Bible School - Greek
93. Greek and Greek Study Tools
In the classic Greek period, 850-400 BC, there were three dialects of Greek, one for each of the three main Greek tribes: Doric, Aeolic and Ionic. Homer wrote in Ionic in the 800’s. By the 400’s Ionic Greek had developed into the Attic dialect. Attic Greek became the most widely used and the language of the great Greek writers such as Herodotus, Plato, Socrates, Thucydides, and even Aristotle (384-322). When Alexander the Great (356-323) was a boy he was sent from his father, Philip, the king of Macedonia, to Aristotle in Athens, Greece, to be educated. When Alexander left Macedonia to conquer the world, the Greek world still had many dialects. Alexander combined these dialects with the Attic Greek he had learned in Athens and took it to the world. The result was a period from 300 BC – 500 AD where koine Greek was the language of business and trade, politics and government, letters and other forms of correspondence between people in their daily lives.
One of the key papyri discoveries is known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. In 1896 in the ancient Egyptian city of Tebtunis, near Oxyrhynchus in Upper Egypt on the west side of the Nile, a cemetery that held sacred crocodiles was uncovered. (During the time of the Ptolemies and the early Romans the practice of mummifying and burying sacred crocodiles in shallow pits became a popular ritual.) Hoping to find ancient tombs the archeologists were disappointed to find over 1,000 mummified crocodiles that they considered worthless. The crocodiles were stuffed on the inside and then wrapped on the outside with ancient papyri. The papyri, though, was covered with text written in koine Greek and included: Greek literature, royal proclamations from the Ptloemies, Egyptian land records, tax receipts, contracts, letters from officials to delinquent taxpayers, fragments of a lost Greek play by Sophocles and fragments from Homer, Plato and Euripides’ writings. There is even a marriage contract from 311 BC and tax receipt from the time of Nero. Also included in the find were koine Greek grammar and etymology books which also helped understand the language of the New Testament. Many of the papyri were written while the New Testament itself was being written. With this find scholars realized that the Greek used in the New Testament was the Greek used by all classes of people to write letters, records, and to educate children. Since this time the meanings and usage of New Testament Greek words has opened up. The recent development of our understanding of ancient koine Greek makes it much easier for the “common” person to study Greek. There are many more Greek study tools and books available for us today than for any other generation in the church age.
“The New Testament is written simply in the popular form of the Koine which was spoken in the cities throughout the whole of the Greek-speaking world.”
“There is no sphere of knowledge where one is repaid more quickly for all the toil expended. Indeed, the Englishman’s Greek Concordance almost makes it possible for the man with no knowledge of Greek to know something about it, paradoxical as that may sound.”
Introduction to the Greek Language
In these next few pages you will be introduced to the Greek letters, some basic Greek words, understanding of Greek verbs and a few other insights. The goal is to introduce you to the bare basics of the language to enable you to read and understand what the Greek scholars have written and to use the study tools they have produced. We want to take heed to A. T. Robertson’s words from his book The Minister and His Greek New Testament that this “might seem to encourage the charlatan and the quack. It is possible for an ignoramus to make a parade of a little lumber of learning to the disgust and confusion of his hearers.”
The Greek Alphabet
The large or capital letter in the Greek is called the “uncial” and the smaller letter is called the “minuscule”.
A a . . . a ALPHA a as in father 1 B b . . . b BETA b as in bat 2
G g . . . g GAMMA g as in go 3 D d . . . d DELTA d as in down 4 E e . . . e(short) EPSILON e as in bed 5 Z z . . . z or dz ZETA z as in zero 7 H h . . . ey(long) ETA e as in they 8 Q q . . . th THETA th as in theology 9 I i . . . i IOTA i’s as in indian 10 K k . . . k KAPPA k as in keen 20 L l . . . l LAMBDA l as in light 30 M m . . .m MU m as in music 40
N n . . . n NU n as in novel 50 X x . . . x XI x as in axe 60 O o . . . o (short) OMICRON o as in omelet 70 P p . . . p PI p as in pull 80 R r . . . r RHO r as in road 100 S s(V) .s SIGMA s as in sing 200 T t . . . t TAU t as in tiger 300 U u . . . u UPSILON u as in “hoop” 400 F f . . . f (ph) PHI f as in foot 500 C c . . . ch CHI ch as in loch 600 Y y . . ps PSI ps as in lips 700
W w . . o (long)OMEGA o as in note 800
(V is used if it is the last letter of a word; s is used all other times in the word)
(The number 6 is represented by the obsolete letter digamma, the number 90 is represented by the obsolete letter koppa and the number 900 is represented by the obsolete letter san.)
Writing the Letters
Make copies of this page so you can trace the following letters and practice writing the Greek letters.
Fill in the Greek Letter Write the Greek minuscule or small letter on the blank
________ . . . a ALPHA ________ . . . b BETA
________ . . . g GAMMA ________ . . . d DELTA ________ . . . e EPSILON ________ . . . z or dz ZETA
________ . . . ey ETA ________ . . . th THETA ________ . . . i IOTA ________ . . . k KAPPA ________ . . . l LAMBDA ________ . . .m MU
________ . . . n NU ________ . . . x XI ________. . . o OMICRON ________. . . p PI ________ . . . r RHO ________. . . s SIGMA ________ . . . t TAU ________. . . u UPSILON ________ . . . f (ph) PHI ________. . . ch CHI ________ . . . ps PSI
________ . . . o OMEGA
Practicing Recognizing and Pronouncing the Greek Alphabet
1. Say the Greek alphabet in this correct order:
a b g d e z h q i k l m n x o p r s (V) t u f c y w
2. Say these ten Greek letters that are similar to our English letters:
a b d e i k o V t u
3. Say these fifteen Greek letters that are less familiar:
g z h q l m n x p r s f c y w
4. Say these seven Greek vowels:
a e h i o u w
5. Say these Greek consonants
b h d z q k l m n x p r s V t f c y
6. Say these Greek letters that are written in reverse order of the Greek alphabet:
w y c f u t (V) s r p o x n m l k i q h z e d g b a
7. Say this first line of random Greek letters:
m t e q p b o k a w d l i V z x c f y s g h n r u
8. Say this second line of random Greek letters:
r k e t k o p d q a f u V c b g w y i z h l x s m
9. Make flash cards with the Greek letter on one side and the corresponding English letter on the back.
Vowels, Diphthongs, Breathing Marks in Greek
These vowels are always short: e o
These vowels are always long: h w
These vowels must be observed to determine if they are long or short: a i u
Diphthongs are two vowels that are combined to make one sound. These are the Greek diphthongs:
ai = ai as in aisle
au = au as in kraut
ei = ei as in height
oi = oi as in boil
eu = eu as in feud
ui = as in the sound in wee
ou = as in soup
Every Greek word that begins with a vowel has one of two breathing marks. The first is the smooth breathing mark that looks like this ’ and appears before the word like this ’ek . The word ’ek is pronounced just like it is written as “ek”. The second is the rough breathing mark that looks like this ‘ and appears before the word like this ‘ektoV. The word with this rough breathing mark before the vowel is pronounced with an “h” sound before the vowel is pronounced. The word ‘ektoV is pronouned “hektos”.
Pronounce these words or dipthongs:
’en . . . . . . . . . . . (“en”)
‘en . . . . . . . . . . . (“hen”)
‘ou . . . . . . . . . . ._________
’ou . . . . . . . . . . ._________
’oikou . . . . . . . . _________
‘oikoV . . . . . . . . _________
Pronouncing Greek Letters
Below are some English words written in Greek letters. Pronounce these words.
- dig bhb kid lap
- bklh men laq am
- ill lamb gab bag
- abba bed dad zeb
- egg angel qh zid
- ep larkin polis sit
- stand nix los thm
- lift fil ‘it ’up
Pronouncing Greek Words
Below are Greek words written in the Greek script. Pronounce these words
1. telioV polis kardia fobos
2. bhma cariV yuch didwmi
3. ’oikia ginomai ’autoV ’eimi
4. sabbaton ’egw ’anqropoV gar
5. ‘uios ’eipon ‘agioV pistiV
6. fwnh dunamai gunh logoV
7. ’oikia kurioV qeoV ‘amartia
- Greek words used more than 500 times in the Greek New Testament:
- ’anqrwpos man
- ’apo from
- ’autoV himself, herself, itself, same
- gar for
- ginomai I become
- de but, and
- dia through
- ’egw I
- ’eimi I am
- ’eipon I said
- ’eiV into
- ’ek, ’ex out of, from
- ’en in
- ’epi over, on, at, to, against
- qeoV God
- kai and, even, also
- kata down from, against, according to
- kupioV lord
- legw I say, I speak
- ‘o the
- ‘h the
- to the
- ’ou not
- ’ouk not
- poiew I do, I make
- proV to, towards, with
- ‘Greek’ words used 200-500 times in the Greek New Testament:
- ‘agioV holy
- ’adelfoV brother
- ’akouw I hear
- gh, ghV the earth
- ginwskw I come to know or learn
- gunh woman, wife
- didwmi I give
- dunamai I am powerful, I am able
- ’ean if
- ’ei if
- ’eidon I saw
- ‘eiV, mia,‘en one
- ‘hmera day
- qelw I will, I wish
- lalew I speak
- lambanw I take, I receive
- logoV word
- maqhthV disciple
- meta with
- ’oida I know
- ’ouranoV heaven
- pathr father
- peri concerning, about, around
- pistiV faith
- pneuma spirit
- poluV much
- ‘uioV son
- ‘upo by, under
- Greek words used 150-200 times in the Greek New Testament:
- ’aggeloV angel (two gg together make the “ng” sound in Greek)
- ‘amartia sin
- basileia kingdom
- grafw I write
- doxa glory
- ’eqnoV nation, Gentiles
- ’ergon work
- ’esqiw I eat
- ‘euriskw I find
- ’idou see! behold!
- ‘isthmi I stand
- kaqwV as, even as
- kardia heart
- kosmoV world
- megaV large, great
- nekroV dead
- nomoV law
- ’ocloV crowd, multitude
- para from
- poliV city
- cariV grace
- ceir hand
- Greek words used 100-150 times in the Greek New Testament:
- ’aiwn an age
- ’agaqoV good
- ’agaph love
- ’alhqeia truth
- ’alloV other, another
- ’amhn truly, amen
- ’apostellw I send, apostle
- ’arciereuV high priest
- Ballw I throw
- basileuV king
- Blepw I see
- douloV slave
- dunamiV power
- duo two
- ’ekklhsia assembly, congregation, church
- ’exousia authority
- zaw I live
- zwh life
- qanatoV death
- ’idioV one’s own
- krinw I judge
- laoV people
- nun now
- ‘odoV road, journey
- ’oikoV house
- ‘oloV whole
- ’oude not, not even, neither, nor
- profhthV prophet
- sarx flesh
- sarkoV flesh
- swzw I save
- sun with
- swma body
- fwnh sound, voice
- yuch soul, life, self
- Greek words used less than 100 times in the Greek New Testament:
- gennaw I begat
- didaskw I teach
- ’eirhnh peace
- ‘eteroV other, another, different
- kaloV good, beautiful
- ’arcw I rule
- baptizw I baptize
- fwtoV light
- ’aiwnioV eternal
- nux night
- pistoV faithful
- ‘rhma word
- sabbaton Sabbath
- qronoV throne
- kakoV bad, evil
- mikroV small, little
- Biblion book
Transliteration is when the Greek word is sounded out and written with English letters. For example:
’anqropoV is transliterated as anthropos
a . . . . . . a
n . . . . . . . . n
q . . . . . . . . th
r . . . . . . . . r
o . . . . . . . . .o
p . . . . . . . . p
o . . . . . . . . .o
V . . . . . . . . s
Transliterate the following words (you may want to check the page with Greek letters):
Translation is when the Greek words are changed into English words with out changing the meaning of the original Greek.
Translate the following:
Which Greek word would be used in the verse “In the beginning was the word”?
maqhthV logoV ‘hmera
Jesus had twelve of these:
pistiV ‘agioV maqhthV
The opposite of anqropoV is:
pathr gunh ’adelfoV
Translate these into all English:
The ’adelfoV had great pistiV ________________________
akouw ‘agioV logoV _____________________________
ginwskw the pathr en ’ouranoV______________________
qeoV kai ’anqropoV ____________________________________
kurioV qeoV ____________________________________
Recognizing the Conditions of “If” or “ei”
There are two parts of a conditional sentences (or, a sentence with an “if” clause)
The two parts are:
a) The subordinate clause, or “if” clause which states a supposition or condition
b) The principle clause, or “conclusion” clause, which states the result if the “if” clause is fulfilled.
Example: “If you get there early (this is the subordinate or “if” clause)
then you will get a good seat (this is the principle or conclusion clause)”
The Greek word ei is translated into English as “if”, or ”whether.” This word will be found in the first part or the subordinate clause of a conditional sentence.
The Greek word an is an untranslated word whose presence in a clause introduces the element of contingency. It will be found in the second part or the principle clause of a conditional sentence.
Here is an example from the Greek interlinear:
ei ek tou kosmou hte
If of the world you were
o kosmos an to idion efelei
the world would its own have loved.
First Class Condition – View point of Reality
This is ei plus indicative mood with conclusion clause in any mood and any tense.
This is the viewpoint of reality. It means “if, and it is assumed to be true” or “if, and I know it is true.”
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” Galatians 5:18
“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” John 14:7
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:3
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” Matthew 4:6
In each of the above cases the subordinate clause, or the “if” clause is assumed to be true by the speaker. So Paul tells the Galatians, “If you are led by the Spirit and I assume you are, you are not under the law.” When Satan is tempting Jesus he is saying, “If you are the Son of God, and I know you are, tell these stones to become bread.” According to this statement Satan was not trying to get Jesus to prove to he that he was the Son of God because Satan already knew who he was.
Second Class Condition – Viewpoint of Unreality
This is ei plus imperfect tense with conclusion clause an plus imperfect tense. This is the viewpoint of unreality. It means, “If, but I know you won’t” or “If, but I know it won’t happen.”
“If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is.” Luke 7:39
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” John 15:19
“If I had not come and spoken to then, they would not be guilty of sin.” John 15:22
“All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” Matthew 4:9
Also, ei plus aorist or pluperfect tense with conclusion clause an plus aorist or pluperfect tense.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32
“If the miracles that were preformed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Matthew 11:21
In each of the above cases the subordinate clause, or the “if” clause is assumed not to be true or to be impossible by the speaker. So when the Pharisee says “If this man were a prophet” he is actually saying, “If this man were a prophet, and I know he is not, then he would know who is touching him.” When Satan says, “If you will bow down and worship me” he is saying, “If you will bow down and worship be but I know that you won’t.”
Third Class Condition – Viewpoint of Uncertainty
This is ei plus Subjunctive mood with conclusion clause in any verb form. This is a statement of the unknown because it infers a matter of volition. It means “maybe you will or maybe you won’t.
“If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
“If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” First John 1:9
In each of the above cases the subordinate clause, or the “if” clause was unknown. The woman did not know if she would get a chance to touch Jesus’ cloak even though she was sure of the results if she did. She was saying, “Maybe I will and maybe I won’t be able to touch his cloak, but if I do, I will be healed. John writes, “If we confess our sins, maybe you will and maybe you won’t, but if you do he is faithful and just and will forgive us.” These are in the class of possibilities and unknown volitional decisions.
Fourth Class Condition – Viewpoint of Improbability
This is ei plus the optative mood with conclusion clause an plus optative mood. This is speaks of a unlikely future condition. It describes the less probable future and the remoteness of the event occurring. It expresses, “if it is true but it probably is not”, or “I wish it were true, but it is probably not.”
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.”
First Peter 3:14
Peter is saying here, “if you suffer for doing right, but it is highly unlikely”. The logic that supports this if the fact that both God and men approve of people who do good.
Conditions of “If” or “ei”
|First||Reality||“If, and I know it to be true.”||Mt. 4:3, 6|
|Second||Unreality||“If you will, but you won’t”||Mt. 4:9|
|Third||Unknown||“If, maybe you will, maybe you won’t”||1 Jn. 1:9|
|Fourth||Unlikely||“If, I wish it were true, but it is not”||1 Pt. 3:14, 17|
|pros= towards ano = above uper = over, above|
A noun can be used in five different ways in a sentence. The ending attached to the noun will determine where it fits in the sentence.
Nominative The subject of the verb
“God is love.”
Genitive Possessive as in “cross of Christ”
Descriptive as in “crown of thorns”
Dative Indirect object
“he preaches to the people”
Accusative Direct object
“I read the book”
“I see the angel”
Vocative Expresses direct address
“Athenian men! Acts 17:22
“Lord God Almighty” Revelation 11:17
In the Greek there are three forms of nouns: masculine, feminine and neuter. These are the masculine noun endings in Greek:
|Masculine Noun Endings||Singular||Plural|
Singular Noun Endings for ‘uioV
|Genitive (Possessive)||‘uiou||The life|
|Dative (Indirect Object)||‘uiw||Life is|
|Accusative (Direct Object)||‘uion||We saw|
|Vocative (Direct Address)||‘uie||Son! We are here.|
The Greek Article
The Greek language does not have an indefinite article. This means that when nouns like maqhthV or ’apostoloV are written they mean “disciple” or “apostle” or an indefinite disciple or apostle written as “a disciple” or “an apostle”. Since this is clear in the Greek it is incorrect to translate it into English with the definite article “the” as “the disciple” or “the apostle”. In other words, the definite article should not be inserted in the English unless the definite article is in the Greek.
The definite article in English is “the”. This makes the distinction between “a book on the shelf” and “the book on the shelf.” If I ask for “a book” then any book will do. If I ask for “the book” then I am thinking of and looking for a specific book. The definite article in the Greek is used, for example, with the word logoV is o. If the Greek text says logoV then the correct translation would be “a word” or just “word”. If the Greek text says o logoV then the correct translation would be “the word”.
Greek Articles: Indefinite and Definite
|Indefinite (“a”)||Definite (“the”)||logoV||“word”or “a word”||ologoV||“the word”|
|qeoV||“God”or “a god”||oqeoV||“the God”|
|zwh||“life”or “a life”||‘h zwh||“the life”|
|’alhqeia||“truth”or “a truth”||‘h ’alhqeia||“the truth”|
Greek verbs are written to show a tense, a voice, and a mood
- Imperfect Tense – conveys continuous or repeated action in past time.
1. Mark 5:18 – “. . .was entreating. . .”
2. Mark 6:41 – “. . .He kept giving [repeatedly, over and over again]. . . “
3. As in Luke 3:10, “The multitudes were asking him questions.”
ii. It also conveys habitual or customary action.
1. Matthew 26:55 “Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching.”
2. 1 Peter 3:5, “. . .used to [customarily] adorn themselves.”
- Aorist Tense – conveys point of action in the past. The action is viewed as a completed whole or a one-time action. This is determined by the text.
ii. Single one time action as in Matthew 5:28, “looks on a woman to lust (even once) . . . “
iii. Action wrapped up as a single package as in Luke 17:4, “If he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times.” In this case “sins” and “returns” include all the possible occasions of these acts in one single idea.
iv. Also in John 2:20, “The temple was built in forty-six years.”
v. Helping words: effectively, successfully, completely, even once, ever, as a whole, indeed, in fact, actually, really do.
- Perfect Tense – conveys completed action in the past with finished results still abiding in the present
ii. As in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved” which means “For by grace have you been saved in the past with the result that you keep on being saved forever.”
iii. Hebrews 1:4 – “He has inherited [and now still has]. . .”
iv. Hebrews 2:9 – “. . .crowned [and now still is] with glory and honor. . .”
v. Hebrews 12:2 – “and has sat down [and now still is seated] at the . . .”
vi. The sense most often conveyed by the perfect tense is the continuance of the effect of the action (not the action itself).
vii. John 19:30 – “It is finished!” The perfect tense brings out that the results and effects of His sacrificial death are anything but over and finished.
- Pluperfect Tense – conveys completed action in the past with finished results in the past.
- Present Tense – conveys continuous or habitual action
ii. Action that happens over and over again is seen in Matthew 10:1, “. . .to (repeatedly ) cast them out, and to (over and over again) heal every kind of disease.”
iii. Customary or habitual action is seen in Matthew 7:12, “. . . you (customarily) want people to (customarily) treat you.”
iv. Helping words to express the present tense: continuously, repeatedly, over and over again, uninterruptedly, constantly, deep on, customarily, habitually.
- Future Tense – Action planned for a future time
- Voice – expresses relation between the subject of a verb and the verb’s action
- Active Voice
ii. “I throw the ball”
iii. As in Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” In this verse the verb “believe” is in the active voice which means the subject of the sentence which is “you” or the Philippian jailer, causes or produces the action of the verb “believe.”
- Middle Voice
ii. As in John 15:16, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” The verb “have chosen” in the middle voice indicates that this verse means, “You nave not chosen me for your benefit, but I have chosen you for my benefit.”
- Passive Voice
ii. As in Ephesians 2:8, “By grace are you saved”
iii. The subject “you” receives the action of the verb “are saved” but the subject is not active in causing the verb.
iv. Notice the active voice in Acts 16:31 above combined with passive voice in Ephesians 2:8 indicates that when you “believe” (active voice of Acts 16:31) then you receive salvation (passive voice of Ephesians 2:8)
- Mood – refers to the manner in which an action is conceived by the speaker The four moods show the way an action is to be regarded: fact, potential action, command, wish.
- Indicative Mood – is the mood of reality
ii. As in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word.”
- Subjunctive Mood – is the mood of potential
ii. John 14:31, “Come now, let us leave.”
iii. “Jesus died (indicative mood) that all might (subjunctive mood) saved.
- Imperative Mood – is the mood of command
ii. As in First Corinthians 11:24, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
iii. persecute you.”
- Optative Mood – is the mood expressing a wish or desire
ii. It is a polite request without any connotation of anticipated realization.
iii. It has an air of perplexity or possibility.
Combinations of Tenses and Moods
Orders or commands that are expected to have continuous or repeated application are given in the present tense. Therefore, the present imperative essentially means, “Follow this command as often as the situation or need arises.”
- Second Corinthians 13:5 – “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!”
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 – “Be. . .stand. . .act. . .be. . .” (each bring out the call to a long-term commitment conveyed by this tense.
a. usually relates to a more general and recurring situation.
b. calls for a long-term way of doing something.
c. focuses on the broader consideration of life-style.
This moves away from the call to a long-term commitment of the present imperative to the call for a specific and definite decision.
1. John 15:4 – “Abide in Me,” is not primarily dealing with a future kind of life-style, but rather with a call for a definite preference regarding fellowship with Himself.
2. Aorist imperative compels you to a choice.
a. usually relates to a particular and specific situation.
b. calls for a decisive choice to effectively accomplish an action.
c. focuses on decision.
Negative present Imperative
In the majority of cases, the negative present imperative has the meaning “Stop doing this!”
- John 20:17 – “Do not touch Me.” Does not say “Do not touch me at all,” but, says, “Stop touching Me.”
Negative Aorist Imperative (Subjunctive)
Has a different focus than the negative present imperative. Negative present imperative stresses on forbidding that an action continue. Negative aorist imperative lays the stress on the action never happening at all.
- 2 Timothy 1:8, “therefore do not be ashamed [never at any time] of the testimony of our Lord.”
Every verb has a stem or root word that identifies the meaning of the verb. This stem serves as the unit upon which the verb tenses are built. Different endings are attached to the stem to express the following information:
- Person (as in first, second or third person)
- Number (as in singular or plural)
Here is an example of parsing the verb legw which means “to say, to speak”:
Parsing the Verb legw
|legw||First||Singular||Present||Indicative||Active||I am saying|
|legeiV||Second||Singular||Present||Indicative||Active||You are saying|
|legei||Third||Singular||Present||Indicative||Active||He is saying|
|legomen||First||Plural||Present||Indicative||Active||We are saying|
|legete||Second||Plural||Present||Indicative||Active||You (all) are saying|
|legousi||Third||Plural||Present||Indicative||Active||They are saying|
Here are some other forms of the legw:
|lege||Second||Singular||Present||Imperative Mood||Active||Tell me (Ac.22:27)|
|legetai||Third||Singular||Present||Indicative Mood||Passive||He is being told|
|legete||Second||Plural||Present||Imperfect||Active||(same word 2, pl, Pr., In., Ac.)|
There are thirty-two more forms of legw that include legomena which is accusative neuter plural participle present passive, legomenh which is nominative feminine singular participle present passive and others.
This is just one Greek word with a introductory look at its forms. Imagine the enormous amount of information is needed to know and understand all of the Greek words and their parsing. This is a job for a Greek scholar. Fortunately many Greek scholars have put their knowledge and research in books and other study tools that can assist us in understanding more of the scriptures.
Greek Study Tools
There are books and study aids available for the believer to assist them in Bible study. It is important to realize both our limitations in our own personal knowledge of Greek but at the same time the inexhaustible supply of resources we have available to study Greek. There has never been a time before in history that so many accurate study tools written by a variety of thoroughly trained Greek scholars have been readily available for a believer who wanted to gain insight into God’s written revelation. Here are some of the Greek study tools:
- Greek Text – Scholars have worked through all the appropriate Greek manuscripts to produce the best Greek New Testament. There will be footnotes explaining which manuscripts or papyri were used to defend their chosen text. The footnotes will also include alternative readings called textual variants.
- Greek/English Interlinear – A translator has taken the Greek text and translated each line word for word into English.
- Greek Grammars – A text book by a Greek teacher that takes you step by step through the process of learning the Greek language.
- Greek Concordance – Scholars have taken every Greek word in the Greek New Testament and listed them in alphabetical order along with each of its scripture references. The portion of the scripture with the word in it is shown.
- English Concordance – Each English word from a particular translation is listed alphabetically along each of its scripture references. A portion of the verse is written out showing how the word is used.
- Greek Lexicon – Is a dictionary but more. A lexicon will also provide examples of how the word was used in other writings near the time of the New Testament. The entry in the lexicon will cite writers such as Josephus, Herodian, Tacitus, Socrates and hundreds more to give a full sense of the meaning and what the word meant to those who heard it 2,000 years ago. Newer lexicons will also site examples from the papyri and recent manuscript discoveries.
- Greek Dictionary – A Greek Dictionary can provide a simple one to three word definitions which is good for a quick reference. Also, Greek Dictionaries can become several volumes as each piece of evidence is referenced, discussed and brought to a theological and scriptural definition. These are useful for more controversial verses and topics.
- Greek Reference Sets – Are similar to commentaries but the author focuses on the exegetical work from the meaning of the Greek and linguistic insights.
- Other Reference Tools – Other books that are useful are word study books, lexical aids, linguistic keys, and reference works that help bring the Greek New Testament a little closer to the reader.
