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"Insights" from the New Testament Greek

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3. Insights Derived from the Definition of Greek Words

By Bob Jones, Northside Bible Church, Jacksonville Florida


--- Matt 5:48 Jesus told His hearers "Be ye perfect". "perfect" to us today sounds like absolute perfection, but the Greek word here is "teleios". "teleios" means "mature", or "complete". See the Greek Synonyms page for further definitions of the 3 Greek words for "perfect". Our sinless "position" "in Christ", IS "absolutely perfect", but our experience here on earth is one of growing in grace TOWARD "maturity". (teleios)

--- Matt 13:39-49, 24:3, 28:20, 1 Cor 10:11, & Heb 9:26. Seven times the KJV Scriptures use the phrase "end of the WORLD". Each time, the Greek word translated "world" is "aion", meaning "AGE". In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was speaking of the end of the "Jewish AGE", which will occur at the Second Advent. In 1 Cor 10:11, and Heb 9:26, the author is referring to the "end of the Church AGE", which will occur at the Rapture of the Church. Over 30 times in the KJV, the Greek word "aion" is translated as "world", when the context is referring to a "dispensation" or one of God's "AGES" or time periods, such as the "Church Age". See the Greek Synonyms page for further definitions of the 4 Greek words for "world".

--- Jn 1:11, Jesus came into His own CREATION and His own PEOPLE received Him not! The first word translated "own" is "idia", which is a neuter noun, which means the "things" created. The second word "own" is "idioi", which is masculine, meaning the people of the "household" of Jesus, or the Jewish Nation who rejected him. Awesome! Jesus created the world and then entered the world He created, as a human being, through the Virgin Birth, and the people of God, the Jews of Jesus' day, rejected the Creator Himself!

--- Acts 17:18 Paul the "babbler", as the KJV states, sounds like a term of derision and a lack of respect for Paul. But, the Greek word translated "babbler" gives us a much different insight. In Acts ch 17:16-33, Paul is in Athens and his spirit is stirred within him as he sees the rampant idolatry. The intellectuals of Athens hear Paul preach and invite him to speak at the "Areopagus", or "Hill of the god Aries". The Areopagus of Athens was much like our Federal Supreme Court of today, except that they had the walls lined with altars and idols dedicated to every pagan god known to them. As they heard Paul preach in the marketplace, they hear about a "god" with whom they were not familiar. In verse 18, the intellectuals call Paul a "spermalogos", translated in the KJV as a "babbler". The Greek word "spermalogos" literally means a "bird which picks up seeds", and in this context means someone who in their travels picks up "seeds of wisdom". In verse 21, we find that the Athenians and the strangers that passed through enjoyed nothing more than to tell, or to hear some new thing. They had no newspapers, TV, radio, or internet, but they got the "news" from what they were able to "pick up" in the market place! The intellectuals of Athens heard Paul preach about a "god" called "Jesus" with which they are not familiar. When Paul reached the Areopagus at the top of the hill, he saw a perfect opportunity to introduce Jesus to the intellectuals of Athens, when, in verses 22-33, he saw an altar with the inscription "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD". (The Athenians erected this altar in case they had missed a god that they didn't know about). Paul takes this perfect opportunity to tell them in verse 23 about the one true God, the God unknown to them. So, in the Greek, we have a completely different picture, and find that the Athenian intellectuals had great respect for Paul, and excitedly invited him up to the Areopagus to hear the "seeds of wisdom" that he had picked up in his travels!

--- Rom 5:2 "We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand". The Greek word translated "access" here is the Greek word "prosagoge", a technical term for introduction and interview with royalty in the court of a king! To be given such a privilege is awesome. This word implies that the subject being introduced would be prepared for the interview, and vouched for. What excitement! What privilege! Through the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, we have instant, direct access to God our Father!

