Category: Greek

Greek Vocabulary List for Romans

For the last five years, I have been going through the Greek text of Romans (the focus of my M.Th./Ph.D. research) with a fine-tooth comb. I have worked through the text of Romans so much that I feel like it is my own kid!

I decided some time ago to compile a sequential vocabulary list for every word that appeared in Romans, complete with glosses, etc. After spending a few time-consuming weeks on it, I discovered that I could do the same thing with no more than three clicks through Logos Software. The advantage of technology.  🙂

So, if you are interested in diving into the Greek text of Romans (a venture I highly recommend–just make sure you handle φύσις in Rom 2:14 with care!), then feel free to download and print off the list: Greek Word List__Romans

NB: The words listed are sequential (in the order they appear in the text), and I have not yet taken the time to insert the chapter/verse notations (empty space in the far right column). I plan to do that at a later date, as well as fix a few formatting issues. At any rate, if you see anything missing or errors in general, please let me know. 

Alētheia, 2

I have said that “truth” is a person—namely, Jesus Christ. But there is more, I think, that can be said about this. Taking cues from Heidegger, I understand alētheia as denoting “disclosure.” The noun alētheia is actually the negated form of the verb lēthō, which means something along the lines of “to be hidden” or “to be outside one’s notice” (e.g., see Mk 7:24). But when “a-” is put in front of lēthō, the opposite is meant, namely, an un-hiddenness. If lēthō means “closure,” then a-lēthō (or simply, alētheia) means dis-closure. The word alētheia, or “truth,” then, means to take something that is veiled or hidden and un-veil or un-hide it. At its most fundamental level, “truth” is the uncovering of that which is covered, it is the revealing of that which is hidden. This is what truth is in everyday life. When a person “tells the truth,” they disclose reality. That is, they show what is, in fact, the case. Suppose, for example, that an archeologist comes upon an ancient, mysterious (but very beautiful) object. The scene is at first confusing, perhaps even perplexing. But after years of research, the archeologist discovers the truth—the truth about the object, who made it, where it came from, its significance, etc. When we say the archeologist “discovers the truth” about the object, what we really mean is that the archeologist un-veils the mystery; he/she reveals and un-covers the reality of the object (e.g., that it was crafted in the Bronze Age). “Truth,” therefore, is an un-veiling, an un-covering, and an un-hiding.

And this is the essence of the person of Christ. The one true God is revealed, unveiled, and disclosed in Christ. When Jesus says in Jn 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, the life,” it is in the context of showing the Father: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (v.7). Phillip begs to see the Father, and Jesus’ reply is telling, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Phillip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (vv.8-9). To know Jesus is to know God.

Moreover, Jesus is the picture “of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). As Gadamer has taught us, all pictures have the essence of presentation—i.e., they image-forth. This is their mode of being. He says, “A drama really exists only when it is played, and ultimately music must resound (T&M, 115).” I wonder if there is not a parallel here? Just as sound cannot be separated from the essence of music and just as performance cannot be separated from the essence of a drama, so also is Jesus the very real presentation and revelation of God to the world. Indeed, it is through Christ that the divine drama is being revealed, disclosed, and unveiled. Why? Because Jesus is Truth.

Alētheia, 1

What is truth? Most define “truth” as “that which corresponds to reality.” I agree. Whatever concurs with reality, that thing, whatever it is, is the truth. The proposition, “These words are written in the English language,” is true insofar as it corresponds to reality. Considering these words are, in fact, “written in English,” then that proposition is to be taken as true. But consider the following: “Diese Worte sind in englischer Sprache geschrieben.” Is that proposition true? No, it is not. The reason, of course, is because it runs contrary to reality, for it is written in German, not English.

