Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb μαχομαι (machomai) means to contend, wrangle, wrestle or fight, but where the English verb tends to emphasize an implied wish to defeat and annihilate an opponent, the Greek verb rather emphasizes the match between equal opponents and the potential betterment for either that results from the match.
Our verb may denote fighting between vast armies or individuals, or against forces of nature or heaven. It may denote a military conflict, a boxing game, a sporting match, a quarrel, a heated discussion, or even an opposition to sound logic or positional consistency. This verb is used 4 times in the New Testament; see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the preposition δια (dia) meaning through or throughout: the verb διαμαχομαι (diamachomai), meaning to thoroughly contend, to exert oneself through and through or strive earnestly (Acts 23:9 only).
- Together with the noun θεος (theos), meaning God: the adjective θεομαχος (theomachos), meaning god-wrangler (Acts 5:39 only). Note that this verb does not so much imply a desire to defeat God, but rather the supposition of equality with God as to warrant a "fight" that's actually a challenge for both (such as Jacob's signature fight with the angel in Genesis 32:24). From this adjective comes:
- The verb θεομαχεω (theomacheo), meaning to wrangle with God (Acts 23:9 only).
- Together with the noun θηριον (therion), wild or undomesticated animal (or people without civilization): the verb θηριομαχεω (theriomacheo), meaning to wrangle wild beasts. As with the adjective θεομαχος (theomachos), god-wrangler, this verb implies sustained combat with an animal that's one's equal. This verb occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:32 only, where Paul reviews the merits of beast-wrangling if it doesn't advantage the man (or beast, perhaps?). The point of beast-wrangling was not to kill the beast (that would have been easier done with a spear or sword) but to somehow derive benefit from it (perhaps some physical or mental training, entertainment or a tamer animal).
- Together with the noun θυμοσ (thumos), which describes intense mental agitation or anger: the verb θυμομαχεω (thumomacheo), meaning to wrestle angrily with, to engage someone out of great offense (Acts 12:20 only).
- Together with the noun λογος (logos), word: the verb λογομαχεω (logomacheo), meaning to wrangle about words (2 Timothy 2:14 only). From this verb in turn comes:
- The noun λογομαχια (logomachia), meaning a fight about words (1 Timothy 6:4 only).
- The noun μαχη (mache) derives from the action of the verb and means battle, combat, contest, a fighting, a struggle, a wrestling. It occurs 4 times; see full concordance, and from it comes:
- Together with the preposition α (a), meaning without: the adjective αμαχος (amachos), meaning without battle, without controversy, without the desire to wrangle others (1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 3:2 only). In the classics this magnificent word is often used to mean unconquerable, or "with whom no one fights." Applied to a place, our word means impregnable. Applied to a woman's beauty it means irresistible. Applied to a statement it means incontestably or unquestionably. This quality signifies a mature mind, or the mind of someone who has found ways to grow and cause to grow other than through imposed frustration and violent retention.