Every Greek word has multiple meanings.
But every Greek word has one meaning in a particular context.
That's why a Greek word study involves two steps: (1) Discovering all the possible shades of meaning: and
(2) Discerning the meaning used in a specific verse.
Stage one surveys the whole range of meaning for a particular
word. You can slog through the whole process yourself, scrutinizing every place where a word is used. But most
of us find it hard to find time for such a thorough study, and you may not feel confident about your abilities.
problem! You can borrow a word study from someone else. Find a Greek lexicon (dictionary) or some other word study
book and look at the results of research that has already been done.
Sources in Print
are some of the standard reference books that give information about Greek words, starting with the simplest and moving to
the more advanced:
Vine's Expository Dictionary of the New Testament
Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich & Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the
and Other Early Christian
Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
(abridged in one volume)
Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament
Theology (3 volumes plus index)
A typical entry in Vine's might fill two or three inches in a
column. The same entry in Brown's work might receive five pages of detail!
A number of electronic sources
are also available.
1. Remember that your goal in this stage is the longest possible list
2. Pay attention to the difference between common meanings and rare meanings.
that many words have a literal meaning which then serves as a springboard for figurative
Once you have completed this step, you have two options: you can go even deeper on Stage One by studying the
actual passages where the word is used, or you can move directly to Stage Two: focusing your microscope on a specific
For Stage 1 - Do-It-Yourself, click here
For Stage 2: Borrow from Others, click here