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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Zeal (2)

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ZEAL.—It is not easy to distinguish zeal (Gr. ζῆλος from ζέω ‘to boil’) from enthusiasm (which see); but, as regards the derivation, the former indicates the character, the latter the source of the inward state; and, as regards the meaning, the former lays stress on the volitional, the latter on the emotional aspect of the complex condition of soul. As ‘ardour in embracing, pursuing, or defending’ an object, it is ascribed to Phinehas (Numbers 25:11; Numbers 25:13), Elijah (1 Maccabees 2:58), the Jewish people (Acts 21:20, Romans 10:2). St. Paul claims it for himself (Acts 22:3, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Galatians 1:14, Philippians 3:6), and commends it in the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 9:2) and Epaphras (Colossians 4:13, variant reading for labour). The same Greek word is used in the bad sense of jealousy, which is condemned in the Apostolic writings (1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 12:20, Galatians 5:20, James 3:14; James 3:16). A quotation from the Psalms (Psalms 69:9) is applied to Jesus to describe the impression made on the disciples by the first cleansing of the Temple (John 2:17). This may throw some light on the problem of the repetition of the act at the close of the ministry (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-46), as the first, may have been due to His fresh enthusiasm for His vocation, the second may have been a more deliberate assertion of His Messianic claim. As zeal in the fulfilment of His purpose is ascribed to God (2 Kings 19:31, Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 37:32; Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 63:15, Ezekiel 5:13), the mood itself as well as the occasion of it was worthy of Jesus as the Son of God.

From this term is derived the name of one of the Jewish parties, the Zealots (which see), to which, as his surname indicates, Simon the disciple (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13) had belonged. The zeal of Jesus for the Temple may have been what drew Simon to Him.

Alfred E. Garvie.

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

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