Harry Whittaker
Word Studies



Peripateo and pareuomai between them cover a tremendous number of passages. The first of these is always “walk” (from patos, a trodden way). Poreuomai has more the idea of a journey on foot, but this meaning cannot be insisted on. Both words are frequently employed, especially peripateo, in the Hebrew idiomatic sense of religious observance — “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. In this sense it is one of the main words of Paul’s vocabulary.

In one place only, Paul’s quotation from Lev 26:12, LXX, uses the more elaborate emperipateo: “I will dwell in them, and walk in them (ie among them)”, the promise now being appropriated to the New Israel (2Co 6:16). This is the word that is used to describe Job’s Satan “walking up and down” in the earth (1:7; 2:2). Since the other LXX usages of emperipateo also refer to God (Deu 23:14; 2Sa 7:6) — making four out of six places — it seems fairly likely that these two in Job have a similar reference; in other words, Job’s Satan was an angel of the Lord!

The solitary occurrence of orthopodeo (Gal 2:14, home-made by Paul?) is of somewhat unusual interest: “When I perceived that they (Peter and the others) walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel...” Literally, this is: “they did not straight-foot it.” The expression is the exact equivalent of the description of the cherubim: “their feet were straight feet” (Eze 1:7). The connection is this: Just as the chariot of the cherubim was regarded as the bearer of the word and power of Almighty God (cp. Psa 147:15), so also in the NT the preachers of the gospel are the Lord’s cherubim-chariot (cp. 2Th. 3:1, RV). In this duty they must be “straight-footed”, ie there must be no deviousness about the methods employed in their proclaiming of the message of Christ.

Like peripateo, another word to describe the practical observing of God’s law is stoicheo. But here the emphasis is specially on first principles, the basic fundamentals, the spiritual ABC of the religious life.

Thus, the brethren in Jerusalem were anxious that Paul should show himself as “walking orderly”, keeping the Law (Acts 21:24). And Paul himself emphasized to his Jewish readers how necessary it is also to “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Rom 4:12). The phrase suggests a child gradually learning to walk with the stride of his so-much-more-mature father.

There is a distinct hint of reproach about Paul’s use of this word in his exhortation to backsliding Galatians: “If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit also let us walk” (5:25) — as who should say: ‘Provided you are moving in the right direction I shall be content, even though you make slow progress from immaturity’ (cp. also 6:16).

Similarly, in Phi 3:15,16, the apostle makes pointed contrast between those who are “perfect” (ie spiritually grown-up) and others who “walk (stoicheo) by the same rule” of “pressing towards the Mar for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (v 14).


The figure of a dedicated man fighting in God’s war of righteousness originated in the OT, where in half a dozen places the service of God in His sanctuary is called “warring the warfare”. See Num 8:24,25; 4:23; Exo 38:8; Isa 40:2 (see LXX); and probably Psa 148:2; and Dan 8:10-13.

Paul certainly had the same idea in mind when he exhorted Timothy to “war a good warfare” according to the prophecies concerning him (1Ti 1:18).


A perfectly straightforward word; yet its usage is rather striking and decidedly symbolic. The Pharisees washed their hands (Mat 15:2), but those in Christ wash hands and eyes and face and feet (Mat 6:17; Joh 9:7; 13:5), and indeed the whole body: “he that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet” (John 13:10) — whereupon Peter, recognizing that his Lord was enacting the consecration of a priesthood, demanded: “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (13:9; Lev 8:23).

Is 1 Timothy 5:10 an allusion to the Last Supper?

Whole, Perfect Soundness

Two occurrences of this word in the LXX serve to fill out the picture it presents.

The command in Deu 27:6 that the altar shall be built of “whole stones”, ie not chiselled to size or shape (Exo 20:25), not of cracked or friable (i.e., soft sandstone) material. Such would soon disintegrate from the heat of the altar.

Isaiah’s ghastly picture of the spiritual ill-health of his nation laments that “there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores” (1:6).

Over against this is Peter’s description of the lame man healed at the temple gate: “God hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).

There is now a fuller meaning discernible in Paul’s concluding blessing on his Thessalonians: “I pray God your whole (perfectly sound) spirit (the new man in Christ) and soul (natural health) and body be preserved blameless (pleonasm here, surely) unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th. 5:23).

In a similar passage James is even more pleonastic: “that ye may be perfect and entire (completely sound), wanting nothing” (1:4) — three expressions covering the same idea.

Wood, Tree

The Greek word literally means “wood”. It is also used of anything made of wood, hence the phrase: “swords and staves (pieces of wood)”.

However, the OT uses the word for “tree” in this more general sense, and this meaning also carries over into the NT, as in: “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal 3:13). And also Peter (three times: Acts 5:30; 10:39; 1Pe 2:24) and Paul (once: Acts 13:29) use the word about our Lord’s crucifixion: “whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree”; yet Jesus was certainly not crucified on a living tree.

Two possible explanations offer themselves: (a) It was with allusion to Gen 22:3,6, LXX s.w., the offering of Isaac; (b) It was because the apostles saw the cross of Christ not as a tree of death (like the tree of knowledge of good and evil) but as a Tree of Life reversing the curse of Eden.

In Rev 22:2 a certain element of phony exegesis has crept into the read-ing of the words: “On either side of the river was there the tree (hardly ‘wood’!) of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits...and the leaves of the tree (wood) were for the healing of the nations.” The temptation to read here “wood” as meaning “a miniature forest” must be resisted, even though “on either side” requires the collective sense for “tree”. Here is straight quotation from Psalm 1:3. This also provides the interpretation of the trees symbol.


There are two main words in the NT with this meaning:

1. oikoumene (where people dwell in houses), and

2. kosmos, the ordered world.

It will be convenient to deal with these separately, and to note that the same essential feature (much neglected in the books) belongs to both in Bible usage.

In its general idea, oikoumene describes the entire world where men dwell (eg Acts 17:31). Yet in practice it came to be much restricted to the Roman empire, as being the only important part of the inhabited earth (Acts 19:27; 24:5; Rev 3:10; 16:14).

This became also Jewish usage, only with reference to their (Jewish) world, as in the following: “That all the world should be taxed” (Luk 2:1: the Syrian province actually). “A dearth throughout all the world” (Acts 11:28). “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6). “When he bringeth the first begotten into the world...” (Heb 1:6). There are doubtless several other instances besides these.

Kosmos shows clear signs of being subject to the same double usage.

In some places it undoubtedly means the civilised world (Luk 12:30). This is the meaning that the ordinary Bible reader mostly, or even always, associates with the world.

Yet, in many a place, restriction to the Jewish world is clearly intended and is necessary:

“Shew thyself unto the world” (John 7:4), jibed the brothers of Jesus, meaning: ‘Go and advertise yourself in Jerusalem.’

“I speak to the world those things which I have heard of my Father” (John 8:26).

After the triumphal entry, “Behold, the world is gone after him” (John 12:19).

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me...” (John 15:18).

“I spake openly unto the world” (John 18:20).

“...that he (Abraham) should be the heir of the world” (Rom 4:13).

“The rudiments of the world...touch not, taste not, handle not...” (Col 2:20).

The foregoing are just samples. There are, almost certainly, a good many more in the same category.

Wrath, Anger

The NT distinguishes carefully between the uncontrollable explosion of anger (thumos) and the anger which is deliberate, reasoned, and sustained, the anger which a man nurses in his bosom (orge).

Thumos describes the intense wrath of Pharaoh when he heard about Moses’ attempt to free his people (Heb 11:27). Another example is the sudden explosion of anger in the synagogue at Nazareth when Jesus preached there: “they were filled with wrath” (Luk 4:28). And when “Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon” (Acts 12:20), he was “fighting mad” (thumo-macheo).

Some of the examples of orge are very instructive, and even striking. “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance (orge)?” asks Paul. The Lord Jesus describes the AD 70 judgment on Jerusalem as “wrath (orge) upon this people” (Luk 21:23). On the occasion of the healing of the man with a withered hand (Mar 3:5), Jesus — aware of the Pharisees’ criticism — “looked round about on them with anger (orge)”. Nor is this the only anger of the Son of God, for Rev 6:16,17 repeats its emphasis on “the wrath (orge) of the Lamb”.

But what is righteousness in Christ may be wrong in his disciple. “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (Jam 1:19,20). This establishes that Eph 4:26, AV — “Be ye angry, and sin not” —needs to be amended to read as a rhetorical question implying: ‘No, hardly ever!’

Another illuminating use of orge comes in the parable of the prodigal. The older brother “was angry, and would not go in” (Luk 15:28). This was no sudden burst of wrath, but an expression of a cherished hostility to his younger brother.

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