Rest - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


anapausis (G372) Rest
anesis (G425) Ease
Our version translates both anapausis and anesis as "rest." Although this is not objectionable, on closer examination these words appear to derive from different images and to depict "rest" from different perspectives. Anapausis refers to a pause or cessation from labor (Rev. 4:8) and is consistently used in the Septuagint to refer to the rest of the Sabbath. Anesis refers to the relaxation of chords or strings that had been taut; its exact and literal antithesis is epitasis. Thus Plato used the phrase "in the stretching and relaxing [anesei] of the chords." And Plutarch stated: "We relax the bows and the lyres in order to be able to stretch them." According to Josephus, in the year of jubilee Moses gave "rest [anesin] to the ground from plowing and planting." Perhaps the best illustration of anesis comes from De liberis educandis 13, a work ascribed to Plutarch: anapausis anesis
One must give children respite from continuous toil, pondering that our entire life is divided between rest [anesin] and activity, and therefore there is not only wakefulness but also sleep, not only war but also peace, not only storms but also clear weather, not only energetic deeds but also festivals... in general the body is preserved by want and fulfillment and the soul by rest [anesei] and toil.
Plato distinguished anesis and spoude in the same way, and Plutarch contrasted anesis, a dwelling at large, with stenochoria (G4730), a narrow, straight room. Paul contrasted anesis with thlipsis; he did not want some churches to have "ease" (anesis) while the Corinthian church suffered "affliction" (thlipsis) because of an excessive contribution. When used figuratively, anesis refers to the relaxation of morals.
Luke's use of the phrase echein (G2192) anesin in Acts 24:23 is an excellent one. Felix, who took a more favorable view of Paul's case, commanded the centurion in charge of Paul to relax the strictness of Paul's imprisonment and to keep him under honorable arrest, not in actual confinement. The partial relaxation of Paul's bonds is exactly what this phrase implies.
The distinction, then, is obvious. When our Lord promises anapausis to the weary and heavy laden who come to him (Matt. 11:18, 29), his promise is that they will cease from their toil, no longer laboring for that which does not satisfy. When Paul expressed his confidence that the Thessalonians, though presently troubled, will find anesis in the day of Christ (2 Thess. 1:7), he anticipated not so much their cessation from labor as the relaxation of their chords of affliction that were stretched so tightly. Christ's promise and Paul's confidence are related, though they portray the blessings of Christ under different aspects and images. Each word has its appropriate context.

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