Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: ιημι

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/i/i-et-m-i.html


Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The verb ιημι (hiemi) means to emit, utter, send out, let flow, and describes pretty much any kind of emission or excretion short of bodily evacuations. In our article on the noun σαρξ (sarx), meaning flesh, we emphasize that an organism's muscular tissue closely relates to its "bag of tricks," or the whole library of procedures the organism masters (from opening a coconut to speech or riding a bike). And indeed, in 2 Corinthians 7:5 the derived noun ανεσις (anesis), meaning rest (see below) is applied to σαρξ (sarx), meaning flesh.

In our article on the verb διδασκω (didasko), meaning to learn, we discuss how the ancient Proto-Indo-European root dens- (to learn/teach) closely relates to the root dent-, meaning tooth (hence our word dentist). This is not a mere semantic coincidence but rather reflects the ancients' understanding of the relationship between mind & learning and body & eating. Likewise, the Hebrew verb שנן (shanan) means to sharpen (of the mind, to teach) and the noun שן (shen) means tooth.

Our verb ιημι (hiemi) may be used for any sort of emission but commonly emphasizes the willful aspect of it. Instead of expressing a mere peripheral release it rather means to purposely send out or even to expel, and that usually with considerable force or dedication. In the Greek classics it describes the shooting of arrows or hurling of spears, the utterance of speech or shouts (or even a revealing silence) or the sounds forced from musical instruments. It may describe the spouting forth of water from a spring or smoke from a fire.

Most strikingly, our verb may also be used to describe the forcibly sending of oneself: to hasten or hurry oneself. And because this verb emphasizes force rather than speed, it doubles to express one's eagerness or desire: the statement that someone "hurries" to somewhere also reveals that the person "yearns" for somewhere.

Our verb is not used independently in the New Testament, but it comes with one derived noun and is part of several important compounds that are used in the New Testament:

  • Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on or upon (or again): the verb ανιημι (aniemi), meaning to send up (in a spatial sense) or release again (suggesting that something was previously captured). In Hebrews 13:5 this verb appears to speak both of the perpetual fidelity of the Lord and the royal office from which man will never be discharged. This verb is used 4 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn derives:
    • The noun ανεσις (anesis), which describes the condition arising from the verb: a release, liberty or freedom, but with the suggestion of a regained freedom that had previously been lost. From usages such as 2 Corinthians 2:13 it's clear that an obsessively occupied mind counts as a captured mind, and a mind at ease as a liberated one. Our noun is used 5 times; see full concordance.
  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from or out of: the important verb αφιημι (aphiemi), meaning to send away from [oneself], or to send [someone] as an emissary of oneself, to release from one's power or concern or attention (Matthew 4:11); to let be, to leave alone. In Mark 15:37 this verb is used to describe Jesus' emission of a loud vocalization just prior to his death, which argues that he didn't die because of his crucifixion, because that would have exhausted him, but rather because he decided willfully to lay down his life (see John 10:17-18).
    In the latter sense our verb may describe a not minding something or letting something pass or permitting someone to do something (Matthew 3:15). It's in this sense that this verb describes the Father's attitude toward our debts and trespasses: he doesn't simply forgive and forget, but allows people to temporarily act immaturely to give them a chance to find righteousness and cling to it. Only in that case all previous failings are expunged, but those who do not arrive at righteousness will surely be presented with the bill they have run up during their lives.
    The famous unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32, Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10) is based on precisely that principle: the Holy Spirit leads people to righteousness and going against the Holy Spirit is mathematically equal to not going to where forgiveness happens. It's a logical consequence, not a penalty, and also shows how Matthew 6:12-15 ties into Isaiah 43:25 and Romans 4:7 but also Matthew 12:36 and John 5:29. Read for more on the unforgivable sin our articles on the verb χαιρω (chairo), meaning to rejoice, or the noun περιστερα (peristera), meaning dove. For more on the relationship between forgiving and loving, as demonstrated in texts such as Luke 7:47 and 1 Peter 4:8, see our article on αγαπη (agape).
    In this same sense, the power that the Son of Man has to "disregard" sins may not be shared by the person who offers to "remove" a speck of dust from a brother's eye (Matthew 7:4). Apparently, it requires serious spiritual powers to truly allow someone to find their own way to perfection, and on their way remain safe from the "help" of faultfinders, who are really self-appointed judges in disguise. Ultimately, no one other than the Creator has a say in who made it and who didn't, and until then we are prudent to realize that we're all on this journey together. The primary principle of consciousness is that it consists of things it is conscious of. In other words: when you see a speck in your brother's eye you are actually seeing a beam in your own. Had you had no beam in your eye, you would not have noticed the speck in your brother's. The healthy attitude toward both speck and beam is of course neither denial nor cover up, but confession and contrition. Our verb is used 147 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it in turn comes:
    • The difficult noun αφεσις (aphesis), which is usually translated with forgiveness or remission [of debt] but which goes quite a ways beyond that. In order to actively forgive a debt, one first has to determine that such a debt exists, which makes one an accomplice (as we have discussed above). Hence, our noun does not so much describe a generous forgiving but rather a not demanding rightful retribution for a fault suffered. Our word certainly does not describe an expunging of a fault but rather a reaction to a fault that is not centered on getting payback but rather a growth away from the conditions in which the fault could have gestated.
      You can only see what you have inside of you, and what you have inside of you forms you. People often get violently angry because they see someone engage in behavior which they suppress within themselves. Frustration with themselves drives them to blame the other, while they should realize that their ability to see (and ultimately engage in) a violation was given to them to understand the behavior and to allocate its driving energies to more useful engagements (Ephesians 4:26-29).
      Not seeking retribution is a hard thing to do, and it requires both blood-curdling honesty with oneself and thought vastly outside one's own box. Ultimately, we're all the product of God's perfect design and corrupted by forces largely out of our own control. Only someone endowed with all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom (Colossians 2:3) and a peace and love that exceed even those (Ephesians 3:19, Philippians 4:7) is able to truly see God's perfect intent in whatever pile of largely unapplied or misappropriated human existence one is faced with. It implies certainly neither the approval of caustic behavior nor the removal of its record, but describes a response other than suited punishment or wild revenge. When sin is recognized as a disease shared by the perpetrator and his victim, the quest becomes for mutual healing rather than a single-sided retribution (Matthew 9:6). Our noun is used 17 times; see full concordance.
  • The noun ιος (ios), which describes something willfully or forcibly sent, emitted or released. In the classics it mostly describes arrows, poison, honey or even rust or patina (rust on bronze). As a mental attitude it describes envy. In the New Testament it is used in Romans 3:13, James 3:8 and 5:3 only. Paul quotes from Psalm 140:3, and James' latter reference, the author speaks of gold and silver tainted by oxidation. Since pure silver and gold don't oxidize, any rust is due to contamination. Whether James in his former reference speaks of a tongue full of poison, or stuffed with an arrow, or perhaps riddled with oxidizing contamination isn't clear, but most translations go with poison.
  • Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb καθιημι (kathiemi), meaning to release in a downward direction: to let down. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
  • Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby: the verb παριημι (pariemi), which describes a nearly-sending, that is: to be readily at hand to be deployed. In the classics this verb describes the standing by of people or the being at hand of certain useful items. In the New Testament it is used only in Hebrews 12:12, where it refers to hands that are "standing by" or rather: not doing much. From this verb in turn comes:
    • The noun παρεσις (paresis), which is similar to αφεσις (aphesis) meaning forgiveness (see above). The difference between these two words is that the latter describes a condition in which the sins have been duly processed, whereas our present noun describes an earlier phase, namely the phase at which sins have been identified and tagged, lined up and readied for due process. This noun is used only once in the New Testament, namely in Romans 3:25.
  • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συνιημι (suniemi), meaning to comprehend. This amazing verb describes the procedure of selecting observations and facts (and in the classics even separate people or physical items such as arrows) out of the general environment and joining them in a comprehensive conclusion, wisdom or system (and in the classics: agreement, pact or convention). This verb represents the first half of the scientific method, namely to explain observations by an invisible but underlying system (the second part of the scientific method demands the correct prediction of the outcome of an experiment; both these elements are described in Hebrews 11:1).
    This verb in turn demonstrates that fault-finding depends on a lack of understanding on the part of the observer, whereas forgiveness comes from understanding on the part of the observer. Something that is understood (that is: properly placed within a larger system of cause and effect) is no longer noticed independently, but becomes a musical note in a larger symphony or a word in a story.
    Our verb is used 26 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
    • The noun συνεσις (sunesis), meaning understanding or comprehension. This noun is used 7 times; see full concordance.
    • The adjective συνετος (sunetos), meaning endowed with understanding or comprehension. In the New Testament this adjective is used only as a substantive (the understanding, the wise). It occurs 4 times, see full concordance, and from it comes rather predictably:
      • Together with the preposition α (a), meaning without: the adjective ασυνετος (asunetos), meaning incomprehensive, unwise, not-understanding. This adjective is used 5 times; see full concordance.