inflict punishment—His eyes being ever towards the future rather than towards the past (cf. ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more,’ in the Pericope Adulterae, John 8:11). Once in Authorized and Revised Versions (Luke 11:45) the word ‘reproach’ is used with reference to our Lord’s utterances, but there by a misrendering; for the Gr. vb. is ὑβρίζω, which means to ‘insult,’ not to reproach. But the Evangelist, it is to be noted, does not say that Jesus insulted any one; it is ‘one of the lawyers’ who accuses Him of insulting the legal class. It was not our Lord’s way, however, to insult people, even though they were His enemies; and, on examination, the charge of this lawyer serves only to illustrate the tendency of offended pride to regard a declaration of the honest truth as a ground of personal offence.

Only on two occasions is the vb. ὀνειδίζω employed to describe the language of Jesus, and both times Authorized Version renders ‘upbraid,’ which Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 rather inconsistently retains. In Matthew 11:20 Jesus reproaches the cities in which most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not; and in the Appendix to Mk. (Mark 16:14) He reproaches the Eleven for their slowness to receive the testimony of His resurrection. These cases suggest that Jesus did not hesitate to add reproach to rebuke when He thought it deserved. Capernaum was ‘his own city’ (Matthew 9:1; cf. Matthew 4:13); Chorazin and Bethsaida had shared with it in the fullest manifestations of His power and grace. The men whom He is said to have reproached for their unbelief and hardness of heart were those whom He had specially chosen to be the depositaries and messengers of His gospel, and whom He had trained through long months for this very purpose, lavishing upon them all the wealth of His Divine treasures of knowledge and love. No wonder that in these cases the censure of Jesus became reproachful. And indeed His reproach was more frequent than we might gather from the occurrence of the word in the Gospel narratives, and was most frequent when He was dealing with those of whom, loving them the best, He expected the most. Was He not speaking reproachfully when He said, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?’ (Matthew 16:11); ‘How long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? (Matthew 17:17); ‘Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip?’ (John 14:9). Was there not a more piercing reproach in His voice when He said to the traitor, ‘Judas, with a kiss dost thou betray the Son of Man?’ (Luke 22:48); and in His eyes when, as the cock crew, He turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:60-61)?

2. Reproach as borne by Christ.—So far as the term is concerned, it is only by the two robbers who were crucified along with Him that our Lord is said to have been reproached (ὀνειδίζω, Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:32; see Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ). This reproach by the robbers belongs to the general subject of the reviling of Jesus Christ in connexion with His trial and crucifixion, for which see art. Mockery.

In the Epistles the word ‘reproach’ receives a much wider meaning, as denoting generally the shame and contempt, the hardships and suffering which Christ endured in the days of His flesh. In Romans 15:3 St. Paul exhorts Christians to a life of unselfish consideration for others by pointing to the example of the Master, and quotes in this connexion the exact words of the LXX Septuagint translation of Psalms 69:9 (Psalms 68:10) ‘The reproaches of them that reproached (οἱ ὀνειδισμοὶ τῶν ὀνειδιζόντων) thee fell upon me.’ The Psalm describes the sufferings of the righteous man at the hands of the ungodly, and the verse quoted represents him as telling how he has to bear the reproaches directed against God Himself. The Apostle, however, transfers the words to Christ, and makes them describe how He bore the burden of reproach for others, and so serve to give point to an exhortation against self-pleasing.

In two passages the author of Hebrews uses the expression ‘the reproach (ὀνειδισμός) of Christ,’ or ‘his reproach,’ to denote the earthly shame and sorrow of Jesus. In the first case (Hebrews 11:26), Moses is described as ‘esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.’ The writer’s idea appears to be, not only that by identifying himself with his despised people Moses took upon himself a burden of contempt and suffering resembling that which was afterwards borne by Christ on our behalf, but that he had Christ prophetically in view—saw Him afar off, even as Father Abraham did (John 8:56), and was strengthened by the vision to run his own race with patience (cf. Hebrews 12:2-3). In the second passage (Hebrews 13:13), the Jewish-Christian readers are exhorted to a fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, in the words, ‘Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.’ The allusion apparently is to the sin-offering on the Day of Atonement without the camp of Israel, and to the suffering of Jesus without the city gate; and the meaning is that those Jewish-Christians must forsake the sphere of the OT religion, break off the old ties of national fellowship, and face all the pain and contumely that this would involve, so that they might share in the better blessings of the great Sin-offering.

3. Reproach as falling upon Christ’s people.—Both in Mt. (Matthew 5:11) and Lk. (Luke 6:22) reproach forms a part of the last Beatitude—the Beatitude of Persecution. There are, we have seen, two kinds of reproach—a reproach that is just, and one that is unjust; such reproach as Christ uttered, and such reproach as He endured. In deserved reproach there lies great sorrow and shame. The Lord’s backward look through the open door of the hall sent Peter out into the night to weep bitterly (Luke 22:61 f.); the remembrance of the last words addressed to him by his Master must have been as a barb to the arrow of remorse that sank so deep into the soul of Judas (Matthew 26:50, Luke 22:48). On the other hand, both honour and blessing belong to undeserved reproach falling upon Christ’s people for their Master’s sake. Jesus frequently forewarned His disciples that persecution would come upon them through following Him (Matthew 5:10 ff., Matthew 5:44; Matthew 10:23; Matthew 10:38; Matthew 13:21; Matthew 16:24, Mark 10:30; Mark 10:38, Luke 6:22; Luke 21:12, John 15:20). And in this Beatitude He specially forewarns them of the persecution of false and bitter tongues—more trying to some natures than the stones of the mob or the tyrant’s scourge and sword.

The Apostles and the early Church had their full share of the reproach of evil tongues (cf. Acts 2:13; Acts 6:11; Acts 17:32; Acts 21:28; Acts 22:22; Acts 24:5-6, Romans 3:8, James 2:7, 1 Peter 4:4). But the glory that lies in being reproached for Christ’s sake, and the Lord’s great promise regarding this experience, were never forgotten. It was this that taught St. Paul to bless when he was reviled (1 Corinthians 4:12). It was evidently with the very words of Jesus echoing in his ears that St. Peter wrote, ‘If ye be reproached (ὀνειδίζεσθε) for the name of Christ, blessed are ye’ (1 Peter 4:14). And when the author of Hebrews speaks of the ‘reproach of Christ’—telling of the manner in which it was esteemed by Moses, and urging his fellow-believers of the Jewish race to go forth without the camp with that reproach upon them—it may be that he also is recalling how Jesus taught His disciples to rejoice in reproach because their reward in heaven was great (Matthew 5:12, Luke 6:23). For in the one case he represents Moses as forming his estimate of the reproach of Christ from his respect unto the recompense of the reward (Hebrews 11:26), and in the other he exhorts Christians to the bearing of the same reproach, on the ground that they look for the abiding city which is to come (Hebrews 13:14).

J. C. Lambert.

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