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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

DEPENDENCE. 1. The feeling which impels men to look up to, and depend upon, a Power higher and other than themselves is essentially human, universal, and, in the position which it occupies in their lives, most prominent. It supplies them with an intuitive hope, which is quickened by their sense of need and helplessness, that this Power will supply their wants, and fill the mysteriously void places of their being. This hope finds expression in the universal desire for communion with that Power by prayer, worship, sacrifice, and so on. Some of the most beautiful aspirations which breathe out of the Psalms of the Jewish Church are the outcome of men’s longing after and dependence upon God (cf. Psalms 42;  Psalms 73:21-28; Psalms 108; Psalms 139, etc.); and when the Psalmist sings ‘My soul cleaveth (דָּבִקָה, LXX Septuagint ἐκολλήθη) after thee’ ( Psalms 63:8), he is putting into words, suited to his own individual experience, the same idea which St. Paul says, in his address to the assembled Athenians, is universally human (ζητεῖν τὸν θεόν,  Acts 17:27). A direct relationship, which is personal, is everywhere in the OT postulated (cf. e.g.  Genesis 5:22;  Genesis 5:24;  Genesis 6:9,  Malachi 2:6,  Amos 3:3) as existing between Jehovah and His people. On the one side is the Supreme Personal Will which projects Itself into a world of created intelligences, either in the form of law objectively revealed ( Deuteronomy 5:2, ef. the prophetic formula, ‘Thus saith the Lord’), or in that form which, in the words of the writer of the Fourth Gospel, ‘coming into the world lightens every man’ ( John 1:9, cf.  Romans 2:15,  Jeremiah 31:33). On the other, there is the being made in ‘His own image’ ( Genesis 1:26 f.,  Genesis 5:1,  Genesis 9:6, cf.  1 Corinthians 11:7,  James 3:9,  Sirach 17:3,  Wisdom of Solomon 2:23) whose life, touching His life at all points, owes its existence to the continued exercise of His will (cf.  Acts 17:28).

We have here, not the antithesis of eternal and temporal, finite and infinite, so much as an emphatic synthesis effected by a close personal relationship, in which we may say consists all that is essentially true in religion. The error into which Schleiermacher, for example, fell when he made religion consist in a feeling of dependence ( Abhangigkent ) on a Higher Power is obviously an error of defect, as it leaves out of account the element of Personality just referred to (see his Christliehe Glaube ). At the same time it would be a mistake no less fatal to eliminate this feeling from the domain of man’s spiritual life; for it is one of the ultimate realities of our being, finding expression in a variety of ways according to the individual life which is lived.

2. The sense of dependence upon God is seen most clearly and fully in the life of Jesus Christ. It is focussed, as it were, in the story of the Incarnation, and in the circumstances in which the Incarnate life was passed from childhood onwards. In this, as in other respects, that life is the epitome of all that is true in the life of man. The time when the foreordained ‘mystery of God’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:1, cf.  Ephesians 3:3-5;  Ephesians 6:19,  Colossians 1:26 f.) should be revealed, depended on the wisdom and will of the Father ( Galatians 4:4 cf.  Mark 1:15). The manner of its revelation was conditioned by the laws of motherhood (‘made of a woman, made under law,’  Galatians 4:4, cf.  Luke 2:6, where the natural law of parturition is referred to explicitly), and the safety of the Divine Child’s life depended on the vigilance of Joseph ( Matthew 2:13-15) no less than on the maternal tenderness and love of His mother. His education was that of a Jewish child in a pious Jewish home, where the language spoken was the current ‘Hebrew’ or Palestinian Aramaie (see a very useful article, ‘The Dialeets of Palestine in the time of Christ,’ by Ad. Neubauer in Sludia Biblica , vol. i. pp. 39–73 [Oxford]; with this we may compare a similar discussion by J. B. Mayor in his Epistle of St. James ), which was Jesus’ mother-tongue (cf.  Mark 3:17;  Mark 5:41;  Mark 7:34;  Mark 14:36;  Mark 15:34,  John 1:42,  Matthew 5:22). In point of fact, it is not too much to say that He was governed in His earthly life, physical and intellectual, by the ordinary laws of nature. If He violated these laws, even in the interests of His work, He had to pay the penalty which nature inexorably demands (cf.  Matthew 4:2 =  Luke 4:2,  Mark 11:12 =  Matthew 21:18,  John 4:6;  John 19:28, and  Matthew 8:24).

