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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: επω

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/e/e-p-om.html

επω

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

επω

The verb επω (epo) means to say, and is an etymological sibling of the verb φημι (phemi). Both stem from the arch-verb φαω (phao), meaning to emit (light or sound), and both have to do with communication. Because Koine Greek was the Esperanto of the late Greek world — combining the various dialects into a verbal tapestry — it sometimes happens that particular verbs were attached to particular tenses. Our verb επω (epo) governed the second aorist (an aorist is neither present, past nor future but simply states the action no matter when; the first or second aorist refers to a formal paradigm and doesn't affect the meaning). When contexts required verbal tenses that emphasized time, the verb φημι (phemi) was used; but see our article on that verb for a closer look.

Our verb επω (epo), meaning to say, relates to the verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak, pretty much in the same way as do our English verbs "to say" and "to speak". Where λεγω (lego) describes mostly the verbal presentation of a previously established point of view (to proclaim or pronounce something), our verb επω (epo) describes the verbal economy of conversation (to say or talk about something). Thirdly, the verb λαλεω (laleo) mostly describes the actual act of talking and the social bonding that happens along with it.

As could be expected from the amount of talking that goes on in he New Testament, our verb επω (epo) is one of the most plentiful verbs of the New Testament (it occurs 974 times, see full concordance, versus the 1343 times of λεγω, lego). But it strikingly yields far less derivations than does the verb λεγω (lego):

  • Together with the common preposition αντι (anti), meaning over or against: the verb αντεπω (antepo), meaning to talk against. It's used only once in the New Testament, namely in Luke 21:15.
  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb απειπον (apeipon) literally meaning to talk from. In the classics this "talking from" or "talking because of" usually describes a talking that is the result of something displeasing to the speaker — in which case our verb is synonymous with "to talk against" or "to renounce" — but its most proper usage (namely simply talking because something compels the speaker to) occurs often enough to not regard this verb as obvious synonym. Our word occurs only once in the Bible, in 2 Corinthians 4:2, where Paul speaks of "speaking from" things hidden "because of shame". Translators commonly assume that Paul is speaking against such things (because he's ashamed), but it may very well be that these things were hidden because of shameless stupidity, but now spoken of with inspired boldness by Paul and friends (see 2 Corinthians 3:12 and our article on the noun μυστηριον, musterion, meaning mystery). In fact, Paul so much emphasizes the wholesale freedom we have in Christ (Galatians 5:1) that his proposed relapse into generalization and faultfinding is rather a tall order.
  • The noun επος (epos), which is this verb's answer to the much more common noun λογος (logos), which means "word" in the sense of a whole message (hence the -logy part of our modern terms that describe scientific disciplines). Our noun επος (epos) means "word" in the sense of a linguistic element: the things sentences are made from. In the sense of "wordy" (lots of words) our noun came to denote the lengthy epic poem we still call "epos" today. In the Bible it occurs only once. In Hebrews 7:9 the author combines our noun with its parent verb to create a colloquialism that literally means "to say a word", and is commonly interpreted as our English expression "so to speak". From our word derive:
    • Together with the widely attested Proto-Indo-European root "ne" (hence our word "no"), the adjective νηπιος (nepios), literally meaning "wordless" or rather "talk-less". In Greek literature this word commonly denotes a pre-speech child, but sometimes also, curiously, young animals and on rare occasions even plants. Adding to the confusion is the particle νη (ne), which commonly denotes strong affirmation in stead of negation, but it may be that the implied meaning of our word νηπιος (nepios) was lubricated by this word's similarity with the adjectives νεοφυης (neophues), meaning new grown, or νεοφυτος (neophutos), meaning newly planted (hence our word "neophyte"). Our word is also commonly applied to people who display silly or childish behavior, which, one would assume, is often typically demonstrated by silly or childish things uttered (or rather more precise: a disturbing failure to comply with verbal convention; "to speak like a child" — 1 Corinthians 13:11). The core idea of this word is therefore not a being mute but rather a being immature and thus still growing, and it this sense that Jesus' uses in the often misquoted "You hid these things from the wise but revealed them to immatures" (Matthew 11:25). Where Gnosticism demands that wisdom is the static result of certain knowledge, the Bible obviously states that it comes with a certain dynamic attitude toward learning (Psalm 111:10). In the Bible our word occurs 14 times, 14 times; see full concordance, and from it in turn comes:
      • The verb νηπιαζω (nepiazo), meaning to be like a νηπιος (nepios). This powerful verb is used only once, in 1 Corinthians 14:20, where Paul exhorts his audience to be mature in the mind but νηπιαζω (nepiazo) in malice — that is existing at a level below the level upon which malice can be formally expressed and defined; existing without even contemplating malice (also see Romans 16:19).
  • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before: the verb προειπον (proeipon), literally meaning to talk or say before; to have talked about, to have already said or to have foretold. This verb is used only three times in the New Testament: Acts 1:16, Galatians 5:21 and 1 Thessalonians 4:6.