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

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/m/m-e-r-o-sfin.html

μερος

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

μερος

The noun μερος (meros) means share, part or portion. It ultimately derives from a vast proto-Indo-European root "(s)mer-", which is traditionally presented as having two separate branches:

  • (s)mer- I, meaning to remember or care for, hence the Latin noun memoria and thus our English word "memory", and
  • (s)mer- II, meaning to assign or allot, hence the Latin verb mereo, to deserve, and thus the English words "merit" and "emeritus".

It may be that these roots are not etymological related and only accidentally converged and became the same, but more probably is that to the ancients, the abstract idea of a person's memory has always seemed similar to a person's part of the larger human whole. Our vastly complex human reality (our economy, our knowledge, our kaleidoscope of perspectives) and the language in which we describe and thus share these, depends on the principle of Theory of Mind. This in turn means that every single human mind is a node of a network, whose total unified scope and consistency vastly exceeds one single mind. It seems to us here at Abarim Publications that the ancients knew this, or at least that they knew this subconsciously, to which they aligned their preferences, and from which it was instilled in their language.

Our noun μερος (meros) means part: a portion of a larger whole (Luke 24:42, John 19:23, Acts 5:2). It's is often used to describe the "parts" of a larger area, as in our English expression "these parts", which doesn't necessarily actually describe a kind of division but refers to a district and its villages (Matthew 2:22, Acts 2:10) or a central city and its environs (Matthew 15:21, Mark 8:10). But it may also refer broadly to one's heritage, one's reputation or even portfolio of properties (Matthew 24:51, Luke 15:12), business share (Acts 19:27), or sphere of operation (John 13:8). Our word may refer to what we would call the side of a boat (John 21:6), or a sect within a larger religion (Acts 23:6-9).

Together with prepositions our noun may form expressions:

  • with ανα (ana), on, upon or again, it conveys: in turn, successively (1 Corinthians 14:27);
  • with παρα (para), near or nearby, it conveys: in turn, by turns;
  • with κατα (kata), down (from, in, upon, etc.), it conveys: several(ly), in part;
  • with απο (apo), from, it conveys: in specific part, in particular (Romans 11:25);
  • with εν (en), meaning in, on, at or by, it conveys: in turn, in succession, by the side of;
  • with εκ (ek), meaning out or from, it conveys: in particular (1 Corinthians 12:27) or in part (1 Corinthians 13:9);
  • with προς (pros), which describes a motion toward, it conveys: in proportion.

Our noun occurs 43 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:

  • The noun μερις (meris), also meaning a part or portion, but more specifically and formally defined: an individual element, a particular allotment, an individual participation. This noun is used 5 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn derive:
    • The verb μεριζω (merizo), meaning to divide into differing parts, to partition, to create divisions, to divide or sever from a remaining larger whole, to create a faction away from a remaining whole. This verb does not so much describe creating cooperating specializations within a larger unified enterprise (1 Corinthians 1:13), but rather the creation of irredeemable portions of a remaining cache of wealth (Hebrews 7:2), or differing sub-entities irreconcilably away from some original matrix or maternal set (Matthew 12:25). This verb is used 14 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
      • Together with the preposition δια (dia) meaning through or throughout: the verb διαμεριζω (diamerizo), to wholly divide, to divide up. This verb is used 11 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
        • The noun διαμερισμος (diamerismos), which describes the act of entire division, a division of a former whole that is now entirely divided up (Luke 12:51 only).
      • The noun μερισμος (merismos), which describes the act of division, a distribution, a thing that is the result of dividing away from a maternal set (Hebrews 2:4 and 4:12 only).
      • The noun μεριστης (meristes), a person who divides or breaks off chunks, a distributor, which could denote any kind of distributer from someone who wrote horoscopes to someone who passed out breads (Luke 12:14 only).
      • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συμμεριζω (summerizo), to jointly divide (1 Corinthians 9:13 only).
    • The noun μεριμνα (merimna), which describes a mental "part": a care, thought or concern, or, slightly broader: a pursuit or ambition. This noun is often translation rather negatively (deceits, anxieties) but that's unwarranted. This word describes the "things" that the mind is conscious of or is focused on; the "building blocks" of one's reality model or one's picture of the world. And just like a ballerina's world literally differs from the world of a truck driver (or a squirrel's or a dog's or a grass hopper's), so a person who is wholly focused on the Word of God and doesn't sweat the small stuff, lives in a wholly different world than the world of people who are mainly concerned about what to wear or what the neighbors might say about their new shoes. The God of the Bible can be (somewhat boringly) summarized as the oneness of all things (including all living things and all human minds), which is why God is the Creator (and why the Big Bang came out of a singularity), and why all the elements and forces of nature can be unified into some as-of-yet illusive grand unified theory, why all living beings derive from the same ancestral single cellular form, why God is love (1 John 4:8) and love bears all things (1 Corinthians 13:7), and how God makes all things work together for those who love him (Romans 8:28). But it also means that those who love God have in fact only one item in their minds, namely the oneness of all things. People who don't have God in their minds have dust storms in their minds, which is probably rather uncomfortable. Our noun occurs 6 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn come:
      • Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective αμεριμνος (amerimnos), meaning unconcerned, worriless (Matthew 28:14 and 1 Corinthians 7:32 only).
      • The verb μεριμναω (merimnao), meaning to care or be filled or encumbered with many cares and concerns. The idea behind the negativity of this verb is the same as that behind the parent noun: a mind that is focused on God is focused on the oneness of all things, and enjoys the obvious fact that all things work together for the good of those who love God. People who worry a lot probably also worry about a lot of different things, which probably means that they have no knowledge of God, or else that their once-clear understanding of God now sits behind a thick layer of dust and sand that covers most of it up. Ergo, a person who worries about a lot of things is like a house divided against itself. Our verb is used 19 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
        • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before: the verb προμεριμναω (promerimnao), meaning to fret ahead of time (Mark 13:11 only).
  • Together with the adjective πολυς (polus), meaning much or many: the adverb πολυμερος (polumeros), meaning many-sidely, or by way of many "parts" (hence our English word polymer), or many memories, minds and/or many participations. Our adjective occurs only once, in Hebrews 1:1, where it describes how God spoke through the prophets: in many ways and many places.