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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: ζεω

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

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

ζεω

The verb ζεω (zeo) means to seethe or boil, originally literally of water and other liquids but secondarily in the sense of becoming impassioned, fervent or getting worked up about something. Note that in Hebrew the verb for to boil is זיד (zid), which has the secondary meaning, not of being passionate but of being proud or insolent.

Our verb ζεω (zeo) occurs only twice in the New Testament: in Acts 18:25, Apollos is called fervent in spirit, and in Romans 12:11 Paul likewise declares that every man should be fervent in spirit.

It should be noted that a passion for truth does not result in swinging from the rafters or trying very hard to feel "in love" with the Lord, or even to feel any other way (or, God forbid, persecute "those of other faiths," if such a thing could exist), but rather a diligence towards composure, calmness and self-control, as well as justice in any sense; a soundness of knowledge, a scientific understanding of whatever one discusses, as well as a general street-level fairness, kindness and generosity (see our article on the word πιστις, pistis, meaning faith, for more on this).

From this verb come the following derivatives:

  • The adjective ζεστος (zestos), meaning hot. In the New Testament this word is used to mean fervent or passionate, in tandem — but not necessarily juxtaposed — with ψυχρος (psuchros), meaning cool or cooled off, which is an evenly good quality. Both are considered opposite of χλιαρος (chliaros), meaning lukewarm, which is a bad quality (Revelation 3:15-16).
  • The important noun ζηλος (zelos), meaning hotness or fervence, and that specifically with the objective of emulation or rivalry. In other words, this noun stems from comparing one's own situation with that of someone else, the realization that one prefers the other person's situation, and the subsequent dedication of getting there as well or even in stead of the other. From this Greek word comes our English word jealousy, but it should be noted that where the English word does not include any action, in Greek it does, namely of imitation (1 Corinthians 4:16). Our word may reflect a virtuous fervence (John 2:17, Romans 10:2, 2 Corinthians 7:7), but it most often describes a vicious one: envy or jealousy (Acts 5:17, Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:20). From this noun derive the following words:
    • The verb ζηλοω (zeloo), meaning to be filled with or driven by ζηλος (zelos); to be lovingly zealous (1 Corinthians 12:31, 2 Corinthians 11:2) or hatefully jealous (Acts 7:9, 1 Corinthians 13:4, James 4:2). From this verb in turn come:
      • The noun ζηλωτης (zelotes), denoting someone who is filled with or driven by ζηλος (zelos); a zealous person, a fanatic, an enthusiast or perhaps (in its modern sense) an extremist (1 Corinthians 14:12, Titus 2:14). This word appears to have been a colloquial label for people who were ardently fanatical about adhering to Jewish laws and customs (Acts 21:20, 22:3, Galatians 1:14; see Numbers 25:13), and was in the first century AD either shanghaied as a self-explanatory name (Zealots or Zealous Ones) by militant rebels or else derogatorily applied to them by commentators.
      • Together with the preposition παρα (para), the verb παραζηλοω (parazeloo), meaning to turn someone to ζηλος (zelos); to enthuse someone or make someone fanatically driven (Romans 11:11) or provoke someone to fierce jealousy (1 Corinthians 10:22).

Associated Biblical names