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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Slowness of Heart

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SLOWNESS OF HEART.—A disposition which our Lord discerned in His disciples, especially in relation to His Person and work (Luke 24:25 βραδεῖς τῇ καρδίᾳ). He connects it with ‘emptiness of mind’ (ἀνόητος, cf. Bengel, who paraphrases, ‘void of mind and slow of heart’) as the joint cause of their failure to understand and believe the testimony of the prophets concerning Himself. This dual disposition is characteristic of the disciples’ attitude toward the whole of Christ’s teaching (cf. Matthew 15:15-17; Matthew 16:8-12, John 14:9); and the order in which the epithets are employed in Luke 24:25 suggests that slowness of heart is the root from which dulness of mind concerning spiritual truth springs. The disciples believed, but slowly, and with a heavy heart. There was an element of reluctance in their faith. Jesus was not the sort of Messiah they expected, and His teaching was not the kind of teaching they desired. He and His words, in consequence, encountered in their hearts an unwillingness to believe which generated, in its turn, failure to understand. Slowness of heart thus reveals a moral fault. The free action of faith is hindered by prejudice of one kind or another. The will is biassed in a different direction (cf. John 7:17). As Godet says, ‘If they had embraced the living God with more fervent faith, the fact of the resurrection would not have been so strange to their hopes’ (Com. on St. Luke’s Gospel, vol. ii. p. 354). Slowness of heart is the opposite extreme to that over-quickness of faith which our Lord stigmatized in the parable of the Sower under the figure of the rocky ground. Between these extremes there is a quickness of heart which is ready to believe whatever bears the sufficient warrant of the Word of God. Of this quickness Nathanael is a striking instance (John 1:45-49). Thomas, on the other hand, illustrates slowness of heart, while Christ’s treatment of him shows us how He deals with such slow believers and quickens their faith into great confessions (John 20:24-29).

James Mursell.

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

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