RE: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life

James H. Vellenga (
Tue, 5 Nov 96 10:23:30 EST

> From: Jonathan Robie <>
> EPIQUMEW seems to be a much abused word. It is used in many settings, some
> positive ("Matt 13:17 (NASU) "For truly I say to you that many prophets and
> righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see [it]", Luke 22:15
> (NASU) And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with
> you before I suffer;), some negative ("Acts 20:33 "I have coveted no one's
> silver
> or gold or clothes."), some morally neutral (Luke 15:16 (NASU) "And he would
> have gladly filled [desired to fill] his stomach with the pods that the
> swine were eating, and no one was giving [anything] to him.).
> In every case, this seems to be a *strong* desire, a decision that "I want
> this".
> Currently, I'm playing with the gloss "set your heart on".

My favorite gloss is "to long (for)". This has the advantage
of having morally neutral connotations, while still indicating
a relatively strong feeling. This meaning fits most of your
citations above fairly nicely. It clearly is awkward in Acts 20.33,
but still gets the meaning across:

I longed for no one [else]'s silver or gold or clothes.

The meaning is close to covet, but "long for" is probably more
immediately apprehensible to a contemporary English speaker than
"covet" is.

The Matt 5.28 passage then becomes something like (translating
PROS as "for the sake of")

.. that anyone looking at a woman for the sake of the longing ...

This suggests that the problem is allowing my looking to be
intentional enough for me to relish the resulting endorphins (one
teacher calls them "the tingles"), whether those endorphins
result from an explicitly sexual desire or from desires for
companionship, etc. Not every affair (so I've read and seen)
results initially from primarily sexual attraction.

And yes, I agree with the correspondent who observed that, given
the context, Jesus is referring to a relationship that if
developed sexually would be adulterous, and is not talking
about the natural attractions of single people toward each

Jim V.