According to Christian tradition, “truth” (alētheia) is much more than a proposition, it is a person. “I am the way, the alētheia, and the life,” says Jesus of Nazareth (Jn 14:6). Of course, it is easily understandable, I think, why Christians would believe that Jesus is the embodiment of alētheia. He is for us, after all, the ultimate reality. He is the logos, the most fundamental reality there is (Jn 1:1-3). Of course, as logos (“Word”), Jesus is the “through-which” all things were created (Col 1:16). The Genesis account of creation (Gen 1) remains the backdrop for John’s Christology, to be sure; there is to be no doubt about the Jewish overtones in John’s use of logos, I think. But I believe John’s use of logos would appeal not just to a Jewish audience, but to a Greek audience as well. The logos, after all, was believed to be the foundation of all cosmic order (something a few Greeks mused about from time to time). And yet John says that Jesus of Nazareth is logos. Jesus, therefore, is to be seen as the central part of fundamental reality and order, for everything that is and has being finds its basis upon the divine logos. In this way, Jesus is alētheia, since truth is that which corresponds to reality, and Jesus as logos is the basis for ultimate reality. Truly, one can say that the Christos, as the logos, sustains the cosmos.

Passion & Wisdom in the Modern Age: Musings on Proverbs 29:11 (LXX)

As Christians, we are called to think rightly; we are called to wisdom. But what are the characteristics of wisdom? What does it look like to think rightly, especially in our modern age? The Bible goes about answering these questions in various ways, but one particular passage I have been thinking about lately is Proverbs 29:11. My love for the Greek New Testament has ignited a love for the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX). So, wanting to deepen my reflections on this verse, I ran over to the LXX to read it: holon ton thymon autou ekpherei aphrōn, sophos de tamieuetai kata meros. I have loosely translated this as, “The foolish person lets out all of his passion, but the wise person does so reservedly, in a measured way.”

A simple first glance reveals that the “foolish person” (aphrōn) is set in direct contrast to the “wise” (sophos). Here, “foolish” (aphrōn) denotes wrong thinking. It is the opposite mindset of God and his people (cf. phronimos in Matt 7:24 and phroneō in Phil 2:5). There is, therefore, a way of thinking that is characteristic of God and his people—namely, a mindset based upon wisdom, insight, and prudence. Simply, aphrōn (“foolish”) in Prov 29:11 means “not wise” or “unwise.” Biblically, to call someone a “fool” is not to digress into name-calling, but rather to point out that someone is behaving, practically speaking, in a way that betrays their very human calling to a life of wisdom.

The “wise person,” sophos, behaves differently than the aphrōn. In what way? It all has to do with what each one does with thymos (passion, anger). The foolish person does not hold anything back; they have no filter. To be foolish, at least here, is to show no restraint in what one does with his or her passion. The wise person, by contrast, is not necessarily without anger (as the text of the LXX implies); rather, they are simply more reserved and careful with it. That is, they let it come out “in measure.” One gets the sense that the sophos lives a much more quiet life than the foolish person (cf. 1 Thess 4:11ff). The wise person, it seems, is less rambunctious and less imprudent with emotion than his or her counterpart.

What can we, people of the 21st century, learn from this verse? Ours, after all, is an age of passion, of hype and hysteria—a time when access to social media affords us a quick outlet for every little thought and every whim of passion that enters our mind and heart. People are—and always have been—passionate, whether over their religion, their non-religion, their entertainment, or their politics (I have written briefly about that last one here). In this way, the 21st century is no different than other times. But having been thrown into our modern, technological age, our passion has the unique ability to go public in an instant, sometimes to our detriment (not to mention others’). There is nothing wrong with going public with our passion. Sometimes it is necessary. But indiscreet passion is unbecoming for anyone, and unreasonable passion is dangerous to everyone. While anger and passion are never wrong in and of themselves (both have a place, as I say), each person is obligated to show measure and restraint. This is the essence of wisdom. Passion, of any sort, is never beneficial if it is allowed full reign without sound reason and self-control restraining it. I do not make an idol out of human reason (I do not buy into rationalism), but I do think wisdom and understanding, sophia kai phronēsis, are indispensable to the life that God requires. It is the wise person, after all, who shows constraint with emotion. How come? Because he or she, as a prudent thinker, understands the consequences that an overly-rash life tends to bring. 

As Christians, we are said to embody Christ in the world (1 Cor 12:27); if that is so, then may our fervent passion be the pursuit of wisdom and right thinking. May every passionate thing we say (or do not say) be founded upon sound reason. May we be a passionate people who think rightly, carefully, and wisely. 

A Greek Word You Need to Know: κοινωνία

I hope that our series of posts on Greek words has been helpful to you. I also hope it has whet your appetite for the New Testament’s original language. The goal, once more, is not to be exhaustive with these posts, but simple and concise. The hope is that you will use these as springboards for further study.

In this post, we will look at the word κοινωνία.

1. κοινωνία – koinonia. You pronounce it “koi-nō-nee-ah.” The second “o” is a long “o,” as in the word “hope.” The word means: fellowship, participation, contribution. The word, too, connotes the idea of a “give-and-take relationship,” a communion of people.

2κοινωνία is found in various places. For example, in describing the early church, Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship (κοινωνία), to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (ESV). Other places include: Rom 15:26; 1 Cor 1:9, 10:16; Gal 2:9; Phil 1:5.

3. Why should you know this word? Because it’s a fairly multi-dimensional word (at least that’s how I see it.) For instance, I think it’s safe to say that κοινωνία implies more than just a gathering of various people into one place; it’s more than just a gaggle. Rather, it conveys the image of a group of people who are meeting for the benefit of one another. Christians have the great privilege of gathering together every week—we call this time “Sunday worship.” A great question for each of us to ask ourselves is, When we gather together is it for the purpose of anything other than κοινωνία? That is, do we go to church just to go to church, or do we go so that we can benefit and encourage one another? Is your presence in church more of a cantankerous presence or is it a glorious service to others? The New Testament calls you to the latter, to κοινωνία. So, next time you go to church, keep in mind that you are there not just to receive and, as we say, “be fed.” (Make no mistake, you should expect to receive and find spiritual nourishment.) But you are also there to participate in giving and sharing love.

A Greek Word You Need to Know: θεός

The New Testament writers put to use a wonderful language, Koine Greek, for the purpose of conveying the redemptive plan and will of God in Christ. The New Testament, therefore, centers around the activities of God himself (and so does the Old Testament, obviously). So, I thought for this installment of “A Greek Word You Need to Know,” we would check out the word θεός.

1. θεός – theosYou pronounce it “theh-os.” The “o” in theos is pronounced like the “o” in “ox” (not like the “o” in the English word “over”). The word simply means “God” or “a god.”

2. The word θεός is found all over Scripture. In fact, the word (in its various forms) occurs over 1,000 times in the New Testament. Some places of note include: Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-2; Rom 3:21; 10:2-3.

3. Why should you know this word? Because it’s the word for God, who, as we said above, remains the central figure of the entire Bible. That said, it should be carefully observed that the word itself, θεός, is a generic word to describe any sort of deity (or deities if in the plural form, θεοὶ). In fact, the Bible itself does not restrict the word θεός to refer only to the God of the Bible but also to pagan gods (for example, see Acts 14:11 and Gal 4:8).

However, the θεός of the Bible, described as the One True θεός, has been revealed to us in the person of Jesus the Messiah. In other words, if you want to know the true God himself, then get to know Jesus, who is God enfleshed (John 1:1-4, 14). This is a central tenet of Christian theology, a belief which sets us Christians apart from our Jewish and Muslim friends.

Speaking of “theology,” I’m sure you were quick to notice that this English word comes from the Greek θεός, theos. Cool, eh? I guess by learning a little Greek, the English speaker gets to know their own native language a bit better!

A Greek Word You Need to Know: θεόπνευστος

There is a great verse in the Bible found in 2 Tim 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV). The hyphenated word above, “God-breathed,” is a translation of the Greek θεόπνευστος. Some translations will render this as “inspired by God” (NLT, HCSB, and NASB) or “breathed out by God” (ESV). I personally like the NIV: “God-breathed.” It’s simple, concise, and captures the mystery that is Holy Scripture.

1. θεόπνευστος – theopneustos. You pronounce it “the-op-noo-stos.” It’s a compound word, where the Greek words theos (God) and pneo (I blow/breathe) have been joined to form one word. (The noun pneuma means spirit, wind, or breath.)

2. The word, θεόπνευστος, is found only in 2 Tim 3:16. A lot of scholars think the word was actually created by Paul in order to convey the divine origin of Scripture. It’s a fascinating word, really.

3. Why should you know this word? The reason is because I think it invites a person to ponder the mystery, as I said above, of the Bible–a “God-breathed,” divinely inspired book. But as we all know, the Bible did not simply fall from heaven in printed form, made up of gold binding and glittering pages. That’s not how God chose to bring his Word to us. He chose to be more earthly than that. After all, Scripture was composed over many centuries by different sorts of people. These were real people, furthermore–people whose specific traits, gifts, motivations, and talents can be seen coming through the pages of Scripture (e.g., compare Paul with Mark and Isaiah with Amos).

The word θεόπνευστος reminds me of an earlier story where it was said that God “breathed into” humans “the breath of life” (Gen 2:7). I suppose Scripture is similar to humanity itself: like a composition of dust endowed with the divine image, so is the Bible: a collection of earthly ink, in which rests the divine breath.

A Greek Word You Need to Know: Χριστός

Kicking off our weekly (or thereabouts) series A Greek Word You Need to Know, I felt the only appropriate place to begin is with Χριστός. I promised these posts would be “short and sweet,” and so these are only meant to build interest so that you can go home and do further research for yourself. I hope you enjoy!

1. Χριστός – Christos. You pronounce it “khris-tos,” where the “k” and “h” are sort of morphed into one sound. You definitely need to use your throat on this one! The word itself means “Anointed One,” parallel to the Hebrew word for “Messiah.”

2. Obviously, Χριστός is found all throughout the New Testament. But here are a few important passages for you to check out: Matthew 1:16; 16:16; Rom 3:24; 5:1; 1 Cor 15:3.

3. Why should you know this word? Perhaps I should say that it’s NOT because “Christ” is Jesus’ last name. Rather, Χριστός is the title, if you will, of the long-expected person who God would send to redeem and renew all things. Of course, as Christians we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Χριστός , the son of the living God–shown to be so by his resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:4).

Introducing “A Greek Word You Need to Know”

greekGreek is a fascinating language, not least because it was the language the New Testament writers chose to use in order to communicate with their readers. This language, Koine Greek to be precise, can be gold for the serious student of the Bible. For those who want to take their study of Scripture to a deeper level, learning Greek remains one of the obvious first steps. (Check out the recent blog post I wrote here about the value of learning NT Greek.) 

In order to whet our linguistic appetites, I am going to start writing a series of blog posts called “A Greek Word You Need to Know.” I’ll try to do one each week, more or less. Each post will do three things: (1) State and define the particular Greek word, giving the phonetic spelling so that you can learn to say it properly; (2) Give a few sample passages from Scripture where the word is found; and (3) Share a few theological reasons why this particular word is important. It will be short, sweet, and to the point.

Of course, if you are interested in going further in your learning, please check out our upcoming NT Greek class here.

Why You Should Learn New Testament Greek

One of the most rewarding things I have ever done was to learn New Testament Greek. Like learning any foreign language, an entire new world was opened up before me. Even though learning a new language can be difficult, it has proved very rewarding in the end for me.

I believe that every Christian should have the opportunity to learn the original language of the New Testament. I want every believer to have the world of Jesus and the Apostles to open up before them. That’s why we are offering a class that will help do this very thing. Of course, you don’t have to be a believer in Christ to enjoy learning NT Greek, so everyone is welcome to join in on the fun.

