Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun βουλη (boule) describes a mind made-up upon reflection, not as preparation for subsequent action but rather as a matter of fact; a mind like a well-ordered house. This may either be the mind of an individual or a group, in which case it describes a counsel. The epithet Βουλευς (Bouleus), meaning counselor, or "one with a well-ordered mind", was ascribed to Zeus.
The absence of such order is known by the word αβουλος (aboulos), meaning inconsiderate or ill-advised, and the familiar word αβουλια (aboulia) means ill-advisedness or thoughtlessness. Neither of these words is used in the Bible (but "aboulia" or "abulia" made it into modern scientific jargon, which is cool too).
Our noun βουλη (boule) is used 12 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and derivations of this word that are used are:
- The verb βουλευω (bouleuo), meaning to counsel, consult or resolve. It occurs 8 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn come:
- The noun βουλευτης (bouleutes), meaning a councilman. In the New Testament this word is used only to describe a member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43 and Luke 23:50 only).
- Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby, or in this case askew: the verb παραβουλευομαι (parabouleuomai), meaning to sidestep counsel. This verb occurs only in Philippians 2:30, where Paul describes Epaphroditus as going against the intuitions of his own spirit to complete the work of Christ, whatever that might mean.
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συμβουλευω (sumbouleuo), meaning to counsel with or advise someone. This verb occurs 5 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the noun επιβουλη (epiboule), meaning a scheme or plot. This noun is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- Again together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the noun συμβουλος (sumboulos), meaning counselor (Romans 11:34 only). From this word derives:
Obviously closely related to the above (it either derives from the above or vice versa) the verb βουλομαι (boulomai) means to wish or want, but in a passive, contemplative sense: to have a mind to, as opposed to the verb θελω (thelo) which specifies a desire that is subsequently acted upon.
Our verb βουλομαι (boulomai) mostly expresses a favored stance toward a potential situation, without the desire to bring it about, or a disposition toward a certain activity should an opportunity for that activity arise. In that sense this verb has considerable overlap with the verb ελπιζω (elpizo), meaning to hope, except that "hope" is the expectation of something that will certainly happen (and it's only not certain when), whereas our verb βουλομαι (boulomai) may express hope for something that might never be.
Our verb is used 34 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- The noun βουλεμα (boulema), which describes a thing wished for — a stance, desire, resolve, predisposition — but without triggering action. Our noun may express a sentiment as slight as an idle hope, or as formidable as the expectation of a king or deity, whose subjects will respond to their master's wish by bringing it about without delay or question. This noun occurs in Acts 27:43 and Romans 9:19 only.