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The Blue Letter Bible

Dictionaries :: Guilty

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


gil'-ti: In addition to the general discussion under GUILT (which see), several New Testament passages demand special notice because the word "guilty" is not used in the principal sense of blameworthy, but with one of the two lesser meanings noted above which go to make up the complete idea. In 3 of these passages the King James Version renders "guilty" and the Revised Version (British and American) gives another rendering. In Mt 26:66 the King James Version, Jesus' foes declare he is "guilty of death" (enochos, "liable to"). Here "guilty" simply means the one who is legally held, and the reference is not to the blame but to the consequence. This is a true use of the word in the lower and legal sense. It does not correspond with our higher usage, and so we have it in the Revised Version (British and American) "worthy of death." So in Ro 3:19, "guilty" is changed to "under the judgment," and in Mt 23:18, to "debtor."

In Jas 2:10 and 1Co 11:27, the word "guilty" is also used in the lesser or more primitive sense, not primarily as involving blame but as involving the sinner's authorship or responsibility. This is the first element suggested in the definition of guilt given above, just as the preceding passages illustrate the third element. The man who stumbles in one point is "guilty" of the whole law. James does not refer here to the degree of blameworthiness. "Guilty of" means transgressor of, and he has transgressed the whole because the law is one. So in 1Co 11:27, those "guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord" are those who have transgressed in the matter of the body and the blood of the Lord.

Written by Harris Franklin Rall

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