Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
ος η ο
In Greek the relative pronoun (meaning "that/who/which") comes in as many guises as the definite article (meaning "the") because it follows the gender, case and number of the clause it marks ("write down the things that are", Revelation 1:19). Four of these forms of the relative pronoun are identical to four forms of the definite article (when we disregard the accents of later Greek notations), namely ο, η, οι and αι. The form ου also serves as particle of negation.
Jesus famously referred to himself as the alpha and omega, and subsequently explained that to mean that He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8, 21:6 and 22:13, see Isaiah 48:12). But as simple as this may sound, it really isn't. The alpha and the omega are the first and last letters of the alphabet but nothing really begins or ends with them, or stems from and terminates with them. These two letters are not part of some process, and within the written language (with which data is actually conferred) these two letters are simply just that: two arbitrary letters.
Here at Abarim Publications we roguishly surmise that these famous alpha-omega references of Jesus don't refer to the alphabet in some poetic way but rather to the relative pronouns belonging to the nominative plural (α, or alpha) and the dative single (ω, or omega): I am the many unto the one (Romans 8:29), not simply the leader of many followers but an entity who is both expressed in the form of a single human male and in the form of a large group of people. He is both the first form (the one) and the last form (the many that follow from the one) in the same way a seed and the tree that comes from it are the same one (Matthew 13:31-32).
The relative pronoun is used 1416 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, in any of the following forms in which it appears in Koine Greek:
The nominative single form of our relative pronoun comes from a handful direct and indirect derivatives:
- The relative adverb ως (hos), meaning "as/so as/as like" derives directly from ος (hos), meaning "that/who/which". It's used 498 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. In the average Greek dictionary, this particle comes with half a dozen columns of nuances, tie-ins with other particles to create terms and phrases, and usages that elude the parallels in English — sometimes our word marks emphasis, "how verily!", sometimes conjecture or approximation, "roughly so/somewhat like" — but mostly our word works the same as in English. From this word in turn come:
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon (or rather: according to): the adverb καθως (kathos), meaning accordingly. This adverb occurs 182 times, see full concordance, but follow the link to our article on κατα (kata) for some additional variations.
- Together with αυτος (autos), expressing sameness: the adverb ωσαυτως (hosautos), meaning in the same manner. This word occurs 18 times; see full concordance.
- Together with ει (ei), meaning if: the adverb ωσει (hosei), meaning as if, as though. This word occurs 33 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the particle περ (per), which expresses entirety: the adverb ωσπερ (hosper), meaning wholly as, entirely like. This word occurs 42 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn comes:
- Together with ει (ei), meaning if: the adverb ωσπερει (hosperei), meaning wholly as if, just as it were (1 Corinthians 15:8 only).
- Together with the enclitic particle τε (te), which serves to tie words or clauses closer together: the conjunction ωστε (hoste), meaning so that, accordingly. This word occurs 83 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the particle περ (per), which expresses entirety: the emphatic relative pronoun οσπερ (hosper), meaning something like "who indeed" or "the very one" (Mark 15:6 only).
- Together with the interrogative pronoun τις (tis), meaning who/which/what?: the indefinite relative pronoun οστις (hostis), meaning something in between a somewhat specific "who/those who" and a more vague "whoever, whatever, anyone who". This word occurs 142 times; see full concordance.
- Originally the neutral form of οστις (hostis): the conjunction οτι (hoti), which either serves as a demonstrative meaning that (Matthew 3:9, John 3:19, Romans 2:3), or a causal meaning because (Matthew 13:13, 2 Corinthians 11:11, Galatians 1:6). This word occurs 1288 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it in turn comes: