Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
δοκεω δοξα δεχομαι
The verb δεχομαι (dechomai), meaning to receive, relates to the verb δοκεω (dokeo), meaning to imagine, and its important noun δοξα (doxa), usually translated with "glory" but rather meaning "imagination" or "image-formation." The noun δοκος (dokos) means carrier beam; the beam that carries a building's entire roof or floor, and which was famously found stuck in one helpful brother's eye.
All these words stems from the huge Proto-Indo-European root dek-, meaning to take or accept, which also gave us words like decent (i.e. acceptable), decor, dignify, disciple, discipline, docent, docile, doctor, doctrine, dogma and orthodox. Negatively it spawned indignation and indoctrination, and approximatively it yielded paradox.
The amazing verb δοκεω (dokeo) describes the familiar mental exercise of invoking images in one's mind that are relevant to observable reality but are themselves not part of it; to derive a unique and imaginary picture from the churning currents of one's mind like a fish from water. The ability to imagine and to bring the imagined into the realm of reality makes mankind unique in the animal world. It's the foundation of all analysis, all planning and all hope, and subsequently an important element of Biblical theology.
In the classics our verb δοκεω (dokeo) mostly means to think in the sense of to suppose, imagine, conceive of or figure; to get something into one's head (Matthew 3:9, John 16:3). It frequently relates to dreams or visions, in which imaginary beings encroach upon the defenseless dreamer (Mark 6:49, Acts 12:9).
Our verb may describe the formation of an opinion about someone or something (hence the "fishers of men"; compare Matthew 4:19 to 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 — hence perhaps also the enigmatic fish-men of the Sumerians called Apkallu). As such our verb came to denote to have a reputation (to be reputed). This describes most often, but not necessarily, a good reputation, and unless said otherwise, the general phrase "men of reputation" or "the reputed" describe famous men; men of an implied "good" reputation (Mark 10:42, Galatians 2:2-9; in 1 Corinthians 12:22, Paul speaks of "famous" body parts). It also needs to be remembered that the Biblical cultures were based on a wisdom tradition in which even entertainment had to do with learning and solving problems (Judges 14:12, 1 Kings 10:1). In those days, "people of fame" were not movie stars and tennis players but rather people of exceptional intellectual prowess; people of truth and convention.
Our verb may simply mean to occur to, or to cross one's mind, but with the implication of it being the one that got picked to act upon (Luke 1:3, Acts 15:28); not necessarily a "good" idea in an ethical sense but rather the one fished up from one's mental ocean and incorporated into the machinery of one's actions (Matthew 17:25). As such it may mean "to act according to one's good humor" even when there might be little good about it (Hebrews 12:10).
Our verb is often added to a statement to emphasize that a private opinion was offered: "it seems to me" or "I find" (Acts 26:9, 1 Corinthians 5:9) or negatively, "I don't think so" (Luke 17:9). Occasionally it expresses resolve, and occasionally it flat out means to pretend (Luke 8:18, James 1:26). More often our verb expresses an imposed similarity: something seems like something else (say, a nice Paul seeming like a mean Paul; 2 Corinthians 10:9), or it describes something confused with something else; something misconstrued (John 11:13, 13:29, 20:15), or perhaps something rightly construed (1 Corinthians 11:16, 12:22).
In Luke 19:11 our verb is used to describe how the words of one person may cause fish to come to the surface in the mind of another person — Jesus was close to Jerusalem, and yes, he told the parable in order to have the audience form an internal image of the immediate kingdom.
The verb δοκεω (dokeo) occurs 63 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- The noun δογμα (dogma), meaning a finding; something that seems right, or that has been accepted to be so by one person or group of people. It's formed with the -ma suffix, which indicates the action of the verb (what "a walking" would be for the verb "to walk"). This noun is used 5 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, once to describe what the elders of Jerusalem had concluded through study and true concern (Acts 16:4), and four times to describe "what people were told is so"; some finding of fault or royal inkling from the Caesar (and later, of course, the dogma's of the formal church). This seemingly innocent askew usage illustrates the core essence of antichrist: instead of pursuing the personal sovereignty and free opinion-forming of each person (that's described by the word christos; 1 John 2:20-27), the spirit of antichrist enslaves everybody and instructs them what should be accepted as truth. From this noun in turn comes:
- The verb δογματιζο (dogmatizo), meaning to be subjected to dogma's, to be commandeered around (Colossians 2:20 only).
- The controversial noun δοξα (doxa); see our lengthy discussion below.
