Before you get started

Explaining my use of Etymology in the Mirror Study Bible

Etymology is the study of the origin of words in order to help understand their history and original meaning.

The word etymology is the Greek word, ἐτυμολογία etumologia. It too, like most Greek words, have various components, ἔτυμον, etumon, true, and λογια logia, words. Thus, the study of the true meaning of words.

Obviously, the meaning of many words have evolved over the centuries in their use, and have in time departed from their original meaning. Especially in modern languages we have ample examples where the accepted word today, bears no relevance whatsoever to the meaning of their individual components.

However, many still do. My passion therefore, as a treasure hunter, is to uncover and unveil these gems, always bearing in mind the ultimate relevance found in context.  

Etymology is the study of the origin of words in order to help understand their history and original meaning.

The word etymology is the Greek word, ἐτυμολογία etumologia. It too, like most Greek words, have various components, ἔτυμον, etumon, true, and λογια logia, words. Thus, the study of the true meaning of words.

Obviously, the meaning of many words have evolved over the centuries in their use, and have in time departed from their original meaning. Especially in modern languages we have ample examples where the accepted word today, bears no relevance whatsoever to the meaning of their individual components.

However, many still do. My passion therefore, as a treasure hunter, is to uncover and unveil these gems, always bearing in mind the ultimate relevance found in context.

The context of this conversation is beautifully reflected in John 1:1-3 and 14, as well as Hebrews 1:1-3. And powerfully endorsed in Paul’s focus in his writings.

Also, the fact that in human conscience, we have the invisible written logos fully preserved and recorded to reflect in the “Aha!” resonance-echo, within us! We are compatible by design to hear with “inner-ears”. Rom 1:19  God is not a stranger to anyone; whatever can be known of God is manifest in man. God has revealed it in the very core of our being which bears witness within our conscience.

Paul writes two thousand years ago…Eph 3:4, “When you read this, you will perceive my insight.” RSV

And in the Mirror,

Eph 3:4  In 1pondering these words you will 2perceive my 3insight into the mystery of Christ. (The word, 1anaginosko, suggests an upward knowledge; to know again, to recognize, to read with recognition. You will comprehend, νοιέω 2noeoo, to perceive; thoughtful understanding. [This is also the word connected with the preposition meta [with] in μετανοέω metanoeoo, to awaken in your understanding. It does NOT mean, to “repent!” See Luk 5:32].

Paul anticipates the impact of his own insight in his audience! The word, insight, 3sunesis, from συνίημι suniemisun + eimi, together with my “I am-ness”, to resonate; which means a flowing together as of two streams – a seamless merging; a fusion of thought; a joint-seeing; to sync together in order to form a mental picture. It suggests the grasp and comprehension that happens from comparing and combining things. A word only Paul uses; also his colleague  Dr Luke , in Lk 2:47, as well as another disciple of Paul, Mark who uses it in Mark 12:33, “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself; this is more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”)

Eph 3:5  In no previous generation has there been a more comprehensive and detailed knowledge [of the full consequence of grace] as it has now been uncovered in the Spirit to his ambassadors who brought the prophetic promise into full view! Mankind [the sons of men] may now realize that the prophetic word is fulfilled in them. Everything the Prophets saw is now declared. Both the Prophets [who saw this in advance] and the Apostles [who now proclaim this] are sanctioned in Christ.

Eph 3:6  The essence of what I see reveals the fact that the multitude of humanity are joint participants in the same inheritance. We are all part of one and the same body in Christ. The Good news is that God’s promise is equally relevant and applicable to all.

Eph 3:7  This Gospel defines my ministry; I am supercharged by the gift of his grace!

Eph 1:17  I desire that you will draw directly from the source; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory kindles within you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the unveiling of his 1Master Plan. I long for you to know by revelation what he has known about you all along. (1His intent, doxa, glory. In the words, en epignosei auto, Paul suggests that we might find our source in God’s knowledge – in what it is that he knows! See 1 Cor 13:12 – to know even as we have always been known.)

Eph 1:18  I pray that your thoughts will be flooded with light and inspired insight

And Luke interviewing the two men who encountered Jesus as a “stranger” along their journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus,reports,

Luke 24:32  They erupted in an avalanche of words, Was our hearts not set ablaze – even while he was speaking along the way and opening the Scriptures to us. (οὐχὶ ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν καιομένη ἦν – ὡς ἐλάλει – διήνοιγεν) The Authorized Version, as usual, pays no attention to the graphic Imperfect Tenses here. They are speaking of something which was in progress: “was not our heart burning [finite verb and Participle] while he was speaking, and was opening the Scriptures?” [Marvin Vincent.]

Jesus could easily have just tapped them on the shoulder at the beginning of their journey and immediately told them who he was! But he reveals himself in their familiar language, the Scriptures, knowing that the entire context of the Incarnation is grounded in these profound, prophetic writings. Also, this beats any “angelic visitation” hands down! It pleased the father, Paul later recalls, to unveil his son IN me! The fire now kindled in their hearts, would become a mirror-encounter where the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations would gush out from within them. Col 1:27.)

In the study of the ancient languages of Scripture the etymology of very many words in Koine Greek as well as the meaning of individual letters of the ancient Hebrew alphabet, carry significant relevance.

See my introduction to Luke chapter 3 in the Mirror Bible…

Notes on the Hebrew Alphabet

With the Babylonian exile, 586 BC, the Jews gradually stopped using the Paleo-Hebrew script, based on ancient pictographic letters, otherwise known as the Phoenician alphabet and instead adopted a square letter form of the Aramaic alphabet.

Koine Greek LXX Old Testament and the New Testament

Koine Greek evolved from the spread of Greek following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC and served as the lingua franca of much of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East during the following centuries.

Koine is the language of the Christian New Testament, of the Septuagint LXX (the 3rd-century BC. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), and of most early Christian theological writing by the Church Fathers.

I believe that, just like gold-containing ore, so the Bible contains the Word. Though the ore is a most important pointer to the gold, it cannot be confused with the gold. Jesus is the Word unveiled – He studied scripture with a different intent; he knew that he was reflected there! Familiar with the text, he brought context! Psalm 40:7 and Hebrews 10:7; also, John 5:39.

During my 3-year studies at the University of Pretoria [1975-1977], I was triggered with the intrigue of the richness of the language, and how so much of the nuances and early meanings of words have remained hidden and were ultimately lost in many translations over the years.

I remember one day in the Assembly of God church, which we joined just after we got married [January 1979], we attended a Bible-study meeting. I excitedly shared from John 14:2, The word, μονή mone, is only used here and in verse 23. The verb form, meno suggests a seamless union. [John uses meno more than anyone else.] As in the next chapter, John 15:4. …the branch abiding in the vine. So, Jesus was not about to become a building contractor in heaven. He is not in the mansion building-business, as some translations will imply! He is standing on the threshold of the cross; in his death and resurrection he would prepare a place for us of restored, intimate oneness with himself and the Father in Spirit and in truth. Now we may be where he is, wrapped up in the same, inseparable union. See verse 20.

Our pastor [the head of the AOG at the time], immediately stopped me saying, “If the King James says it’s a mansion then that’s what it is!”

This early encounter inspired me even more on my journey of regularly referencing the Hebrew and Greek text in studying the Bible. During our Acts team days [Dec ’85 – Jan ‘91] I translated several of the Pauline Epistles which were never published; although printed along with other booklets which I wrote and distributed amongst our students.

Oh, how I love the word!

Just look at the first word in the Hebrew Bible, [“in the beginning”] Bereshet, be, (in) rosh (head)

Thus, you are God’s idea!

Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. By an extension, the term “the etymology of [a word]” means the origin of the particular word.

My point is, the words that I pursue in the Greek components are not to contradict the character of God but to rather discover how the context is endorsed in our understanding of the word.

I have been diligent over the years to seek out these treasures.  Some of which you will not find in a lexicon or a dictionary.

I will give you a few examples:

1/ The word χαρακτηρ charakter from χάραγμα charagma – to engrave – translated “mark” of the beast, in Revelation 13:16,17.

Heb 1:3 The Messiah-message is what has been on the tip of the Father’s tongue all along! Now he is the crescendo of God’s conversation with us and gives context and content to the authentic, prophetic thought. Everything that God had in mind for mankind is voiced in him. Jesus is God’s language. He is the 1radiant and flawless mirror expression of the person of God. He makes the 2glorious intent of God visible and exhibits the 3character and every attribute of Elohim in human form. His being announces our redeemed innocence; having accomplished purification for sins, he sat down, enthroned in the boundless measure of his majesty in the right and of God as his executive authority. He is the force of the universe, 4upholding everything that exists. This conversation is the dynamic that sustains the entire cosmos. (The word απαυγασμα 1apaugasma, only occurs here, and once only in the Greek Septuagint, LXX, in the book of Wisdom 7:26 “For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness.” [The book of Wisdom 7:26.] The word,  δόξα 2doxa glory is the expression of the divine attributes collectively. It is the unfolded fullness of the divine perfections. Vincent. The word χαρακτηρ 3charakter from χάραγμα charagma – to engrave – translated “mark” of the beast, in Revelation 13:16,17. Either the character of the Father or the character of the fallen mind will influence our actions (hand) because it is what engages our thoughts (forehead).

“Having accomplished purification of sins, he sat down …” His throne is the very endorsement of mankind’s redeemed innocence! See Eph 1:20-23; LXX Ps 109:1.

The words, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα – 4upholding all things, are not static, but “They imply sustaining, but also movement. It deals with a burden, not as a dead weight, but as in continual movement; as Weiss puts it, “with the all in all its changes and transformations throughout the aeons.” Vincent.

More than two thousand years ago the conversation that had begun before time was recorded—sustained in fragments of thought throughout the ages, whispered in prophetic language, chiselled in stone and inscribed in human conscience and memory—became a man. Beyond the tablet of stone, the papyrus scroll or parchment roll, human life has become the articulate voice of God. Jesus is the crescendo of God’s conversation with mankind; he gives context and content to the authentic thought. His name declares his mission. As Savior of the world he truly redeemed the image and likeness of the invisible God and made him apparent again in human form as in a mirror.)

2/ The keyword in Peter’s powerful illustration in 2 Peter 1:1-10 is the word, epichoregeo which was traditionally translated, to ‘add to’. The etymological values of this word clearly describe a conductor of music!

In 2 Pet. 1:5, by saying, “Add to your faith virtue, etc…”; unfortunately our Authorized Bibles all repeat the same mistake, which has kept multitudes of sincere believers trapped in the treadmill-mode of striving to become; instead of discovering who you are and what you already have!

This is after Peter clearly states in verse 1 that, to begin with, we already are equal shareholders in a faith of exactly the same, priceless value.

Then inverse 3, that by God’s divine engineering, we are gifted with all that it takes to live life to the full.

One cannot add to something that is already complete.

However, one can engage the adventure of a limitless discovery.

I often use an 8-piece Babuska doll to illustrate that there is so much more than just the outer image. This is a traditional Russian doll, beautifully carved out of wood and painted with a colorful image. The outer image is repeated again and again in smaller, identical inner pieces – each one fitting perfectly into the other. Until it almost seems impossible that, yet another piece could follow the little figures that emerge. Our 5-year-old granddaughter, Nicola calls this, the Reflection Doll.

Faith unfolds into these amazing attributes that each person is equally gifted with:

1/ Faith; 2/ Elevation; 3/ Spiritual insight; 4/ Inner strength; 5/ Patient perseverance; 6/ Meaningful devotion and worship; 7/ Genuine fondness for others and finally, the heart of faith is 8/ the Agape of God.

Now, acquaint yourselves with these.

The keyword here, in Peter’s illustration is the word, epichoregeo which was traditionally translated, to ‘add to’. The etymological values of this word clearly describe a conductor of music. The word, 1epichoregeo has three components: epi, a Preposition of position, over, in charge, indicating continuous influence upon, + chorus, choir, orchestra, or dance + agoo, meaning to lead as a shepherd leads his sheep.

3/ The Greek verb ἀγαπάω Agapao to love, or noun, Agape, has two components, agoo, meaning to lead as a shepherd guides his sheep, and pao, to rest, like in Psalm 23, ”he leads me beside still waters where my soul is restored; by the waters of reflection my soul remembers who I am. Now I can face the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil.”

It does not derive from the Hebrewענב Agab as the dictionaries would imply – Agab is a word that Ezekiel uses 6 times and Jeremiah only once; and every time it is used for lust as in whoredom! The Hebrew word for love, closest to Agape is the word, אהב ahabh which is used 207 times.

See my use of the word agape here,

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “This is so much more than a mere casual, distant and suspicious, or indifferent observation of me; this is about someone’s 1passionate, loving desire, finding its rest in me; they will treasure my words and encounter my Father’s love reflecting in them, and my Father and I will 2appear 3face to face to them, and make our 4abode 5with each one individually.” (To love passionately, 1agapao from agoo and paoo, to lead to rest [Ps 23 in one word] – this word also links to the Hebrew word for love, אהב ahabh, to love with passionate desire; like a beating heart or breathing chest. Gen 22;2 Abraham’s love for Isaac. Jer 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn you.”

Then the word for hamartia

The root of sin is to believe a lie about yourself. To be out of sync with the life of your design.

The word sin, is the word 1hamartia, from ha, negative or without and meros, portion or form, thus to be without your allotted portion or without form, pointing to a disorientated, distorted, bankrupt identity; the word meros, is the stem of morphe, as in 2 Corinthians 3:18 the word metamorphe, with form, which is the opposite of hamartia – without form. Sin is to live out of context with the blueprint of one’s design; to behave out of tune with God’s original harmony. See Deuteronomy 32:18, “You have forgotten the Rock that begot you and have gotten out of step with the God who danced with you.” Hebrew,  חול  khul, also means to dance, as in Jdg. 21:21.

And the word Hades which is the opposite of the word Paradise,

The word paradise from para, closest possible union, and eido, to see; thus, to see from a place of our union.

The word Hades – means, not to see.

Here’s what Jesus says about Hades:

He asks the most important question in the Bible “Who do people say, that I, the son of man, am?” No, I’m not a reincarnate prophet. I am the Incarnate Word in whom all things exist – I gave you birth.

Luke 9:19 They replied, “Some think that you could possibly be John the Baptist re-incarnated, or even a re-appearance of Elijah or another of the ancient prophets resurrected.”

Luke 9:20 “And you; who am I to you?” Jesus asked them; Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”

Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. [Bar Jonah, his surname identity] Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father. I say, you are Rock, a chip [petros] of the old Block [petra]. And upon this revelation, that the son of man is the son of God, I will build my Ekklesia, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I shall give you to the keys of the dominion of the heavens, and whatever you bind upon the earth shall be, 1having been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose upon the earth shall be, 1having been loosed in the heavens. ([Matthew 16:13-19.] Ekklesia from ek, origin and kaleo, to surname; original identity. Hades, from ha, negative particle, and eido to see. In a walled city, the gates are the most strategic point – if the gates are disengaged, the city is taken. Thus, the blindfold mode of mankind’s forgotten identity, will not prevail against your advance. The Perfect Passive tense used in both, having been bound and having been loosed, clearly reveals what Jesus accomplished once and for all in his triumphant mission. The keys Jesus refers to here, are the same keys John recorded in Revelation 1:18.)

See also,

Rev 1:17 Observing all this, I fell at his feet like a dead man. Then, 1kneeling down, he ordained me with his right hand upon me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the origin and the 2conclusion of all things.(See Isa 44:6. The word 1tithemi from theo, to kneel down, lay down, to ordain, purpose, put, set forth. See John 15:16, I have ordained you – I have strategically positioned you. Also1 Tim 2:7 I am an “ordained” preacher.

The word, 2eschatos; Jesus, as the Alpha and Omega, defines eschatology.)

Rev 1:18 I am also the Living One; I died and now, see, here I am alive unto the ages of the ages and I have the keys wherewith I have disengaged the gates of Hades and death.

1 John 3:10 There is a very visible and vast difference between living one’s live from your God identity, or from a fallen mindset; the 1diabolos-fruit has nothing in common with 2righteousness; neither does it know anything about brotherly love. (The children of the Devil; here translated the 1diabolos-fruit; the typical fruit that the fallen mindset bears. Righteousness, 2diakaiosune, from dike, two parties finding likeness in each other.)

1 John 3:11 Our love for one another was the topic of conversation from the start. God had nothing less in mind than a loving family.

