New - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


neos (G3501) New
kainos (G2537) Young
Some scholars have denied that there is any difference between neos and kainos in the New Testament. Such scholars gain plausible support for their position from the fact that both of these words are translated by "new" in the Authorized Version and often are used interchangeably. Although they contend that neos and kainos have the same force and significance, this does not follow and in fact is not the case. The same man or the same wine may be neos or kainos or both, according to one's perspective.
Neos refers to something new in time, to something that recently has come into existence. Thus the young are hoi neoi or hoi neoteroi, the generation that has lately come into being. Neoi theoi (G2316) refers to the young race of godsJupiter, Apollo, and the other Olympiansas contrasted with Saturn, Ops, and the dynasty of elder deities whom they dethroned. Kainos refers to something new in quality and is contrasted with that which has seen servicethe outworn, the exhausted, or that which is marred through age. Thus "a piece of unshrunk cloth" (Matt. 9:16) may be contrasted with "a piece from a new [kainou] garment" (Luke 5:36); the latter is "a new garment," the former a threadbare and outworn one. Kainoi askoi (G779) are "new wineskins" (Matt. 9:17; Luke 5:38) that have not lost their strength and elasticity through age and use. This also is the sense of kainos ouranos (G3772; 2 Pet. 3:13), "a new heaven," as compared with one that has grown old and shows signs of decay and dissolution (Heb. 1:11-12). Similarly, the phrase kainai glossai (G1100; Mark 16:17) does not refer to the recent commencement of the miraculous speaking with tongues but to the dissimilarity of these tongues to any that had occurred before. Therefore these tongues were called heterai (G2087) glossai (Acts 2:4), unusual tongues that were different from any previously known. This sense of the unusual in kainos comes out very clearly in a passage from Xenophon: "Either a new [kaines] rule beginning or the customary one remaining." The kainon mnemeion (G3419) in which Joseph of Arimathea laid the body of Jesus (Matt. 27:60; John 19:41) was not a tomb that recently had been hewn from rock but one that never had been used at all, one where no dead person had lain to make the place ceremonially unclean (Matt. 23:27; Num. 11:16; Ezek. 39:12, 16). This tomb might have been created a hundred years before and therefore not be neon, but if it had never been used before, it would still be kainon. Even in the midst of the humiliations of his earthly life, a divine decorum attended Christ (cf. Luke 19:30; 1 Sam. 6:7; 2 Kings 2:20).
Kainos often implies the secondary notion of praise, for frequently the new is better than the old. Thus in the kingdom of glory, everything will be new: "the new Jerusalem" (Rev. 3:12; 21:2), the "new name" (2:17; 3:12), "anew song" (5:9; 14:3), "a new heaven and new earth" (21:1; cf. 2 Pet. 3:13), "all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Kainos does not necessarily imply superiority. Sometimes the old is better than the new, as is the old friend (Ecclus. 9:10) and the old wine (Luke 5:39). Frequently kainos may refer only to the novel and strange as contrasted (even unfavorably) with the known and familiar. Neoi theoi was a title given to the younger generation of gods. The charge against Socrates, however, was that he had introduced kainous theous or kaina daimonia (G1140) into Athens, phrases that imply a novel pantheon of gods that Athens had not previously worshiped. Plato said: "These are new [kaina] and strange names of diseases." Similarly, those who exclaimed "What new [kaine] doctrine is this?" when they heard Christ's teaching, intended anything but praise (Mark 1:27). The kainon is the heteron, the qualitatively other; the neon is the allo (G243), the numerically distinct.
We will now apply this distinction to the interpretation of Acts 17:21. Luke described the Athenians as spending their leisure in the marketplace. We might have expected to find ti neoteron here, especially since previously Demosthenes had portrayed the same Athenians as haunting the marketplace with this same aim: "Inquiring at the marketplace whether anything new New Young
[neoteron] is said." Elsewhere, however, Demosthenes described the Athenians as Luke did: "Is anything new [kainon] said?" But the meaning of the two passages is not exactly identical. The neoteron of the first implies that it is always the latest news the Athenians sought: "They at once were despising the new and were seeking the newer." The kainon of the second passage refers to something not only new but sufficiently diverse from what had gone before to stimulate a jaded curiosity.
