Single - Trench's New Testament Synonyms
Singlehaplous (G573) Single
akeraios (G185) Sincere
akakos (G172) Simple
adolos (G97) Pure
Haplous, akeraios, akakos, and adolos refer to the rarest and best Christian virtues, perhaps to the same virtue seen in terms of different images. The meanings of these terms are only slightly different.
Haplous occurs only twice in the New Testament (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34), but haplotes (G572) occurs seven or eight times, always in Paul's epistles. Haplos (G574) occurs only once (James 1:5). It would be impossible to improve on "single," the translation of the Authorized Version, since it comes from haploothat which is spread out, without folds or wrinkles. Haplous means exactly the opposite of polyplokos in Job 5:13. Haplous is equivalent to the Latin simplex, which also had an honorable use. This singleness, simplicity, or absence of folds is part of the etymology of haplous and is predominant in its meaning "a mind alien to cunning, fraud, pretense, deceit, evil, and the desire to harm others."
This understanding of haplous is confirmed by the words with which it is associated: alethes, aponeros, gennaios, akratos, monoeides, asynthetos, monotropos, saphes, akakos, and hygies.And it is even more apparent from the words with which haplous is contrasted: poikilos, polyeides, polytropos, peplegmenos, diplous, epiboulos, and pantodapos. Haplotes is also associated with eilikrineia and akakia and in the Septuagint these latter two words are used indiscriminately to translate the Hebrew word that we translate as "integrity" (Ps. 7:8; Prov. 19:1) or "simplicity" (2 Sam. 15:11). Haplotes is associated with megalopsychia and with agathotes.It is contrasted with poikilia, polytropia, kakourgia, kakoetheia, and dolos. Aquila translated the Hebrew tam as haplous. As with at least one other word of this group (and many others that express the same virtue), haplous is often used to refer to a foolish simplicity that is unworthy of the Christian. For in addition to simplicity, the Christian should be phronimos (G5429) as well (Matt. 10:16; Rom. 16:19). Although Basil the Great used haplous in this way, it does not appear in this sense anywhere else in biblical Greek.
Akeraios occurs only three times in the New Testament (Matt. 10:16; Rom. 16:19; Phil. 2:15). A mistaken etymology equated it with akeratos and derived it from a (G1) and keras, which means "without horn to push or hurt." Thus several times in the Authorized Version akeraios is translated "harmless." In each case, however, the translators placed more correct translations in the margin, for example, "simple" (Matt. 10:16) and "sincere" (Phil. 2:15). In Romans 16:19, however, just the opposite is true: "simple" stands in the text with "harmless" in the margin. The fundamental notion of akeraios, is the absence of any foreign substance or influence: "The one undefiled by evil, but single and simple." When Philo spoke of the harshly conditioned favor that Caligula granted the Jews, he called it a "favor not unmixed," obviously referring to its etymology. Philo said: "Likewise however, even giving the favor, he did not give it unmixed [akeraion], but mingled with it a more painful fear." Wine that is not mixed with water is called akeraios as is unalloyed metal. Plato used akeraios with ablates and with orthos. Plutarch associated it with hygies and contrasted it with taraktikos.Clement of Rome compared it with eilikrines (G1506). Akeraios refers to something in its true and natural condition and in this regard is similar to holokleros (G3648). The predominant idea of holokleros, however, is completeness; akeraios primarily refers to freedom from disturbing elements.
Akakos is used only twice in the New Testament (Rom. 16:18; Heb. 7:26). There are three stages of development in this word's history, two of which are apparent from its New Testament usage; the third is found elsewhere. In Hebrews 7:26 akakos is applied to Christ the Lord, so that the absence of all evil implies the presence of all good, and in that passage akakos is associated with other noble terms. The Septuagint uses akakos in all of its various senses, sometimes employing it in the highest sense to which we just referred. Thus Job is described as "a person free of evil [akakos], genuine, blameless, Godfearing, shunning evil" (Job 2:3). In Job 8:20 the akakos is opposed to the asebes (G765). In Psalm 25:21 akakos is used with euthes and Plutarch used akakos with sophron (G4998). In the second stage of its development, akakos refers to the same absence of harm, but from a negative, not a positive, viewpoint: "a docile [akakon] lamb," "a gentle [akakos] and young girl," and "gentle [akakos] and unmeddling." This use of akakos does not occur in the New Testament. It is easy to trace the progression of akakos to its third stage of development, where it came to mean "easily deceived," then "too easily deceived,' and finally akakia comes to refer to excessive simplicity. Someone who means no evil to others often fears no evil from others; having truth in his own heart, he believes truth exists in everyone's heart. This noble quality in our world can be pushed too farwhere with regard to malice we are to be "babes, but in understanding be mature" (1 Cor. 14:20) and "simple concerning evil" yet "wise in what is good" (Rom. 16:19). The use of akakos in Romans 16:18 refers to a confidence that is degenerating into a readiness to be deceived and to be led away from the truth. For a somewhat contemptuous use of akakos, see Plato and Plutarch: "The wise do not praise the simplicity [akakian] which is embellished by inexperience with evil, but regard it as silliness and ignorance of what it is especially fitting to know."Especially noteworthy are the words that the author of Second Alcibiades puts into the mouth of Socrates:
Those who have a large portion of folly we term crazed, and those with a slightly smaller portion silly and stupid; but of the people who wish to use euphemistic names some call them high-minded, others refer to them as good-hearted, and still others speak of them as simple [akakous] and inexperienced and senseless.
Shakespeare had the rogue Autolycus say: "What a fool Honesty is, and Trust, his sworn brother, a very simple gentleman."
The second and third stages of akakos are separated by so fine a line (and often run into one another), that it is not surprising that some see only two stages, rather than three, in the development of this word. Basil the Great, for example, wrote:
We think of akakian in two ways: either as the estrangement from sin, kept straight by reason through long attention to and practice of good endeavors, as cutting away any root of evil and maintaining its complete absencesuch an appellation we accept for one who is akakos; or akakia is the thus far inexperience with evil, because of a young age frequently or because of the pursuance of certain types of life, some of which are not affected by exposure to certain evilslike some of those who dwell in the countryside, not acquainted with the vices of commerce nor with duplicity in the courtroom. Such people we call akakousnot as being separated from evil by choice, but as not yet having been exposed to evil habits.
It is apparent that akakos has run the same course and has the same moral history as chrestos (G5543), haplous, euethes, and as the French bon (good)and bonhomie, and as the English "silly," "simple," "daft," and as the German einfaltig (silly, foolish) and gutig (good-natured).
Adolos, the last word of this beautiful group, occurs only once in the New Testament (1 Pet. 2:2) and is translated "sincere" in the Authorized Version"the sincere milk of the word." The New King James Version translates it "pure." Adolos is not used in the Septuagint or in the Apocrypha, but adolos appears once in the latter (Wisd. of Sol. 7:13). Plato used adolos with hygies and Philemon with gnesios It is difficult, if not impossible, to ascribe an ethical province to adolos that is not already occupied by other words in this group. Adolos designates the same excellent virtue under another image: if the akakos has nothing of the serpent's tooth, the adolos has nothing of the serpent's guile; if akakos means "unwillingness to hurt and lack of malice," then adolos means "the absence of fraud and deceit." It is like Nathaniel "in whom is no guile" (John 1:47). We conclude that just as the akakos contains no harmfulness, so the adolos has no guile, the akeraios contains no foreign mixture, and the haplous has no folds.