From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Violence —In  Luke 3:14 part of the advice given by John the Baptist to the soldiers was, ‘Do violence to no man’ (μηδένα διασείσητε), the verb meaning, ‘like concutio in juridical Latin, to extort from one by intimidation money or other property’ (Grimm-Thayer). The word occurs again in  Matthew 11:12, where the adjective ‘violent’ is also found in Authorized Version. The adverb ‘violently’ appears in  Luke 8:33 Authorized Version, ‘the herd ran violently (ὤρμησεν) down a steep place,’ and in  Luke 16:16 Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885, ‘every man entereth violently into it’ (βιάζεται). Interest centres chiefly on the two passages  Matthew 11:12 and  Luke 16:16, which are so much alike, though in different contexts, that they are obviously two versions of the same saying. We place them side by side in order that they may be more easily compared.

 Matthew 11:12-13.

 Luke 16:16.

( a ) πάντες γὰρ αἱ προφῆται χαὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάννου προεφήτευσαν ( Matthew 11:13).

(α) ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μίχρι Ἰωάννου.

( b ) ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαττιστοῦ ἔως ἄρτι.

(β) ἀπὸ τότε.

( c ) ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται.

(γ) ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ εὐαγ γελίζεται.

( d ) καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν.

(δ) καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

It is evident that a, b, d closely correspond to α, β, δ; why, then, should not c be taken to convey the same idea as γ? This is the view of Melanchthon, Stier, Banks, and others, who hold that βιάζεται in Mt. is the Middle voice, as it undoubtedly is in the last clause of Luke. The translation will then be, ‘the kingdom of heaven advanceth violently,’ it forcibly introduces itself, coming with urgency and beating down all obstacles, ‘sese vi quasi obtrudit’ (Bengel, who adds ‘saepe LXX Septuagint βιάζομαι ponunt, vim adhibeo’). This is quite in keeping with the context, where Christ is extolling the work which John the Baptist had done as a pioneer and forerunner (cf.  Matthew 3:5 f.,  Mark 1:5,  Luke 7:29). It may be illustrated by the parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven ( Matthew 13:31-33), and it has the great advantage of conveying the same sense as the parallel clause in Lk. ‘the kingdom of God is preached.’ The only serious objection urged against such a rendering by Meyer, Alford, and Bruce (in Expos. Gr. Test .) is that it would be inconsistent with the words following—‘the violent take it by force.’ Is there necessarily any inconsistency, however? May we not have here one of those passages where by a slight change in the expression, by a turning of the coin, as it were, a new and complementary truth is conveyed? Would there be any inconsistency if one were to say ‘the train is advancing quickly, and those who are quick succeed in entering it’? On the other hand, the translation of the Authorized and Revised Versions is open to the charge of being tautological.

βιάζεται is, however, usually taken as Passive in  Matthew 11:12 (‘suffereth violence,’ Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885; ‘is gotten by force,’ AVm [Note: Vm Authorized Version margin.] ; vim patitur , Vulgate; βιαίως κρατεῖται, Hesychius). The image may be taken from the storming of a city or from forcing an entrance through an opposing army: the word is used in Thucyd. Hist. vii. 70, 72, of the Athenian fleet forcing its way out of Syracuse (βιάζεσθαι τὸν ἔκπλουν), and in Xen. Hell. [Note: Hellenistic.] v. ii. 23, of cities forced into a union (πόλεις τὰς βεβιασμένας).

