From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Chance —The word occurs only once in Authorized and Revised Versions of the Gospels, viz. in  Luke 10:30, where in the parable of the Good Samaritan the priest is said to have been going down that way ‘by chance.’ In the original the phrase is κατὰ συγκρίαν, Vulgate accidit ut . The word συγκυρία is found nowhere else in NT, and rarely in the Gr. authors. The idea of ‘ehance’ is ordinarily expressed in Gr. by the nouns τύχη, συντυχία, or by the verb τυγχάνω. Neither of these nouns occurs in NT, and the verb, in its intransitive sense of ‘chancing’ or ‘happening,’ but rarely. Examples are  1 Corinthians 15:37 εἰ τύχοι σίτου, which Authorized and Revised Versions translates ‘it may chance of wheat’ (the only other occasion on which the word ‘chance’ is found in Authorized and Revised Versions of NT), and  1 Corinthians 14:10 εἰ τύχοι, Authorized and Revised Versions ‘it may be.’

In the Gospels τυγχἁνω is used in its Intransitive sense, with the idea, viz. of ‘happening,’ only once, and that is, curiously enough, in TR [Note: R Textus Receptus.] reading of  Luke 10:33, the verse immediately preceding the one under consideration, where the robbers are said to have left their victim ἡμιθανῆ τυγχάνοντα. The τιγχα̇νοντα here, as Meyer and others have pointed out, is not simply equivalent to ὂντα, though the Authorized Version translators appear to have so regarded it. The expression properly means ‘half dead as he chanced to be.’ The shade of suggestion is that the robbers left him in complete indifference to his fate, to live or die just as it might happen. The fact, however, that τυγχάνοντα is lacking in אΒΔΛΞ, al . justifies its omission from the text by WII and other critical editors.

Unlike τύχη and συντυχία, συγκυρία does not denote ‘chance’ in the proper sense of the word, i.e. something which ‘falls, out’ independently of the ordinary laws of causation (‘chance’ comes from the Low Lat. cadentia , ‘a falling,’ and may have been suggested by the falling of the dice from a dice-box). Derived as it is from σύν and κυρέω (‘fall in with’), it corresponds almost exactly to our word ‘coincidence.’ All that our Lord’s use of the phrase κατὰ συγκυρίαν accordingly suggests is, that by a coincidence of events a certain priest came by just as the wounded traveller lay helpless on the road. And, as Godet remarks, He may even have used the expression with a kind of irony, since ‘it is certainly not by accident that the narrator brings those two personages on the scene’ ( Com. on Lk. in loc .).

Apart from any further occurrence of the word ‘chance’ in Authorized and Revised Versions of the Gospels, the idea of hap or chance may seem to be conveyed by the use of ‘haply’ in  Mark 11:13, where Jesus is said to have come to the fig-tree, ‘if haply he might find anything thereon,’ and in  Luke 14:29, where He Himself says of the builder who could not finish his tower, ‘lest haply when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish it.’ But in both cases we have to do in the original simply with conjunctions and particles, εἰ ἅρα in the one passage and μή ποτε in the other.

As a matter of fact, the idea of chance was as foreign to the ancient Jewish as to the modern scientific mind; for while the scientist holds that the universal reign of law renders the operation of chance impossible, the Hebrew may be said to have believed (cf.  Proverbs 16:33) of every so-called chance that ‘Eternal God that chance did guide.’ In popular language the idea of things happening by chance appears to be admitted in both OT and NT (cf.  1 Samuel 6:9,  Ecclesiastes 9:11,  1 Corinthians 15:37), as it constantly is among ourselves. But in the case of the Scripture writers, at all events, it denoted only human ignorance of proximate causes, not the occurrence of events independently of the Divine will (with  1 Samuel 6:9 cf.  1 Samuel 6:12, with  Ecclesiastes 9:11 cf.  Ecclesiastes 9:1, with  1 Corinthians 15:37; cf.  1 Corinthians 3:7,  Galatians 6:7 f.).

