IRON SHARPENETH IRON

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p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
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#1
We have all seen this verse of Scripture used when someone is explaining/justifying the sometimes heated disputations that occur here on CC, and on pretty much any other Christian Site. Every time I see it used, I tell myself "one day I'm gonna do a Thread on this." Well, after 5 1/2 years.............I'm doing a Thread on this. :)

I completely disagree with the use of this particular verse to explain/justify such events here on CC. It simply does not fit the definition of the Scripture.......

Proverbs 27:17) Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

What happens is, folks that use this Scripture only use the first half..........and not the last half which is what actually deals with people and how the first half applies. The key word in the last half is "countenance." Definition being:

(excerpt......the definition is quite long)

COUNTENANCE, v.t.

1. To favor; to encourage by opinion or words.

The design was made known to the minister, but he said nothing to countenance it.

2. To aid; to support; to encourage; to abet; to vindicate; by any means.

Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. Exodus 23.

3. To encourage; to appear in defense.

(found here)

COUNTENANCE - Definition from the KJV Dictionary


Unless I am missing something in the definitions given............that particular Scripture is really referring to the edification of others, not heated disputations.

Is that right? If so, think maybe we should rethink using it that way it is being used?

(just wondering)
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
19,351
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#2
The word in context is a noun, not a verb, and you have provided definitions of only the verb form. :)
 
E

eternally-gratefull

Guest
#3
A better defenition would be the appearance, or the face of a man (ie, leads him in a direction)

From Chalot - face Gn 31:2, pl. Ez 1:6; nāfal ʿal-pānāyw (in submission) Gn 17:3; hēsēb pānāyw turn one’s face away 1 K 21:4; śām pānāyw direct one’s face toward, head toward Gn 31:21; pānîm befānîm face to face Dt 5:4; nātan pānāyw set one’s face to, set one’s intention to 2 C 20:3;—2. (features of) face: wayyippelû pānāyw his face fell = he was downcast Gn 4:5; penêkem rāʿîm you look bad Gn 40:7; penê dābār appearance of the matter 2 S 14:20;—3. metaph. face = visible side: surface penê; hāʾadāmâ Gn 2:6, penê tehôm Gn 1:2, penê hammayim 1:2; penê lebûš outer garment Jb 41:5;—4. face = front (side): penê hāʾōhel Ex 26:9; mippānîm in front 2 S 10:9; penê milḥāmâ attack, assault 2 S 10:9;—5. panîm in front = formerly: lefānîm 1 S 9:9, millefānîm from the beginning = at all times Is 41:26;—6. face of God Gn 33:10 & oft.;—7. šulḥan (leḥem) happānîm table of the (bread of the) Presence Nu 4:7;—8. face = a person’s self: pānékā you yourself (in person) 2 S 17:11;—9. ʾel-penê before (w. vb. of motion) Lv 9:5;—10. ʾet-penê with the face of = before Gn 19:13; w. vb. of motion 1 S 22:4; mēʾēt penê away from Gn 27:30;—11. bifnê before, against Jos 10:8;—12. lifnê before: a) spatial, no motion Gn 23:12, motion 2 K 4:43; b) temporal: lifnê môtî before I die Gn 27:7, lefānay before I came Gn 30:30; before = faster than Jb 4:19; c) indicating rank Gn 43:14; lefānékā at your disposal Gn 13:9;—13. millifnê away from Gn 47:10; kātab millifnê copy from Dt 17:18; out of the reach of Gn 4:16; w. yārēʾ stand in fear of Ec 8:13, cf. 1 K 21:29; millifnê on account of 1 S 8:18;—14. mippenê away from, out from Gn 16:8; > on account of Gn 6:13; mippenê ʾašer because Ex 19:18;—15. ʿal-penê in the face of, in the sight of, before 2 S 15:18; in front of 1 K 6:3; opposite to Gn 23:19; against = to the disadvantage of Dt 21:16.
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
5,332
113
#4
The word in context is a noun, not a verb, and you have provided definitions of only the verb form. :)
But, but, I gave the "link" just gotta click on it to see the noun form.................. :)
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
5,332
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#5
1. Literally, the contents of a body; the outline and extent which constitutes the whole figure or external appearance. Appropriately, the human face; the whole form of the face, or system of features; visage.

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. Proverbs 15.

Be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. Matthew 6.

2. Air; look; aspect; appearance of the face; as in the phrase, to change or alter the countenance.

3. The face or look of a beast; as a horse of a good countenance.

4. Favor; good will; kindness.

Thou hast made him glad with thy countenance. Psalm 21.


Hence in scriptural language, the light of Gods countenance is his smiles or favorable regards, his favor and grace; and to hide his face or countenance is to manifest his displeasure, and withdraw his gracious aids. So the rebuke of his countenance indicates his anger and frowns. Psalm 80.

