Normally this word described one speaking an
uncomprehended language: “I am debtor both to the Greeks (those speaking
Greek, the universal language of the Roman empire), and to the Barbarians”
(Rom 1:14). Similarly Paul refers to the one who speaks with tongues as sounding
like a “barbarian” (1Co 14:11).
Hence also his insistence that “there is
neither Greek nor Jew...Barbarian, Scythian...” (Col 3:11). The
distinction here is between those in the empire who still kept their own tongue
(as in Acts 14:11), and those who were outside the boundaries of the
This may be the meaning behind the application of
“barbarian” to the people of Malta (Acts 28:2,4). They spoke a
The only occurrence of this word in LXX raises a
smile (Psa 114:1). It is applied to Egypt! — a people of a strange tongue,
or a people who were uncivilised? Considering that Egypt had the oldest
civilisation in the world, it looks as though the Seventy, busy translating in
Egypt, were getting in a neat back-hander!
There are three words to consider
Tupto is the normal word to
describe raining blows on someone. Its meaning is perfectly
Dero means primarily “to
flay” — it is connected with derma, skin, whence
dermatitis. Hence it is used in LXX for the flaying of sacrifices: Lev 1:6; 2Ch
29:34; 35:11. But just like the semi-colloquial English word “tan”
it has taken on the more general idea of “beating”. Cp also the
English phrase: “give him a hiding” .
Rhabdizo means “to beat with
a rod (rhabdos)”. Hence LXX usage is for the practice of
threshing, which was often done with a flail or rod: Rth 2:17; Jdg 6:11. This
word is used of the beating meted out to Paul and Silas at Philippi (Acts
16:22). But Paul’s allusion to this uses the word
The only other example is 2Co 11:25:
“Thrice was I beaten with rods.” The only one of these three
traceable in the record is the one at Philippi.
This word neuo and its various
compounds all involve the same notion, of a motion of the head in some way or
When Paul appeared before Felix, the governor
“gave him the nod” that he could now go ahead with his defense (Acts
Somewhat similarly, at the Last Supper, Peter by
the slightest movement of his head was able to urge John to make quiet enquiry
from Jesus who the traitor was (John 13:24).
The LXX passages indicate the same idea of
“turning to one side”, though not necessarily a motion of the head;
eg “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids incline to right
things” (Prov 4:25; the AV is different). In the LXX the “wanton
eyes” of the daughters of Zion are “slanted, beckoning” (Isa
Kataneuo comes in Luk 5:7 only, to
describe the gesture by which Simon Peter and his colleagues signalled for help
with their super-catch. They couldn’t beckon in any other way because both
hands were fully occupied in coping with the nets; but why didn’t Peter
Similarly, dianeuo describes the
gesture by which the deaf and dumb Zacharias sought to tell the people in the
temple court of his astonishing experience. If he still had the censer in his
hand, he would be more likely to signal to them by dramatic head movements (Luk
It is not inappropriate to consider also here the
solitary use of ekneuo in John 5:13. This variation means,
literally, to slant the head so as to avoid a blow. It is, of course, used
figuratively in this instance. After healing the crippled man at the pool of
Bethesda, Jesus knew that excitement and official antagonism were sure to
follow, so he “conveyed himself away”, dodging the attack which was
sure to come. However, thanks to the man’s disloyalty (v 15), the evasion
proved only temporary.
The OT has an extremely common preposition for
“before”, liphnei, which is, literally, “before
the face of”. The NT has two equivalents of this — emprosthen
and katenopion (which is, literally, “right in the
This latter word is used only of divine scrutiny,
by the Father or the Son. It comes in Jude’s doxology (v 24) to “him
who is able to present us faultless before the presence of his
glory” (a terrific idea). Paul similarly speaks of saints in Christ being
“unreprovable in his sight” (Col 1:22), “without blame before
him” (Eph 1:4). In all these places there is the notion of being subject
to scrutiny and yet without shame.
Paul also uses this word to add emphasis to the
intensity of declarations as to the sincerity which motivated his preaching:
“in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2Co 2:17;
The use of emprosthen is very
similar. There are a few occurrences of outstanding interest
When Jesus was hypocritically invited to a
sabbath meal at the home of a Pharisee (Luk 14:1,2), there was a dropsical man
set deliberately, straight in front of him at the meal table, so that the
problem of “to heal or not to heal” was
Matthew is careful to record that Jesus
“was transfigured before them (the three apostles)” (17:2), thus
apparently insisting that the change was witnessed by the apostles; it did not
happen whilst the disciples were asleep.
There was a special bite about the Lord’s
description of Pharisee hypocrisy, when he said: “Ye shut up the kingdom
of heaven in men’s faces” (Mat 23:13).
The very existence of a difficulty in Mat 5:16 is
often overlooked: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works...” Here emprosthen tends to make even more
acute the problem of reconciling these words with the equally familiar:
“Do not your alms before men” (6:1,2: emprosthen
again). It is the context of 5:16 which resolves the
“contradiction”. There, the context (vv 13-15) carries a series of
allusions to the temple, and in particular to the candlestick in “the
House”. It is in the counterpart to “the House”, the ecclesia,
where good works do evoke glory to God. Those who quote these words as an
assurance that beneficent acts will convert pagans to Christ are about as far
from the right idea as they could get.
Paul’s phrase about “reaching forth
unto those things which are before (emprosthen)” (Phi 3:13)
becomes the more telling when it is seen that he is implying that they are
within fairly easy reach, not at a remote distance!
The verb archomai means, quite
simply, “begin” — and this is the way it is always translated,
nearly 90 times.
The corresponding noun arche swings
between three different meanings: (a) the beginning of creation (9 times
approx.); (b) the beginning of the ministry or preaching or the new life in
Christ (about 30 times); and (c) principality, in the sense either of ruler or
angel (about 14 times).
Those passages with the meaning (a) pick
themselves out very easily, as: “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid
the foundations of the earth..." (Heb 1:10).
In the second group it is noteworthy that, in
John’s writings, this meaning dominates, there being only two clear
exceptions: John 8:44 (“a murderer from the beginning”) and 1Jo 3:8
(“the devil sinneth from the beginning”).
For many in the early church, the beginning of
Christ’s ministry was The Beginning! — the only beginning of
any consequence. This usage is especially emphatic in John (gospel and
epistles), and points strongly to a different interpretation for John 1:1 from
what is usually assigned. As in John 1:1 especially (‘In the beginning
— of the ministry — was the Word — Jesus himself’),
there are often overtones of comparison between the creation of Genesis 1 and
the New Creation in Christ: eg Col 1:18; Heb 2:3; 3:14; 5:12; 6:1; 1Jo 1:1; Rev
Also: “From the beginning we were
eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word” (Luk 1:2; cp Mar 1:1; Phi
Even more specialized is the use of arche
for “principality”. Here it is important to recognize both
human and angelic powers:
There are cognate words which all have the same
idea of “beginning” or “priority”.
- Human rulers: Luk 12:11; 20:20; 1Co 15:24(?); Tit 3:1; Jude
- Angelic rulers: Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16;
2:10,15; Rom 8:38; Acts 10:11; 1Co
“prince”, one who has the lead (Acts 3:15; 5:31).
Archos is always a ruler or
magistrate; and the verb archo means “to
Archaios is an adjective meaning
“old time”. For example, “Mnason of Cyprus was a disciple, an
old-timer” (Acts 21:16). “God spared not the old-time world”
Archomai has also two, not very
important children enarchomai (Gal 3:3; Phi 1:6) and
proenarchomai (2Co 8:6,10), both of which are more emphatic ways
of saying “make a beginning”.
This is the normal and obvious NT meaning of
apotassomai. Then, in Mar 6:46: “When he (Jesus) had sent
them (the disciples) away”, is there just a suggestion of reluctance, as
though he were sorry to see them go, notwithstanding that the work of the gospel
lay before them? There is much more than a hint of reluctance in Luk 22:41, when
in Gethsemane Jesus “was withdrawn” from the apostles. Here
apospao means “dragged away”. The same word describes
Paul’s — oh, so reluctant — farewell to his brethren from
Ephesus (Acts 21:1).
There is a general word for “bind”
(deo) which covers a nice diversity of shades of meaning: Satan
bound 1,000 years (Rev 20:2); but angels bound at the Euphrates are only held
back, not locked up (9:14); Peter is bound with two chains (Acts 12:6); Lazarus
is bound hand and foot with grave clothes (Joh 11:44); the colt for Jesus is
tied by the door (Mar 11:4); Peter’s great sheet is “knit at the
four corners” (this could be “gripped by four angels”!); a
wife is bound to her husband (1Co 7:39); Paul is bound in the Spirit (Acts
But Paul was also bound (this time
proteino, for flogging: Acts 22:25). This word means
“stretched out” — arms and legs at full stretch to facilitate
the grisly process.
How different the “binding up” of the
victim’s wounds by the Samaritan in the parable (Luk 10:34). Where English
idiom says “bind up”, Greek usage says “bind down”
How different also hupodeomai,
which simply means “tie your shoe laces” — Bible
phrase: “bind on thy sandals” (Acts 12:8; Mar 6:9; Eph
There remains desmeno, to shackle
as with chains. It describes how Saul the persecutor treated his victims (Acts
22:4). It was also used by the Lord with intentional venom against the Pharisees
who tied up the people hand and foot with all the rules and regulations they
piled on top of the Law of Moses (Mat 23:4).
Rather remarkably, this word comes only once in
the NT: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not
consumed one of another” (Gal 5:15).
In LXX most occurrences refer to the sting of a
serpent; eg Gen 49:17; Deu 8:15; Ecc 10:8,11; Amos 5:19. So it seems not
unlikely that this Galatians passage is an allusion back to the fiery serpents
in Num 21:6-9, where the context (ch. 20) is the death of Aaron (the end of the
Law) and the lust of the flesh against the Spirit. Not inappropriate!
Paul’s Biblical allusions never are.
With one exception the little group of words
under consideration here is simple and straightforward.
Gennao means, quite simply,
“to be born”, or when used transitively, “the begetting of a
son by a father”. All the occurrences of the word have this
Similarly, Peter’s anagennao
means, just as obviously, “born again” (1Pe 1:3,23). The
first of these is a very moving allusion to the apostle’s own new birth
through the knowledge that his Lord was risen from the dead (Mar 16:7; Luk
Tikto means “to bear a
child” — thus, in every occurrence of the word teknon
means “a child, a baby”.
Special interest centers in the solitary NT
passage using ektroma, by which Paul describes his own sight of
the risen Jesus and his resulting conversion as “one born out of due
time” (1Co 15:8). This translation is not accurate, for it implies a
premature birth. But ektroma means “an abortion, one who is
born dead”. So the problem arises: How to fit this idea to Paul’s
use of the word?
The best solution appears to be on these lines:
There are several hints (really calling for a separate study; see The
Christadelphian, 1953, p. 49) that Paul saw Jesus in Jerusalem in the course
of the Lord’s ministry. This was the time when he should have been
new-born in Christ. But evidently, judging from Acts 7,8, and 9, growing
conviction was stifled by a savage burst of persecution, so that instead of
new-birth there was ektroma, an abortion. Thus the marvel almost
to be heard in Paul’s voice in 1Co 15:8, was that one in whom new
spiritual life had come to nought should be, so to speak, conceived and born
There is no other NT use of ektroma,
but the OT occurrences bear out the usage already insisted
Aaron pleaded for Miriam in her leprosy:
“Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he
cometh out of his mother’s womb” (Num 12:12). And, in the LXX, Job
3:16 uses the identical Greek words (which passage is alluding to
LXX does not use ektroma in Psa
58:8, but all the other Greek versions of the OT do. Here is a description of
the wicked adversaries of God’s faithful (eg Saul of Tarsus, the
persecutor): “Let (them be) like the untimely birth of a woman, that they
may not see the sun.” Here, again, the idea is not possibly that of a
premature or belated birth, but of one who is born dead. When Paul used the word
ektroma he must have had his eye either on this passage or on Num
12:12 (himself saved from his own unworthiness by the intercession of Priest and
Breathe, Breath, Blow
The word which the NT consistently uses for the
wind blowing is pneo. It is this word which lies at the root of
pneuma, spirit; but there are very few occurrences of pneuma
where this connection is maintained. John 3:6 is perhaps the only one,
and even there the use of pneo is dictated by the allusion back to
The corresponding noun pnoe
describes the wind or any other movement of air. Hence its use in Gen
2:7, LXX: “God breathed (emphusao) into his face the breath
(pnoe) of life.” It was, doubtless, with allusion to this
place that Paul told the Athenians that the Unknown God “giveth to all
life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25).
A connection of a different kind with Gen 2:7 in
the other NT occurrence: “A sound as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts
2:2) with the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost — it was the beginning of
God’s New Creation.
By contrast, the same verb, only more intensive
(empueo) describes Saul’s “breathing out threatenings
and slaughter” against the early church. The counterpoise to this is the
use of the same word in a Messianic psalm’s prophecy of the earthquake
when Jesus was crucified: “Then...the foundations of the world were
discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast (empueusis) of the
breath of thy nostrils” (Psa 18:15).
Ekpneo — “give up the
ghost” — is dealt with separately.
