Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The important verb γινομαι (ginomai) means to be, begin to be, or begin to be in a certain state or condition. It's distinguished from the verb ειμι (eimi), meaning to be, in that the latter expresses a mere existence and the former explicitly the beginning of it; a coming into being. It lives on in the English language in words such as gene, generation and to generate.
Note the similarity between our verb γινομαι (ginomai) and the noun γυνη (gune), meaning woman or wife, but probably more so with the verb γινωσκω (ginosko), meaning to know. These similarities seem to suggest that homo sapiens indeed becomes what he knows.
The verb γινομαι (ginomai) is used in the sense of to be born (John 8:58), or to descend from (Romans 1:3), the production of fruits and plants (Matthew 21:19), the coming about of natural phenomena (Matthew 8:24), or of day or night (Matthew 14:15, Acts 27:27).
It may denote a coming about by agency: to create (John 1:3, Acts 19:26), to perform (a miracle; Matthew 11:20), to promise (Acts 26:6), or to become something (1 Corinthians 1:30). It may imply a pending result, a having to take place (Matthew 1:22) or happen (Luke 14:12). And it may imply a change of state (Matthew 4:3), or location (Acts 20:16).
This dominant verb is used a formidable 677 times, see full concordance, and as to be expected comes with an impressive array of derivations:
- The noun γενεα (genea) originally means generation or genealogical descent (Matthew 1:17, Acts 8:33), but in the New Testament it's predominantly used as an indicator of a time period (Matthew 11:16, Luke 16:8, Hebrews 3:10). This noun occurs 42 times, see full concordance, and yields the following derivations:
- Together with the verb λεγω (lego), meaning to relate: the verb γενεαλογεω (genealogeo), meaning to be reckoned in a genealogy (Hebrews 7:6 only). This verb in turn yields:
- The noun γενετη (genete), meaning generation or birth (John 9:1 only).
- The noun γενεσις (genesis), literally meaning origin (Matthew 1:1) or original/natural (James 1:23 and 3:6). This word occurs only these three times in the New Testament but also serves as the Greek title of the first book of the Bible. From this noun come:
- The noun γενος (genos), meaning offspring, posterity, family or stock. This noun occurs 21 times, see full concordance, and from it come:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective αγενης (agenes), denoting someone who is not part of an acknowledged stock; a homeless bum in the genealogical sense: the unassociated (1 Corinthians 1:28 only).
- Together with the adjective αλλος (allos), meaning another: the adjective αλλογενης (allogenes), meaning from another family or race; a stranger or foreigner (Luke 17:18 only).
- The verb γενναω (gennao), meaning either to beget, to bear, or to be born. It's used 96 times, see full concordance, and from it come:
- Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on or upon: the verb αναγενναω (anagennao), meaning to beget again, to regenerate (1 Peter 1:3 and 1:23 only).
- The noun γεννημα (gennema), meaning that which was born or produced. This noun is used 9 times; see full concordance.
- The noun γεννησις (gennesis), meaning birth (Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:14 only).
- The adjective γεννητος (gennetos), meaning born or brought fort (Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28 only). This adjective yields:
- Together with the adverb αρτι (arti), meaning now: the adjective αρτιγεννητος (artigennetos), meaning new-born (1 Peter 2:2 only).
- The adjective γνησιος (gnesios), literally meaning "born". This word was initially used to distinguish a family's biological children from adopted ones (see the noun υιοθεσια, huiothesia, meaning adoption). This word eventually came to be used to distinguish the quality of sentiments that comes from one's most intimate self rather than from an adopted norm or manner (hence our English word "genuine"). It's used 4 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- The adverb γνησιως (gnesios), meaning sincerely or intimately (Philippians 2:20 only).
- Together with the adverb ευ (eu), meaning good: the adjective ευγενης (eugenes), meaning of noble birth or high rank (Luke 19:12, Acts 17:11 and 1 Corinthians 1:26 only).
- Together with the adjective μονος (monos): the important but difficult adjective μονογενης (monogenes), meaning unique, one of a kind; the opposite of εικον, eikon; a mass-produced "icon".
Monogenes is a quality famously ascribed to Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 1:18, 3:16, 3:18, 1 John 4:9) but also to several others (the son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:12; Jairus' daughter, Luke 8:42; a demoniac boy, Luke 9:38; Isaac, Hebrews 11:17. It's used a total of 9 times; see full concordance), but the delicate nuance of the word monogenes becomes clear in Hebrews 11:17 where the author ascribes it to Isaac, who was by no means Abraham's only born son; just one of a kind.
Our core verb γινομαι (ginomai) appears to be mostly concerned with the generation of classes and stocks, and the generation of individuals within those classes or stocks. Words like αγενεαλογητος (agenealogetos) and αγενης (agenes; see above) denote a person's derogatory detachment from the class of his origin, but the word μονογενης (monogenes) describes someone who is a class of his or her own: peerless. Even Jesus is obviously not God's only son, as the Bible is riddled with references to His offspring (and also have a look at our article on the word בן, ben, meaning son):
- Adam (Luke 3:38)
- The Pre-flood Pack (Genesis 6:2)
- Israel (Exodus 4:22, Hosea 11:1); the Israelites (Isaiah 1:2, Hosea 1:10); Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:9)
- The Angelic Earth Patrol (Job 1:6)
- The pre-incarnate Messiah (Psalm 2:12)
- Everyone called by the Lord's Name (Isaiah 43:6-7)
- Peace makers (Matthew 5:9)
- The resurrected (Luke 20:36)
- Those led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14-19)
- Those who have faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26)
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together with: the adjective συγγενης (suggenes), meaning a relative or kinsman or -woman. This adjective is used 12 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The noun γονευς (goneus), meaning (either) parent. This word occurs in the New Testament only in plural, and a total of 19 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition δια (dia), meaning through: the verb διαγινομαι (diaginomai), meaning to be through (of time), to have elapsed (Mark 16:1, Acts 25:13 and 27:9 only).
- Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the verb επιγινομαι (epiginomai), meaning to arise upon, come on (of wind; Acts 28:13 only).
- Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near: the verb παραγινομαι (paraginomai), meaning to come, approach, arrive. This verb is used 37 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before: the verb προγινομαι (proginomai), meaning to be done or have been before (Romans 3:25 only). From this verb comes: