Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The ubiquitous particle παρα (para) means on the side of or next to. It expresses immediate vicinity or proximity, either in a static sense (usually expressing affinity) or in the sense of this vicinity getting less approximate (expressing either origin or alienation). It very often appears prefixed to another word, but independently it occurs 200 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
It's tempting to think of our prefix as expressing a motion to do with elevation (possibly lured by the word parachute and the perceived equivalence of words like paranormal and supernormal) but that's certainly not implied. Our prefix expresses nearness, which is a good thing when virtue extends into the environs (nearness to God is a good thing) but which is a bad thing when pinpoint precision is essential (nearness to obeying a rule equals violating that rule).
In the New Testament the usages of our word fall into the following categories, brought about by the grammatical cases:
- With the genitive and applied to a person, indicating that something proceeds from that person (Matthew 21:42, Mark 8:11, Luke 2:1).
- With the dative, and again nearly always applied to persons, indicating nearness in space (Matthew 21:25, 1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Peter 2:11).
- With the accusative, resulting in answering questions like: where? where from? (Matthew 4:18, Mark 2:13, Luke 8:5). It may result in a statement of comparison: more than (Romans 14:5), almost (Luke 5:7), or causality: because of (1 Corinthians 12:15), or adversative: contrary to (Romans 16:17), or subtracting: less (2 Corinthians 11:24)
Combined with nouns and verbs, this particle occurs as prefix in an enormous list of compound words. Note that the familiar noun παραδεισος (paradeisos), meaning paradise, isn't constructed from our particle para but is a Persian loan-word related to περι (peri), meaning abundance.