This application of face or countenance, which seems to be of high antiquity, proceeded probably from the practice of turning away the face to express anger, displeasure and refusal; a practice still common, but probably universal among rude nations. The opposite conduct would of course express favor. The grant of a petition is accompanied with a look directed to the petitioner; the refusal or denial, with an averted face. Hence,

5. Support; aid; patronage; encouragement; favor in promoting and maintaining a person or cause.

It is the province of the magistrate, to give countenance to piety and virtue.

Let religion enjoy the countenance of the laws.

Give no countenance to violations of moral duty.

6. Show; resemblance; superficial appearance.

The election being done, he made countenance of great discontent thereat.

7. In law, credit or estimation.

To keep the countenance, is to preserve a calm, composed or natural look, unruffled by passion; to refrain from expressing laughter, joy, anger or other passion, by an unchanged countenance.

In countenance, in favor; in estimation.

If the profession of religion were in countenance among men of distinction, it would have a happy effect on society.

To keep in countenance, to give assurance or courage to; to support; to aid by favor; to prevent from shame or dismay.

To put in countenance, to give assurance; to encourage; or to bring into favor; to support.


Out of countenance, confounded; abashed; with the countenance cast down; not bold or assured.

To put out of countenance, to cause the countenance to fall; to abash; to intimidate; to disconcert.

Honestly, don't see a lot of difference...........do you?
 

GraceAndTruth

Well-known member
Sep 28, 2015
2,031
637
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#6
I look at iron sharpening iron as believers in agreement edifying one another to grow in knowledge of God's truth.
 

preacher4truth

Senior Member
Dec 28, 2016
9,171
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#7
YLT renders it nicely: "Iron by iron is sharpened, And a man sharpens the face of his friend."
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
16,197
7,985
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#8
Proverbs 27:17) Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
The word *countenance* means exactly what it says -- face. That is the meaning of the Hebrew word panim or paneh.

So how do you metaphorically sharpen a Christian friend's face? Since you can't chisel his nose or cheeks, you have to sharpen his mind. And the way to do that is challenge his perceptions through Scripture.

Since you did not even mention *face* in your OP, this post is sharpening your perception about the meaning of countenance.

Unfortunately people continue to double down on their errors and false beliefs even after they are shown the truth from the Bible.
 

CharliRenee

Member
Staff member
Nov 4, 2014
6,214
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#9
Doesn't it mean all the above, that we help each other grow, with encouragement, with guidance, with correction, with the continuance to point to Christ with perserverence, truth, support and love? Isn't it all the above, that the truth of the matter is in the heart of a matter, that with our Love of Him and eachother, we grow. Iron to iron, to me, should bring one another and ourselves towards lining up our thoughts, actions and words to Him and His word.
 

memyselfi

Junior Member
Jan 12, 2017
503
260
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#10
My father is the greatest man I have ever known. When he was young he kept a list of who he won to the Lord in his Bible; if he did not have a name to right down, at bedtime, he would go back out and come home until the Lord let him lead someone to Messiah. To this day in his 80's he will come home from the grocery store and tell how he led the young person that helped him to his car in the Lord.

In spite of my dad's greatness he will take the time to debate with me. I love my debates with my dad because it either makes me stronger in what I believe or the Lord, through him changes my mind. (I have won like one or two by the way...just saying....lol). When I debate, with whomever, I research Scripture, pray, use logic and the iron has sharped the iron.... See the iron is not the other person, they do not get any glory, but the iron is G-d.... He teaches me through the other person.
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
5,332
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#12
Doesn't it mean all the above, that we help each other grow, with encouragement, with guidance, with correction, with the continuance to point to Christ with perserverence, truth, support and love? Isn't it all the above, that the truth of the matter is in the heart of a matter, that with our Love of Him and eachother, we grow. Iron to iron, to me, should bring one another and ourselves towards lining up our thoughts, actions and words to Him and His word.
Yes...........but what it doesn't do is excuse the heated disputations that occur on Christian Web Sites. I used to think in did, but after reading about it, and researching it, I have learned that people been misusing this Verse for a loooooong time! IMO....... :)
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
5,332
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#13
My father is the greatest man I have ever known. When he was young he kept a list of who he won to the Lord in his Bible; if he did not have a name to right down, at bedtime, he would go back out and come home until the Lord let him lead someone to Messiah. To this day in his 80's he will come home from the grocery store and tell how he led the young person that helped him to his car in the Lord.

In spite of my dad's greatness he will take the time to debate with me. I love my debates with my dad because it either makes me stronger in what I believe or the Lord, through him changes my mind. (I have won like one or two by the way...just saying....lol). When I debate, with whomever, I research Scripture, pray, use logic and the iron has sharped the iron.... See the iron is not the other person, they do not get any glory, but the iron is G-d.... He teaches me through the other person.
Great testimony. When you debate with your Father, do the two of you call each other names, belittle, berate, and demean each other? Do you accuse each other of various things like not being saved, or place some "label" on each other? Just wondering.............

