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This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023

 

Trench on Endurance

02.9.3

Trench, R. C.  (1901, p. 183-187).  Synonyms of the New Testament.  (New Ed.)  London : Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.

 

[Note that 'translations' of the Greek or Latin may be provided in brackets like these [ ].  These translations may be via this author, or via Google Translate.  Page numbers for the quotations should follow in brackets.]

 

"Chrysostom draws the following distinction;  that a man μακροθυμεῖ, who having power to revenge himself, yet refrains from the exercise of this power;  while the ὑπομένει, who having no choice but to bear, and only the alternative of a patient or impatient bearing, has grace to choose the former.  Thus the faithful, he concludes, would commonly be called to exercise the former grace among themselves (1 Cor. vi. 7), the latter in their commerce with those that were without:"  [p. 183]

 

"We have preferred long-suffering, and understand by it a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or passion"  [p. 184]

 

[longsuffering is:] ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπη.  [Eph. 4:2] [forbearing one another in love.] [Greek translated by Google Translate]  [p. 184]

 

"Still it is not necessarily anger which is thus excluded or set at a distance;  for when the historian of the Maccabees describes how the Romans had won the world by their policy and their patience (1 Mace, viii. 4), μακροθυμία expresses there that Roman persistency which would never make peace under defeat."  [p. 184]

 

Plato's Definitions:  "καρτερία ὑπομονὴ λύπης, ἕνεκα τοῦ καλοῦ - ὑπομονὴ πόνων, ἕνεκα τοῦ καλοῦ."  [karteria patience of sorrow, for the sake of the good - patience of pains, for the sake of the good.]  [p. 184, Footnote 1] [Greek translated by Google Translate]

 

"'In this noble word ὑπομονή there always appears (in the N. T.) a background of ἀνδρεία [valor] (cf. Plato, Theat. 177 b, where ἀνδρίῶς ὑπομεῖναι [he patiently endures] is opposed to ἀνάνδρως φεύγειν [they leave cowardly]);  it does not mark merely the endurance, the sustinentia (Vulg.), or even the patientia' (Clarom.), but the perseverantia, the brave patience with which the Christian contends against the various hindrances, persecutions, and temptations that befall him in his conflict with the inward and outward world'  (Ellicott, on 1 Thess. i.3)."  [p. 185] [Greek mostly translated by Google Translate]

 

"Ὑπομονή versatur in contemtu bonorum hujus mundi, et in forti susceptione afflictionum cum gratiarum actione;  imprimis autern in constantia fidei et caritatis, ut neutro modo quassari aut labefactari se patiatur, aut impediri quominus opus suum efficiat.  [Endurance is engaged in scorning the goods of this world, and in bravely accepting afflictions with thanksgiving;  first of all, on the other hand, in the constancy of faith and charity, so that in no way does he suffer himself to be shaken or undermined, or to be hindered from accomplishing his work."]    [p. 185] [Latin mostly translated by Google Translate]

 

"this distinction, I believe, will hold good wherever the words occur;  namely, that μακροθυμία [Forbearance] will be found to express patience in respect of persons, ὑπομονή [endurance] in respect of things.  The man μακροθυμεῖ [be long suffering], who, having to do with injurious persons, does not suffer himself easily to be provoked by them, or to blaze up into anger (2 Tim. iv. 2).  The man ὑπομένει [endure], who, under a great siege of trials, bears up, and does not lose heart or courage (Rom. v. 3;  2 Cor. i. 6;"  [p. 185]

 

"Thus, while both graces are ascribed to the saints, only μακροθυμία [Forbearance] is an attribute of God;"  [p. 186]

 

"Men may tempt and provoke Him, and He may and does display an infinite

μακροθυμία [Forbearance] in regard of them (Exod. xxxiv. 6;  Rom. ii. 4;  1 Pet. ii. 20);  there may be a resistance to God in men, because He respects the wills which He has given them, even when those wills are fighting against Him.  But there can be no resistance to God, nor burden upon Him, the Almighty, from things; therefore ὑπομονή [endurance] can find no place in Him, nor is it, as Chrysostom rightly observes, properly ascribed to Him."  [p. 186]

