6 November 2012
My assigned passage for this exegetical paper is Ephesians 6:17-20. The word which I will complete a word study for is the word translated in the NIV as “given” in verse nineteen.
Word: “given” (may be given)
Text: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,”
G/K Number: 1443
Why study this word? I deliberately chose this word due to its importance in proper interpretation of this verse as well as the context at large. Other words in these verses are rather self-explanatory – they lack ambiguity – and are not as central to the text. For example, “pray”, “mouth”, “gospel”, etc. are rather self-explanatory. This particular passage seems to hinge greatly upon this particular phrase of “may be given”, for this is central to the entire verse and surrounding context.
What could this word mean (semantic range)?
a. to give, as a gift
(Matthew 5:42) “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
b. to put; to have been placed by God
(Matthew 9:8) “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
c. to grant, as a favor
(Matthew 14:11) “His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.”
d. to pay
(Matthew 16:26) “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
What does this word mean in context? As determined by the surrounding context and the context of the book, the best determination is that the word means that of definition “b”. The best way to approach this is to determine first what the word does not mean.
Within the context of this passage in Ephesians, Paul is obviously not talking about definition “d”. There is no payment for anything – no financial exchange or bargaining taking place. Paul is discussing the spiritual armor of God which we are to put on in order to win spiritual war against and over the enemy. Paul just wrapped up his list of items which we are to put on, all of which Paul uses allegorically. He talks about the “breastplate of righteousness”, the “boots (my word) of the gospel of peace”, and the “helmet of salvation”. All of these things refer to super-natural powers of the Lord given to man in order to fulfill the Great Commission. Therefore, the “giving” of payment can be ruled out. It simply does not fit into the context of the passage whatsoever.
The definition of “c” can easily be ruled out as well. This follows the same lines of the previous discussion of definition “d”. God is supernaturally imparting gifts into man, and therefore there is no granting of favors. Man is certainly not granting God any favors, and, while God could be seen as granting man a favor, the definition is certainly much deeper than this. As we can see from the remaining definitions, this definition does not do justice to the depths of this supernatural impartation. It is much more than a favor, and other definitions are certainly more suitable.
We are now left with definitions “a” and “b”. This word likely means either to give as a gift, or something that has been placed by God. Perhaps these definitions could be viewed as interchangeable. The spiritual gifts discussed in Romans and 1 Corinthians could certainly be considered as gifts that have been placed there by God. However, “The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance” makes a clear distinction between the two. These two definitions are the most often used when the word “didōmi” is used in Greek. Given the context of supernatural impartations by God into man, I would determine that definition “b” is better suited here than definition “a”. God “puts” or places these gifts into man more so than simply gifting him with them. This is what Paul means when he says that “utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth”. Paul is asking that their prayer would be that God would supernaturally put or place in him the right words at the right time. Paul understands that “making known the mystery of the gospel” is something that he himself cannot accomplish. Therefore, he asks the believers in Ephesus to pray this prayer: that God would supernaturally impart into him the right words.
NG, LR, & NCU
My collection of personal papers written over the years