In the moral sphere we observe the same phenomenon, which finds a prominent place in the Christological teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Even as we are, so is He, ‘compassed with infirmity’ ( Hebrews 5:2). Like ourselves in all things, ‘apart from sin,’ He suffered from the assaults of temptation ( Hebrews 4:15, cf.  Hebrews 2:18). He had, as we have, to learn slowly and with pain the moral virtue of obedience, notwithstanding the unique character of His Sonship ( Hebrews 5:8). In Him also the law, by which alone progress is assured, exacted implicit submission, although the lesson was hard ( Hebrews 2:10, cf.  Hebrews 5:9,  Hebrews 7:28). That Jesus was fully conscious of the necessity of this bitter experience is seen from His own saying, in which He delies the threatened persecution of Herod, and which contains the same verb as is used in Hebrews, to denote the final cause of His sufferings (τελειοῦμαι,  Luke 13:32).

Even in the sphere of His mental life we find Him depending on the laws which govern intellectual growth universally. Side by side with His physical growth, as the Lukan narrative tells us, there was a corresponding expansion of His intellectual and spiritual faculties (Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτεν τῇ σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι κ.τ.λ.,  Luke 2:52, with which we may compare the words in  Luke 2:40, where the participle πληρούμενον in conjunction with σοφία is a distinct assertion of continuous and gradual development). Nor have we any just reason to suppose that the operation of this law ceased at any given stage in His life. On the score of credibility it will be found as difficult to believe that gradual growth along these lines ever found a place in Jesus’ life, as to believe that it entered so completely into the warp and woof of His experience that it accompanied Him all through His life, even to the very end (cf. art. ‘The Baptism, Temptation, and Transfiguration: A Study,’ in Ch. Quart. Rev. , July 1901). There is no period in the life of Jesus when we can say, ‘at this point He ceased to learn, or to advance towards perfection’ (τελείωσις, cf. ‘Additional Note’ on  Hebrews 2:10 in Westcott’s The Epistle to the Hebrews ). His lesson was only finally ‘learned’ in its entirety when, yielding Himself unreservedly into His Father’s hands, He became ‘obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross’ ( Philippians 2:8), and ‘the author (αἵτιος) of eternal salvation’ ( Hebrews 5:9) to all who are so far partakers of His Life that they too learn the meaning of perfect obedience (ὑπακοή). See art. Accommodation, p. 15.

In close connexion with what we have heen saying is the repeated disavowal by Jesus of all intention to assert His own will (cf. το θελημα τὀ ἐμον,  John 5:30;  John 6:38, see also  Matthew 26:39;  Matthew 26:42 =  Mark 14:36 =  Luke 22:42). His complete dependence on the will of His Father may, perhaps, suggest lewer difficulties to the student of Jesus’ life than His continuous insistence in setting that will, as it were, over against and above His own. At the same time we must remember that by this differentiation He deliberately reminds us, again and again, how complete His subordination, in the sphere of His human existence, has become, not only in word and deed, but also in His inner life of thought and intention. He has laid aside the power of doing anything ‘of himself’ ( John 5:30), because the will of His Father is for Him the object of thought and loving service (ὁτι … ζητῶ … τὀ θελημα τοῦ σἑμψαντος με). The accomplishing of the work ( John 4:34) which that will has put before Him is the nourishing sustenance (ἑμὸν βρῶμα) which is necessary for the building up of His life. ‘The will of God’ (τὀ θἐλημα τοῦ θεοῦ) is the sovereign objective of Jesus’ life, and perfect conformity to it in every point is the goal of His life’s work. Looking over the uses of the word θελημα in the NT, we find that it is almost universally used of the carrying out by others of the purposes of God, the accomplishment in the world of that which the Divine will ordains for execution (lor other usages of this word, see  John 1:13,  Luke 23:25, etc.). It is in this sense pre-eminently that the word is used in connexion with Jesus’ work (cf.  John 6:39 f., where the will of God, in the redemption of humanity, is the object of the Incarnation, and furnishes the work which Jesus avowedly sets Himself to accomplish). We are thus not surprised at the transference of the words of Psalms 40 to the work of Christ by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Ἰδοὺ ἡαν τοῦ τοιῆσαι τὀ θελημά σου,  Hebrews 10:9), who sees in this passage the aptest illustration of the object of Jesus’ life.

3. This protracted and willing subordination on the part of Jesus had its final reward in that perfect harmony between His own and His Father’s will, which left no room, in the sphere of His human activity, for anything but the most complete community of interests. Looking at this side of His life, we can appreciate the element in His teaching, so constantly emphasized, which insists on the lowliest and most complete self-surrender in others. He, the Man Jesus, succeeded in bringing His human will into absolute conformity with that of His Father, and so He teaches men to pray, ‘May thy will be done … on earth’ ( Matthew 6:10; cf.  Matthew 26:42 =  Luke 22:42). Our right to participate in the privileges of that family relationship which Jesus is not ashamed to own ( Hebrews 2:11) depends on the fidelity with which we enter, by our actions, into the spirit guiding His own work (see  Matthew 12:50). This is the touchstone by which men shall be ultimately tested, and by which their right of entry into the Kingdom of heaven shall be decided ( Matthew 7:20).

4. Nor must we forget that this phenomenon is observable in Jesus’ relation to His fellow-men. And here it is significant to note that, although always willing to exercise the prerogatives of His Divine Sonship in favour of the distressed, yet He never works a miracle on His own behalf. If He is hungry or thirsty, He trusts to the kindness and goodwill of others ( John 4:7;  John 19:28 ff.,  Matthew 21:18 f.,  Matthew 4:2 ff.,  Mark 1:13;  Mark 1:31). The lack of sympathy has a marked effect on the power of His ministrations (‘And he could there do no mighty work,’  Mark 6:5), and He recognizes that, in certain cases at least, the exercise of His power of miraculous healing may be marred or promoted by the absence or presence of a sympathetic trust on the part of those with whom He is dealing (‘All things are possible to him that believeth,’  Mark 9:23, see  Matthew 9:28 f., with which we may also compare a remarkable extension, in the application of this rule to the sufferer whose friends stand sponsor, as it were, for his faith and trust [τἠν πίστιν αὐτῶν,  Matthew 9:2]). Indeed, the presence of a captious spirit in His hearers moved Him, on more than one occasion, to indignation or grief (cf. μετʼ ὀργῆς,  Mark 3:5; ἐμβριμώμενος,  John 11:38), feelings which were also aroused in His breast by any action tending to stifle in others the expression of their trust in, and sympathy with, His work and Person (cf. the emphatic verb ἡγανάκτησεν,  Mark 10:14).

