Problems? Email Us!
Date sent:       Wed, 05 Jan 2000 08:07:30 -0500
From:            Eric Weiss <>
To:              "NETchurch Mailing List" <>
Subject:         [netchurch] apostle
Send reply to:   "NETchurch Mailing List" <>

I don't remember if NETChurch or just Teri had a discussion of "apostle" but the following excerpt is relevant:

"Compounds in NT Greek can tempt us to fall into the same problem when we seek an etymology based upon morphological elements. In this way APOSTOLOS is usually explained directly from its morphology as one who is sent out, from APO + STELLW. Though 'send out' could be thought of as ONE aspect of APOSTOLOS, it is in no way the focal point. The entire article on 'Apostle' in Pop (1964 - Pop, F.J., 'Bijbelse woorden en hun Geheim'. The Hague: Boekencentrum) is based on the notion that everything that can be said about APOSTOLOS centers on the concept of 'the one sent.' This is again based on the untenable assumption that the form of a word must be directly related to its meaning - and consequently the focus of a word is neglected! The word APOSTOLOS is semantically nearer to AGGELOS 'messenger' than to APOSTELLW 'send out.' Hastings's 'Dictionary of the Bible' puts it correctly as 'the proper meaning of APOSTOLOS is an ambassador, who not only carries a message like an AGGELOS, but also represents the sender.' In other words, 'a special messenger, a representative' is closer to the meaning of APOSTOLOS than 'one sent out.' 'Special messenger' provides the focal point while 'one sent out' acts as an implicational element in the background. As such 'one sent out' may have a role, but definitely not the dominant one. The basic principle involved is that of the progression from meaning to form; not from form to meaning. That is to say, from the meaning 'special messenger' we can progress to APOSTOLOS as the term used to signify this meaning, but we cannot 'analyze' the constituent parts of APOSTOLOS and think that the sum total of the data provides the MEANING of APOSTOLOS."

SEMANTICS OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK, J.P. Louw, Scholars Press, Atlanta, Georgia. (c) 1982
The Society of Biblical Literature.
(quote from Chapter 4 - "Etymology")

The above is an excellent, widely-recommended book to read re: translation principles and word meanings (you will likely throw away many of your Bible "word-study" books after reading it, though!), and relates somewhat to our previous discussion re: knowing Greek. Much of the book can be understood by the intelligent English reader, though there are parts that require some knowledge of Greek (English translations are given for most Greek words, however).


Eric S. Weiss

My thanks to Eric for answering my question on this and giving me permission to host it on our site!

To HarvestNET Teachings page To HarvestNET Apostles page

JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic