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Bible Lexicons

Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible

Hypocatastasis; or Implication

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A Declaration that implies the Resemblance or Representation; or Comparison by Implication

Hy´-po-cat-as´-ta-sis. Greek, ὑποκατάστασις, substitution or implication; from ὑπό (hypo), underneath, κατά (kata), down, and στάσις (stasis), a stationing. Hence, a putting down underneath.

As a figure, it differs from Metaphor, because in a metaphor the two nouns are both named and given; while, in Hypocatastasis, only one is named and the other is implied, or as it were, is put down underneath out of sight. Hence Hypocatastasis is implied resemblance or representation: i.e., an implied Simile or Metaphor. If Metaphor is more forcible than Simile, then Hypocatastasis is more forcible than Metaphor, and expresses as it were the superlative degree of resemblance.

For example, one may say to another, "You are like a beast." This would be Simile, tamely stating a fact. If, however, he said, "You are a beast" that would be Metaphor. But, if he said simply, "Beast!" that would be Hypocatastasis, for the other part of the Simile or Metaphor ("you"), would be implied and not stated.

This figure, therefore, is calculated to arouse the mind and attract and excite the attention to the greatest extent.

So well known was it to the ancients, that it received this significant name. But it is, to-day, unmentioned by literary men, though it is often unconsciously used by them. Thus, their language is enriched by its use, while the figure is unknown, even by name!

What a proof of the sad neglect into which this great subject has fallen; and what an example of the consequent loss which has ensued.

This beautiful and far-reaching figure frequently occurs in Scripture. The Lord Jesus Himself often used it, and that with wonderful effect.

Its beauty and force will be at once seen, if we compare one or two passages.

When, in Jeremiah 49:19, we read of the king of Babylon coming up against Edom, it says: "Behold, he shall come up like a lion against the habitation of the strong": etc. Here, we have a Simile, and the feelings are unmoved, as it is only against Edom that the assault is made.

But it is a very different case in Jeremiah 4:7, where the same king of Babylon is spoken of as coming up against Zion. In the heat of excited feeling he is not named, but only implied.

"The lion is come up from his thicket."

So, in all the other cases, it will be well to contrast every example of Hypocatastasis with both Simile and Metaphor, in order to gather the full force of its meaning and the reason for its use instead of either of the other two.

Psalms 22:16 (17).-"Dogs have compassed me about."

Here He does not say that his enemies were like dogs, or that they were dogs; no: the word "enemies" is not mentioned. It is implied: and by a kind of Prosopopoeia, they are spoken of as "dogs." It means of course, "mine enemies have compassed me about" as the next. sentence goes on to explain. See also under Paronomasia.

Matthew 15:13.-"Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." This is Hypocatastasis, bordering on Allegory. Persons are implied, though only plants are named. The solemn lesson of this implication is, that unless the work in the heart be that of God Himself, all is vain. It is useless therefore to attempt to effect conversion or to impart a new nature by personal appeals, persuasions, or excitement. This is only to make the flesh religious, and "that which is born of the flesh is flesh."

Matthew 16:6.-"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees." There the word "doctrine" is implied. Had the Lord said, "the doctrine of the Pharisees is like leaven," that would have been Simile, and a cold, bare statement of fact; but He did not say so. Had He said "the doctrine of the Pharisees is leaven," that would have been Metaphor; much bolder, much more forcible, but not so true to fact though much truer to truth. But He did not say so. He took the word "doctrine" and put it down underneath, and did not mention it at all. He only implied it: and this was Hypocatastasis.

No wonder then that the attention of the disciples was excited and attracted. No wonder their interest was aroused: for this was the Lords object.

"They reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Saducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (verses 6-12). This example is remarkable when we compare it with another, in the previous chapter, which we give next; and out of its textual order for the purpose of contrast.

Matthew 15:26.-"It is not meet to take the childrens bread, and to cast it to dogs." Here, the Lord Jesus, did not say to the woman of Canaan, Thou art a dog of the Gentiles (which would have been Metaphor), but He left out all reference to her, and only referred to her by implication, substituting a "dog" for herself. The woman, unlike the disciples (in chap. 16), at once saw and understood what the Lord implied, viz., that it was not meet to take that which belonged to Israel and give it to a Gentile (or a dog of a Gentile as they were called by the Jews), "And she said, Truth, Lord." What she felt is clear: "It is quite true; Thou art perfectly right; I called Thee the Son of David, and deserved no answer; I pleaded for help and said: Lord, help me; but I made no confession as to who the me was: no acknowledgment of my unworthiness and unmeetness as a dog of the Gentiles. " "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith."

So, it is "great faith" to understand what the Lord implied by the use of this beautiful figure, and it is "little faith" not to understand it! even though the former was spoken of a Gentile woman, and the latter of the apostles of the Lord. See also under Synecdoche and Meiosis.

John 2:19.-"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Lord Jesus did not say that His body was like the temple (that would have been Simile), or that it was His body (that would have been Metaphor). He merely implied the word body, as ver. 21 plainly declares: "He spake of the temple of his body."

Here was neither "great faith" nor "little faith," but wilful unbelief of His words. His disciples remembered them after He was raised from the dead, and believed. His enemies remembered them before and perverted them: "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days" (Matthew 26:61). He said no such thing. What He foretold was that they would destroy "this temple" of His body, and that He should raise it again from the dead in three days, and build it again. See also under Heterosis.

Other examples are:-

Matthew 3:10.-"Where, by the axe being laid to the root of the trees, etc., is implied the result of the ministry of John the Baptist.

The same is the case with ver. 12.

Matthew 5:29-30.-"May also be explained by this figure better than by Hyperbole (q.v. [Note: Which see.] ). The right eye, etc., is compared by implication to the most highly prized possession.

Matthew 7:3-5.-"The mote and beam refer by implication to anything that perverts the vision.

Matthew 7:6.-"Here "dogs" and "swine" are compared by implication to persons.

Mark 1:17.-"I will make you to become fishers of men." The Lord does not say like fishers, nor does He use direct metaphor. The resemblance is only by implication.

Acts 20:29.-"I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

Thus does the Holy Spirit inform us, by Implication, as to the true character of "apostolic succession," in order to impress the solemn fact on our minds.


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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, E. W., D.D. Entry for 'Hypocatastasis; or Implication'. Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/bullinger/116.

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