Kindness


Overview

“Kindness” in the KJV New Testament is the tr. of philanthrōpía once (Acts 28:2) and chrēstótēs four times (2 Cor 6:6; Eph 2:7; Col 3:12; Titus 3:4).

“Kindness” is (1) an attribute of God (Titus 3:4), (2) a characteristic of true charity (1 Cor 13:4), and (3) a trait of good men (Ps 112:5). Believers are exhorted to possess (Col 3:12; 2 Pet 1:7). It is sinful to refuse kindness to one’s neighbor (Prov 14:21). He that is kind to the poor receives a blessing (14:21). The ideal woman speaks kind words (31:26).

God’s kindness is great (Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) and everlasting (Isa 54:8, 10). God is kind to the ignorant and wayward (Heb 5:2), to the ungrateful and evil (Luke 6:35).


Old Testament


Hebrew

חֶ֫סֶד, H2876, “goodness,” “kindness.”

Greek

1. ̓Αντιλήπτωρ, “helper,” “protector” (Ps 109:12). LXX for seven Hebrew words.

2. Δικαιοσύνη, “righteousness,” “uprightness” (Gen 19:19; 20:13). The LXX for twelve Hebrew words; appears in Theognis, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Philo, and Josephus. It is frequent in the inscrs. but rare in the papyri, and is absent from Homer and Hesiod. Plato’s utopia is based upon his concept of dikaiosynē. Since this is the specific Christian virtue, it becomes almost synonymous with Christianity (Matt 5:10; 1 Pet 3:14).

3. ̓Ελεημοσύνη (Prov 21:21; 31:26), “kind deed”; later—“alms,” “charitable giving.” LXX for three Hebrew words. It occurs frequently in Tobit, is not in either Philo or Josephus. In the LXX eleēmosynē usually translates. צְדָקָה, H7407. New Testament usage is confined exclusively to the sense of “benevolent activity” and invariably to the poor, i.e., “almsgiving.” Justin Martyr in Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo (36.4) employs eleēmosynē for God’s mercy (quoting Ps 23:5). In late Greek the term means “sympathy.”

4. ̓Ελεος, “mercy,” “compassion,” “pity.” LXX for seven Hebrew words.

New Testament

A. ̓Επιείκεια (Acts 24:4), “gentleness,” “forbearance,” “clemency,” “graciousness.” A very elusive term which does not always mean “sweet reasonableness.” It appears in Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, and Philo. Josephus uses it of the prophet, the lawgiver, the king. Occurs twice in the New Testament (Acts 24:4; 2 Cor 10:1).

B. Φιλανθρωπία, “love for mankind,” “(loving) kindness”; “hospitality.” This word is found in Plato, Philo, Josephus; twice in the New Testament (Acts 28:2; Titus 3:4). RSV translates “loving kindness” in Titus 3:4.

C. Χρηστός, “useful,” “suitable,” “worthy,” “good”; “(morally) good,” “reputable”; “virtuous,” “excellent”; “gracious.” (As a substantive, kindness.) Used by Philo and Josephus; seven times in the New Testament.

D. Χρηστότης, “goodness,” “uprightness”; “goodness,” “kindness,” “generosity.” Appears in Aristotle and Philo; nine times in the New Testament. RSV translates “kindness” eight times.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)



Bibliography

C. H. Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks (1935), 59-62; L. H. Marshall, Challenge of New Testament Ethics (1947), 305-308; J. Smith, and R. Lee, Handfuls On Purpose, IV (1947), 273; M. Luther, “The Large Catechism,” The Book of Concord (c.1959), 369.32; M. Luther, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John, Vol. XXIV of Works (1961), 50, 247, 251, 253, 267f., 270; D. M. Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, I (1964), 299-309; R. Earle, “The Acts of the Apostles,” Beacon Bible Commentary, VII (1965), 583.

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