Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
There are three different verbs that were spelled as κλειω (kleio) in the dialect of the epic poetry of Homer and followers. Epic Greek was used until the third century BC but became wholly surpassed by Koine Greek (the Greek of the New Testament), in which our verbs are spelled differently and are obviously separate. Still, learned authors such as Paul were undoubtedly aware of these ancient similarities; similarities that would certainly have had meaning to creative poets:
- The verb κλειω (kleio), to shut or close (see below). This is the regular form of this verb.
- The verb κλεω (kleo), to celebrate (see below). The name of the muse Κλειω (Kleio, or Clio) is commonly derived from this verb, although it's spelled the same as the previous verb.
- The verb καλεω (kaleo), to call, from which comes the noun εκκλεσια (ekklesia), the "called-out", the name of the church. In Homeric Greek, this verb was spelled κλειω (kleio).
The verb κλεω (kleo) isn't used in the Bible, but it's generally considered the root of the first part of names like Cleopas and Cleopatra. In Greek literature there is even a Muse called Κλειω (Clio, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, or memory).
Our verb describes a verbal glorifying: to tell about someone, to forward one's fame, to propagandize. In the classics this verb also covered the discussion of men and gods in lyric poetry (since that is what theogonies were designed to do: to forward the fame of a deity by means of discussing his or her deeds).
The only Biblical derivation of our verb is the noun κλεος (kleos), which describes the fame, repute or renown purported by means of the verb. It occurs only once in the New Testament, namely in 1 Peter 2:20.
The verb κλειω (kleio) means to shut or close. As mentioned above, in Homer this verb was spelled identical to κλεω (kleo), to celebrate, and the link between these two meanings also exists within the verb χαιρω (chairo), to be glad or rejoice (hence words like charity and charisma), which stems from the Proto-Indo-European root "gher- I", to like or want. The identical root "gher- II" means to enclose or shut in (hence words like court and garden).
These two meanings meet in words like choir and chorus, which are enclosures in which people celebrate, and the whole bridge is explained by the enigmatic noun ελευθερια (eleutheria), or freedom-by-law: freedom obtained when participants willingly submit to a common law. Without a joint adherence to common rules, there can be no choral singing. And a joint adherence to common rules is also required to obtain freedom of speech, since freedom of speech begins to exist when all speakers begin to adhere to the rules that govern the language. In Galatians 5:1, Paul submits that eleutheria, or freedom-by-law, is the very purpose of the gospel.
Our verb κλειω (kleio), to shut or close, speaks of inclusivity and exclusivity and creates divisions between inner and outer realms. It is used 16 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from: the verb αποκλειω (apokleio), meaning to shut away from, or to shut off (Luke 13:25 only).
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out or from: the verb εκκλειω (ekkleio), to shut out, to exclude (Romans 3:27 and Galatians 4:17 only). Note the similarity with the aforementioned verb εκκαλεω (ekkaleo), to call out, from which derives εκκλεσια (ekklesia), the called-out, or assembly.
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb κατακλειω (katakleio), meaning to shut up, to confine, to imprison (Luke 3:20 and Acts 26:10 only).
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or jointly: the verb συγκλειω (sugkleio), meaning to jointly shut, to collectively capture. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
Obviously related to the previous, the noun κλεις (kleis) means key. There are several keys mentioned in the Bible:
In Luke 11:52, Jesus mentions the key of knowledge, which ties into the great unity of everything that was created (by the Creator who is One). This means that when the accumulation of knowledge results in an ever increasing pile (of facts, rules, truths, and so on), the most important insight is missing, namely that the whole of created reality is a vast fractal, and can be folded onto a singularity once the creases of the self-similarities have been identified. The Lord speaks in parables since the beginning of the world (Psalm 78:2, Matthew 13:35), and the key of knowledge is knowing which things are really slightly varying manifestations of the same fundamental truth. With the key of knowledge, any accumulation of knowledge results in evermore harmony and thus ever less of a pile.
The key of David (Isaiah 22:22, Revelation 3:7) appears to refer to the familiar star of David (or rather, the star is a stylized depiction of the key). There is, of course, no consensus about its much discussed meaning, but to us here at Abarim Publications it seems to draw on the scheme of the creation week, and depict an "atom of complex progression": an instance of divergence that generates an instance of convergence. Our universe exists between the two extremes of singularity and heat death. Particles and the continuum of space and time are possible only in a much narrower window. Complex molecules such as DNA are possible only in a smaller window still. Life began broadly dispersed, as living creatures who were unable to relate to others, but while the nature of the universe is to diverge, the nature of life is to converge (Revelation 1:18). Life grew, learned, became conscious, developed speech and script and learned about the harmonic oneness of the closed universe. That is how life became one, and began to share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4, John 17:21-24, Ephesians 4:24, Hebrews 12:10).
All other keys derive from these two, including the key that gives access to the world's vast reservoirs of emotions, which also includes the minds of animals (Revelation 9:1).
Our noun κλεις (kleis), key, occurs 6 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
Also see our article on the name Miktam.