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The Blue Letter Bible

Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lii. ἀσύνθετος, ἄσπονδος.

Ἀσύνθετος occurs only once in the N. T., namely at Rom. 1:31; cf. Jer. 3:8-11, where it is found several times, but not elsewhere in the Septuagint. There is the same solitary use of ἄσπονδος (2 Tim. 3:3); for its right to a place in the text at Rom. 1:31 is with good reason contested, and the best critical editions omit it there. It is nowhere found in the Septuagint.

The distinction between the two words, as used in Scripture, is not hard to draw;—I have said, as used in Scripture; because there may be a question whether ἀσύνθετος has anywhere else exactly the meaning which it challenges there. Elsewhere often united with ἁπλοῦς, with ἄκρατος (Plutarch, De Comm. Not. 48), it has the passive sense of ‘not put together’ or ‘not made up of several parts’; and in this sense evidently the Vulgate, which renders it ‘incompositus,’ has taken it; we have here the explanation of the ‘dissolute’ of the Rheims Version. But the ἀσύνθετοι of St. Paul—the word with him has an active sense—are they who, being in covenant and treaty with others, refuse to abide by these covenants and treaties: μὴ ἐμμένοντες ταῖς συνθήκαις (Hesychius); ‘pactorum haudquaquam tenaces’ (Erasmus); ‘bundbrüchig’ (not ‘unverträglich,’ as Tittmann maintains); ‘covenant- breakers’ (A. V.). The word is associated with ἀστάθμητος, Demosthenes, De Fals. Leg. 383.

Worse than the δυσδιάλυτοι (Aristotle, Ethic. Nic. iv. 5, 10), who are only hard to be reconciled, the ἄσπονδοι are the absolutely irreconcileable (ἄσπονδοι καὶ ἀκατάλλακτοι, Philo, Quis Rer. Div. Hoer. 50); those who will not be atoned, or set at one, who being at war refuse to lay aside their enmity, or to listen to terms of accommodation; ‘implacabiles, qui semel offensi reconciliationem non admittunt’ (Estius); ‘unversöhnlich,’ ‘implacable’ (A. V.); the word is by Philo (De Merc. Mer. 4) joined to ἀσύμβατος and ἀκοινώνητος, opposed to εὐδιάλλακτος by Plutarch (De Alex. Virt. 4). The phrase, ἄσπονδος καὶ ἀκήρυκτος πόλεμος is frequent, indeed proverbial, in Greek (Demosthenes, De Coron. 79; Philo, De Proem. et Poen. 15; Lucian, Pisc. 36); in this connexion ἀκήρυκτος πόλεμος does not mean a war not duly announced by the fecial; but rather one in which what Virgil calls the ‘belli commercia’ are wholly suspended; no herald, no flag of truce, as we should now say, being allowed to pass between the parties, no terms of reconcilement listened to; such a war, for example, as that which the Carthaginians in the interval between the first and second Punic Wars waged with their revolted mercenaries. In the same sense we have elsewhere ἄσπονδος μάχη καὶ ἀδιάλλακτος ἔρις (Aristaenetus, 2, 14); cf. ἄσπειστος κότος (Nicander, Ther. 367; quoted by Blomfield, Agamemnon, p. 285); ἄσπονδος ἔχθρα (Plutarch, Pericles, 30); ἄσπονδος Θεός (Euripides, Alcestis, 431).

Ἀσύνθετος then presumes a state of peace, which they who are such unrighteously interrupt; while ἄσπονδος presumes a state of war, which the ἄσπονδοι refuse to bring to an equitable close. It will follow that Calvin, who renders ἄσπονδοιfoedifragi,’ and ἀσύνθετοιinsociabiles,’ has exactly missed the force of both; Theodoret has done the same; who on Rom. 1:31 writes: ἀσυνθέτους, τοὺς ἀκοινώνητον καὶ πονηρὸν βίον ἀσπαζομένους· ἀσπόνδους τοὺς ἀδεῶς τὰ συγκείμενα παραβαίνοντας. Only by ascribing to each word that meaning which these interpreters have ascribed to the other, will the right equivalents be obtained.

In agreement with what has been just said, and in confirmation of it, is the distinction which Ammonius draws between συνθήκη and σπονδή. Συνθήκη assumes peace; being a further agreement, it may be a treaty of alliance, between those already on general terms of amity. Thus there was a συνθήκη between the several States which owned the leadership of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War, that, with whatever territory any one of these began the war, with the same it should close it (Thucydides, v. 31). But σπονδή, oftener in the plural, assumes war, of which the σπονδή is the cessation; a merely temporary cessation, an armistice it may be (Homer, Il. ii. 341). It is true that a συνθήκη may be attached to a σπονδή, terms of alliance consequent on terms of peace; thus σπονδή and συνθήκη occur together in Thucydides, iv. 18: but they are different things; in the σπονδή there is a cessation of the state of war, there is peace, or at all events truce; in the συνθήκη there is, superinduced on this, a further agreement or alliance.—Εὐσύνθετος, I may observe, which would be the exact opposite of ἀσύνθετος, finds no place in our lexicons; and we may presume is not found in any Greek author; but εὐσυνθεσία in Philo (De Merc. Mer. 3); as ἀσυνθεσία in the Septuagint (Jer. 3:7), and ἀθεσία in the same sense often in Polybius (ii. 32).

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G786,G802.]

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