Conscience and the New Testament part 2


09 05 2021

conscience on the new testament as a word file

Last time we considered the Old Testament on the conscience.  Now we are going to look at the New testament.  Part 2

Today in Finland and many parts of the world it is Mothers Day so I say Happy Mothers day.  Without motherhood the world would be a sadder place.  Let us now move on to Bavinck and his teachings on the conscience

Bavinck starts with Matthew 6 22; I need to quote him here,” “The eye is the lamp of the body”—Jesus is referring to the capacity for the human mind to know the eternal, to reason, to the human spirit, and to the light of nature (retained by humans after the fall).”  This is very interesting because there is a residue of conscience after the Fall.  Other religions have the capacity to reach heights unimaginable; Bruce Lee proved this in his art. This height however is not salvific according to the Christian religion.  The Fall was a universal disaster for all humankind, and it is only through Jesus Christ that we can come to the Father and reach our full potential.  This process then is a movement of the particular that many branches of humanity cannot accept.  However, I have accepted it as I believe that Jesus is the answer to all of humanity and humanities problems.

So excepting the story of the prodigal son in Luke (Luke 15:17)and the woman caught in adultery John (8:9). . then the word conscience (syneideisis) is found mainly in Paul’s writings in a lot of places.  This is the route Herman Bavinck follows.   He traverses pages 173 -176.  There is a lot of information to take in.  Obviously if Paul takes the conscience seriously so must we.   Before we come to any conclusions, we ought to follow this road too and see where we find ourselves at.

Bavinck also refers to the woman caught in adultery Joahn 8, 7[syneideisis] that some manuscripts have a different reading. John Chapter 7. 53 through to chapter 8 verse 11 are not found in the earliest manuscripts.   However there is strong evidence that this event took place.  I go along with Carson’s finding (

I also found out what Bavinck already knew that

From Novum Testamentum 26th edition

Και uπο της συνειδεισεως ελεγχομενοι ἐξήρχοντο. (U Γ 28. 700.  (892). 1010 πμ

And by their conscience being convicted they began to go away(one by one)

Below from

U = Nanianus 9th century Venice

Γ = tischendorf 10th century Russia


So, from the teachings of Jesus we see the idea of conscience is found even if there is disagreement on the literal use of conscience.  The majority text is frowned on by some because it accepted later texts as well.  I’m not interested in those reasons.  For the main point Bavinck is correct to state the idea of conscience is found in the teachings of Jesus.  We must also remember that the teachings of the Apostles are the teachings of Jesus and these were worked out in the day to day running of the church to the point that most Apostles died martyrs.


Paul has his theology on conscience and the mind and use of the mind and heart are very important to him.  Conscience / syneideisis are very important.  Bavinck is now going to prove to us why conscience is such an important word for him.  This is also very important for us because if we really believe and have a high view of Scripture that it contains the oracles of God. The question is What state is our own conscience in?

Are we the type of people that when we do something wrong in our hearts we say “it doesn’t matter” or are we like Bruce Lee people who take our conscience so seriously that we listen to every aspect of the conscience?  It does not matter if Bruce Lee was a Christian or not, he is a good example of a person who understood the conscience.  A lot of Christians and people of other belief systems have not I believe do not fully understand or grasp what a conscience is. 

As a general introduction then Paul is found using the word conscience the most

“And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” (Acts 23:1)

 So, I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Acts 24:16)

Therefore, one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (Rom. 13:5)

But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. (1 Cor. 8:7; cf. 8:12—9:27; 10:23—33; Rom. 14)”

From Reformed ethics, Herman Bavinck, edited by John Bolt page 176.

So, Paul always watched his conscience and questioned it before God.  Paul submitted his conscience to God’s will.  For Bruce Lee, he was the measure who measured his conscience with very high standards.  For Christians, the conscience ought to be submitted to God.  This happens by grace and faith.  


So, then we have seen that for the Apostles and the teachings of Jesus the idea or the very word conscience is found.  We have seen that even non-Christian’s value conscience.  My question is: Do you value conscience?

As people of faith, we realize that we cannot do perfect things.  We are human and we fail.  This is why the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope.  In our own strength we will fail again and again but through the work of Christ by the Holy Spirit, he helps us to do the right thing.  Next time we will continue with Bavinck as he goes into more detail on the conscience. 

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