Harry Whittaker
Word Studies



The NT has approximately two dozen different words all translated “receive”. The one to be given particular attention here is not dechomai, the most common of them all, but a close relative of it: para-dechomai. This also is translated “receive”, simply because the translators could not find another equivalent without expanding it into a phrase in what might have proved more misleading.

The essential idea is that of accepting formally, as a tenet of some importance; as when a man says: “I know the claims of the church of Rome, but I do not accept, or receive, them.”

Hence in the interpretation of the parable of the sower, “these are they...which hear the word, and receive it” (Mar 4:20). The message is not only listened to and understood but is accepted as vital teaching to be held on to.

There is a touch of formality about Paul’s instruction: “Against an elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses” (1Ti 5:19).

In Heb 12:6, a good father “scourgeth (chastises) every son whom he receiveth.” The discipline proclaims a parenthood not to be disowned.

The great complaint made against Paul and his friends by citizens of Philippi eager to stress their own staunch loyalty to Rome was that these men “teach customs, which it is not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans” (Acts 16:21). It was not unlawful to hear the teaching, but they deemed it unlawful to accept it as religious authority.

Most eloquent of all is the instruction of the Lord Jesus to Paul not to stay in Jerusalem, “for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me” (Acts 22:18). There is here the implication that Paul quite expected that the story of his marvellous conversion on the road to Damascus would immediately have its effect on his old friends and colleagues in Jerusalem. Not they! Paul’s optimism in those early days in the Faith was to meet with rude rebuff. “They will not receive thy testimony.” What an understatement!


“I (Christ, the Judge) am he that searcheth the reins (nephros) and the hearts” (Rev 2:23). But Psalm 7:9 asserts that “God trieth the hearts and the reins.” Here then is another example of the familiar NT usage whereby the name and character of the Father are, readily and without explanation, used also of the Son. They are part of his natural inheritance.

Here, as nearly always, “heart” stands for the mind, a man’s thinking powers. Then what is the meaning (in metonymy) of the reins, the kidneys? Suggestion: the natural emotions, in contrast to a man’s thinking powers.

Reprove, Convince, Convict

The Greeks had a word for legal disproof or refutation, or for the cross-examination which exposes the weakness of a case.

The same word, and more especially the corresponding verb, elencho, is something of a favourite in the NT, to describe thorough proof, not disproof, of error. Herod reproved by John the Baptist (Luk 3:19); the accusers of the adulterous woman being convicted by their own consciences (John 8:9); Balaam rebuked for his iniquity (2Pe 2:16); the public witness of the Holy Spirit: “he will reprove the (Jewish) world of sin” (John 16:8).

But whereas cross-examination or argument is intended to convince an independent judge or jury, in the NT bringing conviction to the person directly involved is the main idea.

This strong personal impact is a thing to look out for in all occurrences of this word. This is true even in Heb 11:1: “Faith is...the evidence of things not seen”, where the idea of convincing argument and personal reaction to it are both involved.

The same word, made doubly intensive by two prefixes — diakatelencho — means to defeat and put to shame in argument. The AV of Acts 18:28: “(Apollos) mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ” is an over-optimistic translation. RV: “powerfully confuted” is much better.

Right, Straight

Orthos means “straight, correct, right, upright”. An orthopaedic hospital sets children right. The adverb means “correctly”, and the verb, anorthoo, describes the act of setting up or setting right.

Bible examples are mostly straightforward (orthos!). The poor woman, eighteen years bowed down, was “made straight” (Luk 13:13). Paul bade the lame man at Lystra “stand up straight”. The stammerer, healed by Jesus, “spoke properly”. “Thou hast answered right” expressed the Lord’s approval of good understanding.

At Antioch Paul rebuked Peter because “they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (Gal 2:14). And years later, when Judaism was again making its impact, the exhortation was: “Make straight paths for your feet” (Heb 12:13). The context there also bids the waverers “lift up the hands which hang down” (12:12), that is, lift up your hands straight towards heaven in prayer for guidance.

The LXX uses this word for the “setting up” of David’s throne when Messiah inherits the kingdom (2Sa 7:13,16). When the complete failure of Solomon is considered, it is evident that he did not “set up straight” the throne of David. Jesus is the man to do this, for “thy discipline hath set me straight,” says one of the psalms of Messiah (18:35, LXX). “I have kept on straight (katorthoo) towards thy commandments: I hated every unrighteous way” (Psa 119:128).

Lastly, the workman in Christ who does not need to be ashamed “straight-cuts” the word of truth. It is a picture of a skilled ploughman driving a perfectly straight furrow, keeping his eye steadily on the Mar ahead.

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