Or, do you discuss Scripture in a loving, Christian manner with respect and common courtesy for each other?
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
31,717
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#14
I prefer an angle grinder.
mmm yes, those are really useful & effective!
but i like hand chisels, rasps and files for the detail work, and of course wet-sanding to finish it off
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
31,717
10,651
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#15
Great testimony. When you debate with your Father, do the two of you call each other names, belittle, berate, and demean each other? Do you accuse each other of various things like not being saved, or place some "label" on each other? Just wondering.............

Or, do you discuss Scripture in a loving, Christian manner with respect and common courtesy for each other?
get the sense we're often doing it wrong, right??

i don't know where the quote originates from, but am fond of it - '
when iron meets iron, sparks are thrown'

i think the central idea here in the proverb is that burrs are removed, rough places made smooth, angles are formed/reformed and the whole blade is brought into alignment. vis-a-vis, we ought to be working towards whittling away the things that are out of order, to bring them into order. if you've sharpened a blade, you know that a key element of the process is keeping the right angle with the whetstone and working in smooth, continuous movements. if you do it with jerky, imprecise motions, you end up with uneven lines. by analogy, we should be consistent in gentleness, love, and truth - not aiming to denigrate each other but to edify, to build up, to conform into the image of Christ. to do that we need to keep our own tongues straight, or our crooked dialogue is conforming into a crooked image. use a wavy, misaligned sharpening stone, get a wavy, misaligned blade.

you're right, dude. thanks for starting this thread :)
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
5,332
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#16
if you've sharpened a blade, you know that a key element of the process is keeping the right angle with the whetstone and working in smooth, continuous movements. if you do it with jerky, imprecise motions, you end up with uneven lines. by analogy, we should be consistent in gentleness, love, and truth - not aiming to denigrate each other but to edify, to build up, to conform into the image of Christ. to do that we need to keep our own tongues straight, or our crooked dialogue is conforming into a crooked image. use a wavy, misaligned sharpening stone, get a wavy, misaligned blade.
Anyone who has ever seen a Craftsman applying their craft knows that he does so with love and care........makes all the difference...............well...........to me anyway........ My Pops was a Master Carpenter/Cabinet Maker, and to see the stuff he built! Everything he built STILL stands today........that says something about the man.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
31,717
10,651
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#17
where i work there are often a few engineers and analysts with some problem in front of them to sort out. their conversations are made up of giving opinions and observations, and the others consider those and point out flaws in their reasoning or information they haven't considered, etc. all together they work towards coming up with testable solutions to whatever the problem is, trying to identify and resolve the root cause.

they aren't trying to put each other down even when they disagree ((ideally lol)). they have a common purpose and they go through some trial and error. when evidence shows something is true they don't deny it - they reform their opinions based on what truth is revealed. the more they work together and the more experienced they become, they better they are at this process and they become more gracious and less anxious.

if intelligent people in totally secular activities involving complex issues can do this why can't we?
why can't everyone. but all over our community, just like all over the world, we aren't. we're vain and stubborn and corrupt :(
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
28,209
5,332
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#18
if intelligent people in totally secular activities involving complex issues can do this why can't we?
why can't everyone. but all over our community, just like all over the world, we aren't. we're vain and stubborn and corrupt :(

DUNNO..........but that is what we should be striving for............love ya Brother........
 
Nov 26, 2012
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#19
I think rather than the focus of the verse being placed on countenance, it should be on iron and friend. Two friends who are “strong”, when contesting an issue are respectful of each other and their ideas. In this way wisdom is increased by both. This verse doesn’t apply to adversarial, simple minded, opinionated posters.
 

Angela53510

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2011
11,459
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#20
I think we need to look at other translations, unless you go to the Hebrew, or use the Greek in the LXX.

Priv. 27:17
As iron sharpens iron,
so a person sharpens his friend. NET

"As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another." NIV

"Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another." ESV

"17 Iron sharpens iron,
and one person sharpens another." CSB

"Eisen schärft Eisen;
ebenso schärft ein Mann den anderen." Schlacter

"Barzel (iron) sharpeneth barzel (iron); so one ish sharpeneth another." OJB

"Tout comme le fer aiguise le fer,
l’homme s’aiguise au contact de son prochain." Segond21

Not a single one if these versions mentions anything to do with a countenance or face. This is why I distrust the KJV. It literally doesn't translate things corrrctly.

Perhaps next time, instead of looking up words and coming up with a wrong explanation, cross reference with some modern versions, instead of getting all twisted trying to explain something that is not there!