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Acceptable (Greek)

In the NT this word means, nearly always, "acceptable to God". Three Greek words come in this sense quite often: dektos and its more emphatic cognate euprosdektos and another not dissimilar word euarestos. The first two are mostly equivalents of the Hebrew words "ratzah", and "ratzon", which normally have reference to acceptable sacrifice or to one of the Jewish feasts when sacrifice was specially acceptable. The first meaning is obvious in 1Pe 2:5: "Ye also... offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable ('euprosdektos') to God by Jesus Christ." And in Rom 15:16 Paul uses the figure of himself as a priest ministering at an altar and offering up as a gift to God a multitude of Gentile converts: "...that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable (euprosdektos), being sanctified by the Holy Spirit."

Acts 10:35 is interesting as being a modified quote of Pro 12:22 LXX (the Hebrew is distinctly different). But why did Peter say "he that worketh righteousness is accepted with him" (note the idea of sacrifice in v 4), when LXX has "worketh faith"? Wouldn't this have served Peter's purpose even better? Was he adjusting his language so as not to offend "them of the circumcision" who were with him?

This is also one of the meanings attached to euarestos. So in Phi 4:18 Paul uses two of them together for emphasis: "The things which were sent from you are an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable (dektos) well-pleasing (euarestos) to God."

In two places "dektos" is used in NT quotations of OT passages. In the synagogue at Nazareth the Lord read from Isa 61 about "the acceptable year of the Lord", where there is one allusion after another to the Year of Jubilee. Jesus was proclaiming the time of release from sin.

Similarly, 2Co 6:2 quotes Isa 49:8: "Behold, now is the accepted time." Again, the primary reference is to Hezekiah's Passover and the great deliverance which took place then. But in the NT that "dektos" time was the Passover when Jesus died, thus inaugurating a new and continual Passover which is all deliverance.

The "euarestos" passages fall into two groups which seem to overlap. As with the other two words there is often well-defined allusion to acceptable sacrifice: "...that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God..." (Rom 12:1, alluding to Lev 1:4). "God... working in you that which is well-pleasing (euarestos) in his sight" (Heb 13:21) comes immediately after an allusion to "the blood of the covenant".

There is also another clear-cut meaning which has been largely lost sight of. Euarestos is used in LXX as equivalent to Heb "hithalek", walking with God. This word is used with ref to Enoch (Gen 5:22), and in LXX and Heb 11:5 it becomes: "he pleased (euarestos) God". LXX treats Gen 17:1; 6:9; Psa 56:13; 116:9 in the same way (but, strangely enough, not Isa 38:3). So it may be taken as fairly certain that the idea of "walking with God" was in Paul's mind when he wrote Rom 14:18; 2Co 5:9; Eph 5:10; and Tit 2:9. And this may well be true of Rom 12:2; Col 3:20; and Heb 12:28; but it is in these three places where the two ideas of acceptable sacrifice and walking with God seem to overlap.

"This is good and acceptable before God" comes twice in 1 Timothy (1Ti 2:3; 5:4). This word means "welcome". The verb (apodechomai -- 6 times) and the noun (apodoche -- twice) always carry this meaning. But the adjective, apodektos, is marvelously like the word for paying tithes. Then was Paul deliberately making a play on words here? -- suggesting that prayers for those in authority (1Ti 2:3) and care for aged parents (1Ti 5:4) are a fine form of tithe-paying for those not under the Law of Moses.

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