The Will of Man and the Will of God
By Curt Wildy
Many who call themselves Christians will use language like “God respects our will and never acts against it;” “God is a gentleman and won’t do anything against our will;” “God loves our free will more than anything else” and “celebrates the idea that we have the freedom to choose him.” All of the above are actual quotes that people have made and though it may sound reasonable and appealing to religionists, these statements are exceedingly detestable to the true Christian. Such language goes against the very clear teaching of the word of God.
The English Definition of the Word Will
The Oxford Dictionary defines will as “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action; an act of will / willpower deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses; deliberate or fixed desire or intention; the thing that one desires or ordains.” Although no one definition will harmonise completely with all of the other available English definitions, my aim is to provide as clear a picture as I can of the biblical meaning of this word.
NT Greek Meanings
In the New Testament, will is a translation of the following Greek words:
Thelēma [θέλημα, Strong’s G2307, pronounced the’-lā-mä] is a noun meaning 1) what one wishes or what one has determined shall be done; 2) will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure. We see that such words as desire, purpose, wish, intent, minded, resolved, and determined are all synonymous with the word will; where we see one of these other words, we can know that the will of the being, or thing, is in view. As an example, the desire of the flesh is the will of the flesh. With this in mind, we should consider the contextual use of such terms. Verses containing thelēma include:
John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will [G2307 – thelēma] of the flesh, nor of the will [G2307] of man, but of God.
Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires [G2307 – thelēma] of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of [our] life may suffice us to have wrought the will [G2307 – thelēma] of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with [them] to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of [you]: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will [G2307 – thelēma] of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.
Thelēma stems from the Greek word thelō [θέλω, Strong’s G2309, pronounced the’-lō] which is a verb meaning 1) to will, have in mind, intend; a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose; b) to desire, to wish; c) to love; 1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; d) to take delight in, have pleasure. Verses containing thelō include:
John 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth [them]; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will [G2309 – thelō].
Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would [G2309 – thelō], that do I not; but what I hate , that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would [G2309] not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will [G2309] is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would [G2309] I do not: but the evil which I would [G2309] not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would [G2309] not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would [G2309] do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will [G2309 – thelō] and to do of [his] good pleasure.
Romans 9:11 (For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth [G2309 – thelō ], nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [G2309] [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will [G1013 – see boulēma below]? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 [What] if God, willing [G2309] to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Note that thelō is apparently strengthened from the alternate form of the Greek word haireomai [αιρεομαι – Strong’s G138, pronounced hahee-reh’-om-ahee]; which is a verb meaning 1) to take for oneself, to prefer, choose; 2) to choose by vote, elect to office. It is related to, or derived from the word airo [αιρω – Strong’s 142, ah’-ee-ro] which is a primary root verb meaning to take up, take away, take, away with, lift up, bear.
Verses that contain haireomai include:
Philippians 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose [G138 – haireomai] I wot not.
2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath [G138] from the beginning chosen [G138 – haireomai] you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing [G138 – haireomai] rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Another word stemming from thelō is thelesis [θελησις – Strong’s G2308, pronounced thel’-ay-sis]; and it also means will, or a willing will. This word can be found in Hebrews 2:2 “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; 4 “God also bearing [them] witness , both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will [G2308]?“
A non-thelō based word meaning will is boulēma [βούλημα, Strong’s G1013, pronounced bü’-lā-mä]; it is a noun meaning purpose, resolve, will, or counsel. The two passages containing boulēma are:
Act 27:43 But the centurion, willing [G1013 – boulēma] to save Paul, kept them from [their] purpose [G1013]; and commanded that they which could swim should cast [themselves] first [into the sea], and get to land:
Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault ? For who hath resisted His will [G1013 – boulēma]? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?6 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:7 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Boulēma stems from the Greek word boulomai [βούλομαι, Strong’s number G1014, pronounced bü’-lo-mī] which is a verb meaning 1) to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded; 2) of willing as an affection, to desire. Verses containing boulomai include:
James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will [G1014 – boulomai] begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be [G1014 – boulomai] a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing [G1014 – boulomai] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Another word stemming from boulomai is boule [βουλη – Strong’s G1012, pronounced boo-lay’]; it means 1) counsel, will, purpose. Verses containing boule include:
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel [G1012 – boule] and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it
Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou [art] God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel [G1012 – boule] determined before to be done.
