Thirty-Three Words for Sin in the New Testament Part 3 -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 100:399 (Jul 1943)
Article: Thirty-Three Words for Sin in the New Testament Part 3
Author: John F. Walvoord

Thirty-Three Words for Sin in the New Testament
Part 3

John F. Walvoord

(Concluded from the April-June Number, 1943)

[Editor’s Note: This article is the last in the series of three on the words for sin found in the New Testament. A new series of articles on a different subject will begin in the next issue.]

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 36–43, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–8 respectively.}

VI. ᾿Ασέβεια
(ἀσέβεια, ἀσεβής, ἀσεβέω)

The three words to be considered in this section are the second group of words for sin beginning with the alpha privative, ἀδικέω having been discussed at the close of the previous article. The three words here examined are derived from σέβω, meaning to reverence or to worship, and with the alpha privative come to mean, not to reverence, not to worship. The words in whatever form they are found, noun, verb, or adjective, indicate an active and positive withholding from God of the worship due Him. It is a matter of choice and does not refer to one’s state, disposition, imputed sin, or condemnation. Trench in comment upon the noun ἀσέβεια writes: ”᾿Ασέβεια positive and active irreligion, and this contemplated as a deliberate withholding from God of his dues of prayer and of service, a standing, so to speak, in battle array against Him.”1 A study of the three forms in which the words occur reveals that to all practical purposes their definition is the same.


The noun form is found six times in the New Testament (Rom 1:18; 11:26; 2 Tim 2:16; Titus 2:12; Jude 15, 18), and is translated four times as ungodliness and twice as ungodly, i.e., ungodly deeds. In every instance except 2 Timothy 2:16, it is used regarding unsaved men, and in the one exception it is a doubtful reference to Christian conduct. It

is characteristically used of the attitude of the unbelieving world ...

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