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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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xxxii. παιδεία, νουθεσία.

It is worth while to attempt a discrimination between these words, occurring as they do together at Ephes. 6:4, and being often there either not distinguished at all, or distinguished erroneously.

Παιδεία is one among the many words, into which revealed religion has put a deeper meaning than it knew of, till this took possession of it; the new wine by a wondrous process making new even the old vessel into which it was poured. For the Greek, παιδεία was simply ‘education;’ nor, in all the many definitions of it which Plato gives, is there the slightest prophetic anticipation of the new force which it one day should obtain. But the deeper apprehension of those who had learned that “foolishness is bound in the heart” alike “of a child” and of a man, while yet “the rod of correction may drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15, led them, in assuming the word, to bring into it a further thought. They felt and understood that all effectual instruction for the sinful children of men, includes and implies chastening, or, as we are accustomed to say, out of a sense of the same truth, ‘correction.’ There must be ἐπανόρθωσις, or ‘rectification’ in it; which last word, occurring but once in the N. T., is there found in closest connexion with παιδεία (2 Tim. 3:16).1

Two definitions of παιδεία—the one by a great heathen philosopher, the other by a great Christian theologian,—may be profitably compared. This is Plato’s (Legg. ii. 659 d: παιδεία μὲν ἐσθ᾽ ἡ παίδων ὁλκή τε καὶ ἀγωγὴ πρὸς τὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου λόγον ὀρθὸν εἰρημένον. And this is that of Basil the Great (In Prov. 1): ἔστιν ἡ παιδεία ἀγωγή τις ὠφέλιμος τῇ ψυχῇ, ἐπιπόνως πολλάκις τῶν ἀπὸ κακίας κηλίδων αὐτὴν ἐκκαθαίρουσα. For as many as felt and acknowledged all which St. Basil here asserts, παιδεία signified, not simply ‘eruditio,’ but, as Augustine expresses it, who has noticed the changed use of the word (Enarr. in Ps. cxviii. 66), ‘per molestias eruditio.’ And this is quite the predominant use of παιδεία and παιδεύειν in the Septuagint, in the Apocrypha, and in the N. T. (Lev. 26:18; Ps. 6:1; Isai. 53:5; Ecclus. 4:17; 22:6, μάστιγες καὶ παιδεία 2 Macc. 6:12; Luke 23:16; Heb. 12:5, 7, 8; Rev. 3:19, and often). The only occasion in the N.T. upon which παιδεύειν occurs in the old Greek sense is Acts 7:22. Instead of ‘nurture’ at Ephes. 6:4, which is too weak a word, ‘discipline’ might be substituted with advantage—the laws and ordinances of the Christian household, the transgression of which will induce correction, being indicated by παιδεία there.

Νουθεσία (in Attic Greek νουθετία or νουθέτησις, Lobeck, Phrynichus, pp. 513, 520) is more successfully rendered, ‘admonition;’ which, however, as we must not forget, has been defined by Cicero thus: ‘Admonitio est quasi lenior objurgatio.’ And such is νουθεσία here; it is the training by word—by the word of encouragement, when this is sufficient, but also by that of remonstrance, of reproof, of blame, where these may be required; as set over against the training by act and by discipline, which is παιδεία. Pengel, who so seldom misses, has yet missed the exact distinction here, having on ἐν παιδείᾳ καὶ νουθεσίᾳ this note: ‘Harum altera occurrit ruditati; altera oblivioni et levitati. Utraque et sermonem et reliquam disciplinam includit.’ That the distinctive feature of νουεσία is the training by word of mouth is evidenced by such combinations as these: παραινέσεις καὶ νουθεσίαι (Plutarch, De Coh. Irâ, 2); νουθετικοὶ λόγοι (Xenophon, Mem. i. 2. 21); διδαχὴ καὶ νουθέτησις (Plato, Rep. iii. 399 b); νουθετεῖν καὶ διδάσκειν (Protag. 323 d).

Relatively, then, and by comparison with παιδεία, νουθεσία is the milder term; while yet its association with παιδεία teaches us that this too is a most needful element of Christian education; that the παιδεία without it would be very incomplete; even as, when years advance, and there is no longer a child, but a young man, to deal with, it must give place to, or rather be swallowed up in, the νουθεσία altogether. And yet the νουθεσία itself, where need is, will be earnest and severe enough; it is much more than a feeble Eli-remonstrance: “Nay, my sons, for it is no good report that I hear” (1 Sam. 2:24); indeed, of Eli it is expressly recorded, in respect of those sons, οὐκ ἐνουθέτει αὐτούς) (3:13). Plutarch unites it with μέμψις (Conj. Proec. 13); with ψόγος (De Virt. Mor. 12; De Adul. et Am. 17); Philo with σωφρονισμός (Lösner, Obss. ad N.T. e Philone, p. 427); while νουθετεῖν had continually, if not always, the sense of admonishing with blame (Plutarch, De Prof. in Virt. 11; Conj. Proec. 22). Jerome, then, has only partial right, when he desires to get rid, at Ephes. 6:4, and again at Tit. 3:10, of ‘correptio’ (still retained by the Vulgate), on the ground that in νουθεσία no rebuke or austerity is implied, as in ‘correptio’ there certainly is: ‘Quam correptionem nos legimus, melius in Graeco dicitur νουθσία, quae admonitionem magis et eruditionem quam austeritatem sonat.’ Undoubtedly, in νουθεσία such is not of necessity involved, and therefore ‘correptio’ is not its happiest rendering; but it does not exclude, nay implies this, whenever it may be required: the derivation, from νοῦς and τίθημι, affirms as much: whatever is needed to cause the monition to be taken home, to be laid to heart, is involved in the word.

In claiming for it, as discriminated from παιδεία, that it is predominantly what our Translators understand it, namely, admonition by word, none would deny that both it and νουθετεῖν are employed to express correction by deed; only we affirm that the other—the appeal to the reasonable faculties—is the primary and prevailing use of both. It will follow that in such phrases as these, ῥάβδου νουθέτησις (Plato, Legg. iii. 700 c), πληγαῖς νουθετεῖν (Legg. ix. 879 d; cf. Rep. viii. 560 a), the words are employed in a secondary and improper, but therefore more emphatic, sense. The same emphasis lies in the statement that Gideon “took thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth” (Judg. 8:16). No one on the strength of this language would assert that the verb ‘to teach’ had not for its primary meaning the oral communicating of knowledge. On the relations between νουθετεῖν and διδάσκειν see Bishop Lightfoot, on Col. 1:28.


1 The Greek, indeed, acknowledged, to a certain extent, the same, in his secondary use of ἀκόλαστος, which, in its primary, meant simply ‘the unchastised.’ Menander too has this confession: ὁ μὴ δαρεὶς ἄνθρωπος οὐ παιδεύεται. And in other uses of παιδεύειν in profane Greek there are slight hints of the same: thus see Xenophon, Mem. i. 3. 5; Polybius, Hist. ii. 9. 6.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G3559,G3809.]

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