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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Passion Passions

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The word ‘passion’ is used in the NT, both in the singular and in the plural, in senses which are now current only in biblical English.

1. ‘Passion’ in the singular is used of the suffering or death of our Lord in Acts 1:3, representing τὸ παθεῖν, which here denotes the Crucifixion (‘after his passion’), and is exactly parallel with Hebrews 2:9, where πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου is rendered ‘the suffering of death.’ On the other hand, παθήματα in Hebrews 2:10 means Christ’s sufferings in a more general sense, as in 2 Corinthians 1:5, Philippians 3:10, 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:1. In his speech before Agrippa St. Paul says that Christ was ‘subject to suffering’ (παθητός, Acts 26:23)-that is to say, in His humanity. That in His Godhead He was impassible but in His humanity passible was insisted on by Ignatius against Docetic error (Eph. vii.: πρῶτον παθητὸς καὶ τότε ἀπαθής, so Polyc. iii.), and by other Fathers; cf. Apost. Const. II. xxiv. 3, VIII. xii. 33 (ed. Funk). We may compare the nickname ‘Patripassians’ for the Sabellians, the logical outcome of whose doctrine was that the Father suffered. In the Thirty-nine Articles God is said to be ‘without passions,’ or, in the (equally authoritative) Latin, impassibilis (art._ i.).

2. In another sense, ‘passion’ in the NT is a neutral word unless qualified by the context; in Galatians 5:24 ‘passions’ (παθήματα, AV_ ‘affections’) is qualified by ‘lusts,’ and so the singular πάθος in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 (RV_ ‘passion of lust,’ AV_ ‘lust of concupiscence’); in Romans 7:5 ‘passions’ (παθήματα) is qualified by ‘of sins,’ and the phrase means ‘sinful passions’ (AV_ ‘motions of sins’). Properly, then, ‘passion’ is any feeling, not necessarily strong feeling, just as ἐπιθυμία, ‘lust,’ is originally a neutral word. The adjective ὀμοιοπαθής, ‘of like passions,’ is entirely neutral; it is used in Acts 14:15 of Paul and Barnabas, and in James 5:17 of Elijah; in 4 Maccabees 12:11 of men; and rather curiously in Wisdom of Solomon 7:3 of the earth (AV_ ‘which is of like nature’ [with men], RV_ ‘kindred,’ RVm_ ‘of like qualities’); the meaning seems to be that the earth is mother of all (cf. Sirach 40:1).

A. J. Maclean.

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

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