As I was doing some initial preparation for an upcoming class, I was thinking about some of the practical benefits of learning NT Greek. Here they are:

1. You will read the New Testament more carefully. The first thing you will notice is that you will read the New Testament–with your newly-acquired Greek skills–in a slower manner than you do in your own native language. One of the problems, I think, many people have is that they read too quickly. This is probably true even of those who read the Bible. To many Christians, some biblical passages have become so familiar that they are given very little attention when they are being read; these passages tend to be glossed over too quickly. But when you open up your Greek New Testament (GNT) and turn to those same passages, you will find yourself reading them very, very, very slowly. And this is a good thing because it will force you to pay closer attention to the words you are reading. You will be more attentive to the place and function of words in a sentence and will therefore give you the opportunity to grasp the meanings of the words better. It’s been my experience that the Greek student often discovers a new love for the New Testament precisely because of this.

2. You will experience the richness of important theological truth. Someone once said that learning to read the New Testament in Greek is like going from black and white television to color television. I agree! When you watch television in good ‘ole black and white, you will of course still be able to discern what you are watching. The basic “truth” of the TV show you are watching can still be understood, even in black and white. But when you watch the same show in color (perhaps even in HD), you will begin to get a clearer picture of each scene. Likewise, going from English to Greek, you will experience a richness that you never knew was there. For example, take the Greek word telos in Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end [telos] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (ESV). Some translations, like the English Standard Version here, translate the word telos as “end.” But it is arguably the case that telos, being a word of considerable depth, doesn’t mean “end” in the sense of an abrupt or unforeseen stop to something (in this case, the Mosaic Law), but rather “end” in the sense of a “completed goal.” A better translation of telos would perhaps be “culmination” or something similar. What you decide with this word does, in many cases, come to bear upon what you think about the Law of Moses in relation to the New Covenant (of course, the opposite is true as well). At any rate, my point here is that if you didn’t have some working knowledge of Greek, you would simply be at the mercy of other people, namely, the translators. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the translators do work hard in their teams and committees to translate the text properly and carefully. But at the end of the day, it’s good for the common Christian to participate, figuratively speaking, in the discussion with these translators as the biblical text is being hashed out.

3. Christians need to be educated. I don’t understand it, but there really is a stream of “anti-intellectualism” in the evangelical church. Many well-meaning Christians seem to disregard, and at times even show disdain for, education. The mantra for modern evangelicalism is: “Never mind your brain, your heart before God is what matters.” I don’t know of another way to put it other than to call out this type of thinking for what it is: unbiblical and contrary to Christian tradition. After all, Scripture itself urges us to love God with our hearts and minds (Luke 10:27). Remember, too, that the Church Fathers were intellectuals. Interestingly, I recall a minister telling me one time that “the Bible never tells us to ‘use our brains.'” As I remember it, this same person went on to suggest that we should simply listen for the voice of God speaking to our hearts. Such comments seem silly because they, well, are silly. The truth is that Christians ought to engage their minds in their worship of God. This implies they are to educate themselves, grow in knowledge about God and his word, and dedicate themselves to the flourishing of their minds (which God created to flourish). Learning Greek, in my opinion, does this very thing. Additionally, knowing Greek aids the believer in their own testimony for the Christian Faith. The Greek student, for example, is in a better position to refute wrong understandings regarding the nature of Jesus (e.g., the unorthodox views of Jehovah’s Witnesses) by knowing for themselves the grammatical structure of the Greek text found in John 1:1ff. Knowing Greek, as mentioned already, enables a person to see the biblical text in “color” as opposed to merely “black and white.” Of course, similar insight can be said about reading other biblical passages in Greek. But in order to do any of this, we must educate ourselves. And in order to educate ourselves, we will need to cast aside our anti-intellectualism so that our witness and commitment to excellence isn’t neglected or compromised before others.

The goal with this class is to encourage you to read the New Testament in a fresh and inspiring way. Our aim is to fan the flame of your love for Scripture. But even if you are not a believer and are not remotely interested in becoming one, then I’m sure you will still enjoy the class since it will get you acquainted with an ancient body of literature that has served to transform Western civilization.

If you are interested in participating in this class, see our page here about contacting us.