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The parable of the importunate widow, a problem to our translators, ceases to be a problem when the context is allowed to do its work. The second half of Luke 17 is all about the Second Coming; and Luke 18:8 rounds off with: “when the Son of man cometh...” Then is there not here a plain directive to apply the intervening parable to the Second Coming? In that case, who is the widow? — Israel or the new Israel? The former, doubtless: see Isaiah 54:5-8; Lamentations 1:1 (cf. Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).
The only problem that arises regarding this verb and noun (ekdikeo, ekdikesis) is whether they always mean just that, or whether there is a milder, more impersonal meaning: “do justice”. Romans 13:4 might seem to fall into this category: “he (the ruler) is…a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Yet what might be impersonal administration of justice in a human ruler is a very personal anger—“wrath”—in an Almighty God who sees His laws being flouted. And the context also suggests vengeance: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto the wrath (of God): for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
a-venj ́ a-venj ́ẽr: Avenge.—The general idea connected with this word is that of inflicting punishment upon the wrongdoer. Since emphasis may be placed upon the deed itself, the wrongdoer, or the injured party, the verb is found an intransitive (only Leviticus 19:18; see below), transitive (2 Samuel 4:8 et al.); and also active (Deuteronomy 32:43), passive (Jeremiah 5:9) and reflexive (Esther 8:13). In 1 Samuel 25:26 avenge is translated from ישע, yāsha', “to save” (Revised Version margin, “thine own hand saving thee”), in Hosea 1:4 from פקד, pāḳadh, “to visit,” and in 2 Samuel 18:19 from שׁפט, shāphaṭ, “to judge,” but the usual Hebrew word is נקם, nāḳam, or derivatives, “to avenge.” The translation in the Revised Version differs in some places from King James Version: Numbers 31:3 (Revised Version “execute Yahweh’s vengeance”; compare 2 Samuel 22:48; Psalms 18:47; Leviticus 26:25); Leviticus 19:18 (Revised Version “take vengeance”); Judges 5:2 (Revised Version “for that the leaders took the lead in Israel” from פרע, pāra‛, “to be free, to lead”). In the New Testament avenge is translated from the Greek ἐκδικέω, ekdikéō, “to do justice,” “to protect” (Luke 18:3 et al.) and the King James Version Revelation 18:20, κρίνω, krínō, “to judge” (Revised Version “God hath judged your judgment”).
Vengeance, (Gr. Δίκη), the heathen goddess of retribution (Lat. Justitia), described as the daughter of Zeus (Hesiod, Op. 266) and Themis (Theog. 902) and the coadjutor (πάρεδρος) of the former (Sophoc. (Ed. Col. 1384; Arrian, Alex. 4:9; see Montfaucon, Antiq. I, 2, 8). The punishment of murderers is particularly ascribed to her; and, therefore, besides being the goddess of punishment in a general sense, she is often to be considered the same as Nemesis or Vengeance (Eurip. Med. 1390; Dion Halic. 11:37; see Mitscherlich, ad Horace, Od. 3, 2, 32; Palaiset, Observ. p. 347). The word occurs in Acts 28:4, but its significance is there disguised in the A.V., which renders it “justice.” SEE REVENGE.