Here are some samples of the above Greek study tools from my own bookshelf:
- Greek Text
- The New Testament: The Greek Text Underlying the English Authorized Version of 1611. This is known as the Textus Receptus or the Received Text used in the translation of the King James Bible
- Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (or, Novum Testamentum Graece) which is the Greek text used to translate the New International Version, New American Standard
- Greek/English Interlinear
- The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, translated by Alfred Marshall. The Greek text is Nestle’s Greek New Testament based on the comparison of texts edited by Tischendorf (1869-1872), Westcott and Hort (1881) and Weiss (1894-1900)
- Greek Grammar
- New Testament Greek for Beginners, by J. Gresham Machen, D.D., Litt.D., Macmillan Company, 1923
- New Testament Greek, by James Allen Hewett, B.A., B.D., M.A., Ph.D., Hendrickson Publishers, 1986 (I was fortunate to be able to sit in on some Mr. Hewett classes in 1988.)
- New Testament Greek Primer, by Alfred Marshall, Zondervan Publihsing House, 1962
- Beginners’ Grammar of the New Testament, by William Hersey Davis, M.A., Th.D., Harper & Row Publishers, 1923
- Essentials of New Testament Greek, by Ray Summers, Broadman Press, 1950
- Greek Concordance
- Wigram Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament, George V. Wigram, Baker Book House, 1979
- English Concordance
- Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, L.L.D., S.T.D, World Bible Publishers, 1890.
Strong’s Concordance and Key Numbers
James Strong made a concordance that shows every English word in the text of the King James Version. Each Greek word in the New Testament (and also, each Hebrew and Aramaic word of the Old Testament) is numbered. This way a student can look up the English word in
- Nelson’s Complete Concordance of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, by John William Elllison, Nelson, 1957
- The NIV Exhaustive Concordance, Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger, III, 1990
- The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, Nelson, 1984.
- Nelson’s Complete Concordance of the New American Bible, edited by Stephen J. Hartdegen, Nelson, 1977.
- Greek Lexicon
- Thayer Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., Baker Book House, 1901.
- BDAG, or officially, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. The original author was the German scholar Walter Bauer who produced four German editions between 1910 and 1952. Arndt and Gingrich translated it to English in 1957. This was the work of Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker. This second English edition was published in 1979 by Gingrich and Danker. It was known as BAGD (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker). It has now undergone a third edition by Danker in 2000. This third edition is known as BDAG and contains over 15,000 new citations.
- Greek Dictionary
- A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, by Barclay M. Newman, Jr., 1971. This is a simple 200 page, dictionary with short definitions.
- Vine’s, or officially, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine, Zondervan, 1940. This is a classic. Words are listed alphabetically in English from the King James translation. The definition the English word includes a definition for each of the Greek words that were translated into the English word. Definitions, references are given beside the transliteration and the Greek word.
- Kittel’s, or officially, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), edited by Gerhard Kittel, by Eerdmans, 1964, 10 volumes. An extensive dictionary that references the Greek word’s use in classical Greek writing, in the Greek Septuagint, and in the New Testament times. There are 39 contributing authors.
- The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, edited by Colin Brown, Regency, 1967, 4 volumes. Includes seven contributing authors each an expert in one of these areas: Greek philosophy and the classics, Old Testament and the Septuagint, Qumran, Rabbinics, New Testament theology, Church History and historical theology.
- The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words. This takes the dictionary located in the back of Strong’s Concordance and combines it with Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, Thayer’s Lexicon and the Hebrew Lexicon Brown –Driver-Briggs.
- Greek Reference Set
- Word Studies in the New Testament, by Marvin R. Vincent, D.D., 1886, 4 volumes.
- The Expositor’s Greek Testament, by W. Robertson Nicoll, M.A., LL.D., 1897, 4 volumes.
- The New Testament for English Readers, by Henry Alford, 1872, 4 volumes.
- Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, writings from the 1940’s and 1950’s. 4 volumes including a New Testament translation
- Other Reference Tools
- The New Linguistic And Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, by Cleon L. Rogers Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers III, from 1982 and revised in 1998. This goes verse by verse through the New Testament and highlights the key words. Besides definintions and insights this volume tells the tense, voice and mood of the verbs. There are 30 pages listing authors and the sources quoted in this book.
- The Greek New Testament Analyzed, by Pierre Guillemette, Herald Press, 1986. This book lists every Greek word and in every form in alphabetical order. The parsing is then written out beside each form of every word.
- New Testament Words, by William Barclay
- Light from the Ancient East, by Adolph Deissmann
- Bible Studies, by Adolph Deissmann
- Grammatical Insights into the New Testament, by Nigel Turner
- Synonyms of the New Testament, by Richard C. Trench
- New Testament Exegesis, by Gordon D. Fee
- Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek, by Bruce M. Metzger
- Building Your New Testament Greek Vocabulary, by Robert E. Van Voorst
- Word Meanings in the New Testament, by Ralph Earle
The Study Process
When studying the Bible a style of study called ICE was introduced to me by a legendary pastor and Bible teacher. The acronym ICE stands for three areas that need to be studied to properly understand a passage of scripture. The three areas are isagogics, categories and exegesis.
The first area, isagogics, is the area of study that is preliminary to the study process of scripture because it deals with the literary and external history of the Bible. Isagogics is the study of the historical background and the setting the scripture was written in. To understand the Bible we must understand the people, the place, the purpose and the culture it was written in. We need to hear the New Testament letters the way they would have been heard in the first century.
The second area is the categories. No scripture stands alone but must be interpreted in a way that allows it to align with the rest of the verses that speak to the same subject. This is the classification of Bible doctrine according to the subject. Theology is the result of this classification. Many false doctrines, heresies and cults could be avoided if this were practiced. The Reformation in the 1500’s taught that scripture must be compared with other scripture and must be interpreted so as not to contradict other scriptures. By comparing the scripture you are studying to scriptures in the same category you will gain insight and set boundaries for you interpretation.
Exegesis, the third area, is the interpretation of the scripture from its original language. The goal here is to let the scriptures speak to you by letting their language say what it was meant to say. The word exegesis is from the Greek word exagw (“exago”) and is itself made up of two Greek words: ex or ek (“ex-”) is a preposition that means “from” or “out of” and agw (“ago”) means “to bear, to bring, to lead”. The word exagw then means “to lead out of”. We want to practice exegesis which is to lead the meaning out of the words and sentences in the Greek New Testament into our soul. The opposite of this is eisogesis which is also from a Greek word. This word in the Greek is eisago (“eisago”) but this time the word ago is proceeded by the preposition eiV or eis- (“eis”) which means “into”. This refers to the practice that comes naturally to us all (and we all do this at one time or another at some level) of reading into the scripture what we want it to say or what we think it should say or what we expect it to say. We do not want to conform the scripture to our cultural pattern or to what our minds have decided. Our goal is to hear the scriptures speak to us so that we “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but are transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” (Romans 12:2) This is the goal of exegesis. This is the reason we study and teach using ICE.
A Study Sample
In the following sample we will use some of the study tools to look into Ephesians 4:11, 12. The study tools we will be using are:
- An Interlinear Greek New Testament
- The Greek New Testament Analyzed
- The Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament
- Thayer’s Lexicon
- A Wigram’s Greek Concordance
- Strong’s English Concordance
- Vine’s Expository Dictionary
- Brown’s Dictionary of New Testament Theology
- Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
- Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament
Ephesians 4:11, 12 says in the New International Version:
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare Gods’ people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
The word we want to gain some insight into is the word “prepare” in Ephesians 4:12.
We now turn to the interlinear New Testament and look up the verse:
kai ’autoV ’edwken touV men ’apostolouV touV de
and he gave some apostles some
profhtaV touV de ’euaggelistaV touV de
prophets some evangelists some
poimenaV kai didaskalouV proV ton katartismon
shepherds and teachers for the perfecting
twn ‘agiwn ’eiV ’ergon diakoniaV ’eiV ’oikodomhn
of the saints to work of ministry to building
tou swmatoV tou cristou
of the body - of Christ
The word “prepare” in the NIV is translated in this interlinear as “perfecting”. Here we get our first look at the Greek word that is being translated. It is the word katartismon. The transliteration would be “katartismon”.
We now turn to a book called The Greek New Testament Analyzed and look up the verb katartismon to find the parsing (tense, voice, mood, etc) and also its lexicographic entry or the dictionary form of the word which is the simplest form of the word. Here we find this entry:
11235 Eph. 4:12 katartismon (1) acc. sg . . . . . . . . . . . katartismoV
This tells us the following:
- It is the 11,235 entry in this parsing guide
- It is used in Ephesians 4:12
- The word we are looking at is katartismon
- The (1) indicates that this form of the word is used only one time in the Greek NT
- It is in the accusative which means this is the direct object form of this word
- It is singular and not plural
- The basic word is katartismoV
Before we go to the Linguistic and Exegetical Key, we will first go to a lexicon and look up katartismoV, the basic form of this word. Here we find this entry at the top of page 336 in Thayer’s Lexicon:
katartismoV, - ou, o, (katartisiV, q. v.: tinoV eiV ti, Eph. iv. 12. [(Galen, al.)}*
This entry is not very useful but we do see that this word was used by the Roman medical doctor Galen (129-216 AD) who served as the personal physician to Marcus Aurelius. The * at the end of the entry indicates all the uses of this word have been listed. It only appears in Ephesians 4:12.
The Linguistic and Exegetical Key is organized by New Testament book, chapter and verse. The first word listed under Ephesians 4:12 is katartismoV. The entry says:
katartismoV (#2938) equipping, qualification. The word was a medical t.t. for the setting of a bone (BAGD; for the vb. s. TLNT). The noun describes the dynamic act by which persons or things are properly conditioned. (Barth; Lincoln).
This entry gives us a number (#2938) but it is not Strong’s number. This number is from the more recent numbering system called the Goodrick-Kohlenberger number. The newer NIV Exhaustive Concordance uses this numbering system. The next thing listed is a definition which saying this word means “equipping, qualification.” Then we read that it was a medical t. t. which means it was a technical term (t.t.) used in medicine at that time and referred to setting a bone. This would have been why Thayer’s says that this word is found in the writings of the medical doctor Galen. We are then told that this information comes from BAGD which is a lexicon we discussed above and TLNT which is another Lexicon called The Theological Lexicon of the New Testament from 1994. Two authors, Barth and Lincoln, tell us that this noun is used to describe the dynamic act that properly conditions people or things.
Wigram’s Greek Concordance looks like this:
2677 katartismoV, katartismos.
Eph. 4:12. For the perfecting of the saints
The Greek concordance will list all the appearances of this word in the Greek New Testament. In this case, there is only the one use of katartismoV . We are given the biblical reference, the transliteration and the number 2677 which keyed to Strong’s English Concordance and dictionary. Also, notice the translation of the word as “perfect” in the English. It is in italic in the portion of the verse that is given. If we check the King James Translation we will see this is how the word was translated.
“And he gave some, Apostles: and some, Prophets: and some, Evangelists: and some, Pastors, and teachers: For the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
We now look up the word “perfecting” in Strong’s Concordance:
2 Co. 7:1 p. holiness in the fear of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2006
Eph. 4:12 For the p. of the saints, for the . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2677
Here we find two entries under “perfecting”. We see the two verses in the King James Bible where the word “p.” or “perfecting” is used. We are also given Strong’s numbers for each of these words. The word “perfecting” is the translation of the Greek words numbered 2006 and 2677. Our verse, Ephesians 4:12, uses the Greek word 2677. So in the same book, Strong’s Concordance, we turn to the Greek Dictionary in the back and look up 2677:
2677 katartismoV katartismos, kat-ar-tis-mos’; from 2675;
complete furnishing (obj.): - perfecting
Strong’s dictionary shows us the Greek word, the transliteration and, for the first time, we see how the Greek word is pronounced. It also tells us that this word is a form of the word numbered 2675 that means “complete furnishing”. We can look up the page in Strong’s to find the word numbered 2675 which is katartizw means “fit, frame, mend, perfect or perfectly join together, prepare or restore and comes from a root word that means to complete thoroughly.” In the entry for the word we are studying, 2677 kataprismoV, Strong’s dictionary gives the word meaning to me “perfecting”.
We can also look up the King James translation “perfecting” in Vine’s Dictionary. There is a section in Vine’s for the English words “perfection, perfecting and perfectness”. Then all the Greek words that are translated into these English word in the King James are listed. They include the Greek nouns: katartisiV, katartismoV, teleiwsiV and teleiothV; and the Greek verb telesforew.
Under the word we are looking at, katartismoV, we find this information:
katartismos (katartismoV) denotes, in much the same way as No. 1, a fitting or preparing fully, Eph. 4:12.
When we look katartismoV up in the index of Brown’s Dictionary we find it is listed with the word artioV and its many derivatives. Brown’s begins the discussion of artioV from the time of its use in Classic Greek (CL):
CL artios and its derivatives come from the root ar- which indicates appropriateness, suitability, usefulness, aptitude. Artios accordingly means suitable, appropriated, fitting a situation or requirements; hence also respectively, normal, perfect, sound in physical, intellectual, oral and religious respects. IN mathematics it is used to describe what is straight and to denote even numbers. The oldest derivative in classic Greek (apart from the Homeric artyo) is the verb katartizo, to put in order, restore, furnish, prepare, equip. These various meanings have a common origin in the basic meaning to make suitable, make fitting. Katartismos and katartisis mean restoration.
Brown’s Dictionary then begins a discussion of the use of the word in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament:
OT The LXX uses katartizo 19 times, and it stands for no fewer than 9 different Hebrew words . . .
Brown’s Dictionary then discusses the use of the word in the New Testament (NT):
NT Of this group of words only katartizo is used at all frequently in the NT (13 times), while artios (2 Tim.3:17), katartisis (2 Cor. 13:9), and katartismos (Eph.4:12) occur only once each.
1. At Matt. 4:21 and Mk. 1:19, katartizo is found in the secular sense of repairing fishing nets. In addition to this, the NT also uses katartizo in the same way as the LXX: the meaning here is to prepare (Heb.10:5, a citation of Ps. 40:6; Matt. 21:16, citing Ps. 8:3 LXX; Rom. 9:22), to establish, to form (Heb.11:3), to equip (Heb. 13:21; 1 Pet.5:100. As in the OT, God is the subject of sentences which express his power to strengthen and establish.
2. Of particular importance are those passages in which artios and its derivatives are used in connexion with the preparation and equipment of the believer and the church, for the service of God and their fellow-men. The adj. artios occurs only at 2 Tim. 3:17, together with the perfect pass. Participle exertismenos. . . artios here does not imply perfection, as was originally thought, doubtless because of the variant reading teleios, perfect, in Codex D. Rather it refers to the state of being equipped for a delegated task. So too, in Eph. 4:12 katartismos refers to the preparation of the church for becoming perfect, but not to this perfection itself, as can be seen from the use of teleios (complete, mature). . . The terms artios and katartismos thus have not so much a qualitative meaning as a functional one.
Kittel’s Theological Dictionary has a paragraph that says:
Along the same lines katartismoV is used at Eph. 4:12, in the context of the edifying of the body of Christ, to denote the equipment of the saints for the work of ministry. The establishment of the community in work for the kingdom of God in the widest sense thus constitutes for Paul a material precondition of the upbuilding and consequently the actualization of the community.
Wuest writes in his Word Studies in the Greek New Testament about Ephesians 4:12:
These gifted men are given the Church “for the perfecting of the saints.” The word “perfecting” is katartizo, “to equip for service.” These gifted men are to specialize in equipping the saints for “the work of the ministry,” that is, for ministering work, in short, Christian service. This is in order that the Body of Christ, the Church, might be built up, by additions to its membership in lost souls being saved, and by the building up of individual saints.”
Marshall, Alfred, The interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament In Greek an d English (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1975) 569.
Guillemette, Pierre, The Greek New Testament Analyzed (Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1986) 228.
Thayer, Joseph Henry, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977) 336.
Rogers, Cleon L., Jr and Rogers, Cleon L. III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998) 441.
Wigram, George V., The Englishman’s Greek Concordance (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979) 415.
Strong, James, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Word Bible Publishers, Iowa Falls, Iowa,1986) 1055.
Strong, James, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: A Concise Dictionary fo the Words in the Greek/New Testament (Word Bible Publishers, Iowa Falls, Iowa,1986) 53.
Vine, W. E., Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1952) 175.
Brown, Colin, Editor, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986) vol. 3, 349.
Kittel, Gerhard, Editor, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Eerdmans , Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1964) 476.
Wuest, Kenneth S., Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1973) 101.