Will, Volition

(’abhah, ratson; thelo) boulomai, thelema: "Will" as noun and verb, transitive and intrans, carries in it the idea of "wish," "purpose," "volition." "Will" is also used as an auxiliary of the future tense of other words, but the independent verb is frequent, and it is often important to distinguish between it and the mere auxiliary, especially in the New Testament.


In Apocrypha, for "will" we have thelema (1 Esdras 9:9 (of God); Ecclesiasticus 43:16; 1 Macc 3:60; Ecclesiasticus 8:15, "his own will"); boule (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:13, the Revised Version (British and American) "counsel); boulema (2 Macc 15:5, "wicked will," the Revised Version (British and American) "cruel purpose"); "willful" (Ecclesiasticus 30:8) is proales, the Revised Version (British and American) "headstrong"; "willing" (The Wisdom of Solomon 14:19), boulomai, the Revised Version (British and American) "wishing"; thelo (Ecclesiasticus 6:35); "wilt" (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:18), thelo, the Revised Version (British and American) "hast the will" (compare 2 Macc 7:16).

The Revised Version (British and American) has many changes, several of them of note as bringing out the distinction between the auxiliary and the independent verb. Thus, Mt 11:27, "willeth to"; Joh 7:17, "if any man willeth to do his will"; 1Ti 6:9, the American Standard Revised Version "they that are minded to be rich," the English Revised Version "desire," etc.

The words employed and passages cited show clearly that man is always regarded as a responsible being, free to will in harmony with the divine will or contrary to it. This is further shown by the various words denoting refusal. "Ye will not come to me, that ye may have life" (Joh 5:40). So with respect to temptation. We may even choose and act deliberately in opposition to the will of God. Yet God’s counsel, His will in its completeness, ever prevails, and man, in resisting it, deprives himself of the good it seeks to confer upon him.

In modern psychology the tendency is to make will primary and distinctive of personality.