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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Human life is disquieted and embittered by enmities, active and passive. 1 Men are enemies of God in their mind (τῇ διανοίᾳ) by their wicked works (Colossians 1:21). This is not to be taken in a passive sense, which would imply that they are hateful to God (invisos Deo, says Meyer, ad loc.). Their enmity is active. The carnal mind (φρόνημα), caring only for the gratification of the senses, is hostility to (εἰς) God (Romans 8:7). The friendship (φιλία, which implies ‘loving’ as well as ‘being loved’) of the world, which loves its own (John 15:19), is enmity with God (James 4:4, Vulgate inimica est dei). Some who prefers Christianity are sadly called enemies of the Cross (Philippians 3:18); and a man may so habitually pursue low ends as to become an enemy of all righteousness (Acts 13:10). It is the work of Christ to subdue this active inward enmity to God and goodness, and thus to undo the work of the Enemy who has sown the seeds of evil in the human heart (Matthew 13:28). While sinners are reconciled to God, it is nowhere said in the NT that God, as if He were hostile, needs to be reconciled to sinners. It is the mind of man, not the mind of God, which must undergo a change, that a reunion may be effected’ (J. B. Lightfoot, Col. 3, 1879, p. 159).

(2) The enmity of Jew and Gentile was notorious. After smouldering for centuries, it finally burst into the flames of the Bellum Judaicum. The contempt of Greek for barbarian was equally pronounced. Christ came to end these and all similar racial antipathies. By His Cross He ‘abolished’ and ‘slew’ the enmity (Ephesians 2:15-16), creating a new manhood which is neither Jewish, Greek, nor Roman, but comprehensive, cosmopolitan, catholic, fulfilling the highest classical ideal of human fellowship-‘humani nihil a me alienum puto’ (Terence, Heaut. I. i. 25)-all because it is Christian.

(3) The Christian, however, cannot help having enemies. Just because he is not of the world, the world hates him (John 15:18 ff.). But the spirit of Christ that is in him constrains him to feed his enemy when hungry, give him drink when thirsty (Romans 12:20), and so endeavour to change him into a friend.

(4) Every preacher, because he is bound to be a moralist and reformer, runs a special risk of being mistaken for an enemy. Truth, though spoken in love, may arouse hatred: ὤστε ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα ἀληθεύων ὑμῖν; (Galatians 4:16). Yet a moment’s thought would make it clear that the aim is not to hurt but to heal, and the surgeon who skilfully uses the knife is ever counted a benefactor.

(5) The courageous faith of the early Church assumed that Christ would put all His enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25; cf. Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 10:13), i.e. that every form of evil, moral and physical alike, would finally be subdued. ‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death’ (1 Corinthians 15:26).

(6) A single passage seems, prima facie, to imply that men may sometimes be enemies of God sensu passivo. To the Romans St. Paul says of the Jews, ‘They are enemies for your sake’ (Romans 11:28). They are treated as enemies in order that salvation may come to the Gentiles. But the enmity is far from being absolute; they are all the time ‘beloved’ (ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας, Romans 11:28).

James Strahan.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Enmity'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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