An attribute of God and quality desirable but not consistently found in humans.

The main problem in understanding kindness is the fact that it is one of a series of terms that are overlapping and not clearly or consistently distinguishable in meaning. This is true not only in English (kindness, goodness, mercy, pity, love, grace, favor, compassion, gentleness, tenderness, etc.) but also in Greek (chrestos, eleemon, oiktirmon, charis, agape, splanchnon, epieikeia, etc.) and in Hebrew (hesed, tob, rahamim, hemlah, hen, etc.). Consider, for example, the relationship of love, goodness, kindness, and mercy in lu 6:35-36. Nevertheless, although distinctions are not consistent, kindness (like goodness, love) tends to cover a broad range of meaning, with mercy and grace being progressively narrower.

Divine Kindness God's kindness is presupposed or taught throughout Scripture.

It is manifest in what is called "common grace." God is kind to all he has made ( Psalm 145:9 ),even when his creatures are ungrateful and wicked ( Luke 6:35 ; cf. Matt 5:45 ). His kindness is intended to lead to repentance, not to rejection of him ( Rom 2:4 ).

In the second place, it is the believer who can truly celebrate God's kindness, even in areas of experience not directly related to salvation from the guilt and punishment of sin. God's kindness is seen in his deliverance of the believer from affliction, fear, and trouble.

Third, God's kindness is manifest in the full salvation that comes through Christ ( 1 Peter 2:3 ).Indeed, our salvation derives from the kindness of God ( Eph 2:7-8 ), and itis through continuing in his kindness that we are saved ( Rom 11:22 ).

What is true of God in general is also specifically attributed to Christ, who is gentle( Matt 11:29-30 ).In this connection, Jesus' kind yoke might better be understood to speak of the fact that it is gently and considerately laid upon his disciple rather than that it is easy to accomplish.

Human Kindness The Scriptures also teach that divine kindness is to be reflected in the human experience. Indeed, expressing kindness to other human beings is more important than performing ritual sacrifice to God ( Hosea 6:6 ; Matt 9:13 ; 12:7 ). Thus, we are to love kindness ( Mic6:8 ) and to be children of the Most High, exhibiting his kindness and mercy ( Luke 6:35-36 ).Even more direct is the simple injunction to be kind ( Eph 4:32 ). Kindness often finds a place in the lists of Christian virtues ( 1 Col 13:4 ; Col 3:12 ). Paul can take the injunction a step further and claim to exemplify kindness in his own life to a degree that commends his ministry as authentic ( 2 Cor 6:6 ).

Yet human imitation of God's kindness does not come naturally. In fact, ultimately no one is kind ( Psalm14:3 ; Rom 3:12 ).It is only as the fruit of God's Spirit that kindness can be a consistent part of the believer's experience ( Gal 5:22 ).

David K. Huttar


E. Beyreuther, NIDNTT, 2:105-6; D. N. Freedman, TDOT,5:22-36; R. L. Harris, TWOT, 1:305-7; D. K. McKim, ISBE, 3:19-20; K. Weiss, TDNT,9:483-92; H.-J. Zobel, TDOT, 5:44-64.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
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Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Kindness
'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.


kind'-nes (checedh; chrestotes):

"Kindness" in the Old Testament is (with one exception) the translation of checedh, "kindness," "favor," "mercy," etc., used chiefly of man but also of God (Genesis 20:13; 40:14; 1 Samuel 15:6; 20:14,15; 2 Samuel 9:3; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 141:5; Isaiah 54:8,10, etc.); Tobh, "good," is once so translated (2 Samuel 2:6). In the New Testament chrestotes, "usefulness," "beneficence," is rendered "kindness" 4 t in the King James Version (2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 2:7; Colossians 3:12; Titus 3:4, and in Galatians 5:22 the Revised Version (British and American)); see GENTLENESS; GOODNESS. Philanthropia, "love of mankind," is translated "kindness" Acts 28:2), and philadelphia, "love of the brotherhood" (2 Peter 1:7, the English Revised Version "love of the brethren," the American Revised Version margin "Gr, love of the brethren").

For "kindness" (Psalms 31:21) the Revised Version (British and American) has "lovingkindness," and the American Standard Revised Version in other places where the reference is to God; for "shew," "shewed kindness" (Joshua 2:12) "deal," "dealt kindly"; for "The desire of man is his kindness" (Proverbs 19:22) the American Standard Revised Version has "That which maketh a man to be desired is his kindness," the English Revised Version "The desire of man is (the measure of) his kindness," like the American Standard Revised Version in m; for "merciful kindness" (Psalms 117:2) the American Standard Revised Version has "lovingkindness," the English Revised Version "mercy "; both have "lovingkindness" (Psalms 119:76); for "of great kindness" (Nehemiah 9:17; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) the American Standard Revised Version has "abundant in lovingkindness," the English Revised Version "plenteous in mercy"; the Revised Version (British and American) has "kindness" for "mercy" (Genesis 39:21); for "pity" (Job 6:14); for "goodness" (Proverbs 20:6); "favor and kindness" the American Standard Revised Version, for "grace and favor" (Esther 2:17).


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'KINDNESS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.