Closely allied to this is the impatience which Jesus shows with the spiritual dulness of His disciples ( Mark 9:19,  John 11:19;  John 20:29,  Matthew 26:10,  Matthew 8:17;  Matthew 8:21 etc.). It appears sometimes as if, in His eagerness to discover the smallest germs of spiritual reciprocity, He would gaze into their very hearts. In all the four Gospels the word βλετειν (with compounds) is used to denote this anxiety on the part of Jesus (cf. e.g. ἑμβλεψας αὐτῶ.  Mark 10:21; ἐμβλεψα; αὑτοῖς,  Mark 10:27,  Matthew 19:26; see also  John 1:42 and the pathetic use of the same verb in  Luke 22:61 (ἐνεβλεψεν τῶ Πετρω). For the use of the verb τεριβλεσεσθαι, which is almost confined to St. Mark, compare  Mark 3:5 =  Luke 6:10,  Mark 3:34;  Mark 10:23. Even when dealing with the question of the profound, vital union of Himself with those who believe in Him, Jesus is fully conscious that His work is conditioned by their attitude to Him. The imperative clause ‘abide in me’ ( John 15:4) is supplemented by another clause, which may be interpreted as containing a contingent proonse, ‘I will on that condition abide in you,’ or, more probably, as a complementary imperative, ‘permit me to abide in you.’ In either case it is true to say that Jesus here recognizes and teaches the doctrine that ‘the freedom of man’s will is such that on his action depends that of Christ’ (see Plummer’s ‘St. John’ in Cambridge Greek Testament, in loc .).

5. Not the least remarkable feature in the teaching of Jesus is that on which the writer of the Fourth Gospel lays particular stress. The union between Him and the Father is so complete, that He describes it as a mutual indwelling or co-existence ( John 10:38;  John 14:10 f.,  John 14:20). He derives from the Father, as the ultimate source of each ( John 16:13), both the terms of the message He delivers ( John 8:28;  John 7:16 ἡ ἐμὴ διδαχή,  John 12:49) and the power which renders His work ‘coincident and coexistent with that of the Father’ ( John 5:19, see Westcott’s Gospel of St. John, in loc. ). Jesus refuses to claim the right or even the ability to act separately from the Father, and the character of His works is determined by the fact that it is not He Himself who is the author of them, but the Father dwelling in, speaking and acting through Him (cf.  John 5:30;  John 14:10). It is quite true, in a very real sense, to say with Westcott that ‘Christ places His work as co-ordinate with that of the Father, and not as dependent on it’; at the same time it is true in a sense no less real that ‘the very idea of Sonship involves … that of dependence,’ as will be seen if we refer to such phrases as ἀπʼ ἐμαυτοῦ ( John 5:30), ἐξ ἐμαυτοῦ ( John 12:48). What this phraseology implied, in the mind at least of the writer of the Fourth Gospel, will perhaps be better understood by observing his use of it in other connexions (cf. e.g.  John 11:51, where the ‘prophecy’ of Caiaphas is made to depend for its validity on the χάρισμα inherent in the high priestly office; see also  John 15:4,  John 16:13, where the deeds done and the words spoken are relegated to a higher source than to the energy possessed by the actors).

6. Another side of Jesus’ self-revelation as to the condition of dependence in which His spiritual life on earth was lived, is to be found in His doctrine of our dependence upon Him . Just as He can do nothing ‘of himself,’ but traces the source of His manifold activities to the mutual indwelling of the Father and Himself, so He tells His disciples they are powerless for good if they are ‘apart from’ Him (χωρἱς ἑμοῦ οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὑδέν,  John 15:5). He is the derived source of their vital energy in the same sense that the tree is the source of the fruit-bearing life of its branch. It is significant that this writer uses the same verb and preposition (μένειν ἐν) to express the nature of the union of the Father and Jesus, and that of Jesus and those who believe in Him (cf.  John 14:10,  John 15:4 etc.). The words of St. Paul to the Athenians, ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ ( Acts 17:28), are as true of Jesus as they are of all the children of men, ‘for both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one’ (ἐξ ἑνός,  Hebrews 2:11). It is this very likeness (ὀμοίωμα,  Philippians 2:7, cf.  Hebrews 2:17) of nature which makes interdependence, in the sphere of active work, between Christ and believers a prominent feature in all sound Christologies (cf.  Mark 16:20,  1 Corinthians 3:9,  2 Corinthians 6:1). The well-known Pauline ἐν Χριστῷ (cf.  2 Corinthians 5:17,  1 Corinthians 15:22,  Colossians 1:28 etc.) is balanced by the no less Pauline Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ( Romans 8:10,  1 Corinthians 1:30, cf.  Ephesians 3:17,  Galatians 2:20).

