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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Torment (2)

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TORMENT.—The literal and figurative references to suffering in the Gospels are to be distinguished.

1. In the natural sense of pain caused by disease the words βάσανος and βασανἰζειν are used (Matthew 4:24; Matthew 8:6); also, of evil spirits anticipating Christ’s displeasure (Matthew 8:29 ||). Similarly, the use of the word ‘tormentors’ (βασανισταί) by Christ (Matthew 18:34) must be taken as a reflexion of well-known severities of the time; cf. ‘cut him asunder’ (with scourging) in Matthew 24:51. It has not been an infrequent occurrence that cruelties have been inflicted on prisoners with a view to inducing their friends to raise the sum of money demanded for their release.

2. The one example of the figurative use of the word in the Gospels is in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:23-28 βάσανος, ‘torment’; ὀδυνᾶσθαι, ‘to be tormented’). Christ addressed the startling language of this parable to men who were hurting their souls by covetousness. To pierce the hard crust of complacency born of wealth He used the heaviest strokes of threatening; and, choosing language that was most fitted to cause a smart to the softness of their luxury, He spoke of torture, agony, and fire. Ethical truth has always to be expressed in terms of physical sensibility, and these were things His hearers could understand. Christ read off to them in vivid words what their vision was too dull to see,—the penalties attached to their sin by the law that ‘Justice founded and eternal Love.’

T. Gregory.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Torment (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/t/torment-2.html. 1906-1918.

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