Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb αιτεω (aiteo) means to request, but with implied support of some code of conduct ranging from an appeal to basic humanity to formal law. In the classics this verb may describe a weaker person asking a stronger person certain permissions or to intervene in a situation that's gotten out of the weak person's control. Or it may describe a needy person's asking for something that belongs to somebody wealthier: financial aid, food, horses to borrow, and so on.
Because of the nature of the act of requesting, this verb often occurs in the middle voice — the middle voice sits in between the active and the passive and expresses action by the subject upon the subject or for the subject's own benefit — which implies a private interest rather than a request in general or on behalf of someone. This verb occurs 71 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- The noun αιτημα (aitema), meaning request or petition (Luke 23:24, Philippians 4:6 and 1 John 5:15 only).
- The noun αιτια (aitia), meaning requirement in the sense of something required or demanded by a code of conduct, common sense, a formal logical progression, a legal procedure, a formal introduction, a provoking occasion, and so on. Often the context of this noun implies that the requirement is not met, in which case it's used synonymously with a sustained default, charge, shortcoming, guilt or even crime. An often occurring idiom is "charge of death," which describes a requirement which, when it is not met and thus when it is sustains, calls for the execution of the one who sustains it. This noun occurs 20 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn derives:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective αναιτιος (anaitios), meaning uncharged in a legal sense. This word does not so much denote a being guiltless in some absolute sense, but rather a being without formal charge in a legal context. This implies having one's deeds assessed by someone knowledgeable of the law, which in turn leaves open the question whether one is anaitios because one has committed no sin or because one was not detected or there is nobody around who knows the law. Our word is used in Matthew 12:5 and 12:7 only. The former discusses priests who are without formal charge, the latter discusses self-appointed judges who condemn people against whom no formal charge was deposited.
- Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb απαιτεω (apaiteo), meaning to request from (Luke 6:30 and 12:20 only). In the classics this verb describes the request of something out from where it is kept: improper custody (to ask something back), someone's purse (to ask to be paid), information in someone's head, and so on. This verb is similar to the next:
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out or from: the verb εξαιτεω (exaiteo), meaning to request out of. This verb expresses a similar action as the previous: to request something that exists in some kind of custody. It's used in Luke 22:31 only.
- Together with the preposition επι (epi) meaning on or upon: επαιτεω (epaiteo), meaning to request upon, to request something in addition to something else, whether a previous request or perhaps an event that has occurred and which prompted the request. This verb occurs only in Luke 16:3, where a house-manager reflects not merely on being forced to beg, but rather on having to beg upon having been fired from a harshly executed management role (the implication being that he would have to beg from the folks he had first mistreated).
- Together with the preposition παρα (para) meaning near or next to: the challenging verb παραιτεομαι (paraiteomai), which describes action involving a distance between requester and requestee. The effect of our verb may either be a release or discharge from some duty, but more often it simply describes the resistance of the requestee for whatever the requestor is trying to achieve: to deny, to defy, to reject, to make excuses. Our verb is used 11 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the prefix προς (pros), which describes a motion toward: the verb προσαιτεω (prosaiteo), meaning either to approach someone and request, or to request something for a specified purpose. In the New Testament this verb occurs in Mark 10:46, Luke 18:35 and John 9:8 only, and only to describe the activities of Bartimaeus or similar blind men. Translations usually suggest that Bartimaeus was begging, but begging was a common practice in the old world and Bartimaeus is the only character in the New Testament to whom this verb applies. It's thus implied that Bartimaeus was engaged in a unique activity, which in turn explains why Jesus would ask him what he might do for him (Mark 10:51). This may seem like a somewhat insensitive question but asking such questions is really rather common in Scriptures and appear to be designed specifically to help the interviewee make up their mind or understand the dealio of their own situation (Genesis 3:9, John 21:15). The wisdom tradition of the old world even seems to be firmly founded on the practice of posing challenging questions (Judges 14:12, 1 Kings 10:1, Luke 2:46). It appears that the story of blind Bartimaeus also tells of how the celebrated Jewish wisdom tradition had forgotten how to ask useful questions (Psalm 81:10).
"Until now you have asked for nothing in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full" (John 16:23-24).
"You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).