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Bible Lexicons

Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible

Synoeceiosis; or Cohabitation

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The Repetition of the same Word in the same Sentence with an Extended Meaning

Syn´-œ-cei-o´-sis from σύν (sun), together with, and οἰκείωσις (oikeiôsis), dwelling in the same house.

This figure is so called because two words are used, and in the general sense, but with a different and more extended signification. They dwell together as it were in the same house; and yet, while one speaker takes up the word and uses it in the same sense, he yet means a different thing.

The Latins called it COHABITATIO, cohabitation, a dwelling together.

Matthew 5:19.-"Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven."

In the former place, the allusion is to the distinction which the Pharisees made between different commandments (just as Rome has since made the distinction between "venial" and "mortal" sins). There is no such distinction, and therefore, when in the latter place Christ says "he shall be called the least," He means that he will not be there at all, for there will be no such distinction there. There is no least in either case.

Matthew 18:1.-"Who, in that case, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" In verse 4 Christ answers, "Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

In the former place the disciples use the word in its ordinary sense of pre-eminence. But in the latter place Christ (alluding to the former sense) means that no one except Himself has ever humbled Himself thus: and who is to dispute that He must be greatest in that kingdom. The occasion also is important; compare verse 1 with 17:24-27.

Matthew 19:16-17.-"And behold one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God."

In the former case, the young man uses the word "good" of mere creature goodness, such as he supposed Christ to have; while in the latter case, the Lord alludes to the first, using the word in the same sense, but not in the same way; thus teaching that there is no real "good" apart from God-no "good" except that which comes from God and returns to Him.

John 6:28-29.-"What shall we do that we might work the works* [Note: See Polyptoton.] of God? Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent."

In the former case, the word "works" is used by the Jews in its proper acceptation: it is repeated by Christ in the same sense, but with another meaning altogether, as He goes on to explain.

Acts 26:28-29.-Here the apostle repeats the word "almost" (or "with little" R.V. [Note: The Revised Version, 1881.] ) in the same sense, but with a far higher and more extended meaning.

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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, E. W., D.D. Entry for 'Synoeceiosis; or Cohabitation'. Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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