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Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament


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eilikrines (Strong's #1506) Sincere, Pure

katharos (Strong's #2513) Clean, Clear

The difference between eilikrines and katharos is difficult to express, even though one may instinctively feel it. Eilikrines and katharos often are used together, and words associated with one also are associated with the other.

Eilikrines occurs only twice in the New Testament ( Philippians 1:10; 2 Peter 3:1) and once in the Apocrypha (Wisd. of Song of Solomon 7:25). Eilikrineia (Strong's #1505) appears in the New Testament three times ( 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 2:17). The etymology of eilikrines, like that of its best English translation ("sincere"), is doubtful, and this uncertainty results in some unclarity about its breathing. Some scholars, such as Stallbaum, relate eilikrines with eilein (Strong's #1507), which refers to something that is cleansed by frequent rolling and shaking in a sieve. According to Lösner's more familiar and more beautiful, though somewhat speculative, etymology, eilikrines "is spoken of those subjects whose purity is compared to the splendor of the sun." One who is selected in the sun's warmth [te heile] is held up to the sunlight and proved and approved. Insofar as the uses of eilikrines support either etymology, they strongly support the former. Eilik-rines does not refer so much to the clear and the transparent as to the purged, the winnowed, and the unmingled. Eilikrines consistently is used with amiges, amiktos, apathes, akratos, akraiphnes, and akeraios. In a similar vein, the Etymologia magna states: "Eilikrines signifies what is pure and unmingled with anything else." Various passages might be cited where the notion of clearness and transparency predominates. In Philo, "pure [eilikrines] fire" is contrasted with the "oven filled with smoke," but these instances are far fewer and may well be secondary and superinduced.

The ethical use of eilikrines and eilikrineia was distinctly felt for the first time in the New Testament. In classical Greek, there are only approximations of this use. Aristotle spoke of some who "not having tasted of sincere [eilikrinous] and noble pleasure, flee to bodily ones." Theophylact correctly defined eilikrineia as "purity and guilelessness of thought without having anything shady or false." Basil the Great wrote: "I deem eilikrines to be undefiled and completed clear of any opposite quality." This is the central meaning of eilikrines in the New Testament. The Corinthians were to purge the old leaven to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity (eilikrineias) and truth ( 1 Corinthians 5:8). Paul rejoiced that he had conducted himself in the world in the simplicity and sincerity that come from God (en eilikrineia theou), not with fleshly wisdom ( 2 Corinthians 1:12). Paul declared that he was not one of those who tamper with and adulterate (kapeleuontes, Strong's #2585) the Word of God but that in Christ he spoke with sincerity (ex eilikrineias, 2 Corinthians 2:17).

In its earliest use, katharos meant "clean" in a physical or nonethical sense, as opposed to rhyparos (Strong's #4508). Thus katharon soma is the body that is not smeared with paint or ointment. Katharos often is used in this sense in the New Testament ( Matthew 27:59; Hebrews 10:22; Revelation 15:6). Katharos has another physical sense; it may be applied to that which is clear and transparent. Thus we have katharos and diauges. Pindar, Plato, and the tragic poets, however, already used katharos in an ethical sense. And this ethical use of katharos is not uncommon in the Septuagint, where the word often designates "cleanness of heart" ( Job 8:6; Job 33:9; Psalm 24:4), though more often in the Septuagint katharos merely refers to an external or ceremonial cleanness ( Genesis 9:21; Leviticus 14:7). Katharos frequently has the same domain of meaning as eilikrines.Katharos also is used with alethinos amiges akratos, achrantos and akeratos. Katharos sitos (Strong's #4621) is wheat with the chaff winnowed away, and katharos stratos (Strong's #4756) is an army that is rid of the sick and ineffective. In Xenophon, katharos refers to an army made up of the best materials, one that has not been lowered by the addition of mercenaries or cowards; it refers to the flower of the army with all of the "useless men" set aside. Primarily, however, katharos refers to the pure as seen from the perspective of that which is clean and free from soil or stain. Thus we have "pure [kathara] and undefiled [amiantos] religion" ( James 1:27), "free [katharos] from murder," and "free [katharos] from injustice." Katharon and koinon (Strong's #2839) are consistently set in antithesis to one another; katharon is used synonymously with akatharton.

We may conclude that the Christian virtue of eilikrines will exclude all double-mindedness, the divided heart ( James 1:8; James 4:8), the eye that is not single ( Matthew 6:22), and all hypocrisies ( 1 Peter 2:1). When the Christian is "pure [katharos] in heart," this excludes the miasmata, the molysmos, and the rhyparia of sin. Eilikrines refers to the Christian's freedom from falsehoods. Katharos refers to the Christian's freedom from the defilements of the flesh and the world. If both of these words refer to the Christian's freedom from foreign mixture, this is truer of eilikrines (probably because of its etymology) than of katharos.

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Bibliography Information
Trench, Richard C. Entry for 'Sincere'. Synonyms of the New Testament. 1854.

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