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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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REPROBATE . The Heb. word so rendered in Jeremiah 6:30 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ; RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘refuse’) has its meaning explained by the context. ‘Refuse silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them.’ Like metal proved to be worthless by the refiner’s fire ( Jeremiah 6:29 ), they are thrown away (cf. Isaiah 1:22 ). In the NT, in accordance with the meaning of the Gr. word ( adokimos ), ‘reprobate’ is used of that which cannot abide the proof, which, on being tested, is found to be worthless, had, counterfeit, and is therefore rejected. ‘A reprobate mind’ in Romans 1:28 (with tacit reference to the previous clause, ‘they did not approve to have God in their knowledge’) is, as the context shows, a mind depraved and perverted by vile passions. To such a mind God abandoned those who wilfully exchanged His truth for a lie ( Romans 1:25 ). In 1 Corinthians 9:27 , St. Paul declares that he ‘buffets’ his body and ‘brings it into bondage,’ lest, having preached to others, he himself should be rejected (reprobate). The figure is that of an athlete who, through remissness in training, fails in the race or fight (for the opposite figure, cf. 2 Timothy 2:15 ). In 2 Corinthians 13:6-7 , the word (‘reprobates’) occurs three times, in each case as opposed to genuine, true. Christ is in them, except they be reprobates, i.e. false to their profession, hence rejected by God. Let them ‘prove’ themselves by this test ( 2 Corinthians 13:5 ). St. Paul trusts that they will know that he abides this test ( 2 Corinthians 13:6 ); but let them think of him what they will, if only they themselves do what is honourable ( 2 Corinthians 13:7 ). ‘Reprobate’ here is contrasted with what is ‘approved,’ ‘honourable’; it is identified with ‘doing evil.’ In 2 Timothy 3:8 , certain are described as ‘corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith,’ where both moral corruption and false speculation as the result of this corruption seem intended. They fail, brought to the test of ‘sound’ or ‘healthful’ doctrine ( 2 Timothy 1:13-14 , 2 Timothy 4:3 ). Similarly Titus 1:16 speaks of those who, denying God by their works, are ‘unto every good work reprobate.’ Their hypocrisy is brought home to them by their wicked lives. ‘Professing that they know God,’ they are proved by their works to be counterfeits, imposters. The word occurs, finally, in Hebrews 6:8 , where those whom it is impossible ‘to renew again to repentance’ are compared to ground which, receiving the rain oft upon it, and being tilled, brings forth only thorns and thistles, and is ‘rejected.’ From all this we may conclude that ‘reprobate,’ generally, denotes a moral state so had that recovery from it is no longer possible; there remains only judgment (cf. Hebrews 6:8 ). It is only to be added that the term has no relation in Scripture to an eternal decree of reprobation; at least, to none which has not respect to a thoroughly had and irrecoverable condition of its objects. Cf. Predestination.

James Orr.

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

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