There is also one solitary occurrence of
emphusao (from Gen 2:7, see above) in John 20:22: “he
breathed on them, and said, Ye are receiving the Holy Spirit.” Here is
another suggestion of a New Creation.
Jesus is the “brightness”
(apangasma) of the Glory of God (Heb 1:3). The allusion is, of
course, to the radiance of the divine Presence as described in Ezekiel 1, Daniel
But how reMarable that the same word, made rather
less emphatic by being shorn of its prefix, is used no less than nine times in
Lev 13 LXX with reference to the whiteness of the disease of
Out of the group of words which mean
“bring”, with various shades of meaning, the most simple and
uncomplicated one is phero. They bring sick and blind people to
Jesus (Mat 17:17; Mar 7:32; 8:22; 9:17). Timothy is to bring the books and
parchments to Paul (2Ti 4:13). Oxen and garlands were brought to honour Paul and
Barnabas (Acts 14:13).
But, more often than not, there is also the idea
of “carrying”. The head of John the Baptist was brought on a dish
(Mat 14:11). Ananias carried to Peter the portion of the sale-money which he
could spare (Acts 5:2). The women brought spices for the embalming of the body
of Jesus (Luk 24:1). It has even been suggested than when “they bring
Jesus to Golgotha” (Mar 15:22) there was need to carry him because of
physical collapse. However, this idea cannot be insisted on.
There is one specialised meaning of phero
which calls for careful attention. The word was evidently used in the
early church in a semi-technical sense for inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the
bringing of the divine message from God to men. “Holy men of God spake as
they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Pe 1:21). Here some like to
insist on the notion of “being forcibly driven along” (as in Acts
27:17), but this idea is not inherent in the word. Three times in 2 Peter
(1:17,18,21) the same phero is inadequately translated
“came”, but in all three places there is implied a divine voice or
The same is true in 1Pe 1:13. After allusion to
the Spirit’s message in the OT prophets and NT apostles, Peter continues:
“Set your hope perfectly on the grace that is being brought unto
you in an apocalypse of Jesus Christ”. Here “grace”
refers, as in so many places, to an activity of the Holy Spirit. Peter is
referring to the publication of the Apocalypse.
The same specialised use of phero
is traceable in several other passages: “If any man (a wandering
preacher) come unto you, and bring not this (true) doctrine, receive him
not...” (2Jo 1: 10). These were false claimants to Holy Spirit gifts (cp.
“Let us go on (be borne forward)
unto perfection” is the exhortation in Hebrews (6:1), in a context which
stresses the Spirit’s guidance of the early ecclesias (6:4,5;
And the mention of “a rushing (phero)
mighty wind” at Pentecost suggests the identical idea. So also Heb
1:3: “upholding (again, phero) all things by the word of his
The same idiom has been missed completely in AV
of Rom 9:22: “What if God...endured (phero) with much
longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Here the true
idea is that God brought His revelation even to Israelite vessels of dishonour,
unworthy of their high privilege.
Phero also comes no less than seven
times in the Lord’s parable of the True Vine “bearing fruit”.
It may be the identical idea here.
In four out of the five occurrences of
epiphero there is a technical meaning of a different kind —
that of bringing a charge, as in a court of law. This is very obvious in Acts
25:18 and Jude 9, slightly less obvious in Rom 3:5, and calls for thought in Phi
1:16 — where those who “preach Christ of contention” think to
“add (epiphero) affliction to my bonds” — in
other words, make more difficult Paul’s defence in the trial which awaited
This legal meaning is certainly not present in
Acts 19:12: from Paul “were brought to the sick handkerchiefs or aprons,
and the diseases departed from them...” Here the prefix in epiphero
is used to impart emphasis.
With a different prefix, phero
becomes prosphero — “bring unto” —
and this is the straightforward meaning of the word in many a place. But again
there are copious examples of an idiomatic meaning: “to offer
sacrifice”. In this sense the word comes no less than 19 times in Hebrews,
and the corresponding noun prosphora (“offering”), 5
But what of the seeming exception? “If ye
endure chastening, God dealeth (prosphero) with you as with
sons” (Heb 12:7). The idea is just the same. Here is an allusion to
Abraham’s offering of Isaac, a “parable” (11:19) of the
sacrifice of Christ. But this Rom 8:32 passage generalises the idea to include
those in Christ, who accordingly are referred to in Rev 6:9,11 as “souls
under the altar”.
There are other examples of this sacrificial
meaning. The wise men “presented” their gifts to the child
Jesus (Mat 2:11). In the parable the servant who had received five talents
“brought” other five also (Mat 25:20). The mothers
“brought” their young children to Jesus (Mar 10:13) —
it is the same idea. And Jesus warned his disciples: “He that killeth you
will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2); ie your corpses
will be like sacrifices laid by your enemies on God’s
Now it is time to turn to the verb ago.
The associated idea here is not that of carrying but rather of leading
or driving. “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter” (Acts 8:32).
They “led him unto Pilate” (Luk 23:1). The disciples “brought
the ass and the colt” to Jesus (Mat 21:7).
In nearly all the many occurrences of this word
there is a suggestion of compulsion — even in the words of Jesus in
Gethsemane: “Rise, let us be going” (Mat 26:46).
Herod’s birthday was “kept” (Mat 14:6) — it was a state
occasion not to be omitted. The idea is there even in Luk 24:21: “Today
is (ago) the third day since these things were done” —
this third day is driving on to its close, is the meaning. And when the town
clerk of Ephesus declared to the mob “The law is open” , he
meant “the court is now sitting, so make use of its legal
facilities” (Acts 19:38).
Following this word ago makes a
good concordance exercise. In one place after another that slight suggestion of
pressure or compulsion is discernible.
So also with the solitary passage which has the
noun agoge, which Paul uses to describe his “manner of
life”, that is, the “drive” that was there at the back of all
his unflagging activities (2Ti 3:10). Or did he refer to the guidance or leading
by Christ which was always his?
In prosago, the prefix suggests
“bringing into the presence of” someone. Paul and Silas are
“brought” to the magistrates (Acts 16:20). Christ suffered for sins,
“that he might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18). The epileptic boy was
brought to Jesus (Luk 9:41).
There is one example of a nautical use of this
term. Before the shipwreck on Malta the sailors were able to tell that
“some country drew near to them” (Acts 27:27). This idiom is rather
like the modern phrase for a landmark “coming in sight” — the
landmark doesn’t really move, but relative to the observer it
A small family of NT words are all compounded
with bar- , yet not once is any one of them used
Eyes are heavy with sleep (Mat 26:43; Luk 9:32),
ears are heavy (dull) of hearing (Mat 13:15; Acts 28:27), there are burdens of
spiritual responsibility to be borne (Rev 2:24; 2Co 1:8; 5:4); but the
Lord’s commandments are not burdensome, although many of his disciples in
these days would persuade themselves that they are (1Jo 5:3). Paul’s
letters were weighty and powerful (2Co 10:10), but so also were the many and
grievous (weighty) complaints laid against him by his enemies (Acts 25:7). Jesus
warned against having hearts weighed down with surfeiting and drunkenness and
the cares of this life (Luk 21:34); and Paul warned against grievous wolves who
would ravage the flock (Acts 20:29).
King Jam’ men did a lovely bit of
translating when they gave us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight
of glory” (2Co 4:17). There can be little doubt that here Paul was
thinking in Hebrew, even though he was writing in Greek; for in Hebrew
kabed means (a) to be heavy, and (b) to be
There is another word phortion (phortizo,
phortos) which was the technical term for the freight of a ship.
However, it came to be used in a more general sense: “Come unto me, all ye
that labour and are heavy laden (phortizo)...for my yoke is easy,
and my burden (phortion) is light” (Mat 11:28,30). Here the
figure is of two animals yoked together. Pulling plough or cart is easy
enough when Jesus is the workfellow. But the Law forbade yoking two different
animals to the same task (Deu 22:10). So there is implicit here the fundamental
idea that the burden is light only when one is Christ-like. What a contrast with
Psa 38:4, LXX: “My transgressions are gone over my head; as a heavy
(barus) burden (phortion) they weigh me down
Both words come together in two significant
passages. “The scribes and Pharisees...bind heavy (barus)
burdens (phortion) and grievous to be borne...” (Mat
23:4). Thus Jesus expressed his contempt for the finicky rules and regulations
which these men multiplied.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and
so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). The context indicates that here
the “burdens” (baros) are personal problems. A brother
in difficulties is not to be roundly condemned, but helped. Paul seems to have
had the LXX of Rth 2:16 in mind (little resemblance to the English text); and
apparently in vv 7-10 his mind is still running on Ruth’s
But in v 5, “every man shall bear his own
burden (phortion)” has a vastly different meaning. Here the
all-important future tense takes the mind forward to the Day of Judgment, as in
5:10: “he that troubleth you shall bear his own judgment, whosoever he