The further question now arises, From whom does the violence proceed? and three answers are possible: (1) from true disciples, (2) from other aspirants, (3) from enemies, e.g. the scribes and Pharisees. If the last be adopted, the meaning will then be, ‘the kingdom of heaven is violently resisted, is crushed, and violent men tear it to pieces.’ So Dalman explains the passage (see below), and similarly Hilgenfeld in Mt. (‘is violently crushed’), but he would render in Lk. ‘every man is constrained by the gospel,’ taking βιάζεται as Passive). This, however, is partly an anachronism, for the imprisonment of John hardly justifies such strong language, and is partly forbidden by the connexion with v. 13 and with what goes before (see Meyer’s note). ‘Non est h. l. querela de vi mala, nam querela incipit versu 16’ (Bengel). ‘The subject is not the resistance made to the kingdom of heaven, but the difference between a prophesied and a present kingdom of heaven’ (Alford). The second answer is based on the supposition that Jesus here meant to rebuke a wrong method, not to commend a right one, and expressed disapproval of the violence of those who, misled by the free invitations of the gospel, were inclined to force an entrance, disregarding the requirements of the Law. In its favour it may be urged that this explanation admirably snits the difficult context of  Luke 16:16 and the use of πᾶς, ‘every man entereth violently into it.’ Jesus shows in v. 17 f. that ‘the same orderly methods were to obtain in the Kingdom as under the Law; so much so that the Law itself might be said to be maintained in every detail. The Gospel was not a release from, but a deepening and widening and spiritualizing of the Law’s requirements’ (Canon Bindley, who advocates this view in a paper entitled ‘The Method of the Christ,’ Expos. Times , Feb. 1905).

The first answer, however, is preferred by most commentators, viz. that the βιασταί are the disciples who seek a share in the Heavenly Kingdom with ardent zeal and intensest exertions, ‘who strive to obtain its privileges with the utmost eagerness and effort’ (Grimm-Thayer), ‘men of violence’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885; there is no art. in the Greek), ‘violent men’ (Wycl. [Note: Wyclif’s Bible (NT c. 1380, OT c. 1382, Purvey’s Revision c. 1388).] ), ‘they that go to it with violence’ (Tind. [Note: Tindale’s NT 1526 and 1534, Pent. 1530.] ), ‘the violent’ (Authorized Version, Cran. [Note: Cranmer’s ‘Great’ Bible 1539.] , Gen. [Note: Geneva NT 1557, Bible 1560.] , Rhem. [Note: Rhemish NT 1582.] ), πάντες οἱ μετὰ σπουδῆς προσιόντες (Chrys.). Like the publicans and sinners, like Zacchaeus, they take the Kingdom by force, they drag it to themselves (ἀρπάζουσι, cf.  John 6:15), they clutch at it like spoils and make it their own, ‘ut raptim, celerrima vi, perruptis obstaculis, ad se redigant bonum in medio positum’ (Bengel). This explanation agrees best with Pindar’s use of the similar word βιατάς, which has always a good sense (Meyer), ‘mighty, strong,’ and closely corresponds to Luke’s πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται, ‘entereth violently into it’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885), ‘vi ingruit pia’ (Bengel); ‘presseth into it’ (Authorized Version) is too weak. The hindrances are like a hostile army round a city which must be broken through with force; the same strenuous effort is required which is commanded in such passages as ‘strive (ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter in by the narrow door’ ( Luke 13:24), ‘ask, seek, and knock’ ( Matthew 7:7), ‘fight the good fight of the faith’ (ἀγωνίζου,  1 Timothy 6:12), ‘so run that ye may attain’ ( 1 Corinthians 9:24), ‘contend earnestly for the faith’ (ἐπαγωμίζεσθαι,  Judges 1:3). ‘Every man’ (πᾶς) is perhaps emphatic, showing that the Pharisees and the scribes must no longer look on the Kingdom as the exclusive possession of their nation or class; it was open to all nations, and might be entered by even the lowest men, though it would appear from the warning of the following verses that not all would seek it in the right spirit. ‘Jesus uses this strong figurative expression of violence and seizure, which in their peculiar meaning were applied to the unjust, forcible appropriation of others’ goods, not because He finds the point of analogy in the injustice and violence, as if men could appropriate a share in the Kingdom of God in opposition to the Divine will, but because He sought to lay stress upon the necessity of urgent energetic laying hold of a good to which they can make no claim. It is of no avail in regard to the Kingdom of God to wait idly, as in other cases men may take a waiting attitude in regard to a gift; nor does it avail to seek laboriously to earn it: but it does avail energetically to lay hold of and to retain it. It is ready as a gift of God for men, but men must direct their desire and will towards it’ (Wendt, The Teaching of Jesus , ii. 49, English translation). It is possible, however, to take the words as a description rather than as a commendation of the disciples, and to find in them a reference to those earthly ideas of the Messianic Kingdom which even the Apostles held until the day of the Ascension (cf.  Acts 1:6).

Dalman ( The Words of Jesus , pp. 139–143, English translation) in an important section, the substance of which is here transcribed, seeks to find the probable Aramaic antecedent of βιάζειται. A. Meyer suggests חסן, cf.  Daniel 7:18;  Daniel 7:22; but this would mean merely ‘to take possession of,’ and would hardly cause one writing in. Greek to use βιάζειν. He finds a better equivalent in חָּקף, which means in Peal ‘to be strong,’ in Aphel ‘to hold fast’; in  Deuteronomy 22:25, Onkelos has וְיִחְקִף for Heb. וְהֶחֱזִיק, while the LXX Septuagint renders by βιασάμενος. It is important to remember that חְּקִף has no Passive; from this it would follow that the Passive βιάζεται, is not derived immediately from an Aramaic prototype. A solution more in conformity with the Greek may be arrived at provided אַנִם he made the starting-point, for it can mean ‘to use force’ and ‘to rob.’ The text ( Matthew 11:12) thus refers to that period of the theocracy ( i.e. the Kingdom of God) which was introduced by the imprisonment of John the Baptist; it is its peculiarity that the theocracy suffers violence, not, of course, from believers, but from those in authority. The words ἀρπάζουσιν αὐτήν (אִנְסוּהָא) are not intended to suggest that the violent seize the theocracy, but merely that they maltreat it in the persons of its representatives. The utterance occurs in St. Luke in an entirely different connexion. According to him, it is applied in opposition to the Pharisees, who despised the admonition as to the right use of money. Jesus declared to them that the proclamation of the theocracy since the time of John made it possible for any one to intrude himself violently into it: nevertheless it was not their own estimate, but the judgment of God that decided who was worthy of entrance. The context, however, in Lk. may be pronounced peculiarly Greek. Neither the Passive εὐαγγελίζεται nor εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται is capable of being directly rendered into Aramaic, especially if אֲנִם is used.

If it be supposed, adds Dalman, that by using ( Luke 16:15-18) sayings of our Lord which originally had quite a different association, Lk. obtains the transition to a new parable, it may be surmised that he has given to  Luke 16:16 its present form to accommodate it to the context. The saying which Mt. and Lk. found in their sources made mention only of the violent treatment of the theocracy since the time of John. St. Luke thought of attempted entrance into it, and thus found it natural to insert it here. St. Matthew, with greater reason, understood it to refer to the violent treatment of the preachers of the theocracy, and therefore connected it with the answer of Jesus to John. Neither by Jesus nor by the Evangelists is it suggested that any one could actually appropriate the theocracy by force. Unless absolutely driven to it, we ought not to try to discover beneath these words an idea so distinctly at variance with the whole style of our Lord’s teaching.

Literature.—In addition to the works cited above, a good article in Expos. Times , 1892–93, p. 510, by J. S. Banks, will be found useful. See also Expositor , i. iii. [1876] 252, v. [1877] 197, iv. vii. [1893] 224.

W. H. Dundas

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

Old Testament terms that particularly explicate the concept are chamac [חָמָס], gazal [גָּזַל], and asaq [עָשַׂק], (and their derivatives). Primary among these is chamac [חָמָס]. The main New Testament term is bia [Βία], although it is used sparingly. An understanding of the phenomenon should not be built on isolated readings of what appear to be narratives of violence.

The term chamac [   Genesis 4:8,23 ). Jacob describes the swords of Simeon and Levi as "weapons of violence" ( Genesis 49:5 ), an apparent reference to their killing the Shechemites ( Genesis 34 ).

