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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Honesty ( the subst. does not occur in the Gospels; the adj. ‘honest’ is found in both Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 of  Luke 8:15 as a rendering of καλός = Lat. honestus , ‘noble,’ ‘excellent.’ See Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible s.vv .).—This virtue does not take the prominent place in the teaching of Jesus Christ that it assumes in most systems of ethics. Our Lord never discusses or enjoins it. The reasons for His seeming neglect of the subject may be (1) that there was no dispute about it in His day, the Sixth commandment being taken for granted as universally binding, (2) that He went beneath the precept to the principles underlying it when ( a ) He discouraged covetousness ( Mark 7:22,  Luke 12:15), and ( b ) He bade His disciples do to others as they would that others should do to them ( Matthew 7:12 =  Luke 6:31), and (3) that He treated considerations of property as of secondary importance, so that when it was a question of suffering from dishonesty—not committing it, He advised submission ( Matthew 5:40); and when the question of the division of an inheritance was submitted to Him, He dismissed it as not within His province, and that with a tone of contempt, as though such a matter had not the importance people usually attached to it ( Luke 12:13 f.). In life we see that dishonesty generally indicates a radical rottenness of character. It cannot be dealt with on prudential lines such as are indicated by the proverb, ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ By creating the Christian character, Jesus cuts out the roots of dishonesty in deceit, treachery, and greed; and implants those principles of truth and honour of which honesty is one of the natural fruits. The word rendered ‘honest’ in  Luke 8:15 (καλῇ) really means ‘fair,’ ‘sound,’ ‘excellent.’ In the Synoptics, when Jesus speaks of a thief (κλέπτης), it is not to denounce his wickedness, but in one place ( Matthew 6:19-20, cf.  Luke 12:33) to warn His disciples against making treasures of earthly things which thieves may steal or moths corrupt; and in another place ( Matthew 24:43, cf.  Luke 12:33) to compare the suddenness and unexpectedness of His advent with the way in which a thief breaks into a house at night. In  John 10:8 ff. the false leaders of the people are compared to ‘thieves and robbers’ who ravage the flock, in contrast to the Good Shepherd who tends it. In the parable of the Good Samaritan the subject of neighbourly kindness had fallen among robbers ( Luke 10:30), whose excessive cruelty is described; but the point of the parable is not in their conduct, which is referred to only in order to show the depth of misery in which their victim was found. Jesus also refers to robbers, i.e. brigands (λησταί), when He denounces the Jews for making God’s house ‘a den of robbers’ ( Mark 11:17, Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885; cf.  Matthew 21:13,  Luke 19:46), quoting  Jeremiah 7:11. Here it is not common dishonesty that rouses our Lord’s anger so much as the desecration of the house of God.

When the Jewish authorities came with an armed troop to take Jesus, He expostulated with them, asking if they had come out against a robber (ληστής,  Mark 14:48; cf.  Matthew 26:55,  Luke 22:52). In none of these cases does Jesus lay any stress on the question of dishonesty, the occasion not bringing it into discussion. His merciful words to one of the malefactors crucified with Him ( Luke 23:43) cannot be taken as throwing light on His views of dishonesty and its pardonableness, because the man was probably a brigand insurgent and a follower of Barabbas, not a mere thief. Still it does indicate that gross sins, among which stealing may be included, can be forgiven in those who turn to Christ. The one strong condemnation of theft in the Gospels is St. John’s scornful description of Judas as ‘a thief’ ( John 12:6), indicative of the vile hypocrisy of the man’s character.

In the parable of the Unjust Steward it might appear that Jesus was commending an act of dishonesty. This man having wasted his master’s goods and being called to account, foresees that he will lose his situation. Accordingly, in order to have some homes to go to for a refuge, he buys the friendship of his master’s debtors by reducing the amount of their debts ( Luke 16:1-9). On the surface, at all events, this appears to be a fraudulent action; and yet the steward is commended for it, and held up to the disciples as an example for them to follow. It is to be observed, however, that the commendation comes from the rich man, not from Christ. The master in the parable commends his steward. Wellhausen—in opposition to Julicher—ascribes v. 8 to Jesus, citing as parallel  Luke 18:6 According to this view, ὁ κὑριος here means ‘the Lord’— i.e. Christ, not ‘his Lord,’ as in Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885. But against that rendering is the fact that the rich man is called the steward’s ‘lord’ throughout the parable. The natural conclusion is that the ‘lord’ referred to in v. 8 is the ‘lord’ previously mentioned in vv. 3, 5. Thus, as Dr. Plummer remarks, the argument, like that implied by the parable of the Unjust Judge, is a fortiori . Even a worthless, dishonest steward is commended by his master, at least for shrewdness; much more, then, should a true servant of Christ act wisely. Of course, it is only the prudence, not the dishonesty, that is commended. This parable is an extreme instance for the rule that in any parable the main lessons only should be sought, and not its details allegorized. Possibly we should accept the suggestion that the estate was farmed to the steward, who rack-rented the tenants and dishonestly appropriated the excess, so that his hasty reduction of their debts was only bringing them down to the right amount, that which the owner had been receiving; but of this there is no evidence. Mr. Latham put forward the view that the steward had been too scrupulous in studying the interests of his employer, to the neglect of the rights of the tenants, whom he ground down cruelly; and he took the parable as a warning against unwise zeal for God at the cost of unkindness to men, on whom in the name of Cod too heavy requirements are laid ( Pastor Pastorum , pp. 386–398).

W. F. Adeney.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

 Romans 13:13 Philippians 4:8 Hebrews 13:18 1 Peter 2:12 Luke 8:15 Romans 12:17 1 Timothy 2:2 1 Thessalonians 4:12 Acts 6:3

Someone in the right in a law case may be described as honest ( Exodus 23:7 NIV). Isaiah lamented that “no one goes to law honestly” (  Isaiah 59:4 NRSV). Honest or just balances, weights, and measures give fair and accurate measure (  Leviticus 19:36;  Deuteronomy 25:15;  Proverbs 16:11 ).  Job 31:6 prays God's judgment to be weighed in an honest balance so God can know the person's integrity. Scripture often refers to honest or right speech (  Job 6:25;  Proverbs 12:17;  Proverbs 16:13;  Proverbs 24:26 ). Those working on the Temple construction were known for their honest business dealings ( 2 Kings 12:15;  2 Kings 22:7 ).

Jacob claimed honesty ( Genesis 30:33 ) but manipulated the breeding of Laban's flocks ( Genesis 30:37-43 ). Jacob's sons repeatedly assured Joseph of their honesty ( Genesis 42:11 ,Genesis 42:11, 42:19 ,Genesis 42:19, 42:31 ,Genesis 42:31, 42:33-34 ), never guessing that their brother knew their deceptive natures all too well ( Genesis 37:31-33 ).

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( a.) The quality or state of being honest; probity; fairness and straightforwardness of conduct, speech, etc.; integrity; sincerity; truthfulness; freedom from fraud or guile.

(2): ( a.) Satin flower; the name of two cruciferous herbs having large flat pods, the round shining partitions of which are more beautiful than the blossom; - called also lunary and moonwort. Lunaria biennis is common honesty; L. rediva is perennial honesty.

(3): ( a.) Chastity; modesty.

(4): ( a.) Honor; honorableness; dignity; propriety; suitableness; decency.

King James Dictionary [4]

HON'ESTY, n. on'esty. L. honestas.

1. In principle, an upright disposition moral rectitude of heart a disposition to conform to justice and correct moral principles, in all social transactions. In fact, upright conduct an actual conformity to justice and moral rectitude. 2. Fairness candor truth as the honesty of a narrative. 3. Frank sincerity.

Honesty is chiefly applicable to social transactions, or mutual dealings in the exchange of property.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [5]

Is that principle which makes a person prefer his promise or duty to his passion or interest.