By the editors.

Sacred Words

Holy boldness

"God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

Paul wrote these words to an inexperienced young man, Timothy, who at times was afraid of other people and doubtful of his own strength. Paul reminded Timothy that God had called him to His service and had given him the capacity to work. In responding to that call Timothy must demonstrate a kind of holy boldness. The word translated "fear" is deilia, and it refers to timidity or cowardice. This kind of fear is different from two other types referred to in the New Testament—phobos, meaning "terror, fear of consequences, or respect for authority" (see Rev. 14:7); and eulabeia, meaning "caution, anxiety, or reverence toward God" (Heb. 12:28). Timothy was no coward.

Instead of a timorous attitude, Paul says, God stood ready to bestow on Timothy the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. With these three attributes the true servant of God may achieve a balance in his life. Holy boldness does not mean sanctified brashness, or a headlong assertion of dominance, or even the making of selfish demands on the time and energies of others.

The word for power, dunamis, refers to the energizing, enabling strength endowed by the Spirit—the power to act. Our modern word dynamite comes from the same source. God did not intend that His servants should suffer from a paralysis of the will.

The Holy Spirit also brings the gift of agape, the love that makes a community of believers possible. This kind of affection promotes the mutual feeling of koinonia.

The third gift, "a sound mind," is translated by some as "self-discipline." The Greek word, sophronismos, is from the word sophroneo, meaning "to be temperate or moderate, to be rational and have understanding and good judgment."

Peter uses another form of sophroneo. He admonishes his readers that "the end of all things is at hand" and that they should remain "sober [sophrosune], and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7). God's people are not to give way to eschatological frenzy, for this would only aid the cause of their detractors. They are to be rational and sober even when anticipating the climactic events associated with the return of their Saviour.

When the demoniac at Gadara was healed by Jesus, as recorded in Mark 5:15, the astounded onlookers confirmed the fact that the man was clothed and "in his right mind" (sophroneo). He had been liberated from insanity and given the ability to think rationally and clearly.

From such uses of this word we may therefore see that Paul was admonishing Timothy not merely to greater self-control but to a thoughtful, optimistic, rational, and humble view of his task.

Secular Words

Time and the new year

Time has long held a fascination for mankind. Scientists have puzzled whether it is continuous or whether it might by some means be broken up into small segments or even be "put into reverse." Some have speculated that it might have different characteristics in differing parts of the universe; certainly a day on the moon is far longer than a day on the earth.

Farming peoples for millennia have noticed the turn of the seasons and the consequences of the equinoxes and solstices. Among some preindustrial societies, such as the Mayas of Central America, the keeping of calendars and the consulting of oracles for "lucky and unlucky days" was a major preoccupation.

Thus the turn of a new year, whether in midwinter or fall or spring, has been a time either of foreboding or of rejoicing. The Romans worshiped a god of the new year, Janus, who had one face looking backward and another forward. Today in America one might ask whether the elaborate rituals celebrating the new year are intended somehow to affect the course of events during the ensuing year, or whether those celebrating feel that, since what is new must be better than the old, a new year is the newest and best thing of all.

An old European tradition had a husband on New Year's Day giving his wife a handful of coins with which to buy pins for the entire year ahead—"pin money." Our current selection of words to help you pin down your thoughts includes several terms related to time or to newness. Some of these are drawn from the Handbook of Christian Theology, edited by Halverson and Cohen. For each word listed choose the phrase or expression that best conveys the meaning. See page 32 for the correct answers.

1. aeon: (a) a kind of glowing gas; (b) a thousand years; (c) an inhabitant of Aeos; (d) an immeasurably long period of time.

2. chronic: (a) timely; (b) catastrophic; (c) continuing a long time; (d) sudden and intense.

3. circadian rhythms: (a) portion of an orchestra performance; (b) events with a monthly cycle; (c) biological processes in plants and animals that occur at intervals of about 24 hours; (d) music of grasshoppers.

4. diurnal: (a) daily; (b) monthly; (c) yearly; (d) nightly.

5. fin de siecle: (a) harvesting tool; (b) swimming organ of certain fish; (c) journey's end; (d) end of the century, a term referring to decadence.

6. light-year: (a) New Year's Day celebration; (b) twelve months' sabbatical; (c) distance light travels in a year at the rate of 186,000 miles per second; (d) measure of length equal to the earth's distance from the sun.

7. Neo-Darwinism: (a) theory emphasizing the role of natural selection in evolution and denying the inheritance of acquired characteristics; (b) theory of "use and disuse"; (c) degeneration theory; (d) theory of the fixity of species.

8. neologism: (a) new word or expression; (b) discussion between three or more people; (c) kind of house; (d) new convert.

9. neonatal: (a) unborn; (b) newborn; (c) new immigrant; (d) newly wed.

10. neo-orthodoxy: (a) atheism; (b) interpretation of Christianity that synthesizes Reformation theory and nineteenth-century liberalism; (c) an official of the Greek Orthodox church; (d) a heretical position taken in the disputes over the nature of Christ during the fourth century A.D.

11. neophyte: (a) new plant; (b) new choice; (c) young boxer; (d) new convert.

12. neoteric: (a) modern; (b) fearful; (c) terrible; (d) sad.

Answers to Word Power

(see Page 30).

1. aeon: (d) An immeasurably long period of time. From the Greek aion.

2. chronic: (c) continuing a long time. From the Greek chronos, "time."

3. circadian rhythms: (c) biological processes in plants an animals that occur at intervals of about 24 hours. From the Latin circa, "about," and dies, "day."

4. diurnal: (a) daily; occurring during the daytime. From the Latin diurnalis.

5. fin de siecle: (d) French for "end of the century"; formerly used to indicate the opulence of the late nineteenth century, but now a term for decadence.

6. light-year: (c) distance light travels in a year at the rate of 186,000 miles per second, or about 6 trillion miles.

7. Neo-Darwinism: (a) theory emphasizing the role of natural selection in evolution and denying the inheritance of acquired characteristics. This removed some of the more objectional elements of Darwin's theory.

8. neologism: (a) new word or expression.

9. neonatal: (b) newborn.

10. neo-orthodoxy: (b) interpretation of Christianity that synthesizes Reformation theology and nineteenth-century liberalism.

11. neophyte: (d) new convert or a beginner.

12. neoteric: (a) modern. From the Greek neoterikos, "youthful."

Scores:

12-11 Excellent
10-9 Very good
8-6 Good

 


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By the editors.

January 1979

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