Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The familiar preposition προ (pro) means before (hence English words like prophet and proactive), and is not to be confused with προς (pros), which describes a motion toward (hence English words like proselyte and prosody). It's cognate with the Latin prefix prae (as in the name Praetorium).
Our preposition is used in spatial and temporal sense, taking on the meanings of "in front of" and "earlier", and is as such the opposite of μετα (meta), meaning in the middle. It may also be used to describe pre-eminence in rank, status, power, virtue, etcetera (most gracefully: προ παντον, pro panton, before everything, or above all — 1 Peter 4:8).
In an unbound state our particle occurs 47 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, but the list of compounds that contain our preposition is enormous. The true derivations of προ (pro) are:
- The adverb πορρω (porro), meaning primitively or distantly in a "not-yet" sense (Matthew 15:8, Mark 7:6 and Luke 14:32 only). From this adverb in turn derives:
- The adverb πρωι (proi), meaning early [in the morning]. The gospel of Mark uses this word as metonym for the morning watch (Mark 13:5). It is used 10 times, see full concordance, and from this word derive:
- The noun πρωιος (proios), denoting the early morning. This noun occurs 4 times; see full concordance.
- The adjective πρωιμος (proimos), meaning early. This word occurs in James 5:7 only, where it does not refer to an early time of day but in the year.
- The adjective πρωινος (proinos), meaning early morning. This word is used only of the morning star (Revelation 2:28 only). Also see our article on the name Lucifer.
- The adjective and superlative of προ (pro), namely πρωτος (protos), meaning "firstest" or very first; foremost. It's used in the New Testament in the sense of first of all (Ephesians 6:2, 1 Timothy 5:12), or even "one of the very first ones" (Matthew 20:8, 26:17). This word became a sort of title for high ranking officials (Mark 6:21, Acts 13:50). Unbound this word occurs 101 times; see full concordance. It's also incorporated in half a dozen compound words, but true derivations are:
- The sometimes adverbially used adjective προτερον (proteron), meaning previous(ly) or former(ly). This word derives from the comparative of πρωτος (protos), foremost of first, namely προτερον (proteron), more foremost or before first, and thus prior to the start of whatever we're talking about. This curious word is used 11 times; see full concordance.
- The verb πρωτευω (proteuo), meaning to be first or have the highest rank (Colossians 1:18 only).
- The adverb πρωτον (proton), meaning first (Matthew 17:10, John 18:13), the first place/time (1 Corinthians 11:18, 1 Peter 4:17) or chiefly, especially (Matthew 6:33, Romans 3:2). This adverb occurs 58 times; see full concordance.