A state of the human system distinguished from dreaming and revery; it is one in which the bodily senses are licked up and almost disconnected from the spirit, which is occupied either with phantasms, as in trances produced by disease, or, as in ancient times, with revelations from God. Numerous instances are mentioned in Scripture: as that of Balaam, Nu 24:4,16; those of Peter and Paul, Ac 10:10; 22:17; 2Co 12:1-4. Compare also Ge 2:21-24; 15:12-21; Job 4:13-21.
(Gr. ekstasis, from which the word "ecstasy" is derived) denotes the state of one who is "out of himself." Such were the trances of Peter and Paul, Ac 10:10; 11:5; 22:17, ecstasies, "a preternatural, absorbed state of mind preparing for the reception of the vision", (comp. 2Co 12:1-4). In Mr 5:42; Lu 5:26 the Greek word is rendered "astonishment," "amazement" (comp. Mr 16:8; Ac 3:10).
Greek ekstasis (Nu 24:4,16). Balsam "fell" (into a trance is not in the Hebrew) overpowered by the divine inspiration, as Saul (1Sa 19:24) "lay down naked (stripped of his outer royal robes) all that day and all that night." God's word in Balaam's and Saul's dusts acted on an alien will and therefore overpowered the bodily energies by which that will ordinarily worked. Luke, the physician and therefore one likely to understand the phenomena, alone used the term. Ac 10:10, Peter in trance received the vision abolishing distinctions of clean and unclean, preparing him for the mission to the Gentile Cornelius (Ac 22:17-21). Paul in trance received his commission, "depart far hence unto the Gentiles."
In the Old Testament Abram's "deep sleep and horror of great darkness" (Ge 15:12) are similar. Also Ezekiel's sitting astonished seven days (Eze 3:15), then the hand of Jehovah coming upon him (Eze 3:22). As in many miracles, there is a natural form of trance analogous to the supernatural, namely, in ecstatic epilepsy the patient is lost to outward impressions and wrapped in a world of imagination; Frank, who studied catalepsy especially, stated he never knew the case of a Jew so affected. Mesmerism also throws nervously susceptible persons into such states. Concentration of mind, vision, and hearing on one object produces it. Intense feeling and long continued thought tend the same way.
Muslim's visions and journey through the heavens were perhaps of this kind; so devotees' "ecstasies of adoration." In the Bible trance God marks its supernatural character by its divinely ordered consequences. Peter's trance could not be accidental and imaginary, for while meditating on it he hears the Spirit's voice, "behold three men seek thee, arise therefore, get thee down, go with them doubting nothing, for I have sent them." His finding exactly three men, and at that very time, waiting for him below to go to Cornelius who had also beheld a distinct vision, could only be by divine interposition. The English "trance" comes through French from the Latin transitus, at first "passing away from life," then the dream vision state, in which the soul is temporarily transported out of the body and abstracted from present things into the unseen world.
A condition in which the mental powers are partly or wholly unresponsive to external impressions while dominated by subjective excitement, or left fres to contemplate mysteries incapable of apprehension by the usual rational processes. The word occurs in English Version only in Nu 24:4,15 [but cf. RV, Ac 10:10; 11:5; 22:17. See, further, artt. Dreams, Vision.
H. L. Willett.
The word is kstasi" -->????????, 'ecstasy,' in which, as it were, the mind is carried beyond the body. It is translated 'astonishment' in Mr 5:42; and 'amazement' in Ac 3:10. It is rendered 'trance' when Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven; and when Paul in the temple saw the Lord and heard Him speak to him. Ac 10:10; 11:5; 22:17. The same word is used in the LXX for the deep sleep of Adam and of Abram. Ge 2:21; 15:12.
(1) In the only passage--
--in which this word occurs in the English of the Old Testament italics show no corresponding word in Hebrew. In the New Testament we meet with the word three times --
The ekstasis (i.e. trance) is the state in which a man has passed out of the usual order of his life, beyond the usual limits of consciousness and volition, being rapt in causes of this state are to be traced commonly to strong religious impressions. Whatever explanation may be given of it, it is true of many, if not of most, of those who have left the stamp of their own character on the religious history of mankind, that they have been liable to pass at times into this abnormal state. The union of intense feeling, strong volition, long-continued thought (the conditions of all wide and lasting influence, aided in many cases by the withdrawal from the lower life of the support which is needed to maintain a healthy equilibrium, appears to have been more than the "earthen vessel" will bear. The words which speak of "an ecstasy of adoration" are often literally true. As in other things, so also here, the phenomena are common to higher and lower, to true and false systems. We may not point to trances and ecstasies as proofs of a true revelation but still less may we think of them as at all inconsistent with it. Thus though we have not the word, we have the thing in the "deep sleep" the "horror of great darkness," that fell on Abraham.
Balaam, as if overcome by the constraining power of a Spirit mightier than his own, "sees the vision of God, falling, but with opened eyes."
Saul, in like manner, when the wild chant of the prophets stirred the old depths of feeling, himself also "prophesied" and "fell down" --most, if not all, of his kingly clothing being thrown off in the ecstasy of the moment --"all that day and all that night."
Something there was in Jeremiah that made men say of him that he was as one that" is mad and maketh himself a prophet."
In Ezekiel the phenomena appear in more wonderful and awful forms.
As other elements and forms of the prophetic work were revived in "the apostles and prophets" of the New Testament, so also was this. Though different in form, it belongs to the same class of phenomena as the gift of tongues, and is connected with "visions and revelations of the Lord" In some cases, indeed, it is the chosen channel for such revelations.
Wisely for the most part did the apostle draw a veil over these more mysterious experiences.