As bearing upon the subject of chance, reference may be made to the casting of lots by the Roman soldiers for the garments of Jesus. The incident is mentioned by every one of the Evangelists, and is explained by John as referring only to His seamless tunic ( Matthew 27:35,  Mark 15:24,  Luke 23:34,  John 19:23-24). Among the Jews the casting of lots was regarded not as a reference of a question to the fickleness of chance, but as a solemn appeal to the Divine judgment (cf.  Proverbs 16:33). And though by the time of Christ such a game of chance as dice-playing (κυβεία) had been introduced into Palestine (cf. St. Paul’s ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ‘by the sleight of men,’ lit. ‘by the dice-playing,’ because of the trickery and cheating which had come to be associated with the game), it was repudiated by those who adhered strictly to the Jewish law (see Schürer, HJ P [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. i. 36). With the Roman soldiers it was otherwise. Dice are thought by some to have been an invention of the Romans, and certainly dicing was very common among them. In his famous ‘Crucifixion’ in the Church of Sta. Maria degli Angioli at Lugano, Luini represents the four soldiers as rising from a game of dice to dispute with one another the possession of the seamless robe. And more than one writer who has sought to describe the awful scene of Calvary has considered it natural to suppose that the soldiers would amuse themselves during the hours of waiting by playing their favourite game (see Farrar, Life of Christ, ad loc .). No information is given us by the Evangelists as to the manner in which the lots were cast. But it may be that a cast of the dice-box was the plan which suggested itself most readily to those rude men, and that they actually gambled for the Saviour’s coat while He bung above them on the cross, dying for the sins of the world. See, further, art. Lots (Casting of).

J. C. Lambert.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

1: Συγκυρία (Strong'S #4795 — Feminine Neuter — sunkuria — soong-koo-ree'-ah )

lit., "a meeting together with, a coincidence of circumstances, a happening," is translated "chance" in  Luke 10:31 . But concurrence of events is what the word signifies, rather than chance.

2: Τυγχάνω (Strong'S #5177 — Verb — ei tuchoi — toong-khan'-o )

lit., "if it may happen" (ei, "if," tunchano, "to happen"), signifies "it may chance,"  1—Corinthians 15:37 .

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): (n.) Probability.

(2): (n.) A possibility; a likelihood; an opportunity; - with reference to a doubtful result; as, a chance to escape; a chance for life; the chances are all against him.

(3): (n.) A supposed material or psychical agent or mode of activity other than a force, law, or purpose; fortune; fate; - in this sense often personified.

(4): (n.) The supposed effect of such an agent; something that befalls, as the result of unknown or unconsidered forces; the issue of uncertain conditions; an event not calculated upon; an unexpected occurrence; a happening; accident; fortuity; casualty.

(5): (a.) Happening by chance; casual.

(6): (n.) The operation or activity of such agent.

(7): (v. t.) To take the chances of; to venture upon; - usually with it as object.

(8): (v. i.) To happen, come, or arrive, without design or expectation.

(9): (v. t.) To befall; to happen to.

(10): (adv.) By chance; perchance.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

A term we apply to events to denote that they happen without any necessary or foreknown cause. When we say a thing happens by chance, we mean no more than that its cause is unknown to us, and not, as some vainly imagine, that chance itself can be the cause of any thing. "The case of the painter, " says Chambers, "who, unable to express the foam at the mouth of the horse he had painted, threw his sponge in despair at the piece, and by chance did that which he could not do before by design, is an eminent instance of what is called chance. Yet it is obvious all we here mean by chance, is, that the painter was not aware of the effect, or that he did not throw the sponge with such a view: not but that he actually did every thing necessary to produce the effect; insomuch that, considering the direction wherein he threw the sponge, together with its form and specific gravity, the colours wherewith it was smeared, and the distance of the hand from the piece, it was impossible, on the present system of things, that the effect should not follow."

The word, as it is often used by the unthinking, is vague and indeterminate

a mere name for nothing.

King James Dictionary [5]


1. An event that happens, falls out or takes place, without being contrived, intended, expected or foreseen the effect of an unknown cause, or the unusual or unexpected effect of a known cause accident casualty fortuitous event as, time and chance happen to all.

By chance a priest came down that way.  Luke 10 .

