Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The familiar preposition προ (pro) means before (hence words like prophet and proactive), and is not to be confused with προς (pros), which describes a motion towards (hence words like proselyte and prosody). It's cognate with the Latin prefix prae (as in the name Praetorium).
Our preposition is used in spatial and temporal sense, taking on the meanings of "in front of" and "earlier", and is as such the opposite of μετα (meta), meaning in the middle. It may also be used to describe pre-eminence in rank, status, power, virtue, etcetera (most gracefully: προ παντον, pro panton, before everything, or above all — 1 Peter 4:8).
The list of compounds that contain our preposition is enormous, but the true derivations of προ (pro) are:
- The adverb πρωι (proi), meaning early [in the morning] (Matthew 16:3, John 20:1). The gospel of Mark uses this word as metonym for the morning watch (Mark 13:5). From this word derive:
- The adjective πρωιος (proios), denoting the early morning (Matthew 21:18, John 18:28).
- The adjective πρωιμος (proimos), meaning early. This word occurs in James 5:7 only, where it does not refer to an early time of day but in the year.
- The adjective πρωινος (proinos), meaning early morning. This word is used only of the morning star (Revelation 2:28 and 22:16), see our article on the name Lucifer.
- The adjective and superlative of προ (pro), namely πρωτοσ (protos), meaning "firstest" or very first; foremost. It's used in the New Testament in the sense of first of all (Ephesians 6:2, 1 Timothy 5:12), or even "one of the very first ones" (Matthew 20:8, 26:17). This word became a sort of title for high ranking officials (Mark 6:21, Acts 13:50). This word is incorporated in half a dozen compound words, but a true derivation is:
- The adverb πρωτον (proton), meaning first (Matthew 17:10, John 18:13), the first place/time (1 Corinthians 11:18, 1 Peter 4:17) or chiefly, especially (Matthew 6:33, Romans 3:2).