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Sacrament

SACRAMENT (săk'ra-mĕnt). Derived from the Latin sacramentum, which in classical times was used in two chief senses: As a technical legal term to denote the sum of money that the two parties to a suit deposited in a temple, of which the winner had his part returned, while the loser forfeited his to the temple treasury; as a technical military term to designate the oath of obedience of a soldier to his commander. In the Greek NT there is no word corresponding to “sacrament,” nor do we find the word used in the earliest history of Christianity to refer to certain rites of the church. [[Pliny the Younger]] (c. a.d. 112) uses the word in connection with Christianity in a famous letter in which he says that the Christians of Bithynia bound themselves “by a sacramentum to commit no kind of crime,” but it is doubtful whether he uses the word with any special Christian meaning. The word sacramentum was used with a distinctively Christian meaning for the first time in the Old Latin Bible and in