Anomia in NT Means Negation of Mosaic Law
Jesus in Matthew 7:15-24 refers to "signs and wonders" prophets. He identifies methods of strong seduction that can mislead you: prophecy in Jesus’ name; casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and “many wonderful works.” But Jesus then says we must reject these persons when they are workers of ANOMIA. What is that? Let’s listen to the full context to figure it out:
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work ANOMIA. (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV, the Greek anomia replaces “iniquity.”)
22 for there shall rise false Christs and false prophets, and they shall give signs and wonders, to seduce, if possible, also the chosen; (Mark 13:22 YLT)
Anomia here means negator of the Law of Moses. An apostate in the Deuteronomy 13:1-5 sense. Why?
Why Jesus Meant Law-Negation & Apostasy in Matthew 7:23
First, anomia in the Bible clearly “has the meaning of apostasy...especially in Isaiah 1:5.” (Hugh James Rose, B.D., editor, A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament by John Parkhurst (London: C.J.G. & F. Rivington, 1829) at 60.)
This is a reference to how the Greek Septuagint translated such rebellion as anomia in 257 BC. If you wish to see the Greek parsing of Isaiah 1:5 into our phonetic lettering, see this link.
Second, Jesus has quoted from Deuteronomy 13:1-5 twice already in these passages -- the rule on apostasy in the Law. Jesus quotes the "signs and wonders" terminology, and the "seduce" terminology. (Mark 13:22 YLT.) Thus, Jesus in the word ANOMIA is drawing upon the third element of the rule — that you test the prophet or dreamer by the rule of what is apostasy in 13:5 — are they are a negator of the Mosaic Law? Remember apostasy is described in 13:5 as one who “seduces you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk.” This means the Mosaic Law in context.
Third, anomia generally does not mean iniquity in a loose sense of sin in the NT. If that were the intent, the Greek word for iniquity or sin was amartio. Instead, anomia had a “more specific and definite meaning” than mere iniquity, and that was a meaning related to the Law of Moses. Edward Robins explains that anomia had a “more definite and specific meaning” than simply iniquity or sin; rather, iniquity in that “general” sense was “amartio” in Greek. (Edward Robinson, Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans)(1850) at 61.)
Why does Robinson think so? Because anomia is formed by using the negative prefix A before nomos. The word Nomos in the NT generally means the Mosaic Law. Anomia thus means either:
•“in the New Testament” the “violation of ... the Law of God” — the Mosaic Law (Robinson, id., citing Isaiah 1:5 where even though the English translation is “rebellion,” he says in context it means a violation against the Law given Moses by God.)
• “negation of law” — but in the NT specific sense of the Mosaic Law.
Rose explains this latter sense of law-negation—where the Mosaic Law does not exist at all, such as where it is negated somehow:
“The word in the N.T. means “without a revealed law,” i.e., “the law of Moses.” (Hugh James Rose, B.D., editor, A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament by John Parkhurst (London: C.J.G. & F. Rivington, 1829) at 60.
Rose specifically states this to correct an error on this very point in Parkhurst’s dictionary work that Rose is editing and republishing.
Example of Anomia in Classical Greek Text
Interestingly, anomia was used in 322 BC as “negation of law” in a court speech by Demosthenes. It is very applicable to construing workers of anomia whom Jesus in Matthew 7:23 says “I never knew you” despite performing signs and wonders in Jesus’ name.
In this speech, Demosthenes argued that if the Court did not impose the appropriate sentence after the people’s vote, it was the same as negating the law reflected in the people’s decision on what was wrong. Demosthenes calls this an impious act. Demosthenes declared it was “negation of law”
That you are empowered to pass sentence of imprisonment I prove by this argument; and I take it that everybody will agree that to invalidate judicial decisions is monstrous, impious, and subversive of popular government. Our commonwealth, gentlemen of the jury, is administered by laws and by votes of the people; and if once decisions by vote are repealed by a new law, where will be the end of it? Can we justly call this thing a law? Is it not rather the negation of law? Does not such a lawgiver merit our strongest resentment? Demosthenes, Against Timocrates 24:142 at Tuft’s Perseus Project.
Thus, if an old law is repealed by a new law, Demosthenes calls this anomia. This meaning of “negation of law” is what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:23 by use of the same identical Greek word. Thus, Jesus meant anyone who tries to repeal the preceding law — the Mosaic Law, and replace it with a new law, was guilty of anomia. You can have miracles, signs and wonders, but if you try to seduce anyone from following the preceding law, you are guilty of anomia. You are a false prophet. A false teacher.