Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The adjective ολος (olos) means whole and expresses the all-included completeness of a set, and implies a functional unity between members of a set, or an identifiable collective identity of the members. This adjective is closely related to our English words "whole" and "health" (and "hologram") and the familiar German word "Heil".
Our word ultimately stems from the same Proto-Indo-European root "sol-" as do our words "safe" and "solar" and is closely akin the familiar Greek word ηλιος (helios) meaning "sun". Note also that Constantine the Great, in whom modern Christianity began, was a devotee of the Roman deity Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun), and never abandoned his faith.
Our adjective ολος (olos) is used 113 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the adverb καθολου (katholou), meaning "unto wholeness" or "in general" or "universal"; it expresses a motion or intent toward a state of wholeness or inclusivity. It's used only once in the Bible, in Acts 4:18, where Peter and John were ordered to not "at all" or "in no way or form" preach the name of Jesus. The use of this word here also implies that Peter and John weren't only simply preaching Christ, but rather helping the various leanings and opinions find a common center.
From this adverb comes the noun and adjective καθολικος (katholikos), meaning general (hence our English word "catholic"). This word is not used in the New Testament but became applied to the church as early as 110 AD. The use of this word demonstrates that the early church was not at all a unified movement of strict dogma and pious obedience, but rather a broad spectrum of thoughts and concerns expressed by often clashing passions (even at the very core of Christianity, between its two primary pillars, sits dispute: Galatians 2:11) that still, somehow, centered on a glorious core that went beyond all description (Ephesians 3:19).
Contrary to what is commonly believed, the life that begins in Jesus is real life, and the minds that comprise a church should as lively and unregulated as the plants and trees that form a jungle. The Roman emperor Constantine didn't like mental jungles very much (they're hard to rule) and cut the whole thing down and paved what was left with the concrete of dogma and doctrines. Fortunately for all of us, the concrete of Constantine's imperial Christianity (that today exists as Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy) has been cracking since it was first laid down, and soon it will crumble altogether and life will burst out in the wild open (Revelation 21:22).
- Together with the noun κληρος (kleros), which denotes a share in the commercial sense of the word: the adjective ολοκληρος (holokleros), meaning in full control of all one's faculties (1 Thessalonians 5:23 and James 1:4 only). It describes not merely holding all shares, like a bunch of flowers in one's hand, but rather the whole of a company's actions, positions and workings. It describes not merely the elements but the living whole of all the elements.
This fascinating word describes the human condition that existed in deep antiquity, long before humans developed speech but when people still understood the whole of everything (like pre-speech children: Matthew 18:10). The power of formalization is of course such a formidable gift that no child needs to be forced to learn it, but we also know since Kurt Gödel that all formal systems are condemned to remain incomplete.
That in turn means that in order to attain an understanding of the whole of everything — that every human being once had and still deeply yearns for — a glue-like cohesive element of unspeakable essence is absolutely required. In fact, one could say that although the invention of the noun (which allowed God to talk with mankind) led to the invention of script (which allowed God to deposit his Word in written form), which in turn led to the invention of libraries and academia (which allowed the Word to come in the flesh), which in turn led to the printing press (see John 21:25) and finally the Internet and most recently blockchain technology (see 1 Corinthians 15:24), one will never find the whole of everything without an certain element that can never be formalized. One could say that this crucial unformalizable element is the very capstone that holds the whole building of reason and wisdom together (Matthew 21:42, 1 Corinthians 14:4, 2 Corinthians 9:15, Colossians 3:14, 1 Peter 2:5). From this awesome word in turn comes:
- The noun ολοκληρια (holokleria), which describes the condition of being in full control of all faculties: missing neither a single formal element nor the glue of unspeakable informality that keeps them together. This magnificent noun occurs in Acts 3:16 only.
- Together with the noun τελος (telos), meaning end or completion: the adjective ολοτελης (holoteles), meaning total completion (1 Thessalonians 5:23 only).
- The adverb ολως (holos), meaning wholly, completely or generally. This adverb is used 4 times; see full concordance.