Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb ακολουθεω (akoloutheo) means to accompany, to travel with, but mostly in a subservient or following position. It literally means to path-join and is usually followed by the dative: to path-join to someone.
Our word is formed from the collecting α- (a-) — the same prefix of joining that forms the word αδελφος (adelphos), meaning brother, from the noun δελφυς (delphus), meaning womb. The second part of our verb comes from the noun κελευθος (keleuthos), meaning path or road but most often used to describe a much broader journey or voyage (including sea voyages). In a figurative sense this noun speaks of someone's journey through life or toward a specified goal; one's general attitudes and motivations.
The adjective ακολουθος (akolouthos) means following or attending and is used mostly substantively: follower or attendant. Our verb ακολουθεω (akoloutheo) derives from the adjective and means to go with someone, to follow or be guided by someone (or even things like stars) or to continue the course of a story. On occasion this verb is used to describe how some consequence follows some cause.
Our verb is used 92 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out or from: the verb εξακολουθεω (exakoloutheo), literally meaning to follow out; to follow while implying leaving or departing from a stationary position or previous guide (2 Peter 1:16, 2:2 and 2:15 only).
- Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the verb επακολουθεω (epakoloutheo), meaning to follow upon. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down: the verb κατακολουθεω (katakoloutheo), literally meaning to follow down but used to mean to follow after (Luke 23:55 and Acts 16:17 only). In the classics this verb is often used with the meaning of to comply with, or to follow some established philosophical authority.
- Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby: the verb παρακολουθεω (parakoloutheo), meaning to follow closely. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συνακολουθεω (sunakoloutheo), meaning to follow together or to join to follow (Mark 5:37 and Luke 23:49 only).