--- 1 Cor 13:8-13 What does it mean in 1 Cor 13:10 "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away"? The subject of 1 Cor. chapter 13 is the "agape love" that shall never cease, the "things in part" in verses 8 & 9, which are the things that shall be eliminated, and "that which is perfect" in verse 10, which takes the place of the "things in part". The "things in part" are the spiritual gifts of "prophecy", "tongues", and "knowledge (gnosis, or simple knowledge)". In verse 8, where the "things in part" pass away, the Greek "passive voice" is used for "prophecy" and "knowledge", indicating that they will be "caused" to cease, and for "tongues", the "middle voice" is used indicating that they will fade away on their own rather than be caused to cease. Concerning "that which is perfect" in verse 10, the Greek word translated "perfect" is "teleion", a neuter noun which means "an object which is to become mature or complete", and the Greek word translated "come" is "eltha" meaning an object which comes into existence". "That which is perfect" then, cannot be the coming of Jesus, as it is so often taken, because Jesus has always existed. The only neuter object that I can think of, that, when it became "mature or complete", eliminated the need for the "things in part", is the completion of the Canon of Scripture, God's Word, in 96 AD. James also uses "teleios" to refer to God's completed Word, in Jas 1:25, where he calls the completed Scriptures "the PERFECT law of liberty". 1 Cor 13:11 amplifies the meaning of the "things in part" as "childish things", in other words, the things that the early, or "baby" church needed. Verse 12 states that at the time Paul was writing, the church saw as in an ancient metal mirror, seeing a partial image, because the Bible had not been completed yet. The Greek phrase translated "face to face" in verse 12 is "prosopon pros prosopon". This Greek phrase does not mean "in the immediate presence of", or when we meet Jesus face to face, as we would normally take it, but it means "face turned toward face", which, according to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, has to do with better understanding the nature, will, and purposes of God. When Scripture writers speak of being in the immediate presence of someone, they used the Greek word "stoma" or mouth to mouth, as in 2nd John verse 12, and 3rd John verse 14. Also in Acts 25:16 where the KJV says "face to face", the Greek there is just the single word "prosopon", meaning to see their accusers "to their face". God in His grace sustained the early church before they had a completed Bible or even a pastor-teacher, by means of the marvelous supernatural spiritual gifts of prophecy, or the direct "forthtelling" of God's eternal Word before it was in written form, and by "tongues", or languages not understood by the speaker, and by the spiritual gift of "knowledge", which is the Greek word "gnosis", or incomplete but edifying knowledge of God's eternal Word infused directly into the mind of His people. Paul used the Greek present tense verb in 1 Cor 13:12 to say that even he, at that present time, had a "partial knowledge" (gnosko), but then, when that which is perfect is come, he could, as Thayer's Greek Lexicon states, "know thoroughly" (epignosomai), even as he had been "thoroughly known" (epegnosthan). When the Canon of Scripture was completed in 96 AD, and the churches had pastor-teachers, there was no more need for the temporary sustaining gifts, the "things in part", because, from that point on, they had the complete Word of God in print, as Jude verse 3 states, "the whole realm of faith, once for all delivered to the saints".

--- 2 Cor 2:17 "We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God". The word translated "corrupt" is the Greek word "kapeleuontes". The Greek word "kapeleuontes" is from the Greek root word "kapelos", meaning a "trader" or "petty huckster". The significance of this word is that the "kapelos", or petty hucksters of Paul's day were known for adulterating their commodities for the sake of a higher profit margin. Examples given by Greek commentators are: placing the best fruit or vegetables on top where they can be seen, and bad fruit underneath, and also the practice of mixing water with wine in order to sell more wine and increase their profit. We must not water down God's Word to improve the apparent results of our witnessing or to improve the cash flow in our churches! We should use the Word honestly, and full strength, and trust Almighty God with the results!

