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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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WATCH.1. The noun ‘watch’ in the Gospels represents (1) κουστωδία (Lat. custodia) in Matthew 27:65-66; Matthew 28:11 Authorized Version (‘guard’ Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ). This word, which is said to have been the technical term for a company of 60 men, is used here to describe either the Roman soldiers, whom the chief priests and Pharisees obtained from Pilate, or the Temple guard, which he reminded them they already had and could employ to protect the sepulchre from being rifled. (2) φυλακή, where it denotes the divisions of the night either into 3 (Jewish and Greek; cf. Luke 12:38 (?)* [Note: It is not unlikely that in this case the fourth watch is not named, simply because the return is not likely to be so long delayed. So Meyer, Alford, Bruce, etc.] ) or 4 (Roman; cf. Mark 13:35) parts. The word in this sense occurs (a) in the account of our Lord’s walking upon the Lake of Galilee, which was ‘at the fourth watch,’ i.e. just before dawn (Matthew 14:25, Mark 6:48); (b) in His remarks upon the uncertainty and unexpectedness of the Presence (παρουσία) of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:43, Luke 12:38). (3) φυλακή in an active sense, denoting a watching or keeping watch (Luke 2:8).

2. ‘Watch’ as a verb.—The duty of constant watchfulness (γρηγορεῖν) and vigilance (ἀγρυπνεῖν) is insisted upon by our Lord in two main connexions: (a) in regard to the particular, immediate need for it on the night of the Betrayal (Matthew 26:38; Matthew 26:40-41, Mark 14:34; Mark 14:38) and (b) in regard to the general attitude of disciples who await their Lord’s Return (Matthew 24:42-43, Mark 13:33-34; Mark 13:37, Luke 12:37; Luke 12:39; Luke 21:36).

As to the general attitude or frame of mind in which the Church is bidden by her Lord to look for His coming, the burden of His teaching is that ours must be the steadfast, active readiness of dutiful, trusty servants, who are not afraid of being caught idle or in mischief, when the Master appears and reveals His welcome, though awful presence.

C. L. Feltoe.

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

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Thursday, December 5th, 2019
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