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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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LOWLINESS.—The modest attitude of mind and demeanour which characterized our Lord as a man. It is in contrast with, though not in contradiction to, the greatness both of His station and of His claims. He describes Himself (Matthew 11:29) as ‘lowly in heart,’ and the word employed (ταπεινός) is accurately translated by the English ‘lowly’ and the Lat. humilis as denoting that which is near the earth, low as opposed to lofty, bowed down as opposed to erect. Though sometimes used in a bad sense, as indicating meanness of spirit, this is not at all its necessary or common signification. In the moral sense it is opposed to proud, haughty, self-assertive. The adjective occurs elsewhere in the NT (Luke 1:52, 2 Corinthians 10:1, James 1:9; James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5); and the noun ταπεινοφροσύνη and the verb ταπεινόω are even of more frequent occurrence. Both noun and verb are used by St. Paul (Philippians 2:3; Philippians 2:8) in describing the κένωσις of Christ, where a twofold lowliness is declared of Him: (1) in becoming man, (2) as a man. In the prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) the Messianic King is foretold as being ‘lowly and riding upon an ass’; but in the passages where the prophecy is quoted (Matthew 21:5, John 12:15), the action is given in both cases. The adjective is altogether omitted by St. John, and is rendered ‘meek’ (πραὔς) by St. Matthew. See also artt. Meekness and Humility.

E. C. Dargan.

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

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