Word of the Week
February 3, 2024
Trechō: Running Hard
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 NASB
My 4-year-old grandson wondered, “Grandpa, why do you always move so slow?”
Little boys are always on the run, so it was hard for him to imagine how much work it takes to get an aged body up to running speed.
I’ve never been fast. Even when I was young, an 8-minute mile was the best I could do. And now I only run when there is a very good reason for it!
Most of the time, you can get anywhere you need to go at a steady walking pace. However, there are times when you need to kick into a higher gear and start running. Maybe you’re trying to catch your dog – or a runaway kid. Perhaps you’re trying to raise money by running at a charity event. Or you are simply aiming to raise your heart rate to enhance your exercise program.
People broke into a run in the world of the New Testament as well, and we can learn some practical life lessons by tracing the Greek word for “run” in its pages.
“Run” in Greek is trechō, which occurs 20 times in the New Testament. There is no mystery about the meaning of the word. It simply means to move forward rapidly, with maximum effort – not a leisurely stroll, but an arm-pumping charge at full speed.
In the Gospels, the word describes a literal, physical dash, and it is fascinating to look at each case, asking, “Why were they running?”
- When a demon-possessed man saw Jesus approaching, he ran up and bowed down before Him (Mark 5:6). The demons recognized that they were in danger because the Master had arrived, so they dashed to Him to plead for leniency. Moments later, He expelled them and sent them into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:6).
- As Jesus hung on the cross, He shouted, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” (“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.”). One of the bystanders ran to fetch a sponge dipped in sour wine and brought it to give Him a drink (Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36). Like paramedic moving quickly to aid a person in distress, this fellow hurried to take action.
- The bankrupt, miserable prodigal son had decided to go back home, not expecting a warm welcome. However, the father saw him in the distance approaching, and ran to embrace and kiss him (Luke 15:20). In the ancient Middle East, older men never They always moved at a dignified pace. Yet this father was willing to look ridiculous because his son was back! He couldn’t wait to engulf him in his embrace.
- There was much running at the resurrection of Jesus! The women who came to the tomb Sunday morning found an angel who announced that the Lord was alive. They had trudged to the tomb in sorrow, but they left quickly and ran to tell the disciples (Matthew 28:8; John 20:2). When Peter and John got the news, they sprinted to the tomb to see for themselves, running together (John 20:4). No time for casual investigations; they had to move now!
The rest of the New Testament uses trechō to describe the races we run in life, often using comparisons with the ancient Olympic games that were so popular in that culture. The Olympics, and other similar athletic competitions, featured several running events – from a 200-meter sprint the length of the stadium to an endurance race equivalent to a modern 5K race. There was even one race where the athletes had to run 600 meters wearing 50 pounds of armor!
- Paul described his ministry of spreading the gospel to Gentiles as a race . In Galatians 2:2, he mentions that he once visited the leaders of the Jerusalem church in an effort to ensure that his long race was not going to be in vain.
- He also used the image of running to describe the way the churches of Galatia were growing and maturing in their faith until they were tripped up by false teachers (Galatians 5:7).
- The apostle used the stadium races as an illustration of Christian life and ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, where he urges us to run purposely, to run according to the rules, and to run for the victor’s prize.
- He paints the same picture in Philippians 2:16, committing himself to faithfulness so that he will know that he did not run in vain when he reaches the finish line at the day of Christ.
- The writer of Hebrews takes us to the stadium, with crowds in the stands watching us. Take off everything that hinders you from running well, and then run the long race with endurance. Don’t give up before the end!
It may seem that you are running a marathon, with the hard miles seeming to stretch out endlessly ahead of you. The Lord says, “Keep running to the end!”
You may be in a situation that calls for an extra burst of intensity, like the finish line of a 100-yard dash. You may not think you can push any harder, but the Spirit of God can provide the boost needed to push a little harder.
And when you have reached the finish line, the victor’s celebration will be worth it all.
You can expand this study by going to the Old Testament passages that describe runners. The Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, uses trechō 60 times for everything from Elijah’s run (1 Kings 18:46) to the way God’s Word runs swiftly to accomplish its purpose (Psalm 147:15). This is an uncomplicated concept and you can approximate the Old Testament study by simply using a concordance to look up the English word “run.”
Word Study Micro-Course
We learned last week that the first stage of a Greek word study is finding all the meanings that the word can have.
There are two ways you can do this: (1) Borrow the work of a professional, or (2) Do it yourself.
Let’s talk about the first option. You can borrow the work of professional Greek scholars by looking up a Greek word in a concordance or Bible study software.
First, let’s talk about two traditional tools.
- For decades, Bible students have used Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to jump start their word study. Strong’s has a system that allows you to look up any English word in Scripture and get a key number that guides you to locate the Greek word in a dictionary at the back of the volume.
- Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament has also been around forever. It allows you to look up an English word and find articles on all the Greek words that are used to translate that English word.
You do not need to know the Greek alphabet or anything about Greek to use these books. They are readily available in various editions, and you can often find a cheap used copy. Strong’s is also included in many Bible study software packages.
The only limitation is that both of these books are based on the King James Version of the Bible.
Similar concordances are also available for the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version.
Second, you can use electronic tools. We will show you two useful options next week.
This week we learned how to run. Next week we will learn about the Greek word for “walk.” Stay tuned for a discussion of the most common daily activity.
©Ezra Project 2024