This distinction becomes even more apparent if we pursue these words into their derivatives and compounds. Thus neotesis youth; kainotes is newness or novelty; neoeides refers to youthful appearance; and kainoeides implies novel or unusual appearance. Neologia (had such a word existed) would have referred to a new development of words as distinguished from the older language, or as we would say, to "neologies." Kainologia, which exists in later Greek, refers to a novel, abnormal invention of words that are constructed on different laws from those previously recognized. A philoneos is a lover of youth; a philokainos is a lover of novelty.
There is a passage in Polybius where neos and kainos occur in close proximity but are not employed rhetorically, each having its own significance. In describing a stratagem whereby the town of Selge was almost surprised and taken, Polybius remarked that though many cities had been lost through a similar device, we are still new and young in regard to such deceits and capable of being deceived again. In that passage, kainoi is applied to men on the basis of their inexperience, and neoi is applied to them on the basis of their youth. Although inexperience and youth often go togetherPlutarch joined neos and apeiros (G552)this is not necessarily the case. An old man may be raw and unpracticed in the affairs of the world and so kainos; and there have been many young men, neoi in age, who were well skilled in worldly affairs.
If we apply this distinction to the New Testament, it becomes apparent that the same man, wine, and covenant each may be described as neos and as kainos in ways that convey different meanings. When a man is transformed by becoming obedient to the truth, in relation to time we subsequently call him neos anthropos. The old man in him has died and a new man has been born. Now let us view the same mighty transformation in relation to quality and condition. When a man who through long contact with the world and sinful habits throws off his old life like a snake casts off its shriveled skin, he emerges as "a new [kaine] creature" from his heavenly Maker's hands and has a "new [kainon] spirit" (Ezek. 11:19). This is the kainos anthropos, one who is prepared to walk "in newness of life" through the renewal (anakainosis) of the Spirit (Titus 3:5). "We have become new [kainoi], being created again from the beginning."
Sometimes, though not always, neos and kainos may be used interchangeably. For example, Clement of Alexandria said of those who are Christ's, "they must be new [kainous], having partaken of a new [kainon] Word [Christ]." It would be impossible to substitute neous or neou in that passage. Consider the verbs ananeoun and anakainoun.Everyone needs both ananeousthai and anakainousthai. It is the same marvelous and mysterious process, brought about by the same almighty agent, but seen from different perspectives. Ananeousthai is to be made young again, and anakainousthai is to be made new again. Chrysostom realized this distinction and based a separate exhortation on each word, as the following passages show. The first passage reads: "Be renewed [ananeousthe],Paul says, in the spirit of your mind.... to be renewed [ananeousthai] is when that which has grown old is made young again [ananeotai] and becomes changed.... The young [neos] is strong, does not have a wrinkle, and is not carried about." The second passage reads: "What we do in the case of houses, always restoring them when they become dilapidated, do also in the case of yourself. Have you sinned today? Have you worn out your life? Do not despair nor lose heart, but renew [anakainison] it by repentance."
Depending on the point of view, new wine may be characterized as neos or as kainos. As neos, it is tacitly set over against the vintage of past years; as kainos, we may assume it to be austere and strong, in contrast with chrestos (G5543), sweet and mellow through age (Luke 5:39). The covenant of which Christ is the mediator is a diatheke nea, as compared with the Mosaic covenant, confirmed nearly two thousand years before (Heb. 12:24). The covenant that Christ established is a diatheke koine, when compared with the Mosaic covenant, because the Mosaic covenant is exhausted with age and has lost its vigor, energy, and quickening power.
A Latin grammarian distinguished recens and novus in the following way: "Recens refers to time, novum refers to a condition." By substituting neos for recens and kainos for novum, we may summarize the central distinction between neos and kainos: "Neos refers to time, kainos refers to a condition."

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