Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The adverb αφνω (aphno) means suddenly, unexpectedly or unforeseeably. It's of unclear origin and in the classics, it and its relatives come in many variations: αιφνης (aiphnes), αιψα (aipsa), αιπος (aipos), απινης (apines). Words of vaguely similar form and meanings appear in Sanskrit. Then there is the familiar Latin pronoun ipse (as in nunc ipsum, or just now, at his very time), and of course the Greek adjective αφανης (aphanes), meaning not-shining or not seen or known (from φαινω, phaino, to shine or appear, from φως, phos, light).
Whatever its true pedigree, our adverb αφνω (aphno) is relatively rare in the Greek classics, and occurs in the New Testament in Acts 2:2, 16:26 and 28:6 only. Closely related are the following:
- The adjective αιφνιδος (aiphnidos), meaning sudden or unforeseen. It derives from αιφνης (aiphnes), a variant of the adverb αφνω (aphno) we discuss above. Our adjective appears in Luke 21:34 and 1 Thessalonians 5:3 only.
- The variant αιφνης (aiphnes) together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out or from, makes the adverb εξαιφνης (exaiphnes), literally out of a suddenness, but in practice simply suddenly. This adverb is used 5 times; see full concordance.
- The Ionian equivalent of the previous, namely εξαπινα (exapina), also meaning suddenly (Mark 9:8 only).