Long Suffering - Trench's New Testament Synonyms
Long Sufferingmakrothymia (G3115) Long Suffering
hypomone (G5281) Endurance
anoche (G463) Forbearance
Makrothymia and hypomone are used together in Colossians 1:11.Chrysostom distinguished them in the following way. Makrothymei (G3114), he argued, refers to a man who has power to avenge himself but who refrains from doing so; hypomenei (G5278) refers to a man who must endure, either patiently or impatiently, and who virtuously chooses the former. Chrysostom concluded by arguing that Christians usually would be called to exercise the former virtue among themselves (1 Cor. 6:7) and the latter in their dealings with those outside the church. He wrote:
Makrothymia is toward one another and hypomone is toward those outside, for a person makrothymei toward those against whom it is possible also to avenge himself, and hypomenei toward those against whom it is not possible to avenge himself.
In the light of Hebrews 12:2-3, however, this distinction cannot be maintained. In Hebrews 12:2-3, hypomene is ascribed to Jesus, who willingly bore, but not because he could not avoid bearing; in fact he could have summoned twelve legions of angels to his aid had he wanted to do so (Matt. 26:53). Perhaps, then, a closer examination will reveal a more satisfactory distinction between these words.
Makrothymia belongs to a later stage of Greek. Although it occurs in the Septuagint, it does not have the exact sense there (or elsewhere) that it does in the New Testament. Thus in Isaiah 57:15 makrothymia refers to a patient holding out under trial (more like hypomone), not to long suffering under provocation. Plutarch also used makrothymia in a different sense from its New Testament usage. Plutarch used anexikakia to refer to the long suffering of men and megalopatheia to refer to the long suffering of God. In ecclesiastical Latin, makrothymia is translated by longanimitas (long suffering), which the Rheims Version tried to introduce into English in the form of "longanimity." Instead we preferred "long suffering"a long holding out of the mind before it gives way to action or passion (generally passion)or the Pauline "bearing with one another in love" (Eph. 4:2). Anger is usually, but not universally, the passion that is repressed. The makrothymos (cf. G3115 and G3116) is one who is "slow to anger," and the word is exchanged for "controlling anger" (Prov. 16:32) and is set over against "a wrathful man" (15:18). It is not necessarily anger that is repressed. When the historian of the Maccabees described how the Romans had won the world "by their policy and their patience" (1 Macc. 8:4), makrothymia refers to the Roman persistency that would never make peace under defeat. The true antithesis of that sense of makrothymia is oxythymia.
But hypomoneis usually known in heathen ethics as karteria or as karteresis.Following some heathen moralists, Clement of Alexandria described hypomone as "the knowledge of what things are to be borne and what are not." Hypomone is equivalent to the Latin perseverantia (perseverance) and patientia (patience) taken together, or, more accurately, to tolerantia (endurance).
In this noble word hypomone there always appears (in the New Testament) a background of courage (cf. Plato, Theaetetus 177b, where "to endure courageously" is opposed to "to flee cowardly"); it does not mark merely the endurance, the sustinentia (Vulg.), or even the patientia (Clarom.), but the perseverantia, the brave patience with which the Christian contends against the various hindrances, persecutions, and temptations that befall him in his conflict with the inward and outward world.
Although it comes from a more noble root, hypomone is the "stout endurance" of Archilochus. Cocceius described hypomone in this way:
Hypomone is concerned with contempt for the goods of this world and in the brave acceptance of afflictions with the giving of thanksespecially with steadfast loyalty and esteemso that in no way does it allow itself to be shaken or to be weakened or to be hindered from performing its own work and task.
We may now distinguish makrothymia and hypomone in a way that will be valid wherever they occur. Makrothymia refers to patience with respect to persons, hypomone with respect to things. A man is makrothymei if he has to relate to injurious persons and does not allow himself to be provoked by them or to burst into anger (2 Tim. 4:2). A man is hypomenei if he is under a great siege of trials and he bears up and does not lose heart or courage. Therefore we should speak of the makrothymia of David (2 Sam. 16:10-13) and the hypomone of Job (James 5:11). Although both virtues are ascribed to the saints, only makrothymia is ascribed to God. There is a beautiful account of God's makrothymia in Wisdom of Solomon 12:20, though the word itself is not used. Men may tempt and provoke God, and he may and does display an infinite makrothymia with regard to them. God allows men to resist him; he respects their wills, even when they are used to fight him. Things, however, cannot resist God or be a burden to him. Therefore hypomone is not a characteristic of God nor is it ascribed to him. When God is called "the God of patience" (hypomones,Rom. 15:5) this does not mean "God whose own attribute is hypomone"but "God who gives hypomone to his servants and saints."In the same way "the God of grace" (1 Pet. 5:10) refers to God who is the Author of grace, and "the God of peace" (Heb. 13:20) refers to God who is the Author of peace.
Anoche is commonly used in the plural in classical Greek and usually refers to a truce or suspension of arms, the Latin indutiae (armistice). Anoche is translated "forbearance" in both of its New Testament occurrences (Rom. 2:4; 3:25). Origen distinguished anoche and makrothymia in this way:
Forbearance [anoche] seems to differ from patience [makrothymia] in this respect, that those who transgress in weakness rather than intentionally are said to be propped up [sustentari], but those who with an evil mind rejoice as it were in their sins must be said to be carried with patience [ferri patienter]
Origen failed to note that the distinction between anoche and makrothymia is not merely one of degree. The anoche is temporary and transient, like our "truce"; it has its own provisional character, and after a certain period of time, unless other conditions intervene, it will pass away. This may also be true of makrothymia in general and certainly it is true of the divine makrothymia (Luke 13:9). But this trait is not inherent in makrothymia. We can imagine a makrothymia that is unworthy of honor and that would never be exhausted, but anoche implies its own provisional character. Fritzsche distinguished anoche and makrothymia this way:
He anoche denotes indulgence, when without pursuing your right continuously, you give time for reflecting to the one who has harmed you; he makrothymia signifies clemency, when tempering your anger you do not immediately avenge the wrong, but you leave an opportunity for repenting to the one who has transgressed.
Elsewhere Fritzche made an even finer distinction: "He anoche is that one closes the eyes to others' transgressions, not that one refrains from punishing another's transgression, which is makrothymia."It is most appropriately employed in Romans 3:26 in relation to the paresis (G3929) hamartion that occurred before the atoning death of Christ, as contrasted with the aphesis (G859) hamartion (forgiveness of sins) that resulted from his death. This forbearance or suspension of God's wrath, this truce with the sinner does not imply that God's wrath will not finally be executed. God's wrath will certainly be exercised unless the sinner meets the new conditions of repentance and obedience (Luke 13:9; Rom. 2:3-6).