Figures of Speech
Condescension is the ascribing of human attributes to God.† This is a well-used figure of speech and that is why I have chosen to teach you what it means.† Although there are many various usages of this figure, we are mainly going to cover one basic usage.
How many times in the Bible have you heard the term Ďthe arm of Godí?† You may be familiar with terms such as the mercy of God or the eyes of God.† These are all figures of speech.† Letís take a look at the gospel of John.
God is† Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him† in spirit and in truth.† Ė John 4: 24
This is another Scripture that you should know by heart because of its importance in describing the essence and form of God Almighty.† Take note that the beginning of the verse says ďGod is SpiritĒ.† You cannot see God and God does not see you with His eyes.† Why?† We are to proclaim what the Word of God says.† It is as clear as the day is bright that the Word tells us that God is Spirit.† Again, you cannot smell and taste or touch Spirit.† A spirit is like an invisible being and God is a Spirit.† He can do anything and accomplish anything even though He is not in a solid-state or a body like ours.
According to Bullinger, the figure condescensio points out the ignorance and infirmity of man.† Try to understand that when God says His eyes are upon you, this is that figure of speech.† Why?† Because God, being a spirit, does not have eyes Ė He does not have breath Ė He does not have arms or legs.† Thatís what John 4: 24 has taught us.† Letís say it again.† God is Spirit and spirit has no form.† We need to go to some examples in Godís Word to fully understand this figure of speech, even though it is quite simple.† Now see if you can find the figure of speech that we are studying in the following Scripture.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.† Ė Matthew 18: 10
I guess we canít help but state a most important fact concerning what we are studying.† I said I was not going to go over this again, well thatís why you should never make a promise according to the book of James.† Now remember that figures of speech are the Holy Spiritís markings of what is important in the Word of God.† God wants you to stop and to take notice of what is happening in the particular verse.† The verse says that in heaven the Angels always behold the face of God.† This cannot be true in a literal sense.† God is Spirit and He does not have a face.† This is a clear example of the figure of speech Condescensio.† If you havenít seen it, reread the verse and you wonít be able to miss it.† Now you are learning one of the most used figures and most important figures in the Bible.† Many people actually believe that God has arms and legs and eyes and He is using them all the time.† God is all-knowing and all powerful and He does not need arms and legs.† He does not need eyes.† You should be able to understand this Figure of Speech even at this point.† However we are going to go over quite a few examples so that you get this in your head and you never forget it.† Itís exciting to learn things like this because God wants His people to know the score.† Letís take another simple example of happiness and of Divine favour.† Although Bullinger translates many Scriptures different than the King James Version, we are going to use the King James Version.† I will add any notes in brackets that Bullinger uses which have importance.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life:† in thy presence [face]† is† boldness of joy; at thy right hand there are† pleasures for evermore.† Ė Psalms 16: 11†
As for me, I will behold thy face and righteousness:† I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.† -- Psalms 17: 15
Both of the Scriptures illustrate clearly that God is mentioning His Face to signify His magnificent presence.† Do I have to ask the question again?† Does God have a face?† You can now answer that on your own.
Letís take a look at the other side of this example.† There are Scriptures which illustrate the hiding of Godís face which means the withholding of His grace and favour.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence [face].† Ė Psalm 9: 3
This is an example of God withholding His grace and favour.† These are all figures of speech called Condescension where God feels that these verses are the important points mentioned in the Bible.† Letís look at another verse that is similar to the one that we have just covered.†
The face of the Lord is against †them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.† Ė Psalms 34: 16
The face of the Lord or Godís presence is against those that do evil.† God will cut off the remembrance of them from the face of the earth.† Arms are also attributed to God, to indicate His strength and power, which in man lies so largely in the arms.
He had shewed strength with his arm; he had scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.† -- Luke 1: 51
Are you beginning to see all the examples where human attributes are given to God?† These attributes are not true to fact Ė they are figures, figures of speech.† Here is one about God having nostrils.
And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and† the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.† Ė Exodus 15: 8
Ears are attributed to God.† I am going over all of these examples so that you never forget this teaching and so that you never forget this figure of speech.† So many people believe otherwise than what the Bible teaches.† You are studying somewhat advanced studies and God honors your commitment and He will bless you for it.
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth:† and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.† Ė James 5: 4
Letís go over a Scripture that uses the figure of speech, the Arm of the Lord.† This not only denotes power, but power executed in judgment.
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.† Ė Isaiah 52: 10
In this particular example, the Arm of the Lord is also used of making known of His grace and wondrous power.
So we see that there are almost endless examples of the figure where human attributes are given to God.† God is stressing the importance of a verse by putting in this particular figure of speech.† I believe we are going to stop here so that we donít get repetitious.† I feel in my heart that you understand the figure of speech referred to as
CONDESCENSIO.† If you are interested in extra information, the Greek term for this figure is ANTHROPOPATHEIA.† And also let us sum up the definition of our figure one more time.† This figure is used of the ascription of human passions, actions, or attributes to God.† I do not mean to sound repetitious here, but if there is one figure in our figures of speech category that I want you to learn and never to forget, it is this figure.
God bless you and we will continue our adventure in the future.