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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: φερω
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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

φερω

The verb φερω (phero) primarily means to bring, and as such can be often translated with to carry or convey. It may denote the carrying of a burden or the endurance of some ordeal (Romans 9:22, Hebrews 12:20), or even the burden of command or the holding of some office (Hebrews 1:3).

But our verb usually simply means to bring something along or towards some place or person (Mark 6:28, Luke 23:26, Acts 5:16).

On occasion our verb is used in slightly unexpected ways. It may describe a pointing finger or reaching hand (John 20:27), a voice carrying words (2 Peter 1:17), or a field or tree yielding produce (Mark 4:8, John 12:24).

Our verb's direct derivatives are:

  • The verb φορεω (phoreo), meaning to bear or to wear (Matthew 11:8, John 19:5, Romans 13:4). Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary) explains that this verb implies "the repetition or continuance of the simple action expressed by phero."
  • The noun φορος (phoros), denoting that what is borne or brought. It specifically denotes a tax on travelers (Luke 20:22, Romans 13:6).
  • The noun φορτος (portos), denoting the freight of a ship (Acts 27:10). This noun yields the following derivatives:
    • The verb φορτιζω (phortizo), meaning to overload or burden heavily (Matthew 11:28, Luke 11:46).
    • The noun φορτιον (phortion), denoting the various goods carried by a ship (Matthew 11:30, Luke 11:46). This noun is a diminutive form to distinguish it from φορτος (portos), which denotes a ship's total freight.

In Latin this verb exists as fero, meaning the same.


Biblical compound derivations that contain φερω (phero) are:
  • The verb αναφερω (anaphero), which consists of (1) the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on or upon, and (2) our verb φερω (phero). It means to carry up or bear (Matthew 17:1, Hebrews 7:27, 1 Peter 2:24).
  • The verb αποφερω (apophero), which consists of (1) the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to carry away (Mark 15:1, Luke 16:22).
  • The verb αποφορτιζομαι (apophortizomai), which consists of (1) the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from, and (2) the verb φορτιζω (phortizo). It means to unload a ship (Acts 21:3).
  • The verb διαφερω (diaphero), which consists of (1) the preposition δια (dia) meaning through or throughout, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to carry on or through or to somewhere (Mark 11:16, Acts 13:49, Romans 2:18).
  • The verb εισφερω (eisphero), which consists of (1) the preposition εις (eis) meaning to or toward, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to bear or carry into (2 Timothy 6:7, Hebrews 13:11).
  • The verb εκφερω (ekphero), which consists of (1) the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out or from, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to carry out or bring forth (Luke 15:22, Acts 5:15).
  • The verb επιφερω (epiphero), which consists of (1) the preposition επι (epi) meaning on or upon, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to bring upon (Romans 3:5) or carry to (Acts 19:12).
  • The adjective θανατηφορος (thanatephoros), which consists of (1) the noun θανατος (thanatos) meaning death, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means death-bringing. In the New Testament it's used only by James, who says that the restless tongue is full of deadly poison (James 3:8).
  • The adjective καρποφορος (karpophoros), which consists of the noun καρπος (karpos), meaning fruit, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means fruit-bearing or fruitful (Acts 14:17). Its derivative is:
    • The verb καρποφορεω (karpophoreo), meaning to be fruitful (Matthew 13:23, Mark 4:28, Romans 7:4).
  • The verb καταφερω (kataphero), which consists of (1) the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down (from, in, upon, etc), and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It literally means to carry something from somewhere up to somewhere lower, but in the New Testament it's used only in the sense of to bring someone or some system down; to overthrow something/one (Acts 20:9) or to cast a nay-vote (Acts 26:10).
  • The verb παραφερω (paraphero), which consists of (1) the preposition παρα (para) meaning near or nearby, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to carry away (Jude 1:12) or let something pass by (Mark 14:36).
  • The verb περιφερω (periphero) consists of (1) the preposition περι (peri), meaning around or about, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to carry or bear around (Mark 6:55, Ephesians 4:14).
  • The verb πληροφορεω (plerophoreo), which consist of (1) the adjective πληρης (pleres), meaning full or complete, and (2) the verb φορεω (phoreo). It means to fulfill or wholly accomplish (Luke 1:1, Romans 4:21, 2 Timothy 4:5).
  • The adjective ποταμοφορητος (potamophoretos), which consists of (1) the noun ποταμοσ (potamos), meaning river, and (2) the verb φορεω (phoreo). It means to carry constantly or be tossed about (Revelation 12:15).
  • The verb προσφερω (prosphero), which consists of the preposition προς (pros) meaning toward, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to bring to someone or someplace (John 19:29, Acts 8:18, Hebrews 12:7). From this verb comes our English verb to prosper, and also:
    • The noun προσφορα (prosphora), meaning an offering (Romans 15:16, Ephesians 5:2).
  • The verb προφερω (prophero), which consists of (1) the preposition προ (pro), meaning before, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It means to bring forth or out (Luke 6:45)
  • The verb συνφερω (sumphero), which consists of (1) the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It literally means to bring together (Acts 19:19), but is used often in the sense of being profitable or advantageous (Matthew 5:29, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Hebrews 12:10).
  • The verb τελεσφορεω (telesphoreo), which consists of (1) the noun τελος (telos), meaning end or completion, and (2) the verb φορεω (phoreo). It means to bring to completion or to the end (Luke 8:14).
  • The verb τροποφορεω (tropophoreo), which consists of (1) the noun τροπος (tropos), meaning manner, way or mode, and (2) the verb φορεω (phoreo). It basically means to suffer fools (Acts 13:18).
  • The verb υποφερω (hupophero), which consists of (1) preposition υπο (hupo) meaning under, beneath or through, and (2) the verb φερω (phero). It literally means to support or sustain but is used in the New Testament predominantly in the sense of to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 3:11).

Extra-biblical compound derivations

Some fun extra-Biblical words that contain our verb φερω (phero): φερεοινος (phereoinos), meaning wine-bearing; φερεπτερος (pherepteros), meaning wing-bearing; φερεσβιος (pheresbios), meaning life-giving; φερεζωος (pherezoos), meaning bringing life; φερεαυγης (phereauges), meaning light bringing, and φερεμηλος (pheremelos), meaning producing sheep!

Note that this potent Greek verb φερω (phero) is also the source of our English words port (place to bring things) portable (literally: bringable), portent (contains something), and fortune and fortunate (ship-coming-in-ly).


Associated Biblical names

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