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel [G1012 – boule] of His own will [G2307, see Thelēma above]:
From this word boule, we get bouleuo [βουλευω – G1011; pronounced bool-yoo’-o], a verb meaning to consult, be minded, purpose, determine, take counsel; deliberate with one’s self, consider, resolve. Verses containing bouleuo include:
Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and [so is] also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. 33 When they heard [that], they were cut [to the heart], and took counsel [G1011 – bouleuo] to slay them.
Acts 15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, [and see] how they do. 37 And Barnabas determined [G1011 – bouleuo] to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
2 Corinthians 1:17 When I therefore was thus minded [G1011 – bouleuo], did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose [G1011], do I purpose [G1011] according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?
OT Hebrew Meanings
In the Hebrew, the primary words for will are:
Ratsown [רָצוֹן – Strong’s H7522, pronounced rä·tsōn’] is a noun meaning 1) pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance, will; 1a) goodwill, favour; 1b) acceptance; 1c) will, desire, pleasure, self-will. In the AV/KJV, it is translated as favour (15x), will (14x), acceptable (8x), delight (5x), pleasure (5x), accepted (4x), desire (3x), acceptance (1x), and selfwill (1x). Verses containing ratsown include:
Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will [H7522 – ratsowm], O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.
Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do thy will [H7522 – ratsowm]; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
Psalm 145:19 He will fulfil the desire [H7522 – ratsowm] of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
Ratsown is derived from the Hewbrew word ratsah [רָצָה – Strong’s H7521, pronounced raw-tsaw’]; it is a verb meaning: 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to be pleased with, be favourable to; 1a2) to accept / accept favourably; 1a3) to be pleased, be determined; 1a4) to make acceptable, satisfy; 1a5) to please 1b) (Niphal) to be accepted, be pleased with; 1c) (Piel) to seek favour of; 1d) (Hiphil) to please, pay off; 1e) (Hithpael) to make oneself acceptable or pleasing. Verses containing ratsah include:
Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, [in whom] my soul delighteth [H7521 – ratsah]; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Proverbs 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth [H7521 – ratsah].
Psalm 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure [H7521 – ratsah] in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Another word translated as will in the Old Testament is the Aramaic word tsĕba’ [צְבָה – Strong’s H6634, pronounced tseb-aw’ or tsev-a’]. It means 1) to desire, be inclined, be willing, be pleased; to wish; to will (without hindrance) (of God). This word, found ten times, is always translated as/with will in the AV/KJV. Verses containing tsĕba’ include:
Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will [H6634 – tsĕba’], and setteth up over it the basest of men.
Daniel 5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would [H6634 – tsĕba’] he slew; and whom he would [H6634 – tsĕba’] he kept alive; and whom he would [H6634 – tsĕba’] he set up; and whom he would [H6634 – tsĕba’] he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:16 17 21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling [was] with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and [that] he appointeth over it whomsoever he will [H6634 – tsĕba’].
I trust that the above contextual and Greek and Hebrew lexicon definitions have proven that the will is that aspect or faculty of a being wherein they determine, resolve, intend, desire, purpose, take counsel, or have a mind towards something (be it a thought, word, person, thing, action, or inaction).
The Heart, The Seat Of The Will
The Hebrews believed that the heart was the seat of the will, i.e., the place from whence it derived. According to the “Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: word studies for key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts,” By Stephen D. Renn, both “leb and lebab also refer to the “heart” as the seat of a person’s will and the center of emotions. Concerning the heart as the seat of the will, leb occurs in Exodus 25:2, 35:22, 2 Chronicles 29:31 – all dealing with the freewill offering.” Please consider the context of the verses he references when speaking of a “freewill offering.”
Exodus 25:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly [the Qal – imperfect form of nadab, H5068, naw-dab’, 1) to incite, impel, make willing; 1a) (Qal) to incite, impel] with his heart [H3820 – leb] ye shall take my offering.
Exodus 35:22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing [nadiyb, Strong’s H5081, noble, willing, inclined, incited, generous] hearted [H3820 – leb], [and] brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered [offered] an offering of gold unto the LORD.