Sarah perceived the conception of Ishmael as violence done to her ( Genesis 16:5 ). The Book of the Covenant identifies the act of carrying a false rumor with being a form of verbal violence ( Exodus 23:1 ).

The Former Prophets also link violence with murder in the Gideon narrative, when the narrator refers to the murder of Abimelech's brothers as "violence" ( Judges 9:5,24 ). The specific nature of violence remains unspecified in  2 Samuel 22:3 , where David celebrates his deliverance from violence by God, although physical violence, including murder, might well be within the scope of the reference.

The Latter Prophets reflect the dual nuance of physical violence and nonphysical violence/ethical violence of the term. Jeremiah's complaint that his message is one of "violence and destruction" (20:8) is of particular interest because it serves as a possible double entendre. On the one hand, Jeremiah's message anticipated the violence of Babylonian destruction; in the context of his complaint, the prophet has just announced to Pashur ben Immer, the priest, that he will go into Babylonian captivity (20:1-6). The subsequent destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Babylon, lamented by the prophet in Lamentations, is described as violence achieved by Yahweh ( Lamentations 2:6 ). Furthermore, proclamation of the message elicited a violent act from Pashur ben Immer toward Jeremiah. On the other hand, from the prophet's perspective, the message itself appears to constitute verbal violence. Elsewhere, Jeremiah portrays taking advantage of the disadvantaged (orphan, widow, and stranger) as violence ( Jeremiah 22:3 ).

In the dramatic prophetic narration of  Ezekiel 8 , violence is described as pagan idolatry that had come to characterize Israel (v. 17).  Ezekiel 45:9 confronts the "princes of Israel" for violence against their own people; the context takes the term in the direction of heavy taxation of the covenant community (cf.   Nehemiah 5:1-5 ).

Amos's antithetic woe to Zion and Samaria concerning delaying the day of calamity but bringing near "the seat of violence" (6:3) is ambiguous, but may allude to a reign/rule of violence that contextually refers to oppression of the disadvantaged (c.f. 3:9-10; 4:1). Micah's use of the term in 6:12 connotes verbal violence when he links it to "speaking lies" and "deceitful tongues." Three of Habakkuk's six uses of the term refer to violence done to the land (2:8,17 [2x]). In two of those three uses, violence done to the land is paired with bloodshed ( Habakkuk 2:8,17 ). Included in Zephaniah's excoriation of the covenant leaders of his day were the priests, who are accused of doing violence to the Law (3:4). Cultic violence seems to be the object of Yahweh's hatred, according to  Malachi 2:16 .

The psalms employ the root fourteen times, mostly in unspecified contexts. However, two psalms use the term in the sense of verbal violence (27:12; 35:11)—two uses that seem to share some commonality with  Exodus 23:1 and   Deuteronomy 19:16 . This is a nuance that may also be intended by the dual proverbial use of the observation that the mouth of the wicked conceals violence ( Proverbs 10:6,11 ). Lady Wisdom simply asserts that one who misses her inflicts violence on himself ( Proverbs 8:36 ).

From an examination of the term chamac [חָמָס] we conclude that it may refer to either physical or nonphysical/ethical violence. However, from among the latter usages, one can further isolate the nuances of verbal violence and cultic violence.

The Pentateuch uses the term gazal [   Genesis 21:25 ).

Similar usage of the term is found in the Former Prophets when  Judges 9:25 asserts that the Shechemites "plundered" all who passed by. Perhaps the Judges narrator intones a sense of ethical violence in his description of certain of the Benjaminites who carried away wives from among the dancing maidens (21:23). That the term is sometimes associated with physical harm is demonstrated by its use in   2 Samuel 23:21 (cf.   1 Chronicles 11:23 ).

