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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Lust

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(5 Hebrew and 5 Greek words are so rendered, namely: (1) נפשׁ , nephesh , (2) שׁרירוּת , sherı̄rūth , (3) תּאוה , ta'ăwāh , (4) חמד , ḥāmadh , (5) אוה , 'āwāh ; (1) ἐπιθυμία , epithumı́a , (2) ἡδονή , hēdonḗ , (3) ἐπιποθέω , epipothéō , (4) ὄρεξις , órexis , (5) πάθος , páthos ): The word both as verb and as substantive has a good and a bad meaning. It probably meant at first a strong desire, a craving, abnormal appetite, not only for physical but for spiritual satisfaction. It has come, however, to be confined in its use almost entirely to the bad sense. Some old translations are not accepted now, the word being used in connections which at present seem almost irreverent. Shades of meaning are learned from an examination of the Hebrew and Greek originals.

1. The Old Testament Use:

The substantive and verbs are: (1) Nephesh , in Exodus 15:9 and Psalm 78:18 translated "desire"; "My desire shall be satisfied"; "by asking food according to their desire." A strong but not sensual sense. (2) Sherı̄rūth , meaning "obstinacy," evil imagination. Yahweh said (Psalm 81:12 ), "I let them go after the stubbornness of their heart," a willful self-satisfaction. (3) Ta'ăwāh , "a delight" "a longing satisfaction," and so it came to mean "sinful pleasure." Translated in Psalm 78:30 , "that which they desired," intensely longed for, referring to Yahweh's provision of food in the wilderness. Also in Numbers 11:4 concerning "flesh to eat" it is said the multitude "lusted exceedingly" i.e. "craved eagerly. (4) Ḥāmadh , the verb meaning "to delight in," "greatly belove," "covet," probably for evil purposes. The young man is warned against the evil woman (Proverbs 6:25 ): "Lust not after her beauty." Here the bad sense is evident, for in the same connection are used such expressions as "harlot," "adulteress," "evil woman." (5) 'Awāh , meaning "greatly to desire," long after, with undue emphasis, with evil spirit though not perhaps with impure thought. In Numbers 11:34 reference is made to a place called ḳibhrōth ha -ta'ăwāh , "the graves of lust, where "they buried the people that lusted." Psalm 106:14 also refers to the Israelites who "lusted exceedingly." Translated in Deuteronomy 12:15 , Deuteronomy 12:21 "desire of thy soul"; Deuteronomy 12:20 ; Deuteronomy 14:26 , "thy soul desireth." These Deuteronomy passages evidently mean lust only in the good sense.

2. The New Testament Use:

As in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament we find both meanings of the word. (1) Epithumia is used most frequently, and means a longing for the unlawful, hence, concupiscence, desire, lust. The following references hold the idea, not only of sinful desire known as "fleshly," "worldly," as opposed to "spiritual" "heavenly," "the will of man" as opposed to "the will of God," but also the sensual desire connected with adultery, fornication; verb in Matthew 5:28 ; Mark 4:19 ; John 8:44 ; Romans 1:24 ; 1 Corinthians 10:6 ; Galatians 5:16 , Galatians 5:17 , Galatians 5:24 ; Titus 2:12 ; 1 Peter 1:14 ; 1 John 2:16 f; Judges 1:16 , Judges 1:18 ; Revelation 18:14 . (2) Hēdonē , delight in sensuality, hence, wicked pleasures; translated in James 4:1 , James 4:3 "pleasures": "Your pleasures that war in your members"; "Ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures" (the King James Version "lust"). (3) Epipotheō means to crave intensely the wrong possession; translated in James 4:5 "long (the King James Version "lusteth") unto envying." (4) Orexis , used in Romans 1:27 , from context evidently meaning "lust" in the worst sense; translated "lust." (5) Pathos , meaning "passion" inordinate affection, with the idea in it of suffering; translated in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 "passion of lust."


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Lust'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/l/lust.html. 1915.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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