2 Chronicles 29:31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free [nadiyb, Strong’s H5081, noble, willing, inclined, incited, generous] heart [H3820 – leb] burnt offerings.
Leb (or Lev)
As referenced above, in the Hebrew, one of the words for heart is leb [לֵב , Strong’s H3820, pronounced lāv]which is a noun meaning: 1) inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding; a) inner part, midst; 2) soul, heart (of man); 3) mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory; 4) inclination, resolution, determination (of will); 5) conscience; 6) heart (of moral character); 7) as seat of appetites; 8) as seat of emotions and passions; and 9) as seat of courage. Please note that this heart often does not mean, or primarily refer to, the physical organ. Consider these other verses wherein leb is used:
Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [H3820 – leb] [was] only evil continually.
Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart [H3820 – leb], [There is] no God. They are corrupt , they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.
Isaiah 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.9 10 Make the heart [H3820 – leb] of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
According to one source concerning leb (lev) “Here is an example of our modern western culture still using a concrete object to express an abstract idea. We often associate the heart with emotions such as love and kindness as in “He has a good heart”. This is also true with the Hebrews who saw the heart as the seat of emotion. But unlike us they also saw the heart as the seat of thought whereas we see the brain as the seat of thought. To the ancient Hebrews the heart was the mind including all thoughts including emotions. When we are told to love God with all our heart (Deut 6:5) it is not speaking of an emotional love but to keep our emotions and all our thoughts working for him. The first picture in this Hebrew word is a shepherd staff and represents authority as the shepherd has authority over his flock. The second letter is the picture of the floor plan of the nomadic tent and represents the idea of being inside as the family resides within the tent. When combined they mean “the authority within”.
Lebab (or Levav)
Leb is a form of the word lebab [לֵבָב , Strong’s H3824, pronounced lā·väv’] which is a noun meaning essentially the same thing as leb. Consider these other verses wherein lebab is used:
Isaiah 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart [H3824 – lebab], and convert , and be healed.
Ecclesiastes 9:3 This [is] an evil among all [things] that are done under the sun, that [there is] one event unto all: yea, also the heart [H3820 – leb] of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness [is] in their heart [H3824 – lebab] while they live, and after that [they go] to the dead
Zechariah 8:16 These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: 17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts [H3824 – lebab] against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate , saith the LORD.
Labab (or Lavav)
Both leb and lebab are derived from the word labab [לָבַב – Strong’s H3823, pronounced lä·vav’] which is a primitive root verb meaning 1) to ravish, become intelligent, get a mind; a) (Niphal) to take heart, become enheartened, become intelligent; b) (Piel) to ravish the heart, encourage, make heart beat faster; 2) (Piel) to make cakes, bake cakes, cook bread; in the AV/KJV it is translated as ravished my heart, make, made cakes, be wise. Consider these verses wherein labab is used:
Job 11:11 For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider [it]? 12 For vain man would be wise [H3823 – labab], though man be born [like] a wild ass’s colt. 13 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; 14 If iniquity [be] in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
Song of Solomon 4:9 Thou hast ravished my heart [H3823 – labab], my sister, [my] spouse; thou hast ravished my heart [H3823] with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. 10 How fair is thy love, my sister, [my] spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
Another Hebrew word for heart is the noun libbah [לִבָּה – Strong’s H3826, pronounced lib·bä’]. It derives from leb [לֵב – H3820] above. Consider the following verses for libbah:
Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts [H3826 – libbah].
Isaiah 44:18 They have not known nor understood : for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see ; [and] their hearts [H3826 – libbah], that they cannot understand.
Ezekiel 16:30 How weak is thine heart [H3826 – libbah], saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these [things], the work of an imperious whorish woman;
Many of the ancient Greeks likewise believed that the will stemmed from the heart. To many of the Stoics, the heart was deemed in some aspects to be the central organ of intellectual life. They held that the seat of reason, from which feeling, willing and thinking proceeded, was the heart.
