Both joy and peace in the Hebrew and Greek languages, spoken by Paul, prove relatively easy to translate into English, but the Hebrew ‘arek ‘aph, is more of a challenge. To understand this better: ‘arek means “long” and ‘aph means “face. Most of us certainly know what a long face conveys, but it borders more on sadness and disappointment than patience.

So the early English translators gave us the term, “longsuffering.” It means: “to allow, to tolerate” or “to put up with something for a long time without despairing.” This clearly is the essence of patience. It expresses an attitude toward people in which one endures their stubbornness or procrastination no matter how unreasonable they may be; and never loses hope for them, however ugly and unmanageable they become. At the same time, it denotes an attitude toward circumstances that never admits defeat, and never loses hope or faith no matter how dark the situation becomes or how inexplicable events may turn out to be.

The oft-repeated phrase in the Old Testament, “slow to get angry,” has more in common with the Greek word for patience than the Hebrew “long-faced.” The Greek word is makrothumia, and like the Hebrew requires two words to translate instead of one. Makro means “long,” and thumos means “temper.” It’s another way if identifying people who possess tempers with long fuses; individuals who endure patiently. We all know what “short-tempered” refers to, but English does not provide the antonym “long-tempered.” Instead, we use “Patience,” which we will further define as a fruit of transforming love.

Even Solomon in his wisdom taught that sensible people control their temper and earn respect by overlooking wrongs (Pro. 19:11). Also, people with common sense control their anger because they know a hot temper makes them look foolish (Pro. 14:29). Furthermore, patience ought to be more admired than influence; self-control should be more desired than winning (Pro. 16:32). For Solomon, patience did not imply weakness; rather it spoke of the power to pause; strength to stand; energy to endure. This gives us, even more, reason to accept that love is an act of the will, not the expression of romantic emotions, no matter how deeply they are felt. Patience is love that has matured and become more tolerant and tempered. – Dr. Robert Seyda.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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