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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Acceptance (2)

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ACCEPTANCE.—The state or relation of being in favour, especially with God. It is a common OT conception that has been carried over into the NT. In the former it has both a ceremonial significance, involving the presence of an approved offering or a state of ceremonial purity, and also an ethical significance, involving divinely approved conduct. The Hebrew expression נָשָא פָנִים ‘to lift up accept the face or person of one,’ becomes in NT πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν, ‘to accept the person presence,’ which, however, with its derivatives, προσωπολημπτεῖν and προσωπολήμπτης, always implies the acceptance of the outward presence, without regard to the inward or moral qualities; hence, in a bad sense, partiality, as in Luke 20:21 (cf. Matthew 22:16 and Mark 12:14). In a good sense the idea is expressed by εὐάρεστος, ‘well-pleasing’ (Matthew 3:17 ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’; cf. Matthew 17:5); cf. also δεκτός, ‘acceptable’ (Luke 4:24, Philippians 4:18), used with ἐνιαυτός, ‘acceptable year’ (Luke 4:19) and with καιρός, ‘acceptable time’ (2 Corinthians 6:2), of a period or time when God’s favour is specially manifest. In numerous passages in the Gospels and Epistles acceptance with God comes only through and in Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Ephesians 1:6 ‘accepted in the Beloved,’ Romans 14:18, Hebrews 13:21). So also the disciple’s conduct and service are to be such as will find acceptance with Christ (Ephesians 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:9; cf. Hebrews 12:28). See, further, art. Access.

As applied to our Lord Himself, the idea of His acceptance both with God and man is of frequent occurrence in the Gospels. Of Jesus as a growing boy this twofold acceptance on earth and in heaven is expressly affirmed (Luke 2:52). His perfect acceptance with the Father is testified to, not only by a voice from heaven both at the beginning of His ministry (Matthew 3:17 ||) and towards its close (Matthew 17:6 ||), but by the constant affirmations of His own self-consciousness (Matthew 11:27 ||, Mark 12:6 ||, John 5:20; John 8:29; John 10:17; John 15:9 etc.). The favour with which He was regarded by the people when He first came declaring ‘the acceptable year of the Lord,’ is proved not only by such notices as, ‘The common people heard him gladly’ (Mark 12:37), but by the crowds which followed Him constantly all through the period of public favour. So far as acceptance with men is concerned, there is, of course, another side to the picture. ‘No prophet,’ He said, ‘is acceptable in his own country’ (Luke 4:24). His own brethren did not believe on Him (John 7:3-5), His own townsmen thrust Him out of their city (Luke 4:28-29), His own people were guilty at last of that great act of rejection which found utterance in the shouts, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas’ (John 18:40), and ‘Crucify him, crucify him’ (Luke 23:21), and was visibly set forth to all coming time when He was nailed to a cross in full sight of Jerusalem (see Rejection). He who had been accepted for a time was now ‘a root out of a dry ground,’ the ‘despised and rejected of men’ (Isaiah 53:2-3). And yet it was from this same root of rejection and sorrow that the acceptance of Christ was to grow into universal forms. Being lifted up from the earth, He drew all men unto Him (John 12:32). And though as the well-beloved Son He had never for a moment lost favour in His Father’s sight, it was through enduring the cross and despising the shame that He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2; cf. Philippians 2:8-11).

E. B. Pollard.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Acceptance (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/a/acceptance-2.html. 1906-1918.

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