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Young Man

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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YOUNG MAN.—In the Gospels we have on four occasions incidents of importance described, in which ‘a young man’ (νεανίσκος, not νεανίας. [as in Acts 7:51 of Saul, Acts 20:9 of Eutychus, Acts 23:17 of St. Paul’s nephew]) is one of the figures.

1. St. Matthew (Matthew 19:20; Matthew 19:22; cf. Mark 10:17, Luke 18:18) describes by this name the ‘ruler’ who asked our Lord what he must do to inherit eternal life. It adds to the pathos of the scene to know that this man, who ‘went away sorrowful’ because he could not give up his great possessions in the quest for life, was still so youthful as to be called νεανίσκος. He had not reached the prime of life,* [Note: The word νεκνίσκος stands for any age from boyhood up to 40 years. See Liddell and Scott, s.v., and cf. Swete’a note on Mark 10:17.] when the love of money had cankered his heart and soul.

2. The widow’s only son at Nain, who was being carried out to burial when our Lord touched the bier and raised him to life, was comparatively young: our Lord called him νεανίσκε when He bade him arise (Luke 7:14). An additional touch is given to the beauty of the miracle if we may infer the mother’s early widowhood and the youth’s career of promise cut short, for which the Saviour’s gift of life restored (ἔδωκεν αὐτόν, Luke 7:15) made ample and unexpected compensation.

3. St. Mark (Mark 14:51-52) records a brief and somewhat mysterious incident, which occurred on the way from Gethsemane to the high priest’s palace on the night of the Betrayal. When ‘all the disciples forsook him and fled’ there ‘followed with him’ still ‘a certain young man’ who had ‘a linen cloth cast about him, over his naked body.’ Perhaps he had been roused from sleep that night, and so had nothing but his bed-robe on as he rushed from the house to see what was taking place at the garden. And when some of the ‘multitude with swords and staves’ who arrested Christ tried to lay hold on him also, he escaped, but left the linen cloth behind him in their grasp. Evidently the slight event had some special association for St. Mark with the memories of that night, and it has been conjectured that the νεανίσκος is, in fact, the Evangelist himself; and, further, that he was a member of the household where the Last Supper had just been eaten, perhaps the son of the οἰκοδεσπότης (Mark 14:14). Others, with less probability, have wished to identify him with St. John or with St. James the Lord’s brother (see Swete’s notes, in loc.). In art he is sometimes represented as the keeper of the garden (l’ortolano: see Mrs. Jameson’s Hist. of our Lord in Art, vol. ii. p. 43). Bengel’s inference (locuples igitur crat, Matthew 11:8) tallies well with the idea that he was John Mark (see Acts 12:12).

4. According to Mark 16:5, he who appeared to the women at the sepulchre on the morning of the Resurrection was ‘a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe.’ In St. Matthew’s account he is described as ‘an angel of the Lord’ (Matthew 28:2), while St. Luke tells us of ‘two men in shining garments’ who spoke to them (Luke 24:4 : but in Luke 24:23 ‘a vision of angels’). In apt illustration of St. Mark’s version Swete quotes 2 Maccabees 3:26; 2 Maccabees 3:33 δύο ἐφάνησαν αὐτῷ νεανίαιδιαπρεπεῖς τὴν περιβολήνοἱ αὐτοὶ νεανίαι πάλιν ἐφάνησαν τῷ Ἡλιοδώρῳ ἐν ταῖς αὐταῖς ἐσθήσεσι ἐστολισμένοι; and Josephus Ant. V. viii. 2, where the angel who appears to Manoah’s wife is φάντασμανεανίᾳ καλῷ παραπλήσιον μεγάλῳ. Cf. also Evang. Petr. §§; 9, 11, and 13.

Literature.—For homiletical treatment of these four incidents referring to νεανίσκοι, the following may be consulted:—1. Lynch, Sermons for my Curates, p. 175 ff.; Martineau, End. after the Christian Life, p. 265 ff.; Expositor, i. vi. [1877] p. 229 ff. 2. Trench, Notes on the Miracles; W. M. Taylor, Miracles of Our Lord. 3. Expositor, i. i. [1875] p. 436 ff. See art. Mark 4. Maclaren, Sermons preached in Manchester, 2nd ser. p. 190 ff.

C. L. Feltoe.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Young Man'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​y/young-man.html. 1906-1918.
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