2. Fortune what fortune may bing as, they must take their chance. 3. An event, good or evil success or misfortune luck. 4. Possibility of an occurrence opportunity.

You ladyship may have a chance to escape this address.

CHANCE, To happen to fall out to come or arrive without design, or expectation.

If a birds nest chance to be before thee.  Deuteronomy 22 .

Ah Casca, tell us what hath chanced to day.

CHANCE, a. Happening by chance casual as a chance comer.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Luke 10:31 Acts 8:26,27 1 Samuel 6:9 Ecclesiastes 9:11

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

chans  : The idea of chance in the sense of something wholly fortuitous was utterly foreign to the Hebrew creed. Throughout the whole course of Israel's history, to the Hebrew mind, law, not chance, ruled the universe, and that law was not something blindly mechanical, but the expression of the personal Yahweh. Israel's belief upon this subject may be summed up in the couplet,

"The lot is cast into the lap;

But the whole disposing thereof is of Yahweh" ( Proverbs 16:33 ).

A number of Hebrew and Greek expressions have been translated "chance," or something nearly equivalent, but it is noteworthy that of the classical words for chance, συντυχία , suntuchı́a , and τύχη , túchē , the former never occurs in the Bible and the latter only twice in the Septuagint.

The closest approach to the idea of chance is found in the statement of the Philistines that if their device for ascertaining the cause of their calamities turned out a certain way they would call them a chance, that is, bad luck (מקרה , miḳreh ,  1 Samuel 6:9 ). But note that it was a heathen people who said this. We have the same Hebrew noun and the verb, from which the noun is taken, a number of times, but variously rendered into English: Uncleanness that "chanceth him by night" ( Deuteronomy 23:10 ). "Her hap was to ligh t on the portion of the field" (Rth 2:3). "Something hath befallen him" ( 1 Samuel 20:26 ). "One event happeneth to them all" ( Ecclesiastes 2:14 ,  Ecclesiastes 2:15 ); "that which befalleth the sons of men" ("sons of men are a chance," the English Revised Version, margin) ( Ecclesiastes 3:19 ). "There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked" ( Ecclesiastes 9:2 ,  Ecclesiastes 9:3 ). Here the idea certainly is not something independent of the will of God, but something unexpected by man.

There is also קרא , ḳārā' , "If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way" ( Deuteronomy 22:6 ). Both the above Hebrew words are combined in the statement "As I happened by chance upon Mount Gilboa" ( 2 Samuel 1:6 ). "And Absalom chanced to meet the servants of David" ("met the servants,"  2 Samuel 18:9 , the King James Version). "And there happened to be there a base fellow" ( 2 Samuel 20:1 ).

We have also פגע , pegha‛ , "Time and chance happeneth to them all," meaning simply occurrence ( Ecclesiastes 9:11 ). "Neither adversary, nor evil occurrence" ( 1 Kings 5:4 ).

In the New Testament we have συγκυρία , sugkurı́a , "coincidence," a meeting apparently accidental, a coincidence. "By chance a certain priest was going down that way" ( Luke 10:31 ). Also εἰ τύχοι , ei túchoi ̌ . "It may chance of wheat, or of some other kind," i.e. we cannot tell which ( 1 Corinthians 15:37 ). "It may be" ( 1 Corinthians 14:10 ).

If we look at the Septuagint we find tuchē used twice. "And Leah said, ( En tuchē ) With fortune" ("a troop cometh," the King James Version; "fortunate," the Revised Version (British and American); "with fortune," the Revised Version, margin,  Genesis 30:11 ). Note, it was no Israelite, but who said this. "That prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled wine unto Destiny" ("fate,"  Isaiah 65:11 ). In this passage tuchē stands for the Hebrew מני , menı̄ , the god of destiny, and Fortune is for Gad, the old Semitic name for the god of fortune found in inscriptions, private names, etc. Note here, however, also, that the prophet was rebuking idolatrous ones for apostasy to heathen divinities.

We have also in the Apocrypha, "these things which have chanced," the Revised Version (British and American) "to be opened unto thee" (2 Esdras 10:49). See also Gad; Meni .