- Together with the prefix ευ (eu), meaning good: the verb ευδοκεω (eudokeo), meaning to find good; to think good of, to be pleased or content with (or to be pleasing), to consent, to agree to, to be willing. This verb is used to describe God's famous declaration of being well-pleased with Jesus (Matthew 3:17, 17:5). This verb is used 21 times, see full concordance, and from it come:
- The noun ευδοξια (eudoxia), meaning a finding good (a thinking good of) or good reputation (a being thought good of). This word occurs 9 times; see full concordance, most famously in the angelic wish of "good-will" toward men (Luke 2:14).
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συνευδοκεω (suneudokeo), meaning to jointly find-good. This verb is used 6 times; see full concordance.
The noun δοξα (doxa) obviously relates to our verb δοκεω (dokeo), meaning to imagine or image-form, but it's unclear how. A more regular nominal derivation would be δογμα (dogma), meaning "an imagining" or rather "an accepted opinion" (see above), or even the unused but common noun δοκησις (dokesis), and its rarer variant δοκευς, meaning opinion, fancy, or even apparition or something's appearance (as potentially opposed to something's reality).
Although classical writers used our nouns δοξα (doxa) and δογμα (dogma) sometimes as synonyms, the need for and origin of this baffling form δοξα (doxa) is obscure. Some creative scholars even suggest that it might have been formed after a pre- (or extra-) Greek word and rather grafted upon our root instead that it formed from it naturally. If that is so, it must express a very persistent concept; something which name was so all-telling that it resisted the natural evolution of language and migrated intact from an old into a new one.
The earliest Bible translators, who were tasked with interpreting the vastly complex Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, used δοξα (doxa) to represent the word כבוד (kabud), which described a quality of YHWH as his Shekinah filled the tabernacle first and later the temple (Exodus 24:17, 1 Kings 8:11). Later Latin translators swapped the Greek doxa for the Latin gloria, which is a word of equal mysterious origin and thus obscure meaning. Modern scholars believe that gloria has to do with a root that means "to hear" (cognate with κλεος, kleos, fame, renown) and gloria would mean "renown" or "fame." This suggests that the Latin translators followed the vein of the verb δοκεω (dokeo) that deals with reputation, and particularly an assumed good reputation.
But that would mean that the term "glory of the Lord" described what fans collectively thought of God, and that the religious convictions of the fans filled the temple rather than something intrinsic to God.
The Greek language had specifically reserved words that expressed enthusiasm or breathless adulation, and Hebrew did too, and neither δοξα (doxa) nor כבוד (kabud) were among them. What pre-Christian theologians still remembered is that the Living God is not like pagan deities and has no need for endless praise and homage, but rather wants compassion, composure, responsible behavior and an unflinching reverence for truthfulness (Micah 6:8, Hosea 6:6, Galatians 6:7, John 4:24).
Who is this king of glory?
Most of our popular Christian imagery and theology stem from the Roman ideal of God being the emperor: very glorious and very distant. After Julius Caesar had been deified and his adopted son Octavian became the first Emperor Augustus (meaning Glorious One), the latter became known as son of god, the first born and savior or the world, the king of kings and lord of lords. These familiar phrases all stem from Roman Imperial Theology, and were utilized by Paul to demonstrate that in natural reality they did not apply to some distant emperor but rather to Jesus of Nazareth. The Constantinian church had little to do with Jesus of Nazareth and more with the Caesar of Rome (read our article on the name Mary), and it was subsequently in the obvious interest of the medieval church that their flocks didn't read the Bible so as to be tempted to reflect upon the lunacy of the formal ecclesiastical model.
Entirely due to the zeal of early Christian gurus, who confused the Creator with what they understood about the Caesar, the words gloria and doxa were vacated of their original meaning and began to assume their spectacular modern wow!-meanings, which is the same as saying that the daunting term "deoxyribonucleic acid" means "yodelayheeho". Fortunately we're not in the middle ages anymore.
The Creator is of course not in some distant heaven but present at every spatial point of the universe the way a third dimension is separate from but present at every point of a two dimensional plane. His attributes and character can be clearly observed by looking at nature (Romans 1:20), by anyone with eyes in their head, and without diffidence or timidity (Isaiah 1:18, 40:11). The formal Word of God underlies every element and process in the universe (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17). And since we are natural creatures, made from the natural dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7), the Word upon which the universe runs is also not in some distant heaven but in our own bodies, hearts and minds (Deuteronomy 30:14, Jeremiah 31:33, Matthew 28:20, Luke 17:21, John 14:20, 2 Corinthians 3:3).
Time is not the stage upon which the universe evolves, but a function of the universe. In other words: the universe didn't begin in a point in time, but time began at a point in the universe (namely at the point at which particles were stable and could bind to others and thus retain data). This means that the "cause" of the universe happens not in some distant past, but outside of time and is as much related to the distant past as to the distant future and the very now. The cause of time caused all of time, and the direction of the cause of time stands perpendicular upon the axis of time. The unity of the singularity was never compromised, and God not merely pushes forth the singular universe at one end, he also pulls forth the singular universe from the other end (this is what Chaos Theory calls an attractor). The nature of God includes the condition of sub-zero entropy prior to the Big Bang, and the condition of transfinite entropy at the end of all evolution. God is both more primitive than primal energy, and he is more advanced than the whole interlinked bustle of humankind throughout the ages and those to come.
Imagine all the people
The word כבוד (kabud), which the Septuagint replaces with our word δοξα (doxa), means impression. It comes from a verb that describes what a heavy boulder would do to soft earth, and appears to express much the same action as our Greek verb δοκεω (dokeo), meaning to image-form. It's what happens when lots of pixels work together to create a picture, or when lots of starlings create a flying jelly-fish, or when lots of saints form the image of the eternal Creator (relate Hebrews 1:2-3 to Galatians 3:26, John 14:20 and Hebrews 12:1; also see our article on the adjective αγιος, hagios, meaning "holy" or rather "causing to converge").
The challenge with our noun δοξα (doxa) is that it is a very common word in Greek philosophical literature but clearly not constructed via common grammatical rules of derivation. It's possibly of foreign origin but obviously related to our verb δοκεω (dokeo) and noun δογμα (dogma). In other words, the noun δοξα (doxa) relates to δογμα (dogma) the way the French word imagination relates to our English word "imagination." Both obviously relate to the verb to imagine, but if we would sprinkle our speech with the occasional French imagination we deliberately indicate that while we indeed simply mean "making a mental image" we also mix in something exotic that relates to spicy cheeses and red wine.
Here at Abarim Publications we suspect that our word δοξα (doxa) celebrates mankind's amazing powers of willful reflection and ability to deliberately generate reality out of initially imagined things — not merely to image fairies, monsters and what danger might lurk around the next corner but to imagine entire new worlds and set course for them: a mankind without countries to declare superior (Romans 2:11), without religions to fight over (Revelation 21:22), but living as one in a world without greed and hunger. To most of us, this is not hard to do, and many of us have made the small changes in our lives that will one day add up to mankind's most significant collective course correction: away from the slavery of modern capitalism and onto the New Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26, Revelation 21:2).
There's nothing unreal about imagination. Imagination is to human reality what complex numbers are to geometry and what path integral formulation is to quantum mechanics. Imagination is the very principle by which the entire universe is called into being. Or in other words: our reality exists in God's imagination, and God's reality exists in ours (John 17:1). God is love (1 John 4:8) and since he made us in his own image (Genesis 1:26), we love because he loves us first (1 John 4:19). In that same way, our amazing ability to imagine stems from God imagining us first.
It's been often cheered that "love is all you need" but when Israel left the house of bondage that Egypt was, the Lord placed an angel ahead of their column that would lead them to their Promised Land (Exodus 23:20-22). Read our article on the noun αγγελος (aggelos) for a closer look at the relationship between imagination and angels.
This awesome noun δοξα (doxa), meaning "something made real via imagination" is used 168 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it in turn derive:
- The verb δοξαζω (doxazo), meaning to "imaginate"; to realize by imagination rather than by observable or established data. In science, this verb describes the transition between inkling and hypothesis (whereas physical experimentation governs the transition between hypothesis and theory). It's a very important activity, and this verb is used 62 times; see full concordance. From it in turn comes:
- Together with the preposition εν (en), meaning in: the adjective ενδοξος (endoxos), meaning vested with imagination; enthusiastically imagined by an imaginer. This verb occurs 4 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- Together with the adjective κενος (kenos), meaning empty or void: the adjective κενοδοξος (kenodoxos), meaning of empty imagination, of an inert fantasy (Galatians 5:26 only). From this adjective comes:
- The noun κενοδοξια (kenodoxia), meaning inert fantasy, an imagined thing that is so far removed from what is possible that it will not enter into reality. A waste of one's precious imaginary powers (Philippians 2:3 only).
- Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby: the adjective παραδοξος (paradoxos), which describes an idea or notion that is not in line with what can be expected from one's normally functioning imagination; something inconceivable or unimaginable. This is one of the few words of this group that made it into our modern language with most of its original meaning intact. In the New Testament it occurs in Luke 5:26 only.
The noun δοκος (dokos) describes the main carrier beam of either the roof or floor of a building. This word obviously comes from the idea that this item "accepts" the roof or floor, but the clear kinship with the verb δοκεω (dokeo), meaning to imagine or to mentally accept, allows for striking wordplay, or rather: commentary on the workings on man's mind.
Throughout the Bible, dry land (γη, et) is a dominant and obvious metaphor for certainty (mental footing: knowledge, skills, wisdom), whereas the sea represents uncertainty but potential, rivers represent culture and economy and rain represents instruction (the noun מורה, moreh means both rain and teacher and is closely related to the familiar word Torah). The Bible also casually mentions "waters under the earth" (Exodus 20:4, Deuteronomy 4:18, 5:8), which was in modern times gleefully dismissed as primitive mythology until Pierre Janet came up with the concept of the subconscious (and Freud made it hip not long after).
The word for "speck of dust" that sat famously lodged in the eye of one's brother comes from a verb that means to be dry. But besides being some literal flake, this item also represented a tiny little bit of information that had recently struck this man (and which also probably made his eyes water: see Ecclesiastes 1:18). The one who offered to remove this tiny speck had himself a δοκος (dokos) in his eye, which in English makes for a rather comical image but which in Greek speaks of the foundation of an entire system of belief.
Any belief, methodology or religion will always get in the way of one's clear vision, and when one wants to enter the temple of the Living God and behold unimaginable things, he'd better leave his preconceived beliefs at the door. Nobody needs help in this regard, anyway. All human eyes are by nature wholly capable of flushing any little speck out and away.
Our noun is used 6 times, see full concordance, all in the context of the helpful brother.
The verb δεχομαι (dechomai) means to accept something offered or suggested (Matthew 11:14, Mark 10:15, Luke 8:13), to receive something or someone sent (Matthew 10:14), or to engage with something (Luke 16:6). This verb is closely related to the verb δοκεω (dokeo; see above), meaning to figure, find or imagine (hence the noun δοξα, doxa, traditionally interpreted as "glory" but probably more accurately: imagination or image-formation) and both stem from the widely attested Proto-Indo-European root dek-, meaning to take or accept.
Our verb δεχομαι (dechomai) is used a mere 58 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, but is also used in the following array of derivations:
- Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on or upon: the verb αναδεχομαι (anadechomai), meaning to accept again and again or to receive while demonstrating a broad spectrum of hospitality (Acts 28:7 and Hebrews 11:17 only).
- Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb αποδεχομαι (apodechomai), meaning to receive or accept out of — out of a general group or certain situation or location. This verb is used 6 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn derive:
- The adjective δεκος (dekos), meaning of acceptance; pertaining to the act of accepting or receiving: either open-minded or received/acceptable. It's used 5 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the prefix δια (dia), meaning through or throughout: the verb διαδεχομαι (diadechomai), meaning to receive via succession; to have something passed on to you (Acts 7:45 only). From this verb comes:
- The noun διαδοχος (diadokos), meaning a succession (Acts 24:27 only).
- The noun δοκιμη (dokime), meaning that which is accepted. It's similar to the original meaning of δογμα (dogma) from the verb δοκεω (dokeo), and implies the result of an intelligent assessment made autonomously by well-informed people. It occurs 7 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a): the adjective αδοκιμος (adokimos), meaning unaccepted, and thus by implication rejected or deemed either worthless or inapplicable. This doesn't mean that the thing considered is actually worthless, but only that it's been reckoned as such. This adjective is used 8 times; see full concordance.
- The verb δοκιμαζω (dokimazo), meaning to assess; to establish that something should be accepted through careful examination and consideration. This verb is common in the classics, and describes the procedure that establishes the merits or suitability of someone for some office (1 Timothy 3:10), function and on rare occasions a fitting punishment. This verb only describes the process and not the outcome (Luke 12:56, 14:19, Romans 2:18, 1 Corinthians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1), but if the thing previously assessed is still there, a positive outcome is obviously implied (1 Corinthians 16:3, 2 Corinthians 8:22, Romans 14:22) and when not, a negative one (Hebrews 3:9). Sometimes our verb describes a virtuous examining (Romans 1:28, see 1:20), and sometimes a tedious indecisiveness (Hebrews 3:9). In the New Testament our verb used 23 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- Again together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb αποδοκιμαζω (apodokimazo), meaning to establish that something is to be removed from consideration or further examination; to reject. This again doesn't mean that the thing examined is worthless in an absolute sense, but rather found of no practical application in the foreseeable future. This verb is used 9 times, see full concordance, most strikingly to describe the attitude of builders toward a certain stone (Matthew 21:42).
- The noun δοκιμη (dokime), meaning proof, or a usefulness demonstrated by an item's continued existence and use. In the first century, mathematics was not yet the language of science and most reasoning was conducted through speech. That meant that proof and trustworthiness went hand in hand with reputation, and that one's reputation was established not only from the scrutiny of many investigators but also from the practical use of many hands. If a certain saying or technological process kept meeting expectations, its longevity served as obvious proof of its usefulness. Then as much as now, if the item under scrutiny was complicated and much was at stake, the status of "proven" would only follow a long period of rigorous testing (2 Corinthians 8:2). But when proof was obtained, a world of further possibilities would open up (Romans 5:4). This noun occurs 7 times; see full concordance.
- The noun δοκιμιον (dokimion), which describes the means by which something is tested or the process of this testing (James 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:7 only).
- The noun δοχη (doche), meaning a reception: an occasion specifically organized to receive people (Luke 5:29 and 14:13 only).
- Together with the preposition εις (eis) meaning in, to or toward: the verb εισδεχομαι (eisdechomai), meaning to receive into. It's used only once, in 2 Corinthians 6:17, where it contrasts a coming out of the general population and into God's community.
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out: the verb εκδεχομαι (ekdechomai), meaning to take or receive out of the hands or considerations of someone, or to derive from certain events; to grow cautious or to await for certain events to unfold, to wait out or to anticipate (which is nearly the literal Latin equivalent of our verb). This verb is used 7 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Once more together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb αποδεχομαι (apodechomai), meaning to anticipate from; to await something to come out of or from something that is unfolding. This verb is used 8 times; see full concordance.
- The noun εκδοχη (ekdoche), meaning an anticipation (Hebrews 10:27 only).
- Together with the preposition εν (en), meaning in, on, at or by: the verb ενδεχομαι (endechomai), meaning to take upon oneself; to accept, admit or allow. In absolute sense it often means to be possible, and that's the sense of this verb's only occurrence in the New Testament: in Luke 13:33. From it derives:
- Again together with the particle of negation α (a): the adjective ανενδεκτος (anendektos), meaning impossible. It's used in Luke 17:1 only.
- Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the verb επιδεχομαι (epidechomai), meaning to receive besides or in addition. This verb is used in 3 John 1:9 and 1:10 only, where the author appears to insinuate that Diotrephes didn't accept John's words among many other things and people (1:5).
- Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby: the verb παραδεχομαι (paradechomai), literally meaning to nearly receive but in practice used to mean to receive or accept via something else; to be passed on something from an original giver via a relay. In the classics this verb commonly describes children receiving by inheritance, students learning from a master, news propagating via rumor or tradition. It also frequently means to admit (as a member into a group, city, organization), with the implication of being introduced and proposed first. This verb is used 5 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the prefix προς (pros), which describes a motion toward: the verb προσδεχομαι (prosdechomai), meaning to accept with foresight; to eagerly anticipate a future receiving (and to behave accordingly), or to receive with a specific objective or effect. It's what investors do when they are sure that a stock will rise: they borrow a lot of money and buy the stock on credit. When the payout comes, they pay back the loan plus interest, and walk away with the fruits of their foresight. People who clearly see the Kingdom of God in times ahead can invest in it today by making wise alterations to their behavior and relationships.
Our verb describes stance or behavior that is related to a future event or condition. In the New Testament it's mostly linked to the Kingdom, which doesn't simply show up out of nowhere (as medieval theology sometimes suggested) but rather as a result of all people freely adjusting their behaviors, and urging their children to do so too, so that in time humanity will arrive at the true north of all creation. In Luke 15:2 the Pharisees didn't complain that Jesus "received" sinners, but rather that his novel teaching and uppity lenience would bring sinners about. This important verb is used 14 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- Together with the preposition υπο (hupo) meaning under: the verb υποδεχομαι (hupodechomai), meaning to receive under; to take into one's protection or care (this is what "angels" naturally do; read our article on the word αγγελος, aggelos). This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.