Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The preposition κατα (kata) expresses a motion downward. Tied to appropriate verbs it usually describes motion down from a higher place or down to a lower place. It may be used in the sense of "bearing down upon", that is an aiming for a certain place or even a certain understanding, when something "comes down" to something. Our word may also refer to something in the sense of "in respect of" or "on account of" or "by means of".
Our preposition may also be used to describe an opposite motion (in whichever direction), a counter motion or counter force. It may reflect hostility toward someone in the sense of warning or accusing, or direct humiliating or putting down of someone, and as such it's the opposite of υπερ (huper). Hence Jesus' famous assertion, "he who is not kata of you is huper of you" (Mark 9:40).
In the Greek mind, traversing a place was expressed as going down it, and as such our preposition may be used to mean through or over (as in English: traveling down a road). It may also be used to simply emphasize the being at a location (as in English: the church that is down at her house — Romans 16:5), or even some particular point in time ("down" on Tuesday we eat beans).
Our preposition κατα (kata) may be used to emphasize pervasiveness in the sense of all throughout (down to the last spot) or totality. It may be used to establish a comparative (according to the flesh) or compliance (according to the law).
When the core verb already describes a motion downward, our preposition κατα (kata) may be added as an intensifier. It occurs 480 times independently, see full concordance, and countless times incorporated in compound words.
- Derived directly from κατα (kata), which expresses a motion downward, the adverb κατω (kato) means downward or beneath. In Matthew 2:16 occurs the comparative form κατωτερω (katotero): lower than. This adverb occurs 11 times, see full concordance, and from it come:
- The adjective κατωτερος (katoteros), which derives from the comparative form of κατω (kato), and means lower in a spatial sense or younger in a temporal sense. It occurs in Ephesians 4:9 only, which is a difficult text that speaks of ascending far above the heavens and descending into the lower parts of the earth. This obviously caters to the classical world view of multiple heavens and multiple realms of mortals (and the dead), but it can certainly not, in good conscience, be ascribed to Paul's mythic liberties and poetic license. Here at Abarim Publications we don't know either, but if we were to guess, we would probably guess that the lower parts of the earth also refer to the obviously visibly things, whereas the higher things of heaven denote the invisible truths behind the visible things (i.e. the invisible E=mc2 behind observable relativity; see Hebrews 11:1). Obviously, the ultimate abstraction, which sits behind everything that exists and thus far above all heavens, is the Oneness of God Himself (compare Hebrews 1:3 to John 17:21-23).
- Together with the preposition υπο (hupo) meaning under: the adverb υποκατω (hupokato), meaning underneath. It's used 9 times; see full concordance.
We discuss compounds in the articles of the verbs and nouns to which κατα (kata) is attached, but a special category are combinations with forms of the relative pronoun (meaning "that/who/which") and of the relative adverb ως (hos), meaning "as/so as/as like":
- Together with the neutral plural accusative of the relative pronoun: the adverb καθα (katha), meaning "according to those things which" (Matthew 27:10 only). From this word in turn comes:
- Together with the neutral singular form of the relative adverb: the adverb καθο (katho), meaning as, or according to that which. This adverb occurs 4 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
- Together with οτι (hoti), meaning that — which in turn combines the relative pronoun with the interrogative pronoun τις (tis), meaning who/which/what — the adverb καθοτι (kathoti), meaning accordingly or according to the fact that. It's used 5 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the relative adverb ως (hos), meaning "as/so as/as like": the adverb καθως (kathos), meaning according as. It occurs 182 times; see full concordance.