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Immature (3516) (nepios from nê = negative + epos = not able to talk) means literally not speaking and thus a small child above age of a helpless infant but probably not more than three or four years of age. Figuratively as here in Romans nepios refers to a person who lacks experience, is untried or ignorant or simple-minded. In context Paul is referring to the Gentiles. Nepios is the term used by the Jews to designate Gentile proselytes. Paul uses it of one not come of legal age (Ga 4:1). The writer to the Hebrews used it of one spiritually immature (Heb 5:13) as did Paul (1Co 3:1) for they cannot eat solid food (spiritually speaking). Wuest comments that nepios in Hebrews 5:13 means... an infant, a little child, a minor, not of age, and in a metaphorical sense, “untaught, unskilled.” The idea of immaturity is in the word, and according to the context in which it is found, it could refer to either mental or spiritual immaturity. Paul defines the word when he says that the person whom he calls a babe is “unskillful in the word of righteousness.” Spiritual immaturity is referred to by the word “babe.” Thus those spoken of as of full age are spiritually mature (teleios) TDNT notes that... in General Greek Usage (nepios) means “immature,” “foolish.” It is used in medicine for small children in various stages. We also find it on burial inscriptions for small children aged 1 to 10. It may also be used for orphans (denoting their helplessness), and then comes into use for legal minors. It often occurs for children as members of the family along with the wife or mother. (It can also be used for the young of animals or plants.) But the main sense in Greek is “foolish,” “inexperienced,” or “childish” with no necessary reference to children. A person is nepios who is immature in conduct, who shows a foolish confidence in fortune, who does not take account of reality, or who does not heed the advice of philosophers. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans) NIDNTT writes that... nepios denotes an infant, child or minor in classic Greek. The word can be used in metaphorical sense, e.g. of young seedlings (Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum, 8, 1, 7). Furthermore, the characteristics of the foolish and inexperienced child may be so to the fore that the meaning of child recedes in favour of foolish, inexperienced (cf. Sophocles, Electra, 145 f.). Greek philosophers who wanted to communicate to men true knowledge of the world and the life of reason dismissed with biting sarcasm the unperceptive man with no experience of life as nepios, a fool (cf. Hesiod, Works, 130, 286 ff.; Epictetus, Dissertations, 3, 24, 53). The LXX also translates petî, simple man, by nepios (Ps. 19:8). Whereas the wisdom lit. reproaches the nepios for being simple, i.e. dull and foolish (Pr. 1:32; cf. also 1:22 Aquila), nepios in the Pss. denotes the man of simple faith (e.g. Ps 116:6; 119:130) who stands under God’s protection and pays attention to his instruction. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan) Detzler writes that nepios... means "infant." An infant is a young child who is not yet weaned. The Greeks seem to have taken this word from the verb nepeleo (to be without power, impotent, or weak). In other words, an infant is a person who has no power and needs the assistance of parents or guardians. Hippocrates, "the father of medicine" used the word nepios to describe every child from the stage of a fetus to five or six years old. It is the word used to describe a family relationship: "This is the child of those parents." Aristotle used the word to describe the entire age of childhood. In Plato's writings it portrayed a person who lived in a pretend world of fantasy, in contrast with a realist. The New Testament uses the word nepios on two different levels. It speaks of both a physical child and a spiritual child.... The Apostle Paul used the picture of a nursing mother to describe the tenderness of his concern for Christians. He wrote to the Thessalonians that he and his colleagues had treated them as a mother treats her infants, with love and tenderness (1Th 2:7). In fact, this verse probably gives one the clearest pictures of the basic meaning of nepios, that of a child before weaning.... In his first letter to the Corinthians the apostle warned them that they were still "babes" in Christ, for they had not grown beyond the basics (1Co 3:1). Paul wanted them to put away childish ways and live like adult Christians (1Co 13:11). (Detzler, Wayne E: New Testament Words in Today's Language. Victor. 1986) Nepios is used 15 times in the NT - Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Comment: MacArthur explains that Jesus is referring to "spiritual babes, those who acknowledge their utter helplessness in themselves, to whom God has sovereignly chosen to reveal the truths of His kingdom. It is to the “poor in spirit” who humbly confess their dependency that God makes the way of salvation clear and understandable. By the Holy Spirit they recognize they are spiritually empty and bankrupt and they abandon all dependence on their own resources. They are the cringing spiritual beggars to whom Jesus refers in the first beatitude-the absolutely destitute who are ashamed to lift up their head as they hold out their hands for help. Babes are the exact opposite of the kind of person the scribes, Pharisees, and rabbis taught was pleasing to God. They are also the exact opposite of the imagined ideal Christian touted by many popular preachers and writers who glorify self-assertion and self-worth. The contrast between wise and intelligent and babes is not between the knowledgeable and the ignorant, the educated and the uneducated, the brilliant and the simpleminded. It is a contrast between those who think they can save themselves by their own human wisdom, resources, and achievement and those who know they cannot. It is a comparison between those who rely on themselves and those who rely on God." (Matthew 8-15, Matthew 16-23, Matthew 24-28) Matthew 21:16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast prepared praise for Thyself'?" Luke 10:21 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. Romans 2:20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. Comment: Paul uses nepios literally here referring to those who have not yet learned to speak. Galatians 4:1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, Galatians 4:3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. Comment: Detzler comments that "To the Galatians Paul compared the Jews to infants. They had an elemental knowledge of God's plan, but as a nation they did not mature enough to accept their Messiah (Gal. 4:1). This is not a final stage but a beginning stage of development (4:3). Paul looked for the day when the Jews would grow up and grasp their messianic birthright. (Ibid) Ephesians 4:14 (note) As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming Comment: Clearly Paul is using nepios figuratively to encourage his readers to no longer be spiritually immature saints but to grow in their spiritual maturity. It is good for a person to be born as a baby, but it is unnatural when one remains as an infant. By the same token, believers begin as babies, but they should grow on to maturity in the faith. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 (note) But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Hebrews 5:13 (note) For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. Nepios is used about 26 times in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - 1 Sam. 15:3; 22:19; 2 Ki. 8:12; Job 3:16; 24:12; 31:10; 33:25; Ps. 8:2; 17:14; 19:7; 64:7; 116:6; 119:130; 137:9; Prov. 1:32; 23:13; Isa. 11:8; Jer. 6:11; 9:21; 43:6; 44:7; Lam. 1:5; 2:11, 19f; 4:4; Ezek. 9:6; Hos. 11:1; Joel 2:16; Nah. 3:10 Psalm 8:2 (ESV ) Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple (Heb = pethiy = simplicity, naiveté, foolish; Lxx = nepios). Leo Burke said that... "People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one." The spiritual parallel is when immature, spiritual babes come into a house of God, they require attention. We cannot just let them go, any more than we can put a baby in a crib and just let him grow. Billy Graham spoke to the issue of maturing babes in Christ... Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion—it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ. Tacitus said, Among themselves their honesty is inflexible, their compassion quick to move, but to all other persons they show the hatred of antagonism. In Alexandria the Jews allegedly took an oath never to show kindness to a Gentile. The very privileges which should have produced saints produced arrogant, loveless egotists instead! HAVING IN THE LAW THE EMBODIMENT OF KNOWLEDGE AND OF THE TRUTH: echonta (PAPMSA) ten morphosin tes gnoseos kai tes aletheias en to nomo: (Ro 6:17; 2Ti1:13; 3:5; Titus 1:16) Having (2192) (echo) means to have or to hold in one's possession and the present tense indicates this "having" is their continuous possession. Having in the Law the embodiment - The Law contains the essential features, the full content and the formulation of knowledge and truth. Wuest says the Jews had "the rough sketch of the experiential knowledge of the truth in the law." Godet - The end of Ro 2:20 serves to explain the reason of this ministry to the Gentile world which the Jew exercises. He possesses in the law the precise sketch (morphosis), the exact outline, the rigorous formula of the knowledge of things which men should have (the idea which every one should form of them), and of the truth, that is to say, the moral reality or substance of goodness. Knowledge is the subjective possession of truth in itself. The Jew possesses in the law not only the truth itself, but its exact formula besides, by means of which he can convey this truth to others. Denney - The confidence of the Jew is based on the fact that he possesses in the law “the outline of knowledge and truth." (Denney goes on to make an interesting remark which may be true) " The morphosin tes gnoseos (embodiment of knowledge) is in point of fact only a form: valuable as the outline or definition of truth was, which the Jew possessed in the law, it was in reality ineffective, so far as the practical authority of the law in the Jew’s conduct was concerned.

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