Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The adjective πραυς (praus) or πραος (praos) is commonly translated as meek (i.e. tame, docile, submissive), but meek is one of those old-school words that nobody uses anymore and hence ends up meaning very little to the average reader. And that's a shame since the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), and it would be nice to know who they are. Jesus describes himself as meek (Matthew 11:29), which means that it's a divine trait, or at least a quality of the omnipotent Word of God, who, not very submissively, "has put everything under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:27).
In the classics, our adjective describes things or sounds that are soft or gentle, and people that are mild and calm. This means that our word is the opposite of loud and hysterical, and rather emphasizes a mighty control over one's expressions, rather than some wimpy inertia.
Jesus went to his crucifixion meek as a lamb (Isaiah 53:7), but not weak as a lamb, but rather strong as a lion, always in full control of his own destiny. As he himself said: "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18).
Our adjective comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root "preh-", meaning to love or please, as the Latin word proprius, hence our English words proper and appropriate, the Germanic frijaz, hence Frieden, meaning peace, and our English words free and friend (as well as the Slavic prijati, to please, hence prijatelj, friend).
Instead of a forced submission to some dominant entity, our word speaks of a mastery of social codes; the kind that crushes all fear and quenches all aggression, and leaves the master in full control of both himself and the goings on. If the master chooses to invest himself in the service of others, even the less talented, that's his prerogative, but his silent submission is never a sign of weakness but always of strength.
Our English words kind and kindness refer to the recognizing of unrelated others as our own kind or even family. This ability is brought about by common language and friendly negotiations, and even more broad by the common law that binds all members of society as if in a common household. Our adjective describes a quality of the ελευθεροι (eleutheroi), the free due to their mastery of law, whose ελευθερια (eleutheria), or freedom-by-law, was by the Greeks philosophers regarded as the highest democratic ideal, and by Paul as the very purpose of the Gospel (Galatians 5:1).
This magnificent word is used 4 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The noun πραυτης (prautes) or πραοτης (praotes), usually translated with meekness but in fact describing a state of calm control and mastery that allows an imperishable friendly kindness. It's a word that's closely associated to the adjective φιλος (philos), meaning beloved or friend. Our noun is used 12 times; see full concordance.