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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words

Thorn, Thorns

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A — 1: ἄκανθα

(Strong's #173 — Noun Feminine — akantha — ak'-an-thah )

"a brier, a thorn" (from ake, "a point"), is always used in the plural in the NT, Matthew 7:16 and parallel passage in Luke 6:44; Matthew 13:7 (twice),22 and parallels in Mark and Luke; in Matthew 27:29; John 19:2 , of the crown of "thorns" placed on Christ's head (see also B) in mock imitation of the garlands worn by emperors. They were the effects of the Divine curse on the ground (Genesis 3:18; contrast Isaiah 55:13 ). The "thorns" of the crown plaited by the soldiers, are usually identified with those of the Zizyphus spina Christi, some 20 feet high or more, fringing the Jordan and abundant in Palestine; its twigs are flexible. Another species, however, the Arabian qundaul, crowns of which are plaited and sold in Jerusalem as representatives of Christ's crown, seems likely to be the one referred to. The branches are easily woven and adapted to the torture intended. The word akantha occurs also in Hebrews 6:8 .

A — 2: σκόλοψ

(Strong's #4647 — Noun Masculine — skolops — skol'-ops )

originally denoted "anything pointed," e.g., "a stake;" in Hellenistic vernacular, "a thorn" (so the Sept., in Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24; Hosea 2:6 ), 2 Corinthians 12:7 , of the Apostle's "thorn in the flesh;" his language indicates that it was physical, painful, humiliating; it was also the effect of Divinely permitted Satanic antagonism; the verbs rendered "that I should (not) be exalted overmuch" (RV) and "to buffet" are in the present tense, signifying recurrent action, indicating a constantly repeated attack. Lightfoot interprets it as "a stake driven through the flesh," and Ramsay agrees with this. Most commentators adhere to the rendering "thorn." Field says "there is no doubt that the Alexandrine use of skolops for thorn is here intended, and that the ordinary meaning of 'stake' must be rejected." What is stressed is not the metaphorical size, but the acuteness of the suffering and its effects. Attempts to connect this with the circumstances of Acts 14:19; Galatians 4:13 are speculative.

B — 1: ἀκάνθινος

(Strong's #174 — Adjective — akanthinos — ak-an'-thee-nos )

"of thorns" (from A, No. 1), is used in Mark 15:17; John 19:5 . In the Sept., Isaiah 34:13 .

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Thorn, Thorns'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ved/t/thorn-thorns.html. 1940.

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