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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Zeal

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a passionate ardor for any person or cause. The word in Hebrew is, קנְאָה kinah, from קָנָא, kanah, "to flush" with passion.The Sept. usually renders it by ζῆλος (the New Test. term), which is derived from ζέω, "to be hot." Thus we say, "a fiery zeal." The psalmist says (Psalms 69:9), "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me," or consumed me like fire (see Bauer, De Messiae Zelo pro Domo Dei, Viteb. 1744). Zeal is an earnestness arising either from good or evil motives (2 Samuel 21:2; 1 Corinthians 14:12; Colossians 4:13). Thus Phinehas was commended because he was zealous for Jehovah (Numbers 25:11-13); but Jehu, when he slew the priests of Baal and the family of Ahab, was zealous in order to gain public applause, (2 Kings 10:16-31). Zeal may be misdirected, or it may be honorable (Philippians 3:6; Galatians 4:17-18; Titus 2:14; Psalms 69:9; John 2:17). Zeal is attributed in Scripture to God as well as to man (2 Kings 19:31; Isaiah 9:7; Ezekiel 5:13). There are a various kinds of zeal, as

(1) an ignorant zeal (Romans 10:2-3);

(2) a persecuting zeal (Philippians 3:6);

(3) a superstitious zeal (1 Kings 18; Galatians 1:14);

(4) a hypocritical zeal (2 Kings 10:16);

(5) a contentious zeal (1 Corinthians 11:16);

(6) a partial zeal (Hosea 7:8);

(7) a temporary zeal (2 Kings 12:13; Galatians 4:15);

(8) a genuine zeal, which is a sincere and warm concern for the glory of God, and the spiritual welfare of mankind (Galatians 4:18; Revelation 3:19). This last is generally compounded of sound knowledge, strong faith, and disinterested regard; and will manifest itself by self-denial, patient endurance, and constant exertion.

The motives to true zeal are

(1) the divine command (Revelation 3:19);

(2) the example of Christ and the end of his death (John 2:17; Acts 10:38; Titus 2:14);

(3) the importance of his service;

(4) the advantage and pleasure it brings to the possessor;

(5) the instances and honorable commendation of it in the Scriptures: Moses, Phineas, Caleb, David, Paul, etc. (Galatians 4:18; Revelation 3:15, etc.); (6) the incalculable good effects it produces on others (James 5:20). See Reynolds and Orton on Sacred Zeal; Massillon, Charges; Evans, Christian Temper, sermon 37; Hughes, Channing, and Chapin, Sermon on Zeal; Mason, Christ. Mor. sermon 28; Natural History of Enthusiasm. (See FAITH); (See FANATICISM); (See JEALOUSY),


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Zeal'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/z/zeal.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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