Our English word always has in it now the flavor of force, not always, however, physical. It may be strong moral urgency, though "constrain" better expresses this.
1. In the Old Testament:
There are several words indicative of such strong pressure:
(1) 'anac "to press":
"none could compel" to drink (Esther 1:8);
(2) nadhach, "to drive," "force":
"compelled Judah thereto" (the King James Version, the Revised Version, margin); "led Judah astray" the Revised Version (British and American) (2 Chronicles 21:11). The same word rendered "force," as the adulteress by flattering words her victim (Proverbs 7:21);
(3) 'adhadh, "to serve":
not to compel him to serve as a bond servant (Leviticus 25:39 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "make him serve");
(4) parats, "to break forth upon," "urge":
"his servants compelled him" (1 Samuel 28:23 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "constrained").
2. In the New Testament:
In the New Testament two words are found:
The word is of Persian origin and means to employ a courier. The Aggaroi were public couriers stationed by appointment of the kings of Persia, at fixed localities, with horses ready for use, to transmit speedily from one to another the royal messages. These couriers had authority to press into their service, in case of need, horses, vessels, and even men, they might meet (Josephus, Ant, XIII ii, 3); "compel thee to go a mile" (Matthew 5:41 the King James Version; the Revised Version, margin "impress"); "compelled Simon to bear his cross" (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21 the King James Version; the Revised Version, margin "impressed").
(2) anagkazo, "to constrain," whether by force, threats, entreaties, persuasion, etc.:
"compel them to come in" (Luke 14:23 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "constrain"). This has been a favorite text of religious persecutors. As Robertson says in his history of Charles V, "As they could not persuade, they tried to compel men to believe." But it simply means that utmost zeal and moral urgency should be used by Christians to induce sinners to enter the Kingdom of God. Compare Acts 26:11.
George Henry Trever
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