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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Searching

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SEARCHING.Searching (of Latin-French derivation) is a richer word than seeking (of Anglo-Saxon origin), because it implies examination as well as looking and asking (cf. 1 Peter 1:10). Thus while ζητέω and its compounds are always translated ‘seek,’ the words corresponding to ‘search’ are ἀνακρίνω (Acts 17:11 only), ἐξετάζω, and ἐρευνάω. In Matthew 2:8 ἐξετάζω is appropriately used for the identifying of the child of Messianic promise: ‘Search out carefully concerning the young child’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ; whereas Authorized Version translation as if it were ἐκζητέω). In Matthew 10:11 it means ‘get to know exactly who is genuinely worthy,’ rather than settle down with the first man who is spoken of for his piety. In John 21:12 the same word is used to suggest that the disciples did not venture to probe the mystery any further. Reverence held them back,—the sense that faith must at such a moment take the place of criticism.

But the exact equivalent of ‘search’ is ἐρευνάω. It is used twice in Jn. (John 5:39; John 7:52) of ‘searching the Scriptures.’ It may well be believed that it connoted more on the lips of Jesus (John 5:39), who knew how to distinguish the spirit from the letter (Matthew 7:12, Luke 7:27; Luke 10:26 ff., John 6:33), and to bring forth treasures new as well as old (Matthew 13:52; cf. Matthew 5:21 f., Matthew 5:43 f., Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:40 ff.), than it did upon the lips of the chief priests and Pharisees (John 7:52).—With Christ it meant to search the Scriptures with a candid mind and reverent spirit to find the will of the holy Father whose name is Love. But there was a ‘veil upon the faces’ of the Jews (2 Corinthians 3:15), because they did not look behind a private or traditional interpretation. The priests, who were mostly Sadducees, ‘searched’ for passages that would serve a casual purpose (Mark 12:18 ff.), and the Pharisees ‘searched’ for what would maintain their burdensome traditions (Mark 2:7; Mark 2:24, Luke 13:14, John 9:28), or even enable them to evade a moral issue (Matthew 19:7).

In John 5:39 ἐρευνᾶτε may be either Imperative (as Authorized Version ) or Indicative (as Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ) [cf. πιστεύετε in John 14:1]. The former falls into line with the general tenor of Christ’s teaching, that the Jews had only to use the means at their disposal in order to see in Himself the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17, Luke 16:31; Luke 24:27, John 7:38). But the Indicative seems in best accord with the immediate context (‘because ye think,’ ‘and these are they,’ ‘ye will not come to me’) (cf. Westcott, in loc.).

Literature.—Westcott on John; Martineau, Hours of Thought, i. 54, 201, ii. 183 f.; S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Norwood, p. 161 ff.; Forrest, Authority of Christ.

A. Norman Rowland.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Searching'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/s/searching.html. 1906-1918.

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