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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxxxvi. πόλεμος, μάχη.

Πόλεμος and μάχη occur often together (Homer, Il. i. 177; v. 891; Plato, Tim. 19 e; Job 38:23; Jam. 4:1); and in like manner πολεμεῖν and μάχεσθαι. There is the same difference between them as between our own ‘war’ and ‘battle’; ὁ πόλεμος Πελοποννησιακός, the Peloponnesian War; ἡ ἐν Μαραθῶνι μάχη, the battle of Marathon. Dealing with the words in this antithesis, namely that πόλεμος embraces the whole course of hostilities, μάχη the actual shock in arms of hostile armies, Pericles, dissuading the Athenians from yielding to the demands of the Spartans, admits that these with their allies were a match for all the other Greeks together in a single battle, but denies that they would retain the same superiority in a war, that is, against such as had their preparations of another kind (μάχῃ μὲν γὰρ μιᾷ πρὸς ἅπαντας, Thucydides, i. 141). We may compare Tacitus, Germ. 30: ‘Altos ad praelium ire videas, Chattos ad bellum.’

But besides this, while πόλεμος and πολεμεῖν remain true to their primary meaning, and are not transferred to any secondary, it is altogether otherwise with μάχη and μάχεσθαι. Contentions which fall very short of the shock of arms are continually designated by these words. There are μάχαι of every kind: ἐρωτικαί (Xenophon, Hiero, i. 35); νομικαί (Tit. 3:9; cf. 2 Tim. 2:23); λογομαχίαι (1 Tim. 6:4); σκιαμαχίαι: and compare John 6:52; 2 Tim. 2:24; Prov. 26:20, 21. Eustathius (on Homer, Il. i. 177) expresses these differences well: τὸ πόλεμοί τε μάχαι τε, ἢ ἐκ παραλλήλου δηλοῖ τὸ αὐτό, ἢ καὶ διαφορά τις ἔστι ταῖς λέξεσιν εἴγε μάχεται μέν τις καὶ λόγοις, ὡς καὶ ἡ λογομαχία δηλοῖ. καὶ αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ ποιητὴς μετ᾽ ὀλίγα φησί, μαχεσσαμένω ἐπέεσσι (ver. 304). καὶ ἄλλως δὲ μάχη μέν, αὐτὴ ἡ τῶν ἀνδρῶν συνεισβολή· ὁ δὲ πόλεμος καὶ ἐπὶ παρατάξεων καὶ μαχίμου καιροῦ λέγεται. Tittmann (De Synon. in N. T. p. 66): ‘Conveniunt igitur in eo quod dimicationem, contentionem, pugnam denotant, sed πόλεμος et πολεμεῖν de pugnâ quae manibus fit proprie dicuntur, μάχη autem et μάχεσθαι de quâcunque contentione, etiam animorum, etiamsi non ad verbera et caedes pervenerit. In illis igitur ipsa pugna cogitatur, in his sufficit cogitare de contentione, quam pugna plerumque sequitur.’

I may observe before quitting this subject that στάσις (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19; Acts 24:5; cf. Sophocles, Oedip. Col. 1228), insurrection or sedition, is by Plato distinguished from πόλεμος, in that the one is a civil and the other a foreign strife (Rep. v. 470 b): ἐπὶ γὰρ τῇ τοῦ οἰκείου ἐχθρᾷ στάσις κέκληται, ἐπὶ δὲ τῇ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων πόλεμος.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G3163,G4171.]

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