1 John 3:12 Cain’s 1killing of his brother Abel, is in such contrast to this. His motivation was clearly 2sourced in the 3poneros tree-system; his idea of Divine 4favor was to count on his own works as being superior to his brother’s faith righteousness.  (Immediately after the fall, [Gen 3:20] Adam named the woman Elohim gave him, Eve, [in Hebrew çåÆä Chawah, Life. In the LXX Septuagint in Greek, Zoe.] He thus co-echoes and reinforces the prophetic word that Elohim gave him: Life in the face of death. “The seed of the woman, shall crush the deceiver’s head.” The fallen mindset shall be destroyed. So here, in their two sons, we have the first generation of fallen mankind confronted with their personal pursuit of a lost identity and a lost sense of value and favor. Cain’s motivation was clearly sourced [2ek, out of, origin] in the diabolos [cast down], which is so typical of the 3poneros tree-system. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil [poneros] represents mankind’s lost sense of identity and righteousness, where the global pursuit of mankind would now be their constant effort to achieve righteousness by means of their own works. This inevitably leads to disappointment where shame replaces innocence, and union and fellowship are lost. The word evil, poneros, suggests being full of hardships, labors and annoyances. Gen 3:19; “In the sweat of your face shall you eat your bread.” The sacrifice of Cain is exactly that. It represents his trust in the fruit of his own toil to gain him a 4favorable [charin] standing with God.

We have the prophetic picture of a scapegoat repeated here in Genesis 4. Not only in the sacrifice that Abel brought; but also in him being murdered by his brother. Just like we would one day murder our brother Jesus. In Genesis 3, Elohim did not clothe Adam with the skin of an animal because of a divine need to be appeased, but because of their unconditional love for Adam; they spoke the language of Adam’s own judgment: Adam, not Elohim, was embarrassed about his nakedness. The clothing was not to make Elohim look at Adam differently, but to make Adam feel better about himself. And ultimately it was to prepare Adam for the unveiling of the mystery of mankind’s redemption in the incarnation. Here Deity would clothe themselves in human skin in a Son, and the Lion of Judah would become the Lamb of God in order to free our minds to re discover his image and likeness in our skin. Revelation 5:5,6.

Only John uses the word, 1sphatzo, which speaks of a slaying. Four times in the book of Revelation he employs this word in the context of the slain Lamb of God.

See also Hebrews 11:4, “It was faith that made the difference between the sacrifices of Abel and Cain and confirmed Abel’s righteousness. God bore witness to righteousness as a gift rather than a reward. Even though he was murdered, his faith still has a voice today.”  

Philo a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher says, that in the dispute between Cain and Abel, Abel attributed all things to God, and Cain ascribed everything to himself; so that the controversy was about grace and works. [Philo lived c. 25 BCE – c. 50 CE]

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents a fallen identity; the thought that likeness with God could be earned through good intentions, rather than realizing the gift of life that already defines his image and likeness in us.)

The Greek goddess Dike (pronounced, dikay, justice) holding the scales in her hands.

The word dikia from dikay, means, to provide substantial evidence of innocence.

Strong’s and Thayer’s are easily accessible dictionaries. I also have several Lexicons that one can only access with some knowledge of the Greek alphabet, I am also fortunate to have the printed book, The Greek Lexicon by Grimm which was translated and enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer.

The word unrighteousness, 1adikia, from a, negative or without and dikia, indicating two parties finding likeness in each other; thus, relationship in conflict.

Rev 19:8 She 1was given the finest linen to clothe herself; there she stands, wrapped in radiant white – dressed in 2spotless, saintly innocence. (The verb, edothe from didomi, was given, Aorist Passive Indicative. The word innocence, 2dikaiōma stems from the word dike, two parties finding likeness in each other. Dike is also the root for the word dikaiosune, righteousness. Sadly, many translations have it completely wrong here. This is not the righteous “deeds” of the saints. This innocence gives testimony to the merits of the Redeemer. Paul says in Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but what is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Zech 3:4  And the celestial messenger said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with righteousness.” Aramaic Targum. See my extended notes on the City-Bride at the end of Rev 3.)

1 Cor 2:10  These profound 1mysteries of God’s eternal resolve are now unveiled in us; nothing is hidden from Holy Spirit, who explores the innermost thoughts of God. (“In early ecclesiastical Latin 1mustērion was rendered by sacramentum, which in classical Latin means the military oath. The explanation of the word sacrament, which is so often founded on this etymology, is therefore mistaken, since the meaning of sacrament belongs to mustērion and not to sacramentum in the classical sense” Vincent).