 

 

My Response to Trench

 

Right out of the box, Trench takes issue with  Chrysostom.  He argues that Matt 26:53 indicates that Jesus COULD call for legions of angels to come fight for Him.  Yet, clearly, He did not do so.  Why?  As He says Himself, if He did so, how would the Scriptures about Himself be fulfilled?  They wouldn't be.  He HAD to die, thereby to fulfill the Scriptures.  As He had to die, and thus COULDN'T call upon the angels, might it not be said that He had no choice but to bear the cross?  If He was Who He said He was, the Son of God, and if He had to die to fulfill His mission on earth successfully, which He did, couldn't it be said that all these expectations compelled Him not to fight death?  He only noted the legions at His command as a way of preventing His disciples from fighting for Him.  Sure, He could have fought, and His disciples could have fought, and the angels could have fought.  Yet, even if they had won the battle, wouldn't that have undercut the ultimate success of His mission?  Wouldn't that have meant that He would lose, even if He won?   So, by not fighting, by dying, He ultimately won!

 

Also consider:  The passage in Heb 12:2 that declares that Jesus 'endured' the cross, was penned principally as an encouragement to His disciples that WOULD have to endure persecution and torture.  This assisted the disciples in their hour of need to have their Lord as a model for how to 'endure' persecution.  While Trench, or others, may argue the choice of words to describe the Lord's suffering, Hebrews clearly supported those that would have to 'endure' their crosses.

 

Trench then notes Plato describing ὑπομονή as 'patience of pains.'  Enduring painful trials.   Ellicott then describes it as 'brave patience', noting the valorous aspects of this endurance.

 

Trench then distinguishes μακροθυμία from ὑπομονή.  He specifies that  "μακροθυμία [Forbearance] will be found to express patience in respect of persons, ὑπομονή [endurance] in respect of things."  I feel uncomfortable with this formulation.  Consider the controversy noted at the start of my comments about Heb 12:2.  Trench used this to argue that Christ endured/ ὑπομονή the cross even though He didn't have to.  Yet this very use of ὑπομονή demonstrates that ὑπομονή cannot be limited to enduring the suffering caused by 'things'.  This very passage which Trench cites with approval argues authoritatively against his classification of ὑπομονή as only related to 'things'.

 

So, what do I think?  I like Chrysostom's characterization of μακροθυμία as related to the restraint of seeking revenge on another.  His alternative characterization of ὑπομονή as being forced to bear the suffering is true, but I suspect it is more than that.  I suspect that ὑπομονή is a more general term for suffering that includes the situation of being forced to bear suffering, as well as not being forced to bear it.  I see μακροθυμία as a sub-type of suffering, of which ὑπομονή is the broad category containing μακροθυμία.

 

I might note that, I like the categories  Chrysostom uses for these types of suffering.  Not responding angrily to the Brethren seems completely reasonable.  Among the Brethren one thinks of one another as,  essentially, equal, and thus having the possibility of the retort.  Refraining from attacking back would clearly seem to fall under the rubric of μακροθυμία.  When dealing with those Outside the Church, one MIGHT fall into a situation in which one would not have the ability to revenge oneself.  Still, even if one could, might it not be that the Spirit we strive to walk by would lead us Not to revenge ourselves against those Outside, because we serve a Lord that wishes ALL to be saved?  Thus, due to our Lord's wishes, MAYBE we would be 'forced' not to reply and revenge ourselves on the Outsider, even if we had the ability to do so.  This would entail a broadening of the parameters Chrysostom has defined, and it feels right to me.  Now, living out this policy, that's another matter.  Easier to say in our quiet and comfortable homes, and harder to live out in the rough and tumble of the world.  Oh, well.