The NT has approximately two dozen different
words all translated “receive”. The one to be given particular
attention here is not dechomai, the most common of them all, but a
close relative of it: para-dechomai. This also is translated
“receive”, simply because the translators could not find another
equivalent without expanding it into a phrase in what might have proved more
The essential idea is that of accepting formally,
as a tenet of some importance; as when a man says: “I know the claims of
the church of Rome, but I do not accept, or receive,
Hence in the interpretation of the parable of the
sower, “these are they...which hear the word, and receive it”
(Mar 4:20). The message is not only listened to and understood but is accepted
as vital teaching to be held on to.
There is a touch of formality about Paul’s
instruction: “Against an elder receive not an accusation but before
two or three witnesses” (1Ti 5:19).
In Heb 12:6, a good father “scourgeth
(chastises) every son whom he receiveth.” The discipline proclaims a
parenthood not to be disowned.
The great complaint made against Paul and his
friends by citizens of Philippi eager to stress their own staunch loyalty to
Rome was that these men “teach customs, which it is not lawful for us to
receive, neither to observe, being Romans” (Acts 16:21). It was not
unlawful to hear the teaching, but they deemed it unlawful to accept it as
Most eloquent of all is the instruction of the
Lord Jesus to Paul not to stay in Jerusalem, “for they will not receive
thy testimony concerning me” (Acts 22:18). There is here the
implication that Paul quite expected that the story of his marvellous conversion
on the road to Damascus would immediately have its effect on his old friends and
colleagues in Jerusalem. Not they! Paul’s optimism in those early days in
the Faith was to meet with rude rebuff. “They will not receive thy
testimony.” What an understatement!
“I (Christ, the Judge) am he that searcheth
the reins (nephros) and the hearts” (Rev 2:23). But Psalm
7:9 asserts that “God trieth the hearts and the reins.” Here
then is another example of the familiar NT usage whereby the name and character
of the Father are, readily and without explanation, used also of the Son. They
are part of his natural inheritance.
Here, as nearly always, “heart”
stands for the mind, a man’s thinking powers. Then what is the meaning (in
metonymy) of the reins, the kidneys? Suggestion: the natural emotions, in
contrast to a man’s thinking powers.
Reprove, Convince, Convict
The Greeks had a word for legal disproof or
refutation, or for the cross-examination which exposes the weakness of a
The same word, and more especially the
corresponding verb, elencho, is something of a favourite in the
NT, to describe thorough proof, not disproof, of error. Herod reproved by
John the Baptist (Luk 3:19); the accusers of the adulterous woman being
convicted by their own consciences (John 8:9); Balaam rebuked for
his iniquity (2Pe 2:16); the public witness of the Holy Spirit: “he will
reprove the (Jewish) world of sin” (John 16:8).
But whereas cross-examination or argument is
intended to convince an independent judge or jury, in the NT bringing conviction
to the person directly involved is the main idea.
- “For every one that
doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should
be reproved” (John
- “As many
as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Rev
them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit
This strong personal impact is a thing to look
out for in all occurrences of this word. This is true even in Heb 11:1:
“Faith is...the evidence of things not seen”, where the idea
of convincing argument and personal reaction to it are both
The same word, made doubly intensive by two
prefixes — diakatelencho — means to defeat and put to
shame in argument. The AV of Acts 18:28: “(Apollos) mightily convinced
the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was
Christ” is an over-optimistic translation. RV: “powerfully
confuted” is much better.
Orthos means “straight,
correct, right, upright”. An orthopaedic hospital sets children right. The
adverb means “correctly”, and the verb, anorthoo,
describes the act of setting up or setting right.
Bible examples are mostly straightforward
(orthos!). The poor woman, eighteen years bowed down, was
“made straight” (Luk 13:13). Paul bade the lame man at Lystra
“stand up straight”. The stammerer, healed by Jesus,
“spoke properly”. “Thou hast answered
right” expressed the Lord’s approval of good
At Antioch Paul rebuked Peter because “they
walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (Gal
2:14). And years later, when Judaism was again making its impact, the
exhortation was: “Make straight paths for your feet” (Heb
12:13). The context there also bids the waverers “lift up the hands which
hang down” (12:12), that is, lift up your hands straight towards heaven in
prayer for guidance.
The LXX uses this word for the “setting
up” of David’s throne when Messiah inherits the kingdom (2Sa
7:13,16). When the complete failure of Solomon is considered, it is evident that
he did not “set up straight” the throne of David. Jesus is
the man to do this, for “thy discipline hath set me
straight,” says one of the psalms of Messiah (18:35, LXX). “I
have kept on straight (katorthoo) towards thy commandments: I
hated every unrighteous way” (Psa 119:128).
Lastly, the workman in Christ who does not need
to be ashamed “straight-cuts” the word of truth. It is a picture of
a skilled ploughman driving a perfectly straight furrow, keeping his eye
steadily on the Mar ahead.