‘Refresh The Hearts Of The Saints’: A Unique Pauline Context? -- By: Andrew D. Clarke

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 47:2 (NA 1996)
Article: ‘Refresh The Hearts Of The Saints’: A Unique Pauline Context?
Author: Andrew D. Clarke

‘Refresh The Hearts Of The Saints’:
A Unique Pauline Context?1

Andrew D. Clarke


Some four times in the Pauline corpus the verb ἀναπαύω is used together with the noun πνεῦμα or σπλάγχνα in the sense of ‘refresh the heart’. Through a comparison of Greek literary and non-literary sources it seems that, although each of these words is common enough, their combination in this way is particularly unusual in or before the first century AD. It would appear, therefore, that the Pauline use of the complete phrase may well, at the time, have offered a unique usage. Similarities between the four Pauline contexts shed light on Paul’s usage: ‘refreshing the hearts of the saints’ is to be seen as a positive Christian action which is highly commended by the apostle and could cross traditional social barriers.

I. Introduction

Paul uses the intriguing phrase ‘refresh the heart’ some four times.2 It is a phrase which has not been widely adopted in modern, Christian circles, and therefore its meaning and contexts may well repay investigation.

It is, therefore, proposed to look at the use of the verb ἀναπαύω (with various meanings) especially where it is combined with πνεῦμα (‘spirit’) or σπλάγχνα (‘bosom’) in ancient Greek literary and non-literary sources and assess the contexts in which it occurred. The distinctive use which Paul makes of the phrase ‘X has refreshed the spirit of Y’ will then be assessed in greater detail, and

finally some conclusions regarding its possible meaning will be drawn.

II. The Use Of ἀναπαύω

1. Greek Literature

The verb ἀναπαύω is found throughout the corpus of ancient Greek literature and spans a wide range of meanings.3 Frequently it is used in a military context describing rest from battle and in this sense almost becomes a military technical term.4 For example:

Before they came in sight of the enemy, he rested (ἀνεπαυσε) the army as many as three times.5

Significantly, however, ἀνα...

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