Exegetical Counseling

The Use of the Term “διανοίᾳ” in the New Testament 

Exegetical Psychology

Introduction

The challenge for me was deciding whether the term “διανοίᾳ” meant reasoning, or the part of the mind producing reasoning. After reviewing the verses below, I decided that “reasoning” best fit the evidence. I could not rule out that certain instances may refer to the part of the mind producing reasoning. Both believers and unbelievers may reason about things, but unbelievers reason evilly because their hearts are darkened and in nature they are children of wrath.

1. Love and Reasoning. Following the Old Testament command, Jesus commanded people to love God “in all your heart (“ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ καρδίᾳ σου”), in all your soul (“καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου”), and in all your reasoning (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου)” (Matthew 22:37). Based upon this verse, all the things Jesus mentioned as things were inside the spiritual part of a person. Therefore, at times, the term “διανοίᾳ” may refer to the part of the mind which provides reasoning. In Luke 10:27, Jesus changed things slightly and said “out of all your heart” using the preposition (“ἐξ”), indicating that the source of the love is your heart, and added loving your neighbor as yourself. Likewise, in Mark 12:30, Jesus said “out of all your heart” using the preposition (“ἐξ”).

2. Jesus and Pride.  Mary said that God has done mighty deeds with His arm. Specifically, He has scattered the proud (“ὑπερηφάνους”) in the the “reasoning” (“διανοίᾳ”) of their heart (“καρδίας”) (Luke 1:51). God linked pride with reasoning there, indicating the proud reason (improperly) their way to their own haughtiness.

3. Jesus and Reasoning. Jesus knew the reasoning (“διανοήματα”)  of the crowd questioning Him about casting out a demon (Luke 11:17). Specifically, He replied with reasons why they were wrong. He met human reasoning with diving reasoning.

4.  Will of the Flesh and Reasoning. Paul described unbelievers as doing the will (“θελήματα”) of the flesh (“σαρκὸς”) and of the reasonings (“διανοιῶν”), and they were in nature (“φύσει”) children of wrath (“τέκνα ὀργῆς”) (Ephesians 2:3). The will of the flesh and the will of the reasonings produce evil actions, because unbelievers are in nature children of wrath. Notice further that the will of the flesh is evil and the will of the reasonings of unbelievers produces evil. The source of that evil will, evil flesh, and evil reasonings is the evil nature of the children of wrath. Furthermore, notice that the flesh influences the will and also reasonings influence the will. The will produces action, but more than one will may be at work within you, producing a conflict of wills. Finally, notice that the flesh and reasonings are not the same, as we will see when the war between the flesh and the spirit comes into view in Romans 7 and Galatians 5.

5. Darkness and Reasoning. Paul described the unsaved Gentiles as walking in the futility of their mind (“περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν”), being darkened (“ἐσκοτωμένοι”) in their reasoning (“διανοίᾳ”), excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance (“ἄγνοιαν”) that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart (“τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν”) (Ephesians 4:18). God wants us to know what evil works in the psychology of unsaved people, so that we may avoid the same in our lives. God provided clear distinctions and relationships in this verse. First, the mind (“νοὸς”) relates directly to the reasoning (“διανοίᾳ”). Second, the hard heart underlies their ignorance (“ἄγνοιαν”), which influences their ability to reason correctly from their mind. See also Romans 1.21 about the foolish heart darkened.

6. Evil Deeds and Reasoning. Paul explained that evil deeds arise from a hard heart, and that  hard heart relates to alienation (“ἀπηλλοτριωμένους”) from God and hostile in reasoning (“ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ”) (Colossians 1:21).  We see that the heart, mind and reasoning all fit together.

7. The New Covenant and Reasoning. God said that He would make a new covenant and He would give His law into their reasoning (“διάνοιαν”) and write His law upon their hearts (“καρδίας”) and He will become their God and they will become His people (Hebrews 8:10, 10:16). As above, God changes both the reasoning and the heart of people with salvation. 

8. Action and Reasoning. Because of the revelation of salvation, and because of personal experience with salvation, the believers must gird up the loins (“ἀναζωσάμενοι”)  of their reasoning (“διανοίας”), being completely sober (“νήφοντες”) (1 Peter 1:13). Peter then reasoned with them by reminding them to act like obedient children, because they must be holy, because God is holy.

