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Unclean, Common, Unholy (2839)(koinos probably from sun/syn = with) is an adjective which means primarily common. More generally, and usually in a negative sense, koinos means defiled (corrupted in regard to its purity or perfection), unclean (because it is treated as common and thus considered morally or spiritually impure) or profane (not holy because unconsecrated, impure, or defiled). Webster (1828) definition of common - Not distinguished or exceptional; inconspicuous; ordinary; plebeian; - often in a depreciatory sense. Belonging or relating equally, or similarly, to more than one; as, you and I have a common interest in the property. Belonging to or shared by, affecting or serving, all the members of a class, considered together; general; public; as, properties common to all plants; the common schools; the Book of Common Prayer. Koinos describes spiritual desecration which occurs when one treats that which is considered sacred or holy (set apart to God) as ordinary ("not special"). Wuest gives us insights into koinos in his comments on the derivative verb koinoo, (Mk 7:15) - "The word koinos refers to that which is common to everybody. In later Greek it came to mean what is profane as in Mark 7:15 (verb form koinoo is used) contrasted to the hallowed or sacred. “Profane” is used in the sense of secular, non-religious. When our Lord spoke of that which enters a man in Mk 7:15, He was speaking of food. That does not make a man ceremonially unclean, (does not defile - koinoo) even though he eat it with ceremonially unwashed hands. When He spoke of that which comes out of a man which defiles him, He was referring to the extra-biblical teachings of the Pharisees which defiled them in the sense that these teachers were, by their teachings which were in direct opposition to God’s Word, constituted false teachers, thus, not hallowed or set apart for God. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader) Koinos can also describe that which belongs equally to several and thus that which was treated as in common (communal = shared or used in common by members of the community) (Acts 2:44, 4:32). Koinos describes that which is unconsecrated and thus is common or ordinary and the opposite of that which is holy (Rev 21:27). Koinos describes that which is defiled and thus is ceremonially unacceptable, which is the opposite fo that which is clean or pure (katharos). (Acts 10:14). Koinos describes unclean...hands (Mk 7:2), meats (Acts 10:14, 28, 11:8, Ro 14:14), the blood of the covenant (Heb 10:29). Vine says koinos means "common and from the idea of coming into contact with everything, “defiled,” is used in the ceremonial sense in Mark 7:2, 5. Koinos denotes (a) “common, belonging to several” (Lat., communis), said of things had in common, Acts 2:44; 4:32; of faith, Titus 1:4; of salvation, Jude 3; it stands in contrast to idios, “one’s own”; (b) “ordinary, belonging to the generality, as distinct from what is peculiar to the few”, hence the application to religious practices of Gentiles in contrast with those of Jews; or of the ordinary people in contrast with those of the Pharisees; hence the meaning “unhallowed, profane,” Levitically unclean (Lat., profanus), said of hands, Mk 7:2 (KJV = “defiled,”) rv marg., “common”; of animals, ceremonially unclean, Acts 10:14; 11:8; of a man, Acts 10:28; of meats, Ro. 14:14, “unclean”; of the blood of the covenant, as viewed by an apostate, Heb. 10:29, “unholy” (rv, marg., “common”); of everything unfit for the holy city, Rev. 21:27, rv, “unclean” (marg., “common”). (Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words) Enhanced Strong's (with definitions of English words added) - (1) Common (of or relating to a community at large), i.e. belonging to generality. (2) by the Jews describes that which is opposed to holy (hagios); hence unhallowed (unsanctioned by or showing lack of reverence for religion) or profane (not holy because unconsecrated, impure, or defiled) and thus Levitically unclean (Mk 7:2, 5, Ro 14:14). Marvin Vincent - Koinos is literally, common. In the Levitical sense, as opposed to holy or pure. Compare Mark 7:2, “With defiled (common), that is to say, with unwashed hands.” See Acts 10:14 (unholy). (Romans 14 - Vincent's Word Studies) Classic Greek use of koinos - Koinos means “common”—in the sense of common ownership—in classical Greek. For instance, “common property” is property whose ownership is held by more than one person. The term is also used in reference to “public” affairs, such as elections. From this idea of commonality koinos grew to have a slightly negative connotation. Something “common” was “ordinary,” hence inferior; thus “common things” came to be contrasted with “holy things,” which resulted in koinos meaning “unclean, profane.” (Complete Biblical Library) Wayne Detzler - In English the word "common" has two basic meanings. First, it describes those things which are shared by a group of people, what is held by a "community." Second, it refers to things which are unimportant because of their "commonness," as common as an "old shoe." Both of these meanings are embraced by the Greek word koinos. Plato projected a day when the common good would dominate all decisions. Guardians and soldiers would be fed communally from a vast storehouse. Their wives and children would likewise form a "commune." Aristotle even advocated a common ownership of wealth. In the New Testament the word koine takes on further significance, because it speaks of the common interest of all Christians (Jude 1:3). Like many other words, the word koinos has other connections. A companion is called a koinonos, and the fellowship of believers is koinonia. A partner in business is called sugkoinonos (combining sun/syn, "together," with koinonos, "companion"). Incidentally, the Greek language of the New Testament is called Koine Greek. This was the "common" language spoken on the streets of the Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit "put the Bible on the lower shelf," so many people could read it...."Common" also means something which is ordinary, low-class, or vulgar. Could the explanation be that some things are owned by so many people that they lose their value and become ordinary? This might explain the second meaning of common, a meaning which is also found in Greek. Peter referred to ceremonially unclean meat as being "common or profane" (Acts 10:14, marg.). Then the Lord taught him that no meat is "common or profane" (Acts 11:9). This was an object lesson the Lord used to compel Peter to evangelize the Roman Centurion Cornelius. Here too is a wonderful lesson: no one is ordinary in God's eyes. A second reference to this meaning of "common" is found in Paul's writings. Here too the teaching is tremendous, that no food is unclean in God's eyes (Ro 14:14). In Hebrews we learn of people who pervert the Cross of Christ and thus make it common or ordinary. They do this by sinning willfully against the Lord after hearing the Gospel (Heb. 10:29). This elicits from the inspired writer a warning of judgment which will be swift and severe (Heb 10:30-31). There is nothing "common" about the Cross of Christ. Though God rejected the Pharisees' views of things which are ceremonially clean or unclean, the Revelation warns that certain people are unclean, and they will never be tolerated in heaven. What makes them unclean? They have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, and their names are not in the Lamb's Book of Life. These are unclean in God's eyes (Rev. 21:27). Thus the two meanings of koinos come together. Christians are people who hold all things in common, and they meet one another's needs. They also share a "common" salvation and hope. Nothing is ceremonially "common" or unclean, except those who treat the Cross of Christ as common or unclean, and they will never enter heaven. (New Testament words in today's language- Wayne A Detzler - highly recommended resource) ISBE - Common = koino?s , in the classics, and primarily in the New Testament, means what is public, general, universal, as contrasted with i?dios , what is peculiar, individual, not shared with others. Thus, "common faith" (Titus 1:4), "common salvation" (Jude 1:3), refer to that in which the experience of all Christians unites and is identical: "common," because there is but one faith and one salvation (Eph 4:4-6). From this comes the derived meaning of what is ordinary and, therefore, to be disesteemed, as contrasted with what pertains to a class, and to be prized, because rare. This naturally coincides with OT exclusivism, particularity and separation. Its religion was that of a separated people, with a separated class as its ministers, and with minute directions as to distinctions of meat, drink, times, places, rites, vessels, etc. Whatever was common or ordinary, it avoided. The NT on the other hand, with its universalism of scope, and its spirituality of sphere, rose above all such externals. The salvation which it brought was directed to the redemption of Nature, as well as of man, sanctifying the creature, and pervading all parts of man's being and all relations of life. The antithesis is forcibly illustrated in Acts 10:14, 28, where Peter says: "I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean," and the reply is: "What God hath cleansed, make not thou common." (Common - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) Hastings - ‘Common’ (koinos, communis ) is an honourable word in classical Greek = ‘shared by the people.’ In Hellenistic Greek, it has sometimes this same meaning (Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32 , 1.4" class="scriptRef">Titus 1:4 , Judges 1:3 ), but sometimes a less honourable one (= Lat. vulgaris ). This depreciation arose out of the transcendence of religion to the Eastern mind. What was ‘shared by the people’ had become profaned for the god (cf. the English word ‘worldly,’ meaning first secular, then unspiritual). We see the process with koinos in Hebrews 10:29 -‘counted the blood of the covenant a common [ i.e. secular] thing.’ In Revelation 21:27 we go a step further, and ‘anything common’ means the worldly, the unspiritual (cf. Jos. Ant . xii. ii. 14, xiii. i. 1). Elsewhere ‘common’ corresponds to positive, active uncleanness (Acts 10:14; Acts 10:28; Acts 11:8 , Ro 14:14 , 1 Maccabees 1:47; 1 Maccabees 1:62 , Jos. Ant . XI. viii. 7; the verb (koinoo) is found in Acts 21:28 , Hebrews 9:13 ). The distinction, ‘clean’ (katharos ) and ‘unclean’ (akatharos), refers in the OT and primitive religions to definite departments of life, such as food, sanitation, contact with the dead, and marriage (Leviticus 11-15). In the OT it is mainly a common-sense distinction, made, however, from religious motives, and becoming part of the ritual of the Hebrews. It was thus a practical differentiation between them and surrounding peoples. It arose out of a good idea, but when separated from this idea grew into a proud national badge. Such national and religious customs, so long held, seem stronger than they are. One push of a new movement will often destroy, almost in a moment, the habits of centuries. We find this process to-day in the East. In the NT it may be seen in the case of Simon Peter; he combined Christian beliefs and Jewish distinctions without at first being willing to perceive their variance. His vision (Acts 10) woke him, and, though he relapsed for an instant (Galatians 2:9 ), the work was done; and when that generation passed away, the religious nature of these distinctions had gone from Christianity; cleanliness, instead of being godliness, was next to godliness. These details of conduct were left to the reason and the conscience. The transition stage, where some cling to the old laws and others obey the new spirit, with its problems of faith and charity, is treated in Romans 14. (Clean, Unclean, Common - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament) Gary Hill - Rabbinical (Jewish) laws often erred by imposing many regulations about what supposedly made certain types of cups, plates, etc., "defiled" (koinos). This bred much unwarranted legalism with the terrible result of calling all Gentiles "unclean" whom the Lord was calling to Himself. Because of this, the Jews missed out on their duty to evangelize. Example: If a Jewish person even touched an "unclean vessel," they could be barred from entering the Temple or synagogue. Much needless care was taken to keep all vessels "ceremonially clean" to meet rabbinical (man-made) standards about religious purity. Any contact (no matter how indirect) with something "unclean" required elaborate rituals of sacrifice (purification). Accordingly, the Pharisees meticulously followed religious formulas to clean vessels, strain wine, etc., in order to rid themselves of supposed defilement. The Jews become preoccupied with minors and missed the "majors" – like living in faith, hope, love (cf. Mt 23:23 with 1Cor 13:13). Their greatest error in this regard was avoiding Gentiles supposedly to escape "defilement." The Bible itself never prohibited nor discouraged them from having contact with Gentiles (non-Jewish people)! Indeed, this was needed for the outreach God desired the OT saints to extend to all people! See (athémitos = properly, not acceptable to the prevailing custom or ordinary practice (used only in Acts 10:28; 1Pet 4:3).). The OT never prohibited Jews from eating with Gentiles, or coming in contact with them! This twisted idea, of "ceremonial defilement," (unfortunately) came from misguided rabbis....The Pharisees in NT times were infamous for their distorted ideas about "ceremonial uncleanness," i.e. what was really "defiled" (koinos). Indeed, they often defined something as koinós ("defiled") which was morally neutral, or not "defiled" at all. They failed here by overly focusing on the physical, even petty things that supposedly made someone spiritually unacceptable to the Lord. Examples - The rabbis and Pharisees said touching a "defiled" plate made someone "unclean" if it had a rim. But touching a flat plate could not spiritually defile a Jew. So too, a person was supposedly defiled by touching an "unclean" object made of wood and metal – but the metal part could "not become unclean" or pass on impurity (Wm Barclay). Worse, they believed a person became "unclean" by standing in the shadow of an "unclean object" – another "holiness standard" defined by the rabbis (not the Bible!). (See excellent resource The Discovery Bible to enable deeper Word Studies = - see reviews of "The Discovery Bible") Related Resources: Clean and Unclean - Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible (in depth article) Common - Holman Bible Dictionary Common - Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature Common - Webster's Dictionary - Bible Dictionary Common - King James Dictionary Clean, Unclean - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Unclean - Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature Uncleanness - Bridgeway Bible Dictionary Unclean and Clean - Fausset's Bible Dictionary Koinos - 14x in 12v - NAS Usage: common(3), common property(1), impure(2), unclean(5), unholy(5). Mark 7:2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. Wuest - Defiled” is koinos; the word refers to that which is common to everybody. In later Greek it came to mean what it means here, the profane as contrasted to the hallowed or the sacred. It was therefore applied to that which was ceremonially unclean. The washing of the hands here was not for purposes of cleanliness, but for ceremonial reasons. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament) Mark 7:5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" Comment: Why were their hands "impure?" Mk 7:4 explains that "when they come from the market place (agora from ageiro = to collect or gather), they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves." The Agora was a public forum where people gathered and because of the mixing of public resulted in inevitable ceremonial defilement. Meyer explains that the statement of the Pharisees comes from the fact that "before eating, they wash the hands always. When they come from market (agora) they take a bath before eating." Jewish ordinances required these "vessels" to be immersed. (Edersheim). William Barclay - The Greek word in Mark 7:5 is koinos. Ordinarily, koinos means common; then it comes to describe something which is ordinary in the sense that it is not sacred, something that is profane as opposed to sacred things; and finally it describes something, as it does here, which is ceremonially unclean and unfit for the service and worship of God. There were definite and rigid rules for the washing of hands. Note that this hand-washing was not in the interests of hygienic purity; it was ceremonial cleanness which was at stake. Before every meal, and between each of the courses, the hands had to be washed, and they had to be washed in a certain way. The hands, to begin with, had to be free of any coating of sand or mortar or gravel or any such substance. The water for washing had to be kept in special large stone jars, so that it itself was clean in the ceremonial sense and so that it might be certain that it had been used for no other purpose, and that nothing had fallen into it or had been mixed with it. First, the hands were held with finger tips pointing upwards; water was poured over them and had to run at least down to the wrist; the minimum amount of water was one quarter of a log, which is equal to one and a half egg-shells full of water. While the hands were still wet each hand had to be cleansed with the fist of the other. That is what the phrase about using the fist means; the fist of one hand was rubbed into the palm and against the surface of the other. This meant that at this stage the hands were wet with water; but that water was now unclean because it had touched unclean hands. So, next, the hands had to be held with finger tips pointing downwards and water had to be poured over them in such a way that it began at the wrists and ran off at the finger tips. After all that had been done the hands were clean. To fail to do this was in Jewish eyes, not to be guilty of bad manners, not to be dirty in the health sense, but to be unclean in the sight of God. The man who ate with unclean hands was subject to the attacks of a demon called Shibta. To omit so to wash the hands was to become liable to poverty and destruction. Bread eaten with unclean hands was not better than excrement. A Rabbi who once omitted the ceremony was buried in excommunication. Another Rabbi, imprisoned by the Romans, used the water given to him for hand washing rather than for drinking and in the end nearly perished of thirst, because he was determined to observe the rules of cleanliness rather than satisfy his thirst. That to the Pharisaic and Scribal Jew was religion. It was ritual, ceremonial, and regulations like that which they considered to be essence of the service of God. Ethical religion was buried under a mass of tabus and rules. The last verses of the passage deal further with this conception of uncleanness. A thing might in the ordinary sense be completely clean and yet in the legal sense be unclean. There is something about this conception of uncleanness in Leviticus chapters ?11? to ?15?, and in ?Numbers 19?. Nowadays we would talk rather of things being tabu than of being unclean. Certain animals were unclean (?Leviticus 11?). A woman after child-birth was unclean; a leper was unclean; anyone who touched a dead body was unclean. And anyone who had so become unclean made unclean anything he in turn touched. A Gentile was unclean; food touched by a Gentile was unclean; any vessel touched by a Gentile was unclean. So, then, when a strict Jew returned from the market place he immersed his whole body in clean water to take away the taint he might have acquired. Obviously vessels could easily become unclean; they might be touched by an unclean person or by unclean food. This is what our passage means by the washings of cups and pitchers and vessels of bronze. In the Mishnah there are no fewer than twelve treatises on this kind of uncleanness. If we take some actual examples we will see how far this went. A hollow vessel made of pottery could contract uncleanness inside but not outside; that is to say, it did not matter who or what touched it outside, but it did matter what touched it inside. If it became unclean it must be broken; and no unbroken piece must remain which was big enough to hold enough oil to anoint the little toe. A flat plate without a rim could not become unclean at all; but a plate with a rim could. If vessels made with leather, bone or glass were flat they could not contract uncleanness at all; if they were hollow they could become unclean outside and inside. If they were unclean they must be broken; and the break must be a hole at least big enough for a medium-sized pomegranate to pass through. To cure uncleanness earthen vessels must be broken; other vessels must be immersed, boiled, purged with fire—in the case of metal vessels—and polished. A three-legged table could contract uncleanness; if it lost one or two legs it could not; if it lost three legs it could, for then it could be used as a board and a board could become unclean. Things made of metal could become unclean, except a door, a bolt, a lock, a hinge, a knocker and a gutter. Wood used in metal utensils could become unclean; but metal used in wood utensils could not. Thus a wooden key with metal teeth could become unclean; but a metal key with wooden teeth could not. We have taken some time over these scribal laws, this tradition of the elders, because that is what Jesus was up against. To the scribes and Pharisees these rules and regulations were the essence of religion. To observe them was to please God; to break them was to sin. This was their idea of goodness and of the service of God. In the religious sense Jesus and these people spoke different languages. It was precisely because he had no use for all these regulations that they considered him a bad man. There is a fundamental cleavage here—the cleavage between the man who sees religion as ritual, ceremonial, rules and regulations, and the man who sees in religion loving God and loving his fellow-men. The next passage will develop this; but it is clear that Jesus?’ idea of religion and that of the scribes and Pharisees had nothing in common at all. (Mark 7 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible) Acts 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; Comment: The Lord challenged His disciples to share their possessions and thus build up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20; Luke 12:33; 14:33). Jesus was sustained by the generosity of women, who contributed to support Him and His disciples (8:1-3). Jesus taught, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), a statement not recorded in the Gospels. (Detzler) Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. Acts 10:14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy (koinos) or unclean (akathartos)." Acts 10:28 And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy (koinos) or unclean (akathartos). Acts 11:8 "But I said, 'By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' Romans 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Titus 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. Comment: Here as in Jude 1:3 below koinos refers to the faith they believers held in common and the salvation they shared in common as true believers. John Phillips - Titus had been saved the same way anyone is-"after the common faith." The word translated "common" here is koinos, which indicates that the faith was one shared with others. We are all saved the same way: "By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Hebrews 10:29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? Comment: Koinos refers to "defilement that results from disregarding what is set apart to God" in this case the blood of Jesus, the blood of the New Covenant. Wuest - The word “unholy” (Unclean in NAS - Heb 10:29) is the translation of koinos, the fundamental idea of which is “shared by all, public.” From this comes the idea of “not sacred” that is, “not set apart for God’s use.” The idea here is that the apostate regarded Messiah’s blood as common, having no more sacred character or specific worth than the blood of any ordinary person. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament) Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Comment: Here koinos refers to the gift of salvation shared which is held in common by all true believers. Revelation 21:27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Koinos occurs 21 times in the Septuagint (Lxx) (Ed: But only 6 in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Esther 5:1; Pr 1:14; 15:23; 21:9; 25:24). The dominant sense is “common, shared,” for example, of common finances (Proverbs 1:14) or a shared house (Proverbs 21:9). Only in the apocryphal literature does koinos mean “unclean” (ritually; e.g., 1 Maccabees 1:47,62). (Complete Biblical Library) Detzler gives several illustrations of koinos - Because early Christians had things in common and shared their possessions, many have mistakenly concluded that Communism is correct. They ignore three basic facts about this early Christian phenomenon. It was temporary, voluntary, and Christian. Communism in the Soviet sense is permanent, enforced, and atheistic. True sharing is seen best in marriage. The old wedding ceremony included this as part of the vows. As the couple exchanged rings they said: "With this ring I thee wed, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow." Now that quaint saying is seldom used, but the community of property is still a legal (and loving) fact of life. The same care for others is seen in the Christian church. One church on the west coast of America was known for the loving care which Christians exhibited toward each other. At one stage the pastor said: "When the offering plate is passed, if you wish to give, do so. If you have a need of $10 or less, please feel free to take from the offering plate." Because of abuse, this had to be suspended, but the idea was good. On the subject of giving, Richard Braunstein said: "It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving." Peter Marshall, a late chaplain of the United States Senate, said: "Let us give according to our incomes, lest God make our incomes match our gifts." One evening a church member telephoned me in Bristol, England. "Pastor, what do you think of tithing?" he asked. Amazed by his question, I hastened to affirm that this was both a good idea and God's plan for our giving. A few weeks later the eager Christian told me that he and his family learned an age-old lesson: the Lord can make 90 percent go farther than we could ever make 100 percent go. You cannot out-give the Lord! (Ibid)

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