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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxxxii. ὑπέρ, ἀντί.

It has been often claimed, and in the interests of an all-important truth, namely the vicarious character of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, that in such passages as Heb. 2:9; Tit. 2:14; 1 Tim. 2:6; Gal. 3:13; Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Pet. 2:21; 3:18; 4:1; Rom. 5:8; John 10:15, in all of which Christ is said to have died ὑπὲρ πάντων, ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων, and the like, ὑπέρ shall be accepted as equipollent with ἀντί. And then, it is further urged that, as ἀντί is the preposition first of equivalence (Homer, Il. ix. 116, 117) and then of exchange (1 Cor. 11:15; Heb. 12:2, 16; Matt. 5:38), ὑπέρ must in all those passages be regarded as having the same force. Each of these, it is evident, would thus become a dictum probans for a truth, in itself most vital, namely that Christ suffered, not merely on our behalf and for our good, but also in our stead, and bearing that penalty of our sins which we otherwise must ourselves have borne. Now, though some have denied, we must yet accept as certain that ὑπέρ has sometimes this meaning. Thus in the Gorgias of Plato, 515 c, ἐγὼ ὑπὲρ σοῦ ἀποκρινοῦμαι, ‘I will answer in your stead;’ compare Xenophon, Anab. vii. 4. 9: ἐθέλοις ἂν ὑπὲρ τούτου ἀποθανεῖν; ‘Wouldst thou die instead of this lad?’ as the context and the words εἰπαίσειεν αὐτὸν ἀντὶ ἐκείνου make abundantly manifest; Thucydides, i. 141; Euripides, Alcestis, 712; Polybius, iii. 67. 7; Philem. 13; and perhaps 1 Cor. 15:29; but it is not less certain that in passages far more numerous ὑπέρ means no more than, on behalf of, for the good of; thus Matt. 5:44; John 13:37; 1 Tim. 2:1, and continually. It must be admitted to follow from this, that had we in the Scripture only statements to the effect that Christ died ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, that He tasted death ὑπὲρ παντός, it would be impossible to draw from these any irrefragable proof that his death was vicarious, He dying in our stead, and Himself bearing on his Cross our sins and the penalty of our sins; however we might find it, as no doubt we do, elsewhere (Isai. 53:4-6). It is only as having other declarations, to the effect that Christ died ἀντὶ πολλῶν (Matt. 20:28), gave Himself as an ἀντίλυτρον (1 Tim. 2:6), and bringing those other to the interpretation of these, that we obtain a perfect right to claim such declarations of Christ’s death for us as also declarations of his death in our stead. And in them beyond doubt the preposition ὑπέρ is the rather employed, that it may embrace both these meanings, and express how Christ died at once for our sakes (here it touches more nearly on the meaning of περί, Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; 1 Pet. 3:18; διά also once occurring in this connexion, 1 Cor. 8:11), and in our stead; while ἀντί would only have expressed the last of these.

Tischendorf, in his little treatise, Doctrina Pauli de Vi Mortis Christi Satisfactoriâ, has some excellent remarks on this matter, which I will quote, though what has been just said has anticipated them in part: ‘Fuerunt, qui ex solâ naturâ et usu praepositionis ὑπέρ demonstrare conarentur, Paulum docuisse satisfactionem Christi vicariam; alii rursus negarunt praepositionem ὑπέρ a N. Test. auctoribus recte positam esse pro ἀντί, inde probaturi contrarium. Peccatum utrimque est. Sola praepositio utramque pariter adjuvat sententiarum partem; pariter, inquam, utramque. Namque in promptu sunt, contra perplurium opinionem, desumta ex multis veterum Graecorum scriptoribus loca, quae praepositioni ὑπέρ significatum, loco, vice, alicujus plane vindicant, atque ipsum Paulum eodem significatu eam usurpasse, et quidem in locis, quae ad nostram rem non pertinent, nemini potest esse dubium (cf. Philem. 13; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Cor. 15:29). Si autem quaeritur, cur hâc potissimum praepositione incerti et fluctuantis significatûs in re tam gravi usus sit Apostolus—inest in ipsâ praepositione quo sit aptior reliquis ad describendam Christi mortem pro nobis oppetitam. Etenim in hoc versari rei summam, quod Christus mortuus sit in commodum hominum, nemo negat; atque id quidem factum est ita, ut moreretur hominum loco. Pro conjunctâ significatione et commodi et vicarii praeclare ab Apostolo adhibita est praepositio ὑπέρ. Itaque rectissime, ut solet, contendit Winerus noster, non licere nobis in gravibus locis, ubi de morte Christi agatur, praepositionem ὑπέρ simpliciter == ἀντί sumere. Est enim plane Latinorum pro, nostrum für. Quotiescunque Paulus Christum pro nobis mortuum esse docet, ab ipsâ notione vicarii non disjunctam esse voluit notionem commodi, neque umquam ab hâc, quamvis perquam aperta sit, excludi illam in istâ formulâ, jure meo dico.’

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G473,G5228.]

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