Several of the Latter Prophets inveigh against various leaders of Israel because they, through legal manipulation or in some situations physical abuse, "plunder" the poor ( Isaiah 3:14;  10:2;  Jeremiah 22:3;  Micah 2:2;  3:2;  Malachi 1:13 ).

Wisdom use of the term correlates with the indictments of the prophets; one of the words of the wise counseled against plundering the poor because he is poor ( Proverbs 22:22; cf.  Job 20:19;  24:2,9 ,  19 ). Ironically, evil men are "plundered" of sleep unless they are engaged in evil activity ( Proverbs 4:16 ).

Conceptually, asaq [   1 Samuel 12:2-3 ); the context appears to refer to activity akin to extortion/bribery, which he declares he had shunned in carrying out his covenant functions.

Hosea accused Ephraim of loving to oppress, a description that is paired with a description of a merchant with false balances ( Hosea 12:7 ). Ezekiel indicates that neighbors have oppressed neighbors for profit by taking (charging) interest (22:12); and the prophet indicts the nation for "oppressing" the alien (22:7). Various pre- and postexilic prophets use the term with a similar nuance of ethical violence.

Verbal violence is, likewise, included in the scope of this term; Israel confessed in Isaiah's day that she was guilty of speaking oppression ( Isaiah 59:13; cf.  Psalm 73:8 ).

The wisdom slant tends to focus on ethical violence as well. An antithetical proverb juxtaposes oppressing the poor with being gracious to the needy ( Proverbs 14:31 ); oppressing the poor for much gain is said to bring poverty ( Proverbs 22:16 ). In a context where it is paired with bribery, Qoheleth asserts that "oppression" makes a wise person mad ( Ecclesiastes 7:7 ).

Contextually, gazal [גָּזַל] and asaq [עָשַׂק] come alongside each other quite literally inasmuch as the terms are paired in several passages.  Leviticus 6:2,4 pair gazal [גָּזַל] with asaq [עָשַׂק] as "plundering" and "extortion." The context is a continued discussion of the trespass offering, the introduction of which speaks of unintentional sin. That 6:1-7 addresses a trespass offering for intentional sin is evident from the nature of the situations described. Noteworthy is the fact that violent plundering of one's neighbor, whether figurative or literal, is cast as sin against Yahweh.

The two terms are paired again in  Leviticus 19:13 , where "plundering" and "extortion" appear to be associated with withholding the wages of a hired person until the morning (cf.  Deuteronomy 24:14 ).

Micah charges the officials of his day with coveting fields and "grasping" them ( Micah 2:2 a); perhaps this violence was accomplished by means of "extortion" of the household (2:2b). Although none of the terms under examination is used by the narrator, the Ahab/Naboth incident appears to offer a classic narrative illustration of the Micah situation in the extreme. There, the "coveting"/"grasping" went beyond use of extortion as the vehicle. The violence of murder was Ahab's means of "grasping a field" ( 1 Kings 21 ).

The psalmist counsels not to trust in "oppression" ( asaq [   Psalm 62:10 ). Wisdom literature pairs the terms in much the same way. Qoheleth recognized that officials were characterized by "extortion, " ( asaq [   Ecclesiastes 5:8 ).

The range of meaning exposed by examination of the uses of the primary term, chamac [חָמָס], appears to be paradigmatic. inasmuch as the latter two terms mirror the physical/nonphysical (ethical) range, but stop short of the more particular nuances of ethical violence delineated above.

It is noteworthy that terms alluding to and the narrative descriptions of violence in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles are less common than in the older biblical corpus.

In the much discussed context of  Matthew 11:12 , Christ is narrated as using two forms of the term bia [2:2; 5:26; 21:25; 27:41) connote violence that either involves or potentially involves some form of physical harm.

