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BOND, BONDS (מוֹסֵר, H4591, and other forms from אָסַר, H673, bind: NT δεσμοί with compounds). The meaning of the Eng. word varies from “prisoner’s shackles” to “solemn promise” and even “legal document.” As an adjective, “bond” is opposed to “free,” and composite nouns like “bondman” are used in the KJV in the sense of “slave.” Older VSS also use “bands” frequently. In the OT, since the root meaning of ’āsar seems to be “shutting in” or “restraining,” the basic meaning seems to be the “harness” that ties an ox to the yoke (Nah 1:13), passing naturally into a metaphor of oppression or imprisonment (same passage). Other forms of the root give the idea of moral obligation undertaken (Num 30:5), possibly with the thought of legal penalty involved.

In the NT, the pattern is similar with either literal or metaphorical meaning. If literal, then “bonds” may be used in a bad sense of handcuffs (Luke 8:29) or in a good sense, to describe the muscles and sinews that “bind” the human body together (Col 2:19). So, too, the metaphorical use has both a good and bad sense. Acts 8:23 can talk of the “bonds” of sin, while Ephesians 4:3 can speak of the “bond” of peace. The word is therefore, in itself neutral; it takes color from its context. In Colossians 2:14 χειρόγραφον, G5934, means “a (handwritten) contract”; and should be so tr.


L. Koehler, Hebrew Lexicon (1951); W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, 1957.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Band; Bill; Chain.

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