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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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1. Value.—The Bible references to gold are in terms of use and abuse, in accordance with the great fundamental truth, ‘The gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts’ (Haggai 2:8). Being the most precious of metals, it represents the possession and influence of wealth. It has a central place in the trilogy of life—length of days, riches, and honour (1 Chronicles 29:28). It seems to have a purchasing power over the other two—on the one hand in securing the conditions that tend to prolong life (Psalms 17:14; Psalms 73:7; Psalms 73:12), and on the other by influencing opinion in favour of its possessors (Matthew 19:25, James 2:2). As the highest quotation of earthly values, it supplies a standard for estimating what surpasses it (Job 28:17, Psalms 119:72; Psalms 119:127, Proverbs 3:14; Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 16:16; 1 Peter 1:7; 1Pe_1:18). It is only when, as the most beautiful and precious material available, it is used to give visible form to the Divine glory that gold becomes a thing of worthlessness (Psalms 115:4, Isaiah 31:7; Isaiah 46:6). The blindness that led to such idolatrous perversion among the Gentiles (Acts 17:29) is also found among the Jews (Matthew 23:16-17).

2. Associated evil.—As the emblem of wealth, gold is closely connected with that covetousness in the will and heart of man which is described as the motive and meeting-place of all idolatries (Colossians 3:5). Job can plead that he has not made gold his hope (Job 31:24). Solomon is commended because he did not make request for riches (1 Kings 3:11). The deceitfulness of riches is given as one of the explanations of the unfruitful life (Matthew 13:22). The self-centred ambitions and gratifications of wealth are all against the perception and service of a Kingdom in which even the poor seek the enrichment of other lives (Mark 10:24, 2 Corinthians 6:10). The order given to the disciples forbidding them to take gold or silver with them on their journey of proclamation (Matthew 10:9), was not meant as a commendation of poverty for its own sake. Indeed, it was just because money, clothing, and the wayfarer’s staff were the often-proved necessaries of ordinary travel, that the omission of them in their case would impart to their message about the Kingdom a meaning of instantaneousness and urgency. The guest-law of the land would provide food and shelter for the passing stranger; and where they were asked to prolong their stay, those who were thus interested in their words would attend to their wants.

After playing many parts, such as being a medium of decorative art, a standard of value, and a means of good and evil in society, along with higher uses in the coinage of empires and the representation of the Godhead, gold renders its last symbolic service in providing a pavement for the feet of the saints (Revelation 21:21).

G. M. Mackie.

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

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

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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