THERE are many methods of determining the meaning of a word. The safe and
satisfactory course is to use as many as can be brought to bear upon any given expression,
avoiding those which are obscure or open to question. The verb kataballo may be
approached from many angles. Let us consult some of them.
The usage of the word in the Scriptures is based on its meaning in the Septuagint. In
this Greek version it is used to translate nine different Hebrews words. These are
- Dimgah, tears (Isa.16:9).
- Hippil, cast down (2 Sam.20:15; 2 Kings 3:19, frequently).
- Hahras, pull down (Job 12:14; Ezek.26:4).
- Hishpeel, humble, lay low (Isa.26:5).
- Nahtash, desert, (Ezek.29:5; 31:12).
- Nahthatz, tear down (Ezek.26:9).
- Palnatz break (Job 16:14; Prov.25:28).
- Shahghath, corrupt, destroy (Ezek.26:4).
- Sahtam, hate (Job 16:9).
A study of these Hebrew words and the passages in which they are rendered by kataballo
shows clearly that the etymological meaning--DOWN-CASTING is borne out by the usage in the
Scriptures which were used by our Lord and His disciples. This is the meaning they would
attach to it. Hence they would understand Him as speaking of the CASTING DOWN of the
The one passage which is thought to contradict this idea is Heb.11:11. Now this is
precisely that character of an occurrence which should not be given a decisive
voice in this matter. The general lack of knowledge of the subject involved, and its
delicacy has deterred us from a definite statement as to its bearing on this subject.
Since it is used, however, to annul all the other evidence we may be pardoned for speaking
briefly of its significance.
In the first place it does not speak of birth. Sarah was enabled for the
CASTING-DOWN of seed, and this at a time of life when nothing but a miracle would
account for it. The physiologists speak of this casting down of seed from the ovaries as a
DISRUPTION. We must refer the reader to them for the particulars. It is in perfect accord
with the usual meaning of the term.
As a matter of fact, it was while studying this passage in its physiological aspect,
and finding the word disruption used as its physiological equivalent, that the word
disruption was first associated with katabolee in those discussions concerning it
which have since arisen.
If, then, the etymology, the usage in the Septuagint, the usage in ten out of eleven
passages in the Scriptures are agreeable to the idea of a disruption, and the eleventh
passage refers to an event which is actually so called by a writer on physiology who
describes it, why should we hesitate to acknowledge this meaning?
To this we might add the instructive use made of it in the introduction to the second
book of the Maccabees (2 Mac.2: 23- 29). He speaks of his unorganized notes by this
term, comparing them to the material for a house before it is put together.
But the crowning proof lies in the application of this meaning to the passages in which
it occurs. As has been previously said (Unsearchable Riches, Vol. 1, page 266):
In Heb.9:26 we read in our version; "For then must He often have suffered since
the foundation of the world, but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put
away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." But it is manifest that He did not appear
"in the end of the world." And likewise it is manifest that there was no
necessity for His suffering consequent upon the "foundation" of the world. What
was there in that which demanded His sacrifice?
But if we read, "Since then He must often suffer from the disruption of the
world, i.e., since sin's entrance, we can trace the connection which the word
"for" leads us to expect.
It borders on blasphemy to argue that God's work in founding this world was of such a
nature as to demand the suffering and sacrifice of Christ. But it is a most solemn and
wholesome truth that sin wrought disaster that it not only brought suffering, but called
for the suffering of Christ to heal its mortal wound. In closest accord with this we read
that the Lamb was foreordained before and was slain from this disruption (1
Peter 1:20; Rev.13:8).
Now the Lamb speaks of Christ as a sacrifice. Again we ask, what sacrifice was needed
to atone for God's perfect work? But how grand it is to know that even before this
disruption God had appointed a Lamb to suffer, and that, in His sight the Lamb was slain
the moment sin appeared. May we not see this pictured in the lamb He slew in Eden's garden
to clothe our guilty parents?
Hebrews 4:3 furnishes us with another notable occurrence. We read "...though the
works have been taking place from the disruption of the world...." What works are
here spoken of? The very next verse tells us: "For He spoke in a certain place
concerning the seventh day on this wise: `And God did rest in the seventh day from all His
works.'" This undoubted reference to Gen.2:2 tells us that the works referred to are
those of the seven days of the first chapter of Genesis. But if this be true, how can it
be that they were finished "from the foundation of the world?" The foundation of
the world occurs in Gen.1:1, and the works were not undertaken until after the disruption
of the original creation as recorded in the second verse, where we are told that it became
(not "was") waste and void.
It is strange English (and just as strange Greek) to speak of works being
"finished from." If it were said that they were finished at that date we
would grasp the sense. "Finished from" is not intelligible. But if we say that
they were taking place from the disruption of this world's system, we are not only
assigning each term a definite meaning, but we are strictly in harmony with the facts of
It is clear that the works from which God rested were not the works of creation in the
beginning, but those of restoration, after this perfect creation had been overthrown. The
foundation of the world was not laid in any of the seven days. It is, therefore,
impossible that these works took place or were finished previous to this time.
On the other hand it is clear that they began to take place dating from the
disruption which destroyed the original creation. In fact there was no occasion for these
works until the disruption had marred all.
But the grandest occurrence of our word is in Eph.1:4. We were selected in Christ
before the disruption of this world's system when we were holy and without a
blemish in His very presence. The AV rendering "that we should be" is without
any warrant whatever. Literally it reads "to be," but with no thought of
contingency whatever. So then, before sin came on the scene to play its horrid part, God
selected us, that is, chose us for Himself. And this selection was entirely
uninfluenced by sin, and ever since, in Christ, He sees us thus.
How marvelous is this thought! His plans and counsels for the earth seem all to date from
the disruption which sin wrought (Matt.13:35; 25:34; Rev.17:8). But two things find their
place before that catastrophe the love God bears His Son (John 17:24) and the
selection of the members of the body of His Christ. These members are indeed last and
lowest as to time and rank on earth, but they were first of all mankind in His purpose and
will be first again when He begins to reveal His glory; yes, and will be highest in the