Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb πατεω (pateo) means to tread or trample. It comes from the noun πατος (patos), which means path or beaten track, which brings to mind the made-smooth highway of our Lord (τριβος, tribos), which in turn brings to mind the robe called πατος (patos) of Hera, which in turn was linked to the sacred waters of Argos (see αργυρος, arguros).
It's not clear where our noun πατος (patos) comes from. It probably has nothing etymologically to do with the familiar noun παθος (pathos), or experience. It may relate in some way to the verbs παιω (paio) and πατασσω (patasso), which both mean to strike or hit, and which may ultimately come from the Hebrew verb פתת (patat), to break up or crumble. And it may possible derive from the ancient Proto-Indo-European root pent- from which we also have our verb to find (and possibly the noun path).
In the classics our verb πατεω (pateo) covered two main ideas: (1) that of trampling on, and thus defeating and subduing, and (2) the frequenting of some place. The latter usage also became applied to students who studied certain matter at length and came to master it (Revelation 14:20), which probably explains Luke 10:19.
Our verb is used 5 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb καταπατεω (katapateo), meaning to trample down. This verb is used 5 times, see full concordance, possibly most famously in Matthew 5:13, where Jesus speaks of salt that has lost its saltiness and is hence only suitable to be trampled underfoot. Salt was a currency (hence our word salary), and salt that had lost its saltiness is proverbially identical to fiat money that has inflated into naught. When John envisioned a godly city with a main street paved with gold (Revelation 21:21), he also envisioned the result of a massive inflation of that now so precious metal.
- Together with the preposition περι (peri), meaning around or about: the verb περιπατεω (peripateo), meaning to tread around or walk about (hence our English adjective peripatetic). This verb is the common verb for getting around or going about or even the "walking" of one's life (Mark 7:5, 3 John 1:4) and often implies a walking around in order to teach — to tour — which accounts for this verb's being used a whopping 96 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. From this verb in turn derives:
- Together with the preposition εν (en), meaning in, on or at: the verb εμπεριπατεω (emperipateo), meaning to walk around in. This amazing verb is used only once, in 2 Corinthians 6:16, where it describes God's presence within mankind: strolling about like he once did in Eden (Genesis 3:8, Revelation 21:3; also see our article on the name Immanuel).
The noun απατη (apate) means trick, fraud or deceit, and particularly long-cons or elaborately hatched schemes. Despite its seeming similarity, it has nothing to do with our English word apathy, which instead comes from παθος (pathos), passion.
Still, it's not clear where our noun comes from, although any creative poet might be forgiven to ascribe a pedigree involving the familiar negating α (a), and the noun we discussed above, namely πατος (patos), which means path or beaten track. That would emphasize normalcy as having to do with predictability, and deception with a deviation of whatever is predictable, and subsequent excursions down the garden path.
In the classics, our noun απατη (apate) does not occur as often as one would expect, but the Greek poets cherished trickery and deception, and personified these wily crafts in Apate, daughter of Nyx (νυξ, nux, night).
In the New Testament, our word occurs 7 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- The verb απαταω (apatao), meaning to deceive and that commonly via a complex scheme (rather than, say, a quick sleight of hand): to weave a deceptive web. This verb is used 4 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn comes: