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Text Sermons : Greek Word Studies : Kindness (kind, easy, good) (5543) chrestos

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Kind (5543) (chrestos from chráomai = furnish what is needed or from chresteuomai = to act kindly) has a basic meaning being well adapted to fulfill a purpose and so describes that which is useful, suitable, excellent, serviceable. It means goodness with a nuance of ‘serviceableness.' (as in Luke 5:39 where the old wine is fine or superior for use). Chrestos refers to morals in 1Cor 15:33 as those which are useful or benevolent. Kind as opposed to harsh, hard, bitter, sharp, caustic!

In several NT verses (Lk 6:35, Ro 2:4-note; Ep 4:32-note; 1Pe 2:3-note) the main idea of chrestos is kind, an adjective which includes the attributes of loving affection, sympathy, friendliness, patience, pleasantness, gentleness, and goodness. Kindness is a quality shown in the way a person speaks and acts. It is more volitional than emotional.

Matthew Poole - sweet, amiable, facile in words and conversation, Luke 6:35.

Vine writes that chrestos "primarily signifies “fit for use, able to be used” (akin to chraomai, “to use”), hence, “good, virtuous, mild, pleasant” (in contrast to what is hard, harsh, sharp, bitter). (Vine, W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996. Nelson)

Chrestos refers to that which is fit for use, able to be used and hence is good, kind, benevolent, worthy, useful, virtuous, and pleasant (in contrast to what is hard, harsh, bad or unprofitable).

Chrestos expresses the material usefulness of things with regard to their goodness, pleasantness and softness.

Chrestos was a common proper name of the first century. (See note on use in 1 Peter 2:3 below).

NIDNTT states in classic use "chrestos originally denoted usefulness, and hence what appeared useful, good, suitable and proper (e.g. mild wine). This was very soon followed by the broadening of the concept to include moral excellence and perfection, in which inner greatness was linked with genuine goodness of heart. So chrestos meant morally good and honourable, the capacity to show kindness to everyone. Used as a noun, to chreston meant a friendly nature, kindness; in the plur. ta chresta, kind actions (Herodotus). In the same way the noun, he chrestotes, from Euripides on, acquired the meaning of friendliness, kindness, mildness, and was used in inscriptions as a title of honour for rulers and important public figures. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)

Barclay writes that chrestos was defined by the Greeks...

as the disposition of mind which thinks as much of its neighbour’s affairs as it does of its own. Kindness has learned the secret of looking outwards all the time, and not inwards. He tells us to forgive others as God forgave us. So, in one sentence, Paul lays down the law of personal relationships—that we should treat others as Jesus Christ has treated us. (Daily Study Bible)

There are two words for good in Greek; there is agathos and there is chrestos. The difference between them is this. The goodness of a man who is agathos may well issue in rebuke and discipline and punishment; but the goodness of a man who is chrestos is always essentially kind. Jesus was agathos when he drove the moneychangers and the sellers of doves from the Temple in the white heat of his anger. He was chrestos when he treated with loving gentleness the sinning woman who anointed his feet and the woman taken in adultery. (Daily Study Bible)

Christ's yoke is called chrestos (Mt 11:30), that is, it does not chafe. The whole idea of the word (chrestos) is a goodness which is kind. (Daily Study Bible)

He says, "My yoke is easy." The word "easy" is in Greek chrestos which can mean well-fitting. In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken. The yoke was then roughed out, and the ox wigs brought back to have the yoke tried on. The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox. (Daily Study Bible)

Vincent says chrestos is...

Actively benignant, “as distinguished from other adjectives which describe goodness on the side of its sterling worth and its gentleness” (Salmond). (Commenting on the use of chrestos to describe Jesus' yoke in Mt 11:30 Vincent writes) In Luke 5:39, chrestos is used of old wine, where the true reading, instead of better, is good (chrestos), mellowed with age.

Plato (“Republic,” 424) applies the word to education. “Good nurture and education, implant good (agathos) constitutions; and these good (chrestos) constitutions improve more and more;” thus evidently using chrestos and agathos as synonymous. The three meanings combine in the word, though it is impossible to find an English word which combines them all. Christ’s yoke is wholesome, serviceable, kindly. (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament)

Chrestos is used 8 times (twice in Romans 2:4) in the NT...

Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." (Comment: Here chrestos refers to that which causes no discomfort or does not chafe [rub so as to cause irritation]. It is that which is well-fitting. In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken. The yoke was then roughed out, and the ox was brought back to have the yoke tried on. The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox. Ponder that thought for a moment! Christ’s yoke is wholesome, serviceable, kindly. “Christ’s yoke is like feathers to a bird; not loads, but helps to motion” -- Jeremy Taylor. Chrestos can also mean "pleasant" so that wearing Christ's easy yoke is actually pleasant!).

Luke 5:39 "And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.'" (Comment: Here chrestos refers to that which meets a relatively high standard of value. The nuance here in the context of wine would also include the idea of wine that is mellow, well aged, pleasingly mild.)

Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Romans 2:4 (note) Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Comment: Here chrestos refers to the beneficent nature of God, His desire to perform acts of kindness and charity. This meaning also applies to His children in Ephesians 4:32 who perform acts of charity because of His life in them and flowing through them).

1Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived (stop being deceived): "Bad company corrupts good morals." (Comment: Here chrestos refers to that which morally good and thus which is reputable)

Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Comment: In experiencing the kindness of the Lord, men are to be like him in showing kindness towards others)

1 Peter 2:3 (note) if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. (Comment: Plato used chrestos for food. There also may be a play on words between “kindness” (chrestos) and “Christ” (Christos), two words which were probably pronounced the same at that time. The believers have therefore tasted chrestos, that is, Christ Himself, the Living Word.)

Chrestos is used 25 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Job 31:31; Ps. 25:8; 34:8; 52:9; 69:16; 86:5; 100:5; 105:45; 106:48; 109:21; 112:5; 119:39, 68; 135:21; 145:9; Prov. 2:21; Jer. 24:2f, 5; 33:11; 44:17; 52:32; Ezek. 27:22; 28:13; Da 2:32; Nah. 1:7). Here are a few representative uses of chrestos to meditate upon...

Psalm 25:8-note Good (chrestos) and upright is the LORD. Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

Psalm 34:8-note O taste and see that the LORD is good (chrestos); How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Psalm 86:5-note For Thou, Lord, art good (chrestos), and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.

Psalm 100:5-note For the LORD is good (chrestos); His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 119:39-note Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Thine ordinances are good (chrestos)

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good (chrestos), a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.

Boles notes that chrestos in this context...

is more than gentle and polite; the word also means “useful” and “serviceable.” It has the flavor of action and productivity. God showed his “kindness” to us (Ep 2:7-note) when he took steps to save us. (Boles, K. L.. Galatians & Ephesians. The College Press NIV commentary. Joplin, Mo.: College Press)

Lehman Strauss - Kindness should characterize believers in their relationships with one another. Kindness is that gentle, gracious, easy-to-be-entreated manner that permits others to be at ease in our presence. The word “kind” comes from such words as “kin” and “kindred,” so that to deal kindly with others is to deal with them as our own kin. And after all, believers are brethren. Kindness and tender-heartedness go together. They express a warm sympathy and love for all men, both the righteous and evil doers. I fear that sometimes we are not very pitiful and compassionate toward others. Kindness and compassion find expression in forgiveness (The Conduct and Duty of the Church Ephesians 4-6)

One another (240) (allelon from állos = another) means just what it says. It is like the sequoia trees of California which tower as high as 300 feet above the ground. You might be surprised to discover that these giant trees have unusually shallow root systems that reach out in all directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. Their intertwining roots also provide support for each other against the storms. That's why they usually grow in clusters. Seldom will you see a redwood standing alone, because high winds would quickly uproot it! That's what "one another" means!

Related Resource: Study the "one anothers" - most positive, some negative

Kindness of a Great President - Despite his busy schedule during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow who was near death. “Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say. The letter read, “My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.” Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The lad feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.

TENDER-HEARTED: eusplagchnoi: (Psalms 145:9; Proverbs 12:10; Luke 1:78; James 5:11)

George Morrison...

the great secret of the tender heart lies in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. It is a continual wonder about Jesus that He was so strong and yet so tenderhearted. No authority could make Him fearful; no array of power could ever daunt Him, and yet a bruised reed he would not break, and smoking flax He would not quench. He was not tender because He knew so little. He was tender because He knew so much. All that was hidden from duller eyes He saw--all that men had to bear and battle through. Their helplessness, their crying in the night, their inarticulate appeal to heaven--all this was ever audible to Jesus and kept His heart as tender as a child's. And He never lost this tenderheartedness even in the darkness of the cross. Men scorned Him, and they spat on Him, and crucified Him, yet "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." And what I say is that when that mind of Christ is given by the Spirit to you and me, then whatever happens, however we are treated, we shall be kind one to another, tenderhearted. (George Morrison. Glasgow Pulpit New Testament Commentary)





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