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Hamartiology Part II

We’ve begun hamartiology (e.g., Doctrine of sin).

This is a massively important doctrine -- In fact, Jonathan Edwards called it, “that great important doctrine.”

We began by saying that the better you understand this doctrine, the better you’ll understand every other doctrine.

So if you’re weak on this, you’ll be weak in every other area of the Bible.

You’ll also be weak in interpreting the many issuessi of life and this world, not to mention, how to properly (and biblically) address those things.

So it’s a very important issue.

Last time we began by surveying the OT terms used for sin.

Hopefully, we were able to show how there are various shades and degrees of sin.

While all sin is infinitely offensive to God, there are degredations within the heart of man.

On one side of the sin-spectrum, a person doesn’t even know they are sinning. And so their sin simply reveals that which they are-- simply a sinner (e.g., not always giving thanks for food, or simply  presuming God will give it [asking for our daily bread]).

But as you move along the spectrum, the terms indicated a heightened intentionality within the heart of a person.

The further right you move on the spectrum, the more a person’s stubborn, rebellious, God-belittling heart is revealed. This is where sin becomes high-handed, and there is a heightened form of rejecting God.

So we’ve not yet even built a theology of sin (we’ll do that next time), but rather, we’re simply getting all that from an examination of the terms themselves.

So that was a survey of the OT terms, and today we’ll see how the NT speaks of sin.

NT Terminology

"Hamartia (hamartano)"

“The early usage of the word was to “not hit” or “to miss the mark.” It also metaphorically meant “to go astray.” But it was not until the writing of the LXX that it began to take on a distinctively religious/moral meaning. It was the word used to translate the OT term hata” (TDNT).

“When you come to the NT it is “used of sin as (1) a principle or source of action, or an inward element producing acts (Rom. 3:9)... (2) a governing principle or power (Rom. 6:1)... (3) a generic… sometimes inclusive of concrete wrongdoing (Rom. 8:3)(Vine, Expository Dictionary).


It’s essential meaning is “to lead astray, to deceive.” This can be accomplished by words and also by one’s actions or non-actions.

When the active verb is used in the NT it is often used for false teachers (i.e., Matt. 18:12; 2Thess 2:11; 2Tim. 3:13).

"Parabasis (parabaino)"

Literally means to go aside/go beyond, and refers to transgressing some specific boundary.

“The noun is “primarily a going aside, but then, an overstepping… used to denote transgression (always a breach of law)” (Vine, Expository Dictionary).

Used in conjunction with Adam (Rom. 5:14).

Used to speak of Eve (1 Tim. 2:14).

In Gal. 3:19, Paul speaks of humanity as transgressing the Law, but before the Law was even made known. 

The term for “transgress” is parabasis.

Clearly, the idea of the term, then, is to cross over a designated boundary. In this case, the boundary is God’s Law, and all men have stepped outside.

"Paranomia (paranomeo)"

“As an act of lawbreaking, which stems from habitual disregard for the law. It is wrongdoing, evildoing, or deliberate transgression (Acts 23:3; 2 Pet. 2:16) (Friberg, Lexicon).

Here, you see an overt stepping over of the line.

The previous term (parabasis) means to step over, and in some cases, unknowingly. But this term is sometimes used when there is willful intent in the stepping over of the line.

Having said that, they are fairly synonymous in their meaning (and use).


“Used to speak of a deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right way to live. It is a false step, sin, or transgression; used of serious offenses against both God and man” (Friberg, Lexicon).

This is a common word for Paul, but only Matthew (twice) and Mark (once) use it as well.

“The word strongly emphasizes the deliberate act with its fateful consequences” (NIDNT).

"Parakoe (parakouo)"

“This word in the NT always means ‘bad hearing’ in consequence of unwillingness to hear…. And therefore in the guilty sense of disobedience” (Kittle, TDNT).

“The sin of parakoe is either the failure to listen and heed when God is speaking, or the disobedience which follows upon failure to hear aright” (Erickson, ST).

In Rom. 5:19, Paul uses the term (parakoe) in parallel (and contrasted to) hupakoe (“obedience”). 

So the idea, then, is rightly listening to what is told/taught, and then doing it.

It is a conforming one’s life to that which has been revealed.

"Apeithes (apeitheia)"

Means to be disobedient and involves an inner attitude. In the OT, the LXX uses this to speak of the disobedience of the people of God against God.

Vine builds on this by saying that it is literally “the condition of being unpersuadable. There is an obstinacy, or obstinate rejection of the will of God.”

It is often used in conjunction with (and, therefore, synonymously) with the term used for unbelief (Jn. 3:36). There is a willful mistrust in what has been revealed.


This literally means “without/against law” As a result it is normally translated as “lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:32; Rom. 4:7)

"Adikia (adikeo)"

Lit. “without/against righteousness.”

The whole dik word group is involved with legal terminology, and speaks of being outside the law of God, and therefore, defines if one is righteous or not. It is a legal standing.

“It describes more forcibly (than hamartia) the outwardly visible characteristics of that which stands under the power of sin (Jn. 7:18; 2:8) (NIDNTT).

"Asebes (asebeo)"

“Sin is also designated irreligion, particularly in the NT. One prominent word is the asebeo (and it’s various forms). This is the negative of sebo), which means ‘to worship’ or ‘to reverence’ and is always found in the middle voice in the NT… The cluster of terms (and asebeo) means not so much ungodliness,as irreverence” (Erickson, ST).

Good translations would be “irreverence, impiety, or ungodliness.” Understanding that ungodliness is essentially ignoring God, and removing Him from the picture.

This can be helpful as we witness with people.

A person might be an externally good person, and yet they don’t consider God in their life. The bible simply declares one like this to be “ungodly.”

When we get into the doctrine of total depravity, you’ll see that we’re not saying a person is as evil as they could possibly be, but we are saying that every aspect of their life is one in which they do not live with an awareness of God in mind.

This is ungodliness, as the Bible speaks of it.

So as we speak to people, this is why it can be helpful to bring the Law of God into the conversation. 

The Law functions to expose, and until a person's ungodliness is exposed for them, they will not see a need for a remedy (or to be put in a right standing before that Law).


This is a broad term that stands for whatever is evil in character. (Matt. 2:41; Lk. 16:25)

"Poneria (poneros)"

“In the NT. it’s used ethically in the sense of being opposed to God. Jesus used it as an adjective of men in general, who He would call evil” (NIDNTT). (Matt. 12:34; 1 Cor. 5:13)


In no way are these all the terms or phrases to capture the concept of sin in the NT. However, the observation to make is that the NT takes into account  the already extensive hamartiology of the OT, and develops it even further.

If there was one passage that captures the essence of the NT teaching on sin, it would be Rom. 1:18-3:20.

Not only does it directly quote from the OT, but speaks of contexts much broader than the Jewish world (a world that possessed the explicit Law of God).

It shows how sin works itself out in people from the subtlest of ways (e.g., simply ignoring God, and not giving him thanks), to the gravest of evil).

It’s a devastating passage one will consider in our next episode.

So these are the NT terms.

Again, not thrilling, but necessary to lay down in order to build a solid theology.

Next time we’ll actually begin to develop the doctrine, and see how it works itself out within humanity and the world.


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