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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: φερω

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/ph/ph-e-r-om.html

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, convey or lead in the sense of to guide. It very often has to do with commercial activity, trade or making profit or yielding fruit or produce. At times 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).

Our verb essentially simply means to bring something along or towards some place or person (Mark 6:28, Luke 23:26, Acts 5:16). In English it survives in words such as port (place to bring things) portable (literally: bringable), portent (carried along something), and fortune and fortunate (ship-coming-in-ly).

On occasion our verb is used in slightly unexpected ways. It may describe a pointing finger or reaching hand (John 20:27), even a voice conveying words (2 Peter 1:17).

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

Derivations and compounds that contain phero:
  • Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on, upon or again: the verb αναφερω (anaphero), meaning to carry over, upward or continuously. This verb is used mostly to describe Jesus' bearing of sin (Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 2:24) or people bearing offerings to altars (1 Peter 2:5, James 2:21, Hebrews 13:15). Significantly, this same verb is used to describe how Jesus ascended into heaven (Luke 24:51), or how He lead His disciples up the mountain where he transfigured (Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2).
  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from: the verb αποφερω (apophero) meaning to carry, lead or bring from some place or people (Mark 15:1, Luke 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:3).
  • Together with the preposition δια (dia) meaning through or throughout: the magnificent verb διαφερω (diaphero), literally meaning to carry over or carry through (Mark 11:16), but used only in the sense of making a positive difference by adding value to an endeavor, and this mostly by means of commerce: to increment value. Jesus' famous statements about people being more "valuable" than birds (Matthew 6:26, Luke 12:7) uses that word: we're not simply more valuable, we have greater incremented value; our worth is not inherent but comes from a long process of adding value, and this is possible because we are part of a greater economic market (than that of birds, which merely look for food, shelter and a mate). In fact, these bird-value texts could rather be interpreted to mean: while God takes care of bird economy; do you not trade birds (entire portfolios, package deals)? It's often overlooked how comfortably the gospel utilizes commercial terms, but Jesus "paid our price" (1 Corinthians 6:20), which indicates that His people have incremental and compounded commercial value (see our article on the word τιμη, time, meaning dearness or worth), and the New Jerusalem will bustle with economic activity (Revelation 21:24; also note that the word "economy" is a theological term in Orthodoxy). In Acts 13:42 this verb is used to describe the progression of the Word through the region: it was traded (as information was and still is) and added value to; it became more and more appreciated and sought after.
  • Together with the preposition εις (eis) meaning in, to or toward: the verb εισφερω (eisphero), meaning to bear or carry onto a location or person or into a condition or situation, obviously with the same intention of adding value (Luke 5:18-19, 2 Timothy 6:7, Hebrews 13:11). This is the verb used in the Lord's prayer, "and carry us not onto proofing" (Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4).
  • Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out or from: the verb εκφερω (ekphero), meaning to carry out, bring forth or produce (Luke 15:22, Acts 5:15, Hebrews 6:8).
  • Together with the preposition επι (epi) meaning on or upon: the verb επιφερω (epiphero), meaning to bring upon, to pronounce, to declare (of legal charges: Acts 25:18, Jude 1:9 and very interestingly: Romans 3:5), or carry to (Acts 19:12, Philippians 1:16).
  • Together with the noun θανατος (thanatos) meaning death: the adjective θανατηφορος (thanatephoros), meaning death-bringing. In the New Testament it's used only by James, who says that the restless tongue is full of dead-bringing poison (James 3:8).
  • Together with the noun καρπος (karpos), meaning fruit: the adjective καρποφορος (karpophoros), meaning fruit-yielding or fruitful (Acts 14:17). From this word in turn derives:
    • The verb καρποφορεω (karpophoreo), meaning to be fruitful (Matthew 13:23, Mark 4:28, Romans 7:4).
  • Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down (from, in, upon, etc): the verb καταφερω (kataphero), literally meaning to take or bring down. 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).
  • Together with the preposition παρα (para) meaning near or nearby: the verb παραφερω (paraphero), meaning to carry away (Jude 1:12) or let something pass by (Mark 14:36).
  • Together with the preposition περι (peri), meaning around or about: the verb περιφερω (periphero), meaning to carry or bear around (Mark 6:55, Ephesians 4:14).
  • Together with the adjective πληρης (pleres), meaning full or complete: the verb πληροφορεω (plerophoreo), meaning to fulfill or wholly accomplish (Luke 1:1, Romans 4:21, 2 Timothy 4:5). From this word in turn derives:
    • The noun πληροφορια (plerophoria), meaning "something that was carried to fullness" or rather the "achieved fullness" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Note again that we're looking at the manifestation of a process here; something that took a while to become as full as it now so recognizably is.
  • Together with the noun ποταμοσ (potamos), meaning river: the adjective ποταμοφορητος (potamophoretos), literally meaning carried down the river; carried off by an overwhelming displacement of water (Revelation 12:15).
  • Together with the preposition προς (pros) meaning toward: the verb προσφερω (prosphero), meaning to bring to someone or someplace, to present something but with the idea of leaving it there; to permanently give or even offer (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).
  • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before: the verb προφερω (prophero), meaning to bring forth or out (Luke 6:45).
  • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συμφερω (sumphero), literally meaning to bring together, as in the case of the esoteric books burning in Ephesus (Acts 19:19). Most often this verb is used in the sense of bundling or pooling and hence profiting (Matthew 5:29, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Hebrews 12:10), which sheds extra light on the book-burning scene. Note that the Greek idea of λογος (logos), or mind, was all about bringing people and their arts, skills and ideas together in a unified economy, which in turn upped safety and quality of life. It's in that specifically converging and agreeing sense that our verb means "to be beneficial". Jesus' famous statement about it being "better" for your whole body to continue with one disruptive part chopped off discusses what would later be called the Nash-equilibrium (also see John 11:50). Personal discipline is all about imposing some initial restriction on oneself in order to thus achieve a greater degree of freedom, which is precisely what the word "expedient" means: freeing the feet.
  • Together with the noun τελος (telos), meaning end or completion: the verb τελεσφορεω (telesphoreo), meaning to bring to completion or to the end (Luke 8:14).
  • Together with the noun τροπος (tropos), meaning manner, way or mode: the verb τροποφορεω (tropophoreo), meaning to endure typical or modal people, and particularly extremely dumb people; to suffer fools (Acts 13:18).
  • Together with the preposition υπο (hupo) meaning under, beneath or through: the verb υποφερω (hupophero), meaning to carry on under. It's used in the New Testament predominantly in the sense of to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 3:11).
  • The verb φορεω (phoreo), meaning to bear or to wear and, by consequence, to fill (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 toll or tax (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). From this verb in turn comes:
      • Together with the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from: the verb αποφορτιζομαι (apophortizomai), meaning to unload (of a ship; Acts 21:3).
    • The noun φορτιον (phortion), denoting the various loads 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.

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!


Associated Biblical names