Harry Whittaker
Word Studies


Pass By, Pass Away

There seems to be little doubt that “pass by” is the more precise meaning of parago, as in John 9:1: “And as Jesus passed by he saw...a man blind from his birth” (8:59 also). Sometimes the word is paraporeuomai, essentially the same in meaning, perhaps with the idea of “journey”. Luke 18:36 is noteworthy: “they passed through (the gate of Jericho en route for Jerusalem)”.

Yet in three places it may be questioned whether the AV “pass away” is presenting quite the right idea. Is it true that “the fashion of this world passeth away” (1Co 7:31)? Two thousand years later the world is just as much with us, isn’t it? Perhaps Paul meant: “the world passeth by”, ie it is a passing show, and you are to be content to stand aside and treat it as such.

So also in 1Jo 2:8,17. Ought not this to read: “The darkness is being made to pass you by” (present indicative passive)?

Two examples out of Paul’s second journey merit attention. The apostle and his party “came through” Mysia — the word is used from the point of view of Luke awaiting them in Troas (see “Acts”, HAW, ch. 65). And in his speech at Athens, Paul explains: “As I came through (your city)...” (Acts 17:23), thus plainly implying: ‘I had no intention to stay and run a campaign here.’

Specially, there must be examined the highly expressive word describing how priest and Levite both “passed by on the other side”, when seeing the stricken traveller (Luk 10:31,32). Parerchomai is not sufficient to express the Lord’s disgust that they “came through” on that road; they carefully “came through over against” the poor man; “passed by on the other side” is excellent translating.


The good shepherd “goes in and out” (as a leader of the flock) to “find pasture” (nome) for his flock (John 10:9). Is the word used here in deliberate contrast to nomos, the Law? And it may be that in 2Ti 2:17 Paul had the same play on words in mind. “Their word (ie of these Judaist teachers) will eat, will have nome, as doth a canker” — this last word may mean cancer or gangrene. Again, possibly, Paul wrote with Prov 24:15 (LXX) in mind.

Perverse Disputings

Diatribo describes the action of ceaselessly rubbing away (at inflamed eyes or an itch on the skin). But the word here in 1Ti 6:5 has an extra prefix: paradiatribo, as though to suggest men who are constantly coming alongside to renew their irritating arguments.

And the word that accompanies this, translated in AV by “men of corrupt minds”, is another eloquent polysyllable: diephtharmenos — not just corrupt, but utterly corrupt. And this perfect participle seems to imply: ‘they have already become like this, and they so continue...hopeless!’


The piercing of the side of Jesus with a spear provides the only NT occurrence. But the more intensive form of the word, katanutto or -nusso, is used in Acts 2:37: “they were pricked in their heart”, with direct allusion to John 19:34: the horror of their sin in destroying the Son of God was brought home to them. The Acts passage also seems to look back to Psalm 4:4, where the LXX is markedly different from the AV “commune”. See also Isaiah 6:5.


The NT has a bundle of words for “preach”, each with its own special emphasis. Those in most common use are the most straightforward.

Euangelizomai is, literally, to carry a message of good. A lovely word! This is what the gospel is.

Katangello intensifies the notion of one who bears a message, and consequently is well rendered in RV by “proclaim”. If anything, this translation is hardly vigorous enough. For instance, Paul’s “Him declare I unto you” really means, ‘I am here to tell you plainly about the God you say you don’t know’ (Acts 17:23, and also vv 3,13). The AV of 1Co 11:26: “ye do shew the Lord’s death (by the formal remembrance of him) till he come”, is not strong enough. “Proclaim, openly declare” would be better. But how is this done if all others are shut out?

More emphatic even than this is diangello. “Suffer me first to go and bury my father,” said a disciple of sorts. “No,” said Jesus, “go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luk 9:60). Here the AV makes no difference from any other word “preach”. But here Jesus surely had his mind on the OT. For in the LXX this word comes very rarely, but three times it refers to the sounding of Jubilee trumpets (Lev 25:9; Jos 6:10), when freedom was proclaimed to those in bondage (there may be something of the same idea in Exo 9:16; Psa 2:7). Now read this idea back into Luk 9:60.

Kerusso means to fulfil the office of a herald. Hence, appropriately, it is first used with reference to John the Baptist as Messiah’s forerunner (Mat 3:1). There is always behind the use of this word the idea of one who sends the herald: “How shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?” (Rom 10:14,15).

Parrhesiazomai means “with plain or confident or bold speech”. Nearly always there is the implication of opposition or persecution or the risk of these. Saul of Tarsus, now become Paul the disciple, “preached boldly” at Damascus (Acts 9:27). Years later he besought the Ephesians to harness their prayers to his work, “that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak” (6:20). Is there a hint here that he was somewhat daunted by opposition? In Acts 18:26 there is a characteristic picture of Apollos “speaking boldly” in the synagogue concerning the work and message of John the Baptist.

Dialegomai puts the emphasis on reasoning, shaping an argument, and even disputation. It was evidently Paul’s usual mode of preaching the gospel to the Jews, for time and again he is described as “reasoning out of the Scriptures”, “reasoning in their synagogues”, etc. (Acts 17:2,17; 18:4,19; 19:8,9; 24:25). And in his discourses to the brethren also — his “long preaching” at Troas, with its calamitous result for Eutychus, was on these lines (20:7,9). The Pauline model seems to have been much left behind in modern ecclesias, both as to duration and method; Hebrews 12:5 (“speaketh”) describes tribulation and chastisement as God’s patient reasoning with His children.


Parakeimai means, quite literally, “to be beside”, as when a man and a woman lie together. And evidently this was the forceful figure in Paul’s mind when he wrote: “I find then a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom 7:21 and also v 18). This follows on remarkably well from the figure the apostle has used in vv 1-4.


“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luk 2:52). The word here translated “increased” — prokopto — is of special interest to those who find profit and pleasure in the use of lexicons and concordances. Literally it means “to cut forward”. A primary application was to the pioneer driving a track or trail through dense undergrowth. Hence it came to mean “press on, surge forward, forge ahead”. The picture is thus presented to the mind of an eager alert teen-age Jesus improving rapidly, both in physical and spiritual powers, well ahead of those his own age. A proper understanding of the verb settles here any doubt about the ambiguous word translated “stature”. The word can, of course, mean “age” also (see RV mg. and John 9:21; Heb 11:11), but here that meaning is impossible, for how could Jesus press on or forge ahead of others in age? There is here, therefore, probably the only indication Scripture contains about the physique of Jesus — he was tall well above average.

More than this, Jesus advanced beyond measure in wisdom. The reader is bidden think of him as wonderfully precocious whilst still at school, showing such a detailed knowledge of and insight into the wisdom of the Scriptures studied there, as to make all others appear pedestrian. And with increasing maturity there would come special stature at Nazareth as one who could advise and direct with a quiet sureness of judgement altogether abnormal in one of his years.

There is here yet another item of information about “the hidden years”. Not only did Jesus grow in favour with God far beyond others who cultivated godliness (that was only to be expected!); he also forged ahead of others in the good opinion of men. Thus up to the time when he left his carpenter’s shop to become a prophet and a witness to his own Messiahship, Jesus is to be thought of as the most esteemed and admired of all the rising generation in Nazareth. What a contrast with the reception his own city gave him not long afterwards (Luk 4:16-30)! So it must have been his claim rather than himself which set them against him.

It is instructive now to find the apostle Paul using the same word to describe his own early years: “And I was forging ahead in Judaism beyond many of my own age in my generation (or ‘in my own race’ — either way, the phrase appears to be redundant! Is it?).” Here is a picture of an eager precocious youth eclipsing by his brilliance all his fellow-students at the feet of Gamaliel.

And the thrill of excelling in Bible scholarship, which Saul the young rabbinist had known in his early years, he later wished for his “son" Timothy: “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee...Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may be manifest to all” (1Ti 4:13-15). By such dutiful application to all aspects of godly service, Paul would fain have his young protege press forward in spiritual development so that “no man despise his youth” but rather that he become a pattern to others — “an example (type) of the believers”.

With a somewhat different emphasis Paul wished the same noteworthy progress for the church at Philippi which he loved so dearly: “And having this confidence (of acquittal when the appeal to Caesar was heard), I know that I shall abide (in the flesh) and be able to dwell with you all so that you press on ahead (of others) in your joy of faith.”

Yet even as he wrote, Paul experienced the deep satisfaction of seeing the Lord’s work make progress where he was: “My affairs have worked out rather unto the surging forward of the gospel; with the result that not only are my bonds in Christ manifest in all the Praetorium (ie the royal court) and among all the rest, but also most of the brethren who believed in the Lord through my bonds are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear” (Phi 1:12-14).

Thus in his personal friends, in some ecclesias he had founded, and in the work of preaching Paul was able to contemplate a great pressing forward.

Yet even as he wrote, the seeds of decay were beginning to germinate in the church. Shortly before he died, it became needful for Paul to issue warning against the surging advance of false ideas: “Shun profane and vain babblings, for they will make inroads and result in more ungodliness.” This irresistible progress of apostasy he likened to a cancer feeding on the wholesome tissue round about it: “Their word will eat as doth a canker.” Also, “evil men and imposters shall make inroads even worse (than the persecutors), both leading astray and being themselves misled.” All this must have been a sickening discouragement to the great apostle who now had only a few weeks to live.

As a kind of postscript, it may not be amiss to draw attention to the problem provoked by another of the varied uses of this interesting word: “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Rom 13:11,12). Yet two thousand years later the dawn has not come! Useless to look for error in the translation; it could hardly be faulted. The solution must surely be in some other direction.


In 1Co 15:31 only: “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus”. Ne is a particle indicating an oath. The only other occurrence (?) is Gen 42:15,16: “By the life of Pharaoh”. Paul will not swear an oath: ‘by the life of Jesus’, so he dilutes it into: ‘by the rejoicing (which I have concerning you) in Christ Jesus...’

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