John I. Lawlor

See also Judgment; Justice; Providence Of God; Holy War War; Wrath Of God

Bibliography . P. C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament  ; J. Ellul, Violence: Reflections from a Christian Perspective  ; H. Haag, TDOT , 4:478-87.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [3]

A. Noun.

Châmâs ( חָמָס , Strong'S #2555), “violence; wrong; maliciousness.” This word appears about 60 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

Basically châmâs connotes the disruption of the divinely established order of things. It has a wide range of nuances within this legal sphere. The expression “a witness in the case of violent wrongdoing” means someone who bears witness in a case having to do with such an offense (cf. Deut. 19:16). In this context the truthfulness of the witness is not established except upon further investigation (Deut. 19:18). Once he was established as a false witness, the penalty for the crime concerning which he bore false witness was to be executed against the lair (cf. Deut. 19:19). In Exod. 23:1 Israel is admonished: “… Put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness,” i.e., a witness who in accusing someone of a violent crime intends to see the accused punished severely.

Châmâs perhaps connotes a “violent wrongdoing” which has not been righted, the guilt of which lies on an entire area (its inhabitants) disrupting their relationship with God and thereby interfering with His blessings.

It is this latter sense which appears in the phrase “the earth was full of violent wrongdoing”: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11—the first occurrence of the word). Thus, in Gen. 16:5 Sarai summons God to judge between Abram and herself because he has not acted properly toward her keeping Hagar in submission: “My wrong [done me] be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.” Abram as God’s judge (in God’s stead) accepts the correctness of her case and commits Hagar to Sarai’s care to be dealt with properly.

B. Verb.

Hamas means “to treat violently.” This verb, which occurs 7 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Aramaic, Akkadian, and Arabic. This verb appears in Jer. 22:3 with the meaning of “to do no violence”: “… And do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.”

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Malachi 2:16 Genesis 6:11 6:13 Ezekiel 7:23 Psalm 7:16 Proverbs 1:18-19 Proverbs 21:7 Matthew 26:52 Jeremiah 22:3 Ezekiel 45:9 Psalm 55:9 55:11 Psalm 73:6 Jeremiah 22:17 Micah 6:12 James 5:1-6 Isaiah 53:9 1 Peter 2:23 James 5:6 Isaiah 60:18

 Matthew 11:12 is one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament. Does the kingdom of heaven suffer violence (Kjv, Nas, Reb, Nrsv ) or does the kingdom come “forcefully” (NIV)? The violence which John the Baptist (  Matthew 14:3-10 ) and believers ( Matthew 5:10-11;  Matthew 10:17;  Matthew 23:34 ) suffer argues for the former. Other “violent” images of the kingdom's coming ( Matthew 10:34-36;  Luke 14:26-27 ) support the latter. Likewise, do violent men lay siege to the kingdom, or do “forceful men lay hold of it” (NIV)? Though the NIV interpretation fits well with Luke's parallel ( Luke 16:16 ), it appears too much like an effort to tone down the real harshness of Matthew's language. Candidates for church leadership should be nonviolent persons ( 1 Timothy 3:3;  Titus 1:7 ).

King James Dictionary [5]

VI'OLENCE, n. L. violentia.

1. Physical force strength of action or motion as the violence of a storm the violence of a blow or of a conflict. 2. Moral force vehemence. The critic attacked the work with violence. 3. Outrage unjust force crimes of all kinds.

The earth was filled with violence.  Genesis 6 .

4. Eagerness vehemence.

You ask with violence.

5. Injury infringement. Offer no violence to the laws, or to the rules of civility. 6. Injury hurt.

Do violence to no man.  Luke 3 .

7. Ravishment rape.

To do violence to or on, to attack to murder.

But, as it seems, did violence on herself.

To do violence to, to outrage to force to injure. He does violence to his own opinions.

VI'OLENCE, To assault to injure also, to bring by violence. Little used.

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( v. t.) To assault; to injure; also, to bring by violence; to compel.

(2): ( n.) Ravishment; rape; constupration.

(3): ( n.) The quality or state of being violent; highly excited action, whether physical or moral; vehemence; impetuosity; force.

(4): ( n.) Injury done to that which is entitled to respect, reverence, or observance; profanation; infringement; unjust force; outrage; assault.