Word of the Week
November 6, 2021
Eulogeō: What’s the Good Word?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and we are looking forward to a day of celebration. Yes, it’s also a day for football games and tables piled high with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies. But the moment that most clearly captures the spirit of the day is when we ask the blessing before the meal.
At our house, we circle the table and clasp hands while Grandpa leads us in a prayer of gratitude to God for the meal, as well as all the other good gifts He has bestowed on us.
There is a biblical precedent for the custom of asking the blessing before a meal, and there is a Greek word that crystallizes the significance of that moment.
Before Jesus fed the 5000, he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16). When He repeated the miracle for a crowd of 4000, He repeated the blessing before distributing the food (Mark 8:7).
In the upper room the night before His betrayal, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper by breaking bread and giving it to His disciples “after a blessing” (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 24:30).
The Greek word for “bless” is eulogeō (occurs 41 times) along wth the noun eulogia (“blessing” – 16 times) and the adjective eulogētos (“blessed” – 8 times).
The construction of the word gives a hint at its meaning: eu means “good” and logeō is related to logos, the Greek term for “word.” In classical Greek, it originally meant “to speak well.” It could be used to describe someone who spoke well, an eloquent or pleasing orator. More often, it described the content of the message. You were saying something good about a person or thing.
Eulogeō in the New Testament comes in two flavors: human and divine blessing.
- God blesses His people.
Jesus blessed His followers just before He ascended to heaven (Luke 24:50).
At the judgment in Matthew 25, the King invites those who are blessed by the Father to enter His kingdom (Matthew 25:34).
Peter declared that God sent Jesus to bless His people by turning them from their wicked ways (Acts 3:26).
Those who are saved by faith are blessed along with Abraham (Galatians 3:9).
God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
When God pronounces something good, He makes it happen. The Lord’s word of blessing changes things so that we actually receive the blessing He announces.
- People bless God
Zacharias praised God for keeping His promises (Luke 1:64, 68) and aged Simeon blessed God when he saw the infant Jesus (Luke 2:28). The disciples returned to Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension and spent time regularly in the temple praising God (Luke 24:53). The crowds at the triumphal entry shouted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35).
Paul echoes that thought when he exclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
When we “bless God,” we are saying something good about Him. We are offering words of gratefulness and praise. We are not conferring a benefit on Him or making Him any greater than He already is. But we are recognizing His matchless character and offering appreciation for His gifts. And God is pleased.
People can also bless other people. Melchizedek blessed Abram (Hebrews 7:1, 6-7) and Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons (Hebrews 11:21). And the New Testament instructs us to bless our enemies.
- Jesus: “Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28).
- Paul: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).
- Paul: “When we are reviled, we bless” (1 Corinthians 4:12).
- Peter: “Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Peter 3:9).
God has spoken words with power and love to bring blessings into your life. How appropriate to respond with words of gratitude and worship! And how fitting to be His mouthpiece for words of blessing to others, especially when God uses your actions to produce that blessing.
Studying one word often leads you to examine the cognate, or related, words. This week’s word study focused on the verb eulogeō. You can extend your study by looking up the references for the other two words in the group:
Adjective – eulogētos – Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Romans 1:25; 9:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3.
Noun – eulogia – Romans 15:29; 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 2 Corinthians 9:5-6; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:3; Hebrews 6:7; 12:17; James 3:10; 1 Peter 3:9; Revelation 5:12-13; 7:12.
Q – When Paul was in Athens talking to the philosophers, they were pretty insulting. My Bible says they called him an “idle babbler.” What were they really saying about him?
A – You’re right. This was no compliment. The Greek word is spermologos, which literally has the idea of “seed-picker.” Sperma is the word for “seed,” and they were comparing him to a little sparrow who hopped around picking up seeds here and there. They saw him as an amateur who picked up an idea here and a thought there, but couldn’t really put them together into a coherent philosophy.
As you can see, there was a media bias against Christians even in the first century!
As Christmas approaches, you could get the impression that life consists of the things you can buy on Black Friday or the pile of presents under the Christmas tree. Next week we will look at two Greek words for “life” for a better perspective on the true meaning of life.
©Ezra Project 2021