--- 2 Cor 5:10, The "judgement seat" of Christ. Paul used many familiar terms of his day concerning the Olympic Games and events and training required for them, to illustrate spiritual truths concerning our Christian life and future. The term "Judgement Seat of Christ" in 2 Cor 5:10 and Rom 14:10 is the Greek word "bema". "Bema" was used in Bible times for a raised platform at the Olympics where the Chief person of the games stood and all the medal winners filed by for him to place their awards, medals, or wreaths around their neck. It is amazing how many times the New Testament writers used Olympic game terminology and awards to describe our life as Christians and final judgement: 1Cor 9:24, Running the "track", or "race course" event, the KJV word "race" is the Greek word "stadia", from which we get our English word "stadium". Apparently we as Christians all have a different "event" placed before us, and we will all "win" our "event" - Rom 8:37 says we are all "winners" (translated conquerors in the KJV) through Him who loved us. The Greek word in Rom 8:37 translated "conquerors" is "NIKE", same as our modern shoe and intercontinental ballistic missile. Amazing. I heard an old country preacher one time say that some people are running their "race" on their back in a hospital, in a wheel chair, in a marriage full of conflict, as a prisoner, as a slave, in jail, etc.. Heb 12:1 "Stripping down to competition weight" to run an Olympic foot race. Notice here the event we are to compete in IS PLACED IN FRONT OF US. (We don't choose it ourselves, God does, he knows the beginning from the end and he has a PURPOSE in all things, Prov 16:4, Rev 4:11 & Isa 46:10). Phil 3:14 "Struggling toward the goal", an Olympic games phrase. 1 Cor 9:25 Training for the Olympic games. "Games" here is the Greek word "agonizomos", the Greek word for the Olympic games. We get our English verb "to agonize" from this word. "Crowns" here is "stephanos", the Greek word for awards, medals or wreaths given to the winners at the Olympic games."Diadem" is the other word translated "crown", and "diadem" is a "kings crown" as Jesus is crowned with in Rev 19:12. We, the Church, never wear a "diadem", all 9 times our "crowns" are mentioned, they are "stephanos", or Olympic type awards. 1 Cor 9:26 "Shadow boxing". Again, a Greek Olympic training phrase. 1 Tim 6:12 "agonizomos" again. Literally "to be a success" at the Olympic games. 2 Tim 4:7 Paul uses the familiar phrase above again. 1 Tim 4:7&8 Paul uses the Greek word "gymnasia", our word for "gymnasium". Gymnasia means "strenuous exercise", the kind an athlete uses to strive to be world class. Paul uses this phrase to communicate to his Greek speaking listeners how we should use the same diligence to train ourselves to please God. In 1 Tim 4:8, the KJV says "bodily exercise profiteth little", but in the Greek, Paul uses the "present indicative" Greek verb to compare a well known reality to the truth he is trying to communicate and literally says "You all know the benefit of rigorous bodily exercise, well, pleasing God benefits us in the same way, not only in this life, but also in the life that is to come." 2 Tim 2:5, Striving for the mastery, literally "if anyone competes in the games, he cannot receive medals or awards (stephanos) unless he obeys the rules." The "rules" for us in the Church Age are the imperatives (when we are told something to do or not do) in the New Testament Epistles to the Churches.

--- Gal 1:6&7 Paul says to the Church at Galatia: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another ---" Another which is not another? The first word for "another" is the Greek word "heteros" which means another of a DIFFERENT kind. The second Greek word for "another" is "allos", which means "another of the SAME kind". The Galatians were falling for another gospel of a different kind. In this case a gospel of salvation by works, in returning to the Old Testament Law. Paul says that this "gospel" of works is a gospel of a different kind, and not another of the same kind (allos), meaning that it is not a substitute gospel, but a false gospel!

--- Gal 5:22 The word translated "temperance", is the Greek word "egkrateia", meaning "self control". The Old English word "temperance" meant the same in 1600 AD, but it virtually lost it's meaning during the so-called "temperance" or "anti alcohol" movements of the previous century. The Holy Spirit produces "self control" in the life of a child of God who is "in fellowship", or "led by the Spirit" in accordance with 1 Jn 1:9. We need self control in EVERY area of our life!

--- Phil 4:13 I can do "all" things through Christ which strengtheneth me. The Greek word translated "all" here is "pas", meaning "all types, or all kinds", not "absolutely all" things. We must be very careful with the word "all" in the New Testament, because we naturally tend to assign the meaning "absolutely all" when we see the English word "all" in the Bible. The New Testament Greek has two specific words for "all", "pas", meaning "all kinds or all types", and "hopas", meaning "absolutely all". An example of "hopas" is Matthew 24:39, where absolutely all ("hopas") the evil inhabitants of the earth were swept away by the flood during the time of Noah. Note in the Phil. 4:13 context that 6 "types of things" that Paul has the strength from Christ to endure are listed in the previous verse. In Phil 4:12 Paul says " I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all ("pas", or all types of things) things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Then, Paul says in verse 13 that he can endure "all types" of things through Christ who empowers him. See the Greek Synonyms page for further definitions of the 5 Greek words translated "all".