In the Greek, the primary word for heart is kardia [καρδία, Strong’s G2588; it is the origin of our English word cardiac as in cardiac arrest for when the heart fails to contract properly]; it is a noun meaning, amongst other things, 1) the heart; 1a) that organ in the animal body which is the centre of the circulation of the blood, and hence was regarded as the seat of physical life; 1b) denotes the centre of all physical and spiritual life; 2a) the vigour and sense of physical life; 2b) the centre and seat of spiritual life; 2b1) the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the; thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections. Note, however, that the ancient Greeks used this word far more to describe the “functions of the soul” (feeling, thinking, willing, desiring) than to describe the actual, physical, organ that pumps our blood, or the sensations derived from such activity.
For example, one source states “Kardia is not regarded, as in the Greek understanding, as an organ in the physiological sense and the location of mental and spiritual feeling, but is the equivalent for the Hebrew lev, levav (leb, lebab). It refers to the inner person, the seat of understanding, knowledge, and will, and takes on as well the meaning of conscience… Always used in the Bible for the organ of thinking, never for the physiological heart or for the emotion.”
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words has this to say about the heart: “…By an easy transition the word came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements. In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life. “The Bible describes human depravity as in the `heart,’ because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man’s inward life, and then `defiles’ the whole circuit of his action, (Matt. 15:19,20). On the other hand, Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of Divine influence, (Rom. 2:15; Acts 15:9)…. The heart, as lying deep within, contains `the hidden man,’ (1 Pet. 3:4), the real man. It represents the true character but conceals it” (J. Laidlaw, in Hastings’ Bible Dic.). As to its usage in the NT it denotes (a) the seat of physical life, (Acts 14:17; Jas. 5:5); (b) the seat of moral nature and spiritual life, the seat of grief, (John 14:1; Rom. 9:2; 2 Cor. 2:4); joy, (John 16:22; Eph. 5:19); the desires, (Matt. 5:28; 2 Pet. 2:14); the affections, (Luke 24:32; Acts 21:13); the perceptions, (John 12:40; Eph. 4:18); the thoughts, (Matt. 9:4; Heb. 4:12); the understanding, (Matt. 13:15; Rom. 1:21); the reasoning powers, (Mark 2:6; Luke 24:38); the imagination, (Luke 1:51); conscience, (Acts 2:37; 1 John 3:20); the intentions, (Heb. 4:12), cf. (1 Pet. 4:1); purpose, (Acts 11:23; 2 Cor. 9:7); the will, (Rom. 6:17; Col. 3:15); faith, (Mark 11:23; Rom. 10:10; Heb. 3:12). The heart, in its moral significance in the OT, includes the emotions, the reason and the will.”
Consider the following New Testament (Greek) verses:
Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart [G2588 – kardia] the mouth speaketh.
Mark 2:6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts [G2588 – kardia], 7 Why doth this [man] thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts [G2588 – kardia]?
John 12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart [G2588 – kardia], and be converted, and I should heal them.
The following passages from both the Old and New Testament are just a few examples that serve to reinforce the tie-in between the heart and the will:
1 Chronicles 29:17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart [H3824], and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart [H3824 – lebab] I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. 18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart [H3824 – lebab] of thy people, and prepare their heart [H3824 – lebab] unto thee: 19 And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart [H3824 – lebab], to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all [these things], and to build the palace, [for] the which I have made provision.
1 Kings 8:18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart [H3824 – lebab] to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart [H3824].
Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart [this word being H5315 – nephesh which is most often translated soul], so [is] he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart [H3820 – leb] [is] not with thee.
Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart [H3820 – leb], I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Jeremiah 18:11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. 12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart [H3820 – leb].
Luke 3:15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused [G1260 – dialogizomai, meaning reasoned, deliberated, considered] in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
If the will is generated from the heart, residing in it and stemming from it (which it is), then we need to see what God has to say about man’s heart. Notice, I say heart and not hearts because we all have one heart, one like-minded center of thought, belief, will, emotion, and understanding. Only God Himself makes us to differ manifestly; inherently, each of us has a heart that is exactly like that of everyone else. God may hold some people back from certain manifestations of emotion, thought, word, or action, while giving others over to those very same things, but we all have (share in) the one natural, metaphoric, heart of man.
Lord willing, in Part Two, we will consider what the Bible has to say about the heart of man, which will tell us about the state and nature of mankind in general; for “as a man thinketh in his heart (lit. soul, with the heart being the key thinking component of the soul), so he is” as we read in Proverbs 23:7.
Continue to Part Two.