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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxxxv. εἰλικρινής, καθαρός.

The difference between these words is hard to express, even while one may instinctively feel it. They are continually found in company with one another (Plato, Phileb. 52 d; Eusebius, Proep. Evan. xv. 15. 4), and words associated with the one are in constant association with the other.

Εἰλικρινής occurs only twice in the N. T. (Phil. 1:10; 2 Pet. 3:1); once also in the Apocrypha (Wisd. 7:25); εἰλικρίνεια three times (1 Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor. 1:12; 2:17). Its etymology, like that of ‘sincere,’ which is its best English rendering, is doubtful, uncertainty in this matter causing also uncertainty in the breathing. Some, as Stallbaum (Plato, Phoedo, 66 a, note), connect with ἴλος, ἴλη (εἴλειν, εἰλεῖν), that which is cleansed by much rolling and shaking to and fro in the sieve; ‘volubili agitatione secretum atque adeo cribro purgatum.’ Another more familiar and more beautiful etymology, if only one could feel sufficient confidence in it, Lösner indicates: ‘dicitur de iis rebus quarum puritas ad solis splendorem exigitur,’ ὁ ἐν τῇ εἵλῃ κεκριμμένος, held up to the sunlight and in that proved and approved. Certainly the uses of εἰλικρινής, so far as they afford an argument, and there is an instinct and traditionary feeling which lead to the correct use of a word, long after the secret of its derivation has been altogether lost, are very much in favour of the former etymology. It is not so much the clear, the transparent, as the purged, the winnowed, the unmingled; thus see Plato, Axioch. 370, and note the words with which it habitually associates, as ἀμιγής (Plato, Menex. 245 d; Plutarch, Quoest. Rom. 26); ἄμικτος (De Def. Or. 34; cf. De Isid. et Os. 61); ἀπαθής (De Adul. et Amic. 33); ἄκρατος (De An. Proc. 27); ἀκραιφνής (Philo, De Mund. Opif. 2); ἀκέραιος (Clement of Rome, 1 Ep. 2); compare Xenophon, Cyrop. viii. 5. 14; Philo, De Opif. Mun. 8; Plutarch, Adv. Col. 5: De Fac. in Orb. 16: πάσχει τὸ μιγνύμενον· ἀποβάλλει γὰρ τὸ εἰλικρινές. In like manner the Etym. Mag.; εἰλικρινὴς σημαίνει τὸν καθαρὸν καὶ ἀμιγῆ ἑτέρου: compare an interesting discussion in Plutarch, De Ei ap. Delph. 20. Various passages, it is quite true, might be adduced in which the notion of clearness and transparency predominates, thus in Philo (Quis Rer. Div. Hoer. 61) εἰλικρινὲς πῦρ is contrasted with the κλίβανος καπνιζόμενος, but they are much the fewer, and may very well be secondary and superinduced.

The ethical use of εἰλικρινής and εἰλικρίνεια first makes itself distinctly felt in the N. T.; there are only approximations to it in classical Greek; as when Aristotle (Ethic. Nic. x. 6) speaks of some who, ἄγευστοι ὄντες ἡδονῆς εἰλικρινοῦς καὶ ἐλευθερίου, ἐπὶ τὰς σωματικὰς καταφεύγουσιν. Theophylact defines εἰλικρίνεια well as καθαρίτης διανοίας καὶ ἀδολότης οὐδὲν ἔχουσαι συνεσκιασμένον καὶ ὔπουλον: and Basil the Great (in Reg. Brev. Int.): εἰλικρινὲς εἶναι λογίζομαι τὸ ἀμιγές, καὶ ἄκρως κεκαθαρμένον ἀπὸ παντὸς ἐναντίου. It is true to this its central meaning as often as it is employed in the N. T. The Corinthians must purge out the old leaven, that they may keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity (εἰλικρινείας) and truth (1 Cor. 5:8). St. Paul rejoices that in simplicity and in that sincerity which comes of God (ἐν εἰλικρινείᾳ Φεοῦ), not in fleshly wisdom, he has his conversation in the world (2 Cor. 1:12); declares that he is not of those who tamper with and adulterate (καπηλεύοντες) the word of God, but that as of sincerity (ἐξ εἰλικρινείας) he speaks in Christ (2 Cor. 2:17).

Καθαρός, connected with the Latin ‘castus,’ with the German ‘heiter,’Etym. Note. 36 in its earliest use (Homer does not know it in any other, Od. vi. 61; xvii. 48), is clean, and this in a physical or non-ethical sense, as opposed to ῥυπαρός. Thus καθαρὸν σῶμα (Xenophon, Oecon. x. 7) is the body not smeared with paint or ointment; and in this sense it is often employed in the N. T. (Matt. 27:59; Heb. 10:22; Rev. 15:6). In another merely physical sense καθαρός is applied to that which is clear and transparent; thus we have καθαρός and διαυγής (Plutarch, De Gen. Soc. 22). But already in Pindar (Pyth. v. 2, καθαρὰ ἀρετή), in Plato (Rep. vi. 496 d, καθαρὸς ἀδικίας τε καὶ ἀνοσίων ἔργων), and in the tragic poets it had obtained an ethical meaning. The same is not uncommon in the Septuagint, where it often designates cleanness of heart (Job 8:6; 33:9; Ps. 23:4), although far oftener a cleanness merely external or ceremonial (Gen. 9:21; Lev. 14:7). That it frequently runs into the domain of meaning just claimed for εἰλικρινής must be freely admitted. It also is found associated with ἀληθινός (Job 8:6); with ἀμιγής (Philo, De Mund. Opif. 8); with ἄκρατος (Xenophon, Cyrop. viii. 7. 20; Plutarch, aemil. Paul. 34); with ἄχραντος (De Is. et Osir. 79); with ἀκήρατος (Plato, Crat. 396 b); καθαρὸς σῖτος is wheat with the chaff winnowed away (Xenophon, Oecon. xviii. 8. 9); καθαρὸς στρατός, an army rid of its sick and ineffective (Herodotus, i. 211; cf. iv. 135), or, as the same phrase is used in Xenophon, an army made up of the best materials, not lowered by an admixture of mercenaries or cowards; the flower of the army, all ἄνδρες ἀχρεῖοι having been set aside (Appian, viii. 117). In the main, however, καθαρός is the pure contemplated under the aspect of the clean, the free from soil or stain; thus θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος (Jam. 1:27), and compare the constant use of the phrase καθαρὸς φόνου, καθαρὸς ἀδικίας (Plato, Rep. vi. 496 d; Acts xviii. 6), and the like; and the standing antithesis in which the καθαρόν stands to the κοινόν, contemplated as also the ἀκάθαρτον (Heb. 9:13; Rom. 14:14, 20).

It may then be affirmed in conclusion, that as the Christian is εἰλικρινής, this grace in him will exclude all double-mindedness, the divided heart (Jam. 1:8; 4:8), the eye not single (Matt. 6:22), all hypocrisies (1 Pet. 2:1); while, as he is καθαρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, by this are excluded the μιάσματα (2 Pet. 2:20; cf. Tit. 1:15), the μολυσμός (2 Cor. 7:1), the ῥυπαρία (Jam. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:21; Rev. 22:11) of sin. In the first is predicated his freedom from the falsehoods, in the second from the defilements, of the flesh and of the world. If freedom from foreign admixture belongs to both, yet is it a more primary notion in εἰλικρινής, being probably wrapt up in the etymology of the word, a more secondary and superinduced notion in καθαρός.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G1506,G2513.]

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