One of the interesting things about root words in the Greek is that they can be informative of how many of the Christian concepts are interrelated with each other. One such example I explored is the relationship between joy, grace, forgiveness, and charisma.

Today I was reading through Acts 7 in the Greek which is the first time idols in the New Testament are mentioned in specific form. Jesus obviously talks about idolatry (e.g. can’t serve God and Mammon) but does not specifically mention idols.

G1497 — εἴδωλον — eidōlon — i’-do-lon

From G1491; an image (that is, for worship); by implication a heathen god, or (plural) the worship of such: – idol.

An idol literally refers to an image of worship:

G1491 — εἶδος — eidos — i’-dos

From G1492; a view, that is, form (literally or figuratively): – appearance, fashion, shape, sight.

This is derived from the primary verb eidō:

G1492 — εἴδω — eidō — i’-do

A primary verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equivalent, G3700 and G3708; properly to see (literally or figuratively); by implication (in the perfect only) to know: – be aware, behold, X can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wist, wot. Compare G3700.

Eidō is used by Jesus and many other NT authors to discuss seeing and knowing the works of God and the works of man. However, that’s why eidō is not used in reference to seeing (or rather discerning) the nature of God:

1 John 4: 19We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen (horaō), how can he love God whom he hath not seen (horaō)? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

G3708 — ὁράω — horaō — hor-ah’-o

Properly to stare at (compare G3700), that is, (by implication) to discern clearly (physically or mentally); by extension to attend to; by Hebraism to experience; passively to appear: – behold, perceive, see, take heed.

That is to say that it is not only enough to know but to also experience through action. In other words, faith without works is dead.

When we walk without deliberation and spend our time and money on things that are only seen — not for the benefit of God but for ourselves — we give ourselves over to idols. We idolize that which we see rather than that which we do not see.

This is something that all Christians know but it is worth repeating.

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2 Responses to Idols

  1. Looking Glass says:

    I still find the most fascinating aspect of your slow progression through the Greek is how simple the Bible actual makes most of what God was asking of us. Granted, a lot of the confusion is cultural, but I’ve also come to appreciate JoJ’s points about any Revised Edition or later translations. We really have injected so much falsehood into Theology (and thus practice) via consistently less precise translations.

  2. donalgraeme says:

    We really have injected so much falsehood into Theology (and thus practice) via consistently less precise translations.

    That definitely seems to be the case. I’ve got a post idea concerning Ephesians 5:21 and 5:22 which focuses on that. Modern translations stick verse 21 with verse 22, but the Church fathers didn’t consider them together. Their familiarity with the greek of the Bible gave them an understanding of what was, and wasn’t, supposed to be together that we now sadly lack.

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