Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The familiar noun πατηρ (pater) means father. Though from the ancient Proto-Indo-European root pater-, its etymology is obscure but it's possibly onomatopoeic after baby babble, and is among the oldest words still in use in the world. It's cognate with Sanskrit pitar, Latin pater, German Vater and English "father". Its parental counterpart is μητηρ (meter), and see our article on that word for a closer look at the meaning of family relations.
The word πατηρ (pater) predominantly denotes the male parent but is not limited to this. In fact, English words that contain the word "father" derive from the idea of the male parent, but in older languages the idea of the male parent stems from a more general idea, and that more general idea is called πατηρ (pater) or אב ('ab) in Hebrew (which is possibly also cognate).
In the Bible, the word πατηρ (pater) denotes the biological male parent (Matthew 2:22) or the legal male parent (Luke 2:48). It may denote a remote ancestor (Matthew 3:9) and the plural may denote collective ancestors (Matthew 23:30). Our word may also denote the long gone instigator of a modus operandi or conviction (Romans 4:11, John 8:38) or a present tutor (1 Corinthians 4:15) or the respected older generation within a mixed group (Acts 7:2, 1 John 2:13).
Obviously, this word is also often used for God (Matthew 6:9), which reveals one of the characteristics by which Judeo-Christian world views differ from others. No other religion sees God as an intimate father figure the way the Jews and Christians do.
The noun πατηρ (pater) occurs 417 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from this word come the following derivations:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a): the noun απατωρ (apator), meaning fatherless. This word is used only once, in Hebrews 7:3, where it is applied to Melchizedek.
- Together with the otherwise unused verb αλοιαω (aloiao), meaning to thresh: the noun πατραλωας (patraloas), meaning one who murders his father (1 Timothy 1:9 only). This word is comparable with μητραλωας (metraloas), meaning mother-smiter (also 1 Timothy 1:9 only).
- The noun πατρια (patria), meaning patrilineage (Luke 2:4) or race (Acts 3:25). Our word occurs a third time in the New Testament, namely in Ephesians 3:15, where it appears to describe the whole "patrilineage" of creation. From this noun comes:
- The adjective πατρικος (patrikos), meaning paternal (Galatians 1:14 only).
- The noun πατρις (patris), meaning fatherland. In the New Testament this term mostly refers to the relatively small region of one's origin: a town and its direct environs. It occurs 8 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the verb παραδιδωμι (paradidomi), meaning to deliver over: the adjective πατροποραδοτος (patroparadotos), meaning handed down from the fathers: tradition (1 Peter 1:18 only).
- The adjective πατρωος (patroos), meaning paternal or patrimonial in the possessive sense: belonging to the father or hereditary (Acts 22:3, 24:14 and 28:17 only).