APPEARANCE STUDY #1 - BIBLE & THEOLOGY: For some time now I have sought to establish biblical guidelines and principles for outward appearance. Does outward appearance matter to God? The generic evangelical response is no - all that matters is the heart. In recent discussion (the Aldersgate Forum) there was general agreement that while content (heart condition) is of supreme importance, the form (outward appearance) is also significant. The million-dollar question is, "What happens to the content when the form is lost?"

I will not at this time attempt to answer this question, but I want to at least begin with some basics. First, does outward appearance matter to God?

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." The key word is "appearance" or eidos. This word only appears five times in the New Testament. Consider its uses:

1. At Jesus' Baptism in Luke 3:22, "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape (eidos) like a dove upon him (Jesus)..."

2. At Jesus' Transfiguration in Luke 9:29, "And as he (Jesus) prayed, the fashion (or appearance) of his countenance was altered..."

3. Jesus speaking of His Father in John 5:37, "You have never heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape (appearance)."

4. Paul speaking in reference to Jesus' absence in 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." That is, faith that Jesus is risen though we do not physically see him at this time.

BDAG (a Greek dictionary) says that in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 the meaning is "all kinds of evil," which is how the NIV translates it. However, this translation and definition does not seem to do justice to the the fact that this is specifically visible kinds of evil. In other words, Paul unambiguously states that our outward apperance matters. So the question, "Does outward appearance matter?" is answered by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and the answer is yes!

However, I have hardly begun answering the question about the relation of form to content. That will come later.

Thanks for reading,

David

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