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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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DECREE . What theologians speak of as the ‘decrees of God,’ and describe as one, immutable, eternal, all-embracing, free, etc., do not receive this designation in Scripture. The equivalents are to be sought for under such headings as Election, Predestination, Providence, Reprobate. In the EV [Note: English Version.] the term is frequently used in Esther, Ezra, Daniel, with different Heb. and Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] words, for royal decrees (in Daniel 6:1-28 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘interdict’; in Daniel 2:9 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘law,’ elsewhere ‘decree’). In the NT also the Gr. word dogmata is employed of decrees of Cæsar ( Luke 2:1 , Acts 17:7 ); in Acts 16:4 it is used of decrees of the Church; elsewhere ( Ephesians 2:15 , Colossians 2:20 ) it is tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘ordinances.’ The nearest approach to the theological sense of the term is, in OT, in the Heb. word hôk , ordinarily tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘statute,’ which is used in various places of God’s sovereign appointments in nature and providence ( Job 28:26 , Psalms 148:6 , Proverbs 8:29 , Jeremiah 5:22 , Zephaniah 2:2 ). The Hebrews had not the modern conception of ‘laws of nature,’ but they had a good equivalent in the idea of the world as ordered and founded by God’s decrees; as regulated by His ordinances (cf. Psalms 104:5 ; Psalms 104:9 ; Psalms 119:88-91 , Jeremiah 10:12 ff.). The same word is used in Psalms 2:7 of God’s ‘decree’ regarding His king; in Daniel 4:17 ; Daniel 4:24 (Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] ) we have ‘decree’ of ‘the watchers’ and ‘the most High.’

James Orr.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Decree'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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