Updated: Jun 20, 2021
If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit, Exodus 21:28.
Here we have a word that has a vague central meaning that adapts itself well to five places in your King James Bible. A reader recently sent a message asking about it.
Hello, I have a question: in 1 Corinthians 16:13 KJB it uses the word "quit". I hear people say it means to "act", or "be a man", but I looked it up in the Webster 1828 English Dictionary and the #3 definition is the only one that fits (QUIT:
3. To carry through; to do or perform something to the end, so that nothing remains; to discharge or perform completely). Could you shed some light on this?
Today we use the word in a far more isolated sense. "I quit". "He quit the game early." In that sense it means to stop or cease. It can mean to leave a place or an organization. He quit the military or he quit the cabin. Neither definition will fit our opening verse.
The context of our opening verse, Exodus 21:8 is a trial to see if a man is guilty of manslaughter after his ox has killed a man. Unless there are mitigating circumstances such as are described in the next verse (the man knew that his ox had a habit of pushing people), legal action against the man is to cease. It is from this sense of the word that we get our word "acquit".
We see the same principle nine verses earlier in Exodus 21:19; If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed. In this context two men have been fighting. One seriously hurts the other. If the injured man can rise again, the other man is acquitted. Legal action against him quits as long as he pays compensation.
The next place it is used is in Joshua 2:20; And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. Joshua's two spies have struck a deal with Rahab the Harlot. As long as she doesn't tell the leaders of Jericho about the spies, they will save her and her family alive, if she does tell, the deal is over, we will be quit of our oath. The oath will have no more standing.
That brings us about to the phrase that vexes so many and gives the new versions another occasion to disappoint. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong, 1st Corinthians 16:13. For the bible believing student of the Apostle Paul the phrase "quit you like men" should be a flag. His job was to take the Gentiles by the hand and teach them the rest of the bible. Is he quoting something? You had better believe that he is quoting and if you look where he is quoting, the phrase makes much more sense even though we don't use the word that way in common speech today.
Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight, 1st Samuel 4:9. Today, we would say acquit yourselves as men, or behave like men. In that context the meaning stands out very clear. The context of that verse takes place when a corrupt Israel and a corrupt priesthood think that they can trot out the ark of the covenant to turn around their fortunes and defeat the Philistines. Israel had just taken the ark into battle and the very sight of it had made them shout for joy as they anticipated victory. And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again, 1st Samuel 4:5.
We are told that the Philistines feared when they heard that shout. This is the scenario that the Apostle Paul recreates in 1st Corinthians. If you have a King James Bible that becomes visible. A disgraced Israel and a corrupt priesthood have crucified the Lord of Glory. Throughout Paul's writings he contends with Gentiles who are being swayed by the incessant pull by the Jews to get the Gentiles to adhere to the law. He quotes the Philistine commanders who rightly determined that there was no power in the ark. Those who sought to drag the Gentiles back under the law were like the Jews who thought that the ark would prevail. It did not prevail because a greater force was in play. God was on the side of the Gentiles.
Naturally, the new versions in their quest to make reading easier, sacrifice an obvious cross reference and obscure Paul's intent. The NIV, ever a leader in obfuscation says in 1st Samuel 4:9; Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” When it comes to 1st Corinthians 16:13, it completes the obfuscation by saying; Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. This is a perfect example of how the naive think that they are getting a better understanding because an older word is avoided, but in reality they are being blinded. No one would ever associate those two places.
If the word "quit"is examined in each of its contexts, it really is not difficult to understand. It becomes part of our rich heritage.