9. Stirring Up and Reasoning. Peter wrote his second letter to wake the believers’ pure reasoning (“εἰλικρινῆ διάνοιαν”), in remembrance (2 Peter 3:1). Peter specifically wanted them to remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior by the apostles. Then Peter reasoned with them about the mockers coming and the will of God for all men to be saved. He wanted them to reason through his argument about what the mockers were missing as they reasoned about all things continuing just a they were. 

10. Jesus and Reasoning. As believers, we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us reasoning (“διάνοιαν”), so that we may know Him Who is true (1 John 5:20). Notice the gift of “reasoning” from God allows believers to know Him Who is true. God does not give us the part of the mind which reasons, but reasoning itself, so that we know him. Having the capacity to know is not the same as using that capacity to know. Therefore, I prefer the translation “reasoning.” Holy reasoning allows us to know God, which is eternal life.

11. Epinoia. As a side note, in Acts 8;22, we have the single occurrence of the term “ἐπίνοια” in the New Testament. There it occurs in the heart of Simon the Sorcerer, whose heart was not right before God (“ἡ γὰρ καρδία σου οὐκ ἔστιν εὐθεῖα ἔναντι τοῦ θεοῦ”), because Simon the Sorcerer tried to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-25). Hence the rise of the practice of Simony, the buying and selling of ecclesiastical offices and powers. 

Conclusion

Only believers can reason properly, because they have the mind of Christ, and God changes their nature, so that they are in nature children of God, no longer children of wrath. The glories of salvation change our reasoning, so that now we can follow the reasoning of God. 

 

VerseTextTranslationPoint 
Luke 11:17αὐτὸς δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὰ διανοήματα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πᾶσα βασιλεία ἐφ’ ἑαυτὴν διαμερισθεῖσα ἐρημοῦται καὶ οἶκος ἐπὶ οἶκον πίπτει. But He knew their reasoning and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.
Matthew 22:37
ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ· ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ καρδίᾳ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου·And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR REASONING.’
Luke 1:51Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ,

διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν·
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the reasoning of their heart.
Luke 10:27ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης [τῆς] καρδίας σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ἰσχύϊ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου, καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR REASONING; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
Ephesians 4:18ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν,being darkened in their reasoning, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
Colossians 1:21Καὶ ὑμᾶς ποτε ὄντας ἀπηλλοτριωμένους καὶ ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς,And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in reasoning, engaged in evil deeds,
Hebrews 8:10ὅτι αὕτη ἡ διαθήκη , ἣν διαθήσομαι τῷ οἴκῳ Ἰσραὴλ
μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας ἐκείνας, λέγει κύριος·
διδοὺς νόμους μου εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν αὐτῶν
καὶ ἐπὶ καρδίας αὐτῶν ἐπιγράψω αὐτούς,
καὶ ἔσομαι αὐτοῖς εἰς θεόν,
καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔσονταί μοι εἰς λαόν·
“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR REASONING,
AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS.
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,
AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
Hebrews 10:16αὕτη ἡ διαθήκη ἣν διαθήσομαι πρὸς αὐτοὺς
μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας ἐκείνας, λέγει κύριος·
διδοὺς νόμους μου ἐπὶ καρδίας αὐτῶν
καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν διάνοιαν αὐτῶν ἐπιγράψω αὐτούς,
16
“THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
AND ON THEIR REASONING I WILL WRITE THEM,”
He then says,
2 Peter 3:1Ταύτην ἤδη, ἀγαπητοί, δευτέραν ὑμῖν γράφω ἐπιστολὴν ἐν αἷς διεγείρω ὑμῶν ἐν ὑπομνήσει τὴν εἰλικρινῆ διάνοιαν This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere reasoning by way of reminder,
1 John 5:20οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν, ἵνα γινώσκωμεν τὸν ἀληθινόν, καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος.And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us reasoning so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
Mark 12:30καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν Ζεβεδαῖον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ τῶν μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ.AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR REASONING, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
1 Peter 1:13Διὸ ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν νήφοντες τελείως ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.Therefore, prepare your reasoning for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:3ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί·Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the reasoning, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.