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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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IMPOSSIBILITY.—The modern mind flatters itself upon its frank recognition of impossibility in the world of nature. There is also an impotence of faith which is content to allow impossibility in the sphere of grace. Both these tendencies to a lazy acquiescence in a fancied inevitable are out of touch with the gospel of Christ. There is, of course, such essential impossibility as that of a good tree bearing bad fruit (Matthew 7:18). And there is the practical impossibility of a house divided against itself escaping ruin (Mark 3:25). But the range of impossibility in the world of nature and in the sphere of grace is narrowed to evanescence by the faith of the Christian disciple. A mustard-seed of faith will remove a mountain (Matthew 17:20). God is able to save to the uttermost (Luke 18:27), though it seems like the passage of a camel through a needle’s eye for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25). It is through Christ, the Son of God become the Son of Man, that all is possible and nothing impossible (John 15:5, Mark 9:23). He Himself showed it in the supreme triumph of the Resurrection, when the tomb had been sealed so that escape might be impossible (Matthew 27:66). The command over nature displayed in the stilling of the storm (Mark 4:39) and in the healing of the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:21, Mark 5:28) is at the service of faith and prayer. The poor leper lost his despair in faith, and was rewarded (Luke 5:12). The blind received sight, because through their faith human impossibility was swallowed up by Divine omnipotence (Matthew 9:28). Infinite resources, acknowledging no bounds of impossibility, are within reach of the earnest childlike faith the Lord approves (Mark 11:23, Luke 17:6). Such bright and uplifting lessons are remote from the gloomy and depressing problem of evil. There is, indeed, an undercurrent of impossibility in the stream of this world’s development. ‘It is impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come’ (Luke 17:1). But this species of impossibility we are not to dwell upon too long. ‘The redemption draws nigh’ (Luke 21:28).

Literature.—Trench, Miracles10 [Note: 0 designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 9 ff.; Expos. Times, iv. [1892] p. 1ff.; Expositor, i. ix. [1879] p. 307ff., ii. viii. [1884] p. 207ff.; Martensen, Christian Dogmatics, p. 220ff.; Clarke, Outline of Christian Theology, p. 85 ff.

W. B. Frankland.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Impossibility'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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