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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Sign

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The word σημεῖον (‘sign’) is used (1) of the autographic part of a letter, the mark of authenticity-2 Thessalonians 3:17 (English Version ‘token’); (2) as meaning a ‘symbol’-Romans 4:11 (the ‘sign of circumcision,’ i.e. circumcision as a sign of the covenant); (3) as an ‘indication’-Matthew 26:48 (Judas’ kiss), Luke 2:12 (to the Shepherds) Luke 2:34 (the child Jesus set for a sign); (4) hence for some wonderful indication-Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:4 (of Christ’s Coming), Matthew 16:1; Matthew 16:4, Mark 8:11, Mark 16:17; Mark 16:20, Luke 11:15; Luke 11:29 (to show Christ’s power), Matthew 16:3 (signs of the times) Matthew 16:4 (sign of Jonah), 1 Corinthians 14:22 (tongues and prophesying as a sign of the power of Christianity); and therefore for a ‘miracle’ or wonderful deed which has instruction as its object. The ‘signs in heaven’ of Revelation 12:1; Revelation 12:3; Revelation 12:15 : are a connecting link between these two shades of meaning. The usual sense of σημεῖον in the NT is a ‘miracle,’ especially in the plural (see article Miracle).

In the English Version the word ‘sign’ is used in two places where σημεῖον does not occur. In Luke 1:62 ‘they made signs’ renders ἐνένευον, a verb used in Proverbs 6:3; Proverbs 10:10 (Septuagint ) of winking with the eye. In Acts 28:11 ‘a ship whose sign was the Dioscuri’ renders πλοίῳ παρασήμῳ Διοσκούροις, where παρασήμῳ is either an adjective (= ‘marked’) or else, less probably, a substantive with Διοσκούροις in apposition (but in that case it means a ship’s flag in classical Greek; see Liddell and Scott, s.v.). A. J. Maclean.

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

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