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What Did Jesus Say? (2012) - 7 topics 

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Anomia in NT Means Apostasy -- 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 who do such signs and wonders when they are workers of ANOMIA. Hence, we ignore such prophets because they are guilty of ANOMIA. This means ANOMIA makes such prophets with apparently true signs and wonders in Jesus' name nevertheless false prophets.

What is ANOMIA? 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” used in KJV.)

 22 for there shall rise false Christs and false prophets, and they shall give signs and wonders, to seduce [Greek, APOPLANAN] if possible, also the chosen;  (Mark 13:22 YLT)

Anomia here means negator of the Law of Moses. An apostate in the Deuteronomy 13:1-10 sense.

In the Greek translation in 257 BC of Deuteronomy 13, it says a prophet who has prophecy that "comes to pass" and has signs and wonders is still a false prophet if they also try to "seduce you away from following the Law," and cause you to "turn away" from Yahweh thereby. The Hebrew word for "turn away" is rendered in Greek in the verb form of "apostasia." See Deut 13:10 NKJV and compare Deut 13:10 in the Septuagint Interlinear at this link at page 278.  

The Greek word APOSTASIA is based upon the roots APO and HISTEMI. See Strong's 868.

That is why Bernard Levinson says in Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (Oxford U.P.: 1997) at 133: "In Deuteronomy 13, the offense is consistently apostasy...." 


In the NT appears a synonymn for APOSTASIA in Greek -- the word ANOMIA. It was used that way in the Septuagint Greek translation of 257 BC in Isaiah 1:5, as we shall prove below.

And thus the correct translation of ANOMIA in the NT should be "apostasy" rather than "iniquity," as we will demonstrate.

That is certainly true in Matthew 7:21-23 because Jesus talks about persons who "prophesy in my name," and have "signs and wonders." Jesus then says they are false because of ANOMIA. Did Jesus mean "lawless" (the common translation) or APOSTASY? Because He is clearly paraphrasing Deut 13:1-10 up to that point, it is obvious Jesus means by ANOMIA -- a noun -- the verbal concept of "turn away" -- resulting in APOSTASIA -- as used in Deut 13:10 in the  Septuagint Greek of 257 BC.

Let's now go into more depth to prove this more completely.

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 in 257 BC translated such rebellion or "turning away" as anomia. If you wish to see the Greek parsing of Isaiah 1:5 into our phonetic lettering, see this link

In the Septuagint Greek translation of 257 BC, anomia is a proper means to translate as a noun the Hebrew word for "apostasy" (turn away) in Deuteronomy 13:10's usage when you are generalizing 'apostasy.'

Theo A.W. van der Louw in Transformations in the Septuagint (Peeters Publishers 2007) at 173-174 explains:

"Now apostasy is always apostasy from someone. When the text mentions 'apostasy' without the prepositional phrase 'from someone,' the noun apostasy is generalized in Greek. This is the case in Isaiah 1:5 [which uses]... ANOMIA...." 

Second, Jesus has quoted from Deuteronomy 13:1-10 twice already in these passages of Matthew 7:21-23 and Mark 13:22 -- the rule on apostasy in the Law. Jesus quotes the "signs and wonders" terminology, and the "seduce" terminology and "anomia" (translated typically as “lawlessness"). (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 13:10 — are they turning you away from the Mosaic Law?

Remember apostasy is described in Deuteronomy13 as one who “seduces you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk.” This "way" means the Mosaic Covenant 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, Robinson explains that anomia had a “more specific and definite meaning” than mere iniquity, and that was a meaning related to turning away from the Law given Moses. (Edward Robinson, Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans)(1850) at 61.) 

Why does Robinson think so besides relying upon the Septuagint usage? 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 also means without the revealed Law, i.e., the Mosaic Law.

Rose likewise explains this latter comparable sense of anomia to apostasy:

“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.

Of interest, Rose also mentions that Schleuser says


"that in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it [i.e., anomia] has the meaning of apostasy (referring to Job 7:21 and 8:4, and especially Isaiah 1:5.)" (Id., 1829, at 60.)


In other words, Paul uses anomia himself to mean apostasy. Hence, when Jesus uses anomia, Paul himself cannot complain if we translate it the same way that Paul used anomia in 2 Thess. 2:7. Of course, what is conclusive is that Jesus clearly intended the meaning of apostasy for anomia as he clearly is paraphrasing Deut. 13:1-5 -- the Punishment of Apostates section of the Law - in Matt 7:21-23.


Jesus Quotes From Deut 13:1-10 Again Later

Why does God let someone have true prophecy and signs and wonders who tries to turn you away from God's Law? God explains that He allows this to test whether you love Yahweh "with your whole heart, mind and soul." (Deut 13:5.) It is your greatest personal test whether you love Yahweh over any would-be speaker on His behalf.

How important is this command? Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 13:1-10 a second time, and He lifts these words right out of that passage, and makes them the most important command in the Bible. Jesus in Matthew 22:36-37 is asked: "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law." Jesus responds: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matt 22:37 NIV.) 

Jesus means this section in Deuteronomy is the number one law in the Bible.  Bernard Levinson in Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (Oxford U.P.: 1997) at 133, unintentionally describes Deuterononomy 12 and 13 in a way that explains why Jesus calls this the "greatest commandment." These two chapters make the two requirements in Deut 13 "to conform to the new...protocol and the requirement of fidelity to Yahweh [so that they] [t]ogether function as a kind of primary commandment, from which all else follows."

All the commandments thus hang on your zealous love for God Yahweh which requires fidelity to the Law He gave at Sinai. This applies to everyone although it has different rules for "sons of Israel" versus Levites and versus sojourners (Gentiles) dwelling in Israel. See Law Applicable Today. Apostasia aka ANOMIA by signs-and-wonder prophets whose words "come to pass" is allowed by Yahweh as a test whether you will obey the primary command upon which Jesus says the entire Law and prophets stands. How are you doing with this command?


Study Notes  

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 did not mean "iniquity" or "sin." Thus, it is very helpful to correct our English translations. This thus helps construe Jesus' meaning when He says as to workers of anomia in Matthew 7:23 that He will judge such antinomians as “I never knew you” even though they were performing signs and wonders in Jesus’ name, i.e., believed in him and did great works to honor Jesus.

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” -- anomia.

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 comparable to what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:23 by use of the same identical Greek word. Jesus did not mean iniquity, as the KJV and others translate. 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. An apostate.