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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: αρχη
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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

αρχη  αρχι

The two words αρχη (arche) and αρχι (archi-) are related in origin and meaning. But where αρχη (arche) is a noun, αρχι (archi-) is an inseparable prefix. The root of these words lives on in English in words such as arch-father, archaeology and archaic:


αρχη

The noun αρχη (arche) means beginning. It comes with the verb αρχω (archo), which means to begin (see below). Our noun occurs frequently in the Bible. It may be used to describe the beginning of time (John 1:1) or an era (Matthew 24:8). It may refer to a point in time at which a series of events began (Luke 1:2), or when an effort was started and maintained throughout (John 8:25). Our word may refer to rank and preeminence: he of firstness or a chief (Colossians 1:18, Luke 20:20, Jude 1:6), and even to the extremity of a sheet (Acts 10:11). In Romans 8:38 our word in plural is juxtaposed by the word for angels and is and commonly interpreted as some kind of super-angelic rank. The NIV says 'demons', but that's not implied; most other translations read 'rulers'.

This noun's derivatives are:

  • The adjective αρχαιος (archaios), meaning old or that which (or whom) has been around since the beginning (Revelation 12:9) or a beginning (Acts 21:16).
  • Together with the verb αγω (ago), meaning to lead or carry along: the noun αρχηγος (archegos), meaning originator, founder or leader. Jesus is the archegos of life (Acts 3:15) and of faith (Hebrews 12:2). In Acts 5:31, Peter calls Him the archegos and savior of Israel.
  • The verb αρχω (archo), which originally meant to begin but which in the New Testament is used only in the sense of to be first in rank, and thus to rule or govern (Mark 10:42, Romans 15:12). This important verb obviously comes with quite a few derivations of its own:
    • The verb αρχομαι (archomai), meaning to begin (Matthew 4:17, Luke 3:23, Acts 1:1), to start doing something (Mark 6:7, Luke 3:8). Our verb may also be used to indicate a point of beginning (Matthew 20:8, Acts 1:22). This verb in turn yields:
      • Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the noun απαρχη (aparche), denoting the first batch of fruits of the harvest (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:20).
      • Together with the preposition εν (en), meaning in, on, at: the verb εναρχομαι (enarchomai), meaning to make a beginning or commence (Galatians 3:3, Philippians 1:6).
    • The participle αρχων (archon), meaning a ruler: a chief, magistrate or prince (Matthew 9:34, John 14:30, Revelation 1:5). This participle occurs all over the Bible and yields:
      • Together with the familiar noun αγγελος (aggelos), meaning messenger or angel: the noun αρχαγγελος (archaggelos), meaning archangel; a chief or ruler of regular angels (Luke 1:19, Revelation 8:2).
    • Together with ασια (Asia), Asia: the noun ασιαρχης (Asiarches), literally meaning Asia-ruler; a chief of Asia (Acts 19:31 only).
    • Together with εθνος (ethnos), meaning people or race: the noun εθναρχης (ethnarches), meaning an ethnarch, a ruler of the people (2 Corinthians 11:32 only).
    • Together with εκατον (hekaton), meaning a hundred: the noun εκατονταρχης (hekatontarches) or εκατονταρχος (hekatontarchos), meaning a hundred-ruler or centurion (Matthew 8:5, Luke 7:2, Acts 10:1).
    • Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the noun επαρχια (eparchia), meaning province, or the area that an eparchos or "ruler-over" would govern (Acts 23:34 and 25:1).
    • Together with the verb πειθω (peitho), in this case meaning to obey: the verb πειθαρχεω (peitharcheo), meaning to obey someone with authority (Acts 5:29, Titus 3:1).
    • Together with πολις (polis), meaning city: the noun πολιταρχης (politarches), meaning a city-ruler; a prefect or magistrate (Acts 17:6 and 17:8 only).
    • Together with στρατοπεδον (stratopedon), literally meaning army-field, denoting a military encampment: the noun στρατοπεδαρχης (stratopedarches), denoting a military camp commander (Acts 28:16 only).
    • Together with τετρα (tetra), meaning four: the noun τετραρχης (tetrarches), meaning tetrarch; a ruler over a fourth of a province or district (Matthew 14:1, Luke 3:19, Acts 13:1). This noun comes with:
      • The verb τετραρχεω (tetrarcheo), meaning to be a tetrarch (Luke 3:1 only).
    • Together with υπο (hupo), meaning under, beneath, through: the verb υπαρχω (huparcho), meaning to be (Luke 8:41, Acts 2:30), to live (Luke 7:25, Acts 5:4) or to exist (Acts 19:40, 1 Corinthians 11:18). This verb appears to emphasize existence under a certain principle condition, or even because of that certain principle, but this clause is so weak that it often functions as poetic synonym of the more common verb ειμι (eimi), meaning to be. Frequently this verb describes the "things that are" to someone: his possessions (Luke 12:33, Acts 3:6). Our verb in turn yields:
      • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before, in front of: the verb προυπαρχω (prouparcho), meaning to be or exist prior or to precede in time (Luke 23:12).
      • The noun υπαρξις (huparxis), which in the New Testament denotes someone's property (singular) or possessions (plural) or substance; that which exists to uphold someone (Acts 2:45, Hebrews 10:34).
      • The plural participle υπαρχοντα (huparchonta), meaning substances or possessions (Matthew 19:21, Luke 8:3, Acts 4:32).
    • Together with χιλιοι (chilioi), meaning a thousand: the noun χιλιαρχος (chiliarchos), meaning a (military) thousand-ruler (Mark 6:21, John 18:12, Revelation 6:15)
  • Together with πατρια (patria), meaning patriarchal lineage: the familiar noun πατριαρχης (patriarches), meaning patriarch (Acts 2:29, Acts 7:8, Hebrews 7:4).
αρχι

Related to the noun αρχη (arche) is the inseparable prefix αρχι (archi-) of similar meaning. In the New Testament it occurs in the following compound words:

  • Together with ιερευς (hierus), meaning a sacred one or priest: the noun αρχιερευς (archiereus), meaning chief priest or high-priest (Matthew 26:3, John 7:32, Hebrews 2:17). This noun yields:
    • The adjective αρχιερατικος (archieratikos), meaning pertaining or belonging to the high-priest (Acts 4:6 only).
  • Together with ποιμην (poimen), meaning shepherd: the noun αρχιποιμην (archipoimen), meaning chief-shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
  • Together with συναγωγη (sunagoge), meaning synagogue or assembly: the noun αρχισυναγωγος (archisunagogos), meaning synagogue-ruler or elder (Matthew 5:22, Luke 8:49, Acts 13:15).
  • Together with τεκτων (tekton), meaning a worker or artificer: the familiar noun αρχιτεκτων (architekton), meaning chief of the workmen or artificers; an architect (1 Corinthians 3:10 only).
  • Together with τελωνης (telones), meaning tax-collector: the noun αρχιτελωνης (architelones), meaning chief tax-collector (Luke 19:2 only).
  • Together with τρι (tri), meaning three, and κλινη (kline), meaning couch or recliner, which form the curious word triklinos, denoting the attendant of a small cluster of seats (one table) in a larger gathering; a waiter. Prefixed with αρχι (archi-), this word forms the noun αρχιτρικλινος (architriklinos), which denotes the chief steward or maitre-d' (John 2:8-9 only).

Associated Biblical names

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