Life in Christ is the normal condition of redeemed humanity ( 1 Corinthians 15:22). As the head is the seat of the vital functions in the human body, and without the head the body is helpless and lifeless, so Christ is the source of the Church’s life and energy ( Ephesians 4:15 f.,  Colossians 1:18;  Colossians 2:19 etc.). Her capacity for development springs directly from Him, considered in relation to His place in her constitution ( Ephesians 2:20 f.), and it is impossible even to conceive of the Church apart from this relationship ( 1 Corinthians 3:11). ‘The Head,’ ‘the chief corner-stone,’ ‘the foundation,’ are the principal Pauline formulae used by the Apostle to picture the mysterious nature of a union upon which the very existence of the Church depends. The symbol of the marriage relationship, with all the consequences involved, is not only found in the Johannine idealism ( Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 21:2;  Revelation 21:9), but discovers itself underlying St. Paul’s ideas as to the nature of the tie which binds the Church to Christ, in its aspect both of loving equality ( Ephesians 5:28 f.) and of dependent subordination ( Ephesians 5:24;  Ephesians 5:33).

Relative to what we have been saying, it may not be amiss to recall the difficult words of St. Paul, which emphasize this side of a mysterious truth—‘Now I … fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the Church’ ( Colossians 1:24, cf. the strange translation of this sentence in Moffatt’s The Historical New Testament 2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] ). It is as if the Apostle said that Christ is still, in a certain sense, subject to His Father’s disciplinary control (cf.  Acts 9:4,  John 15:1 f.), where the Father, as the husbandman, prunes the branches, and consequently the tree out of which the branches grow. The tribulations and disappointments which the Church experiences from age to age are manifestations of the same spirit of unbelief and opposition encountered by Jesus during His work on earth ( John 15:18-21;  John 17:14-16). Nor ought we to be surprised if we observe this continued display of hostility in one form or another, because Jesus Himself knew that it would be so, and that He was the object of opposition. He said that the world would hate to accept the directing influence of that body which professes to derive its life directly from His Life (cf.  Luke 6:22;  Luke 21:17,  Matthew 10:22;  Matthew 24:9;  1 Peter 2:21; 1Pe_4:13 f.).

The other side of the same truth is not forgotten by Jesus, who taught that the conscious recognition of His claims over the lives of His followers, and the consequent acts of goodwill towards the latter, will not escape His notice (cf. ἑν ὀνοματι ὁτι Χριστοῦ ἐστὲ,  Mark 9:41, and εἰς ὀνομα μαθητοῦ,  Matthew 10:42). See also  Matthew 25:40;  Matthew 25:45, where, in His solemn portraiture of the Judgment Day, Jesus emphasizes the great truth of His self-identification with all who have their lives grounded in Him (cf. τούτων τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων,  Matthew 25:40).

7. We must not close our consideration of this subject without referring to a feature of the Christian life which is supplementary to and dependent upon the foregoing. The life of the believer is not bounded by his own immediate interests, although as an individual that life is immeasurably enriched and ennobled by its personal contact with, and share in, the Incarnate Life of Jesus Christ. In the parables of the Vine and the Good Shepherd He leads to the conclusion that all His disciples stand in a relationship to each other of the closest kind. There is an interdependence between them which springs out of their common relationship to Christ their Head. This truth is especially dwelt on by St. Paul in his reasoning on the variety of work but unity of purpose which characterizes the lives of professing Christians considered in then corporate capacity, and as constituent parts of a great whole. No individual life can be considered as self-centred in the sense of its being independent of the lives of its fellows. However unconscious one may be of the fact, it nevertheless remains true that no single member of ‘the body of Christ’ (σῶμα Χριστοῦ) is unaffected by the fortunes of its brethren. Various as are the functions of the parts, vital as is the dependence of each on Him in whom their common life has its roots, it is still the truth that the fulness of the life of every individual is affected by the joy or the sorrow, the strength or the weakness, of every other (cf.  1 Corinthians 12:12-30,  Galatians 3:27 f.,  Colossians 3:11,  Ephesians 3:15 f.). The recognition of this common share in the one higher life is necessary as affording scope for the exercise of the greatest of all human virtues (ἡ ἁγάπη,  1 Corinthians 13:13).

The incapability of fully appreciating this feature of Jesus’ teaching, which is ultimately bound up with His ideals and aspirations, will largely account for the signal failure of Christendom to realize that spiritual as well as visible unity of life and purpose to which He looked forward in the later stages of His ministry. Oneness is just the characteristic which cannot be predicated of the Christian community. More especially is this the case if we consider the nature of the oneness aspired after by Jesus for His followers—a oneness which has its roots in the Divine life, and ‘in which each constituent being is a conscious element in the being of a vast whole’ (ἴνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἔν,  John 17:23; cf.  John 17:11; cf.  John 17:21-22,  Romans 12:5,  1 Corinthians 12:20; see also Westcott’s Gospel of St. John , p. 246 f.).

The opening years of the twentieth century give promise of a profounder realization of this Divine idea; and the craving after unity, in some sense at least, may issue in a truer conception of the inter-relations of Christian people, in a real synthesis of the individual’s freedom and his subordination and dependence as a member of that which is essentially one whole (cf. ὅτι εἷς ἄρτος, ἓν σῶμα οἱ πολλοί ἐσμεν,  1 Corinthians 10:17). Perhaps it is not without significance that, in recording the prayer of Jesus for His Church, St. John uses the present tense of the verbs πιστεύω and γινώσκω ( John 17:21;  John 17:23), which points to the ultimate, albeit gradual, acquirement by ‘the world’ of that faith and knowledge which the spectacle of a union so vital and so profound is calculated to impart.

Literature.—W. R. Harper’s Religion and the Higher Life will be found very useful in connexion with this subject; as will also A. Dorner’s Grundprobleme der Religionsphilosophie , especially Lecture II. in that volume. Westcott’s Gospel of St. John and The Epistle to the Hebrews will be found in places very helpful; as also his Christus Consummator, The Incarnation and Common Life , and Christian Aspects of Life  ; cf. G. B. Stevens, The Theology of the New Testament  ; B. Weiss, Biblical Theology of the NT  ; Liddon, Some Elements of Religion  ; Wendt, Lehre Jesu , English translation (T. & T. Clark); Hall, The Kenotic Theory  ; Bruce, The Humiliation of Christ  ; Gore, Dissertations on Subjects connected with the Incarnation, The Church and the Ministry, The Body of Christ  ; Seeley, Ecce Homo . See also articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible: ‘Communion’ (J. Armitage Robinson), ‘Church’ (S. C. Gayford), ‘Kingdom of God’ (J. Orr; with which may be studied articles ‘Messiah’ and ‘Eschatology’ [especially §§ 82, 101] in the Encyc. Bibl .), ‘Jesus Christ’ (Sanday; which might be studied in conjunction with Edersheim’s The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah , B. Weiss, The Life of Christ , O. Holtzmann, The Life of Jesus ).

J. R. Willis.

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(1): ( n.) The state of being influenced and determined by something; subjection (as of an effect to its cause).

(2): ( n.) Mutu/// /onnection and support; concatenation; systematic ///er relation.

(3): ( n.) Subjection to the direction or disposal of another; inability to help or provide for one's self.

(4): ( n.) The act or state of depending; state of being dependent; a hanging down or from; suspension from a support.

(5): ( n.) A resting with confidence; reliance; trust.

(6): ( n.) That on which one depends or relies; as, he was her sole dependence.

(7): ( n.) That which depends; anything dependent or suspended; anything attached a subordinate to, or contingent on, something else.

(8): ( n.) A matter depending, or in suspense, and still to be determined; ground of controversy or quarrel.