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Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words

Fast, Fasting

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A — 1: νηστεία
(Strong's #3521 — Noun Feminine — nesteia — nace-ti'-ah )

"a fasting, fast" (from ne, a negative prefix, and esthio, "to eat"), is used (a) of voluntary abstinence from food, Luke 2:37 ; Acts 14:23 (some mss. have it in Matthew 17:21 ; Mark 9:29 ); "fasting" had become a common practice among Jews, and was continued among Christians; in Acts 27:9 "the Fast" refers to the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:29 ; that time of the year would be one of dangerous sailing; (b) of involuntary abstinence (perhaps voluntary is included), consequent upon trying circumstances, 2 Corinthians 6:5 ; 11:27 .

A — 2: νῆστις
(Strong's #3523 — Noun Feminine — nestis — nace'-tis )

"not eating" (see No. 1), "fasting," is used of lack of food, Matthew 15:32 ; Mark 8:3 .

Note: Asitia, Acts 27:21 , means "without food" (not through lack of supplies), i.e., abstinence from food. See ABSTINENCE , and cp. C, below.

B — 1: νηστεύω
(Strong's #3522 — Verb — nesteuo — nace-tyoo'-o )

"to fast, to abstain from eating" (akin to A, Nos. 1 and 2), is used of voluntary "fasting," Matthew 4:2 ; 6:16,17,18 ; 9:14,15 ; Mark 2:18,19,20 ; Luke 5:33,34,35 ; 18:12 ; Acts 13:2,3 . Some of these passages show that teachers to whom scholars or disciples were attached gave them special instructions as to "fasting." Christ taught the need of purity and simplicity of motive.

The answers of Christ to the questions of the disciples of John and of the Pharisees reveal His whole purpose and method. No doubt He and His followers observed such a fast as that on the Day of Atonement, but He imposed no frequent "fasts" in addition. What He taught was suitable to the change of character and purpose which He designed for His disciples. His claim to be the Bridegroom, Matthew 9:15 , and the reference there to the absence of "fasting," virtually involved a claim to be the Messiah (cp. Zechariah 8:19 ). Some mss. have the verb in Acts 10:30 .

C — 1: ἄσιτος
(Strong's #777 — Adjective — asitos — as'-ee-tos )

"without food" (a, negative, sitos, "corn, food"), is used in Acts 27:33 , "fasting." Cp. asitia, Note under A, No. 2.

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Fast, Fasting'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words. 1940.

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