Perisseuo – Living from the Overflow

Word of the Week

July 3, 2021

Perisseuō: Living from the Overflow


Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13



No one goes hungry at our house, especially at holidays!  When our family gathered for Fathers Day, my wife could have baked one strawberry pie and carefully cut a piece for each person. Instead, she made two so that there would be plenty for everyone.  She prepared enough pulled pork and potato salad to send everyone home with leftovers.

The Bechtle kitchen believes in providing more than the bare minimum.  We prefer to set out a basket of rolls so full that they almost spill over the side.

It’s encouraging to recall that the Lord also loves to pour out His gifts lavishly.  He could have created one or two kinds of trees.  However, He chose to cover the hills with everything from sycamores to redwoods.  Birds of every shape and color tumbled from His hands, and he playfully included the platypus in the array of animals.  He is the God of unrestrained abundance.

He also operates with the same abandon in our spiritual lives, offering resources that surpass our most ambitious expectations.

The New Testament uses a Greek word to describe God’s habit of providing more than enough.

Perisseuō occurs 39 times and is usually translated “to abound, to be abundant, to overflow, to be more than enough.”

It was Christ’s standard practice to provide abundantly.

When 5000 men sat to eat a lunch provided by Jesus, he didn’t limit them to one fish apiece.  He generated so many loaves and fish that the disciples picked up twelve baskets of surplus, “more than enough” food (John 6:12).

He repeated the miracle with 4000 diners, and once again He gave them more than enough.  There were seven large baskets of leftovers (Matthew 15:37).

It is God’s nature to give far more than the minimum required.

Our sins are forgiven because He lavished the riches of His grace on us (Ephesians 1:7-8).  We must not imagine that He grudgingly gave us a teaspoon of grace; He pours out a river of mercy.

We may fear that we do not have what it takes to live for Christ – and that’s true.  We quickly come to the end of our own resources.  But the Christian life is not a matter of us drawing strength from our own stores.  He intends to fill us with His love and joy so that we can overflow into the lives of others.

Notice the two verbs in Romans 15:13.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing . . .

That you may abound [perisseuō] in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

First God fills the cup with joy and peace so that it will overflow, spilling His hope into the lives of others.  God is the source of hope, and the Holy Spirit is the source of power.  The Christian life is not a matter of rationing the gallon of water in our jug; it is a matter of connecting to the faucet where an endless supply of water comes from the reservoir.

We can overflow with love (Philippians 1:9).

We can overflow with joy (Philippians 1:26).

We can abound in grace (2 Corinthians 4:15).

We can abound in thankfulness (Colossians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 9:12).

We can overflow with good works because we have the hope of Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:58).

No one goes hungry at God’s house, because He loves not only to supply our daily need, but also to fill our hearts with enough to share with those around us.

Study Hint:

We just sampled a few uses of perisseuō, but you can take the study further by looking at some of the other references.  For instance:

Luke 21:4 – The widow donated everything she had, in contrast to the rich men who gave “out of their surplus.”

2 Corinthians 8:2 –  The Greek churches gave generously – not as a token from their surplus wealth, but as the overflow of joyful hearts.

Check a concordance or Blue Letter Bible for a complete listing.




Q – 1 Timothy 3:8-13 lists the qualifications for the office of deacon.  In the middle of that passage, vrse 11 gives requirements for women.  Is this verse talking about the wives of the deacons or is Paul talking about the office of deaconess?

A – People have argued about this for centuries and I can’t solve it with a single “magic bullet” of Greek grammar.  But here’s what is going on in the Greek text.

  • The word “deacon” in verse 1 is diakonos, which has two possible meanings: it can mean “helper, servant” or it can describe the church office of deacon.
  • Unlike most nouns, diakonos may be either masculine or feminine. It is used to describe Phoebe as a [female] server/”deacon” In Romans 16:1.
  • The word “woman” in verse 11 is gunaikos, which has two possible meanings: “wife” or “woman.”

Therefore, the Greek grammar leaves room for either explanation of this verse.  Romans 16 shows that there is such a thing as a female diakonos.  And 1 Timothy 3:11 could refer to wives or to women servers.  You have to decide on the basis of the context.

Personally, I lean toward the idea that it is talking about a church “office” of deaconess.  If Paul was simply saying that the wife of a deacon should meet certain qualifications, why didn’t he make a similar requirement for the wives of elders?  Good character is just as important for the wife of an elder.


Coming Up

In the United States, we are celebrating the Fourth of July as Independence Day.  It is a natural time to look at the Greek word for citizenship – both our earthly citizenship and our heavenly citizenship.

©Ezra Project 2021

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