--- 1 Tim 2:11 & 12, Women are commanded to "keep silent" in church. There are three Greek words translated "silent" or "silence": First, the Greek word "phimo" means to place a muzzle on, as in Matt 22:34, where Jesus "silenced" the Sadducees, and in 1 Pet 2:15, where by doing divine good works we "silence", or "place a muzzle on", foolish men. Second, the Greek word "sigao" means to "stop talking, be quiet", as in 1 Cor 14:28. 30, & 34, where the Corinthians are given 6 rules for speaking in "tongues". In 1 Tim 2:11&12, Paul uses the third word for "silent", which is "hesukia" meaning "a general atmosphere of peace, quiet, & rest". When Paul commands women to be "silent" in 1 Tim 2:11 & 12, he doesn't use "phimo", or "sigao", but "hesukia", meaning "an atmosphere of peace, quiet, & rest". Paul also uses "hesukia" in the same chapter, in verse 2, where WE ARE ALL told to lead a "quiet and peaceable" life. The KJV "keep silent" sounds like women are not allowed to speak at all, but "hesukia" in 1 Tim 2:11&12 states that women should have a quiet, and peaceful role in church activities.

--- Titus 2:14 In the KJV calls us the "peculiar people" of God. The English word "peculiar" has come to mean "weird". We are NOT supposed to be weird! The Greek word underneath "peculiar" is "periousion", meaning abundance, riches and wealth, and used generally as "one's possessions". The English word translated "people" here is "laos". Together these two Greek words are stating that we, the people of God, are God's riches and wealth, and therefore very precious to Him!

--- Heb 2:1 "Give more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them "slip". The Greek word translated "slip" is "pararrhueo", which was a Greek sailing term, meaning to drift past safe harbor in a storm. A sailboat cannot sail directly into the wind, but must "tack" back and forth at an angle to the eye of the wind. In a storm, sailing toward a safe harbor, there is a moment in time when a proper setting of sails will bring the ship safely into harbor, but delaying, even a moment, past that point in time renders the ship helpless and at the mercy of the wind and sea. I would remind you that all of God's Word, including the epistle to the Hebrews, is written to God's people who have "ears to hear". (1 Cor 1:18 and 2:14 state that the natural man does not have the ability to receive anything from the Spirit of God but spiritual information is foolish to him. Jesus told the Pharisees in Jn 8:43-47 that they could not hear him because they were not God's children.) The epistle to the Hebrews was written to born again believers who were tending to return to Jewish temple worship and animal sacrifices, and it's purpose was to urge the hearers to depend completely on Jesus, who Himself is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament law and sacrifice system. What is the point? There are points in time in the lives of God's people where we must depend on the Word of God and act in accordance with it, or the storms of life will blow us past the safe harbor, and God will allow us to crash onto the "rocks". Safe harbor, of course, is living by and acting in accordance with God's Word.

--- Heb 12:6 The word translated "love" in this verse is the Greek word "agape". Notice that discipline in the life of God's children comes from His AGAPE love! 1 Cor 13: 4-7, Rom. 13:10, & 14:15, define Agape love from God. Agape love from God is unconditional love and it seeks the best interest of the object, even if it is discipline! See the Greek Synonyms page for further definitions of the 4 Greek words for "love".

--- James 1:12, "Blessed" is the man who endureth temptation (testing from God). "Blessed" is the Greek word "makarios", meaning "fortunate, well off, and happy". Seven times in the Book of Revelation, "makarios" is used to state that the ones who read the Book of Revelation and keep God's Word are "blessed", or "fortunate, well off, and happy". Each time man is said to be "blessed" in the New Testament, "makarios" is used. But, when God's Word repeatedly says "Blessed be God", how can we "bless" God? When the New Testament says "Blessed be God", the Greek word "eulogetos" is used. "Eulogetos" means "to speak well of" or "to say good things about"!

--- 1 Pet 1:22 Peter writes to God's children, who Peter says already "love" each other, and Peter tells them a second time to "love" each other fervently with a pure heart. The first word for "love" in 1 Pet 1:22 is "phileo", or "friendship", and the second word for love is "agape", or unconditional love from God. Peter is saying you already have "phileo", or "friendship and appreciation" of each other, now have "agape", the divine love from God! We do not generate "agape" love, we can only "reflect" it when we are walking in the Spirit, as it only comes from God. See the Greek Synonyms page for further definitions of the 4 Greek words for "love".

Bob Jones