Peripateo: Lessons in Walking

Word of the Week

February 10, 2024

Peripateō: Lessons in Walking


I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with you you have been called.

Ephesians 4:1 NASB


You don’t need lessons in walking, do you?

You figured out how to walk when you were a baby, and you’ve been using that skill ever since.  You don’t need an instruction manual to make your way to the refrigerator.  You simply do it!

Walking was even more important in New Testament times.  No one had cars.  You couldn’t take a bus.  If you wanted to get somewhere, you had to walk – to the market, the synagogue, or the field.  When you made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover festival, you covered the miles on foot.

It’s no surprise that the New Testament mentions walking frequently.  The Greek word for “walk” appears almost 100 times – and it merits a closer look.

Walk in Greek is the word peripateō.  The meaning is uncomplicated:  it describes the action of moving along on foot.  It’s not a sprint; it’s movement at a steady pace.

Peripateō is a combination of two Greek words.  Pateō means “to put your foot down, to step on something.”  Scripture uses it to describe stomping on a scorpion (Luke 10:19) or treading on the grapes in a winepress (Revelation 14:20; 19:15).  Adding peri to the beginning of the word changes the idea.

Peri means “around, about” and the combination pictures someone walking around.  Don’t think of an athlete running a race; think of someone moving around from one activity to another during the course of a day.  Classical Greeks might talk about a person walking around the marketplace, shopping at the various stalls.

Come to the New Testament and you will find frequent references to the physical act of walking, especially in the Gospels and Acts.

  • Jesus encountered some of his critics as he was walking around in the Temple area (Mark 11:27).
  • He repeatedly healed the lame, urging them to use their new ability to walk (Matthew 9:5; 11:5; 15:31; Mark 2:9; Luke 5:23; 7:22; John 5). The apostles continued to enable people to walk (Acts 3:6-12; 14:8-10).
  • In one passage, we see Jesus walking alongside the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18). A few chapters later, we see Him walking ON the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:25-26; Mark 6:48-49; John 6:19).

It is an easy step from literal walking around to peripateō as a figurative description for the pattern of daily life.  “Walk” becomes a general description for living your life as you carry out all the activities that fill your day.  The epistles of John and Paul are filled with verses using the word in this way.

I just found about 35 verses with instructions on how to walk as a Christian.  You see, most of us don’t need training in how to move our legs in physical walking unless we are recovering from an accident or injury.  Developing our spiritual walk, however, doesn’t come automatically.  That’s why Scripture spends so much time telling us how to walk.

The book of Ephesians, for example, gives detailed instructions for how to “walk” through our days.

  • Walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1). Behave in a way that corresponds to the matchless gift of salvation that you have received.
  • Walk not as the Gentiles (Ephesians 4:17). Don’t behave like people who have no knowledge of or connection to God.
  • Walk in love (Ephesians 5:2). Let love permeate your behavior.
  • Walk as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8). Act like people who can see what is true because we take advantage of what God has revealed.  John expands this idea to include the fact that we should live with transparent openness toward God, not trying to hide anything from Him in the dark (1 John 1:6-7).
  • Walk carefully (Ephesians 5:15). Check your path before you blunder into a harmful or sinful situation.  That’s the best way to avoid stubbing your toe!

The spiritual walk can be a tricky business.  It is easy to go astray, and God often leads us in directions that are difficult.  Sometimes it is tough to know where we should be going.

However, the Lord describes a time in the future when He will reign on the earth from the amazing city, the New Jerusalem.  In that day, He says, “The nations will walk by [the city’s] light,” and you will need no more lessons in walking.


Study Hint:

Would you like to look at the other verses on walking?  Here are the rest of the instructions that I found:  John 8:12; 11:9-10; 12:35; Romans 6:4; 8:4; 13:13; 14:15; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 7:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 5:7; 10:2-3; 12:18; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 2:2, 10; Philippians 3:17-18; Colossians 1:10; 2:6; 3:7; 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 4:1; 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 11; 1 John 2:6, 11; 2 John 4; 3 John 3-4, 6.


Word Study Micro-Course

There are two basic facts about words:  (1)  Words have multiple meanings, and (2) A word has one meaning in a particular context.

Therefore, every good word study includes two important steps:  (1) Discover all the possible meanings of a word; and (2) Discern the one meaning being used in the passage you are studying.

How do you do Step 1 (Discovering all the possible meanings)?  The first and easiest way is to borrow the work of experts.  Look at a Greek dictionary!

Last week we suggested two traditional books that will help you:  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament.

This week I will introduce two electronic resources that you can learn to use, even if you can’t figure out the Greek alphabet.

  1. Blue Letter Bible (
  2. Bible Hub (

Both of these have Web sites.  You can also download the apps for your phone.

Next week I will tell you how you can receive a free bonus that explains how you can use one of these Web sites to find the Greek word behind the English in any verse of Scripture.


Coming Up

The weather in Indiana is pretty nice this week, but my daughter in Japan just sent a picture of her car buried by heavy snow fall.  That is one of the trials that goes with the territory when you live in Sapporo.  Next week we will examine a Greek word that describes the trials of life.

©Ezra Project 2024


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