Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The familiar prefix τετρα (tetra) means four but only occurs in compounds. The actual cardinal number four is τεσσαρες (tessares).
Of course, the number four primarily describes a quantity between three and five, but in the narrative structure of the Bible (as well as in our modern sense of symbology), our word τετρα (tetra) often emphasizes the width and breadth of area, or the stability of any "four-square" building or governing structure.
The cardinal number τεσσαρες (tessares), meaning four, occurs 41 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. But it's also a part of the following derivations and compound words:
- Together with the cardinal number δεκα (deka), meaning ten: the cardinal number δεκατεσσαρες (dekatessares), or fourteen. It occurs 5 times; see full concordance.
- With the decimal extension: τεσσαρακοντα (tessarakonta), meaning forty. This word is used 22 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- Together with the ordinal number δεκατος (dekatos), meaning tenth: the ordinal number τεσσαρεσκαιδεκατος (tessareskaidekatos), meaning fourteenth (Acts 27:27 and 27:33 only).
- The ordinal number τεταρτος (tetartos), meaning fourth. It is used 10 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The adjective τεταρταιος (tetartaios), meaning the fourth [day] (John 11:39 only).
|Greek numerals from one to ten|
The prefix τετρα (tetra), meaning four, occurs in the following compounds:
- Together with the noun γωνια (gonia), meaning edge or corner: the adjective τετραγωνος (tetragonos), meaning four-edged in the same way in which a pentagon is five-edged (Revelation 21:16 only, but the Septuagint uses the same word in Exodus 27:1 and Ezekiel 41:21).
- The noun τετρας (tetras), also meaning four. This word only occurs in the New Testament in the diminutive form τετραδιον (tetradion), a quaternion or foursome of soldiers; the standard for a night watch (Acts 12:4 only).
- The adverb τετρακις (tetrakis), meaning four times. This word only occurs in combination with the cardinal number χιλιοι (chilioi), meaning a thousand, to form the cardinal number τετρακισχιλιοι (tetrakischilioi), meaning four thousand. This word occurs 5 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the cardinal εκατον (hekaton), meaning hundred: the cardinal τετρακοσιοι (tetrakosioi), meaning four hundred. It occurs 4 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the noun μην (men), meaning month: the adjective τετραμηνον (tetramenon), meaning of four months (John 4:35 only).
- Together with the adjective απλοος (haploos), meaning single in the sense of straightforwardness: the adjective τετραπλοος (tetraploos) meaning fourfold, in the sense of: four times straight out of the gate! (Luke 19:8 only).
- Together with the noun πους (pous), meaning foot: the adjective τετραπους (tetrapous), meaning four-footed (Acts 10:12, 11:6 and Romans 1:23 only).
- Together with the verb αρχω (archo), meaning to rule: the noun τετραρχης (tetrarches), meaning tetrarch: the ruler of the fourth part of what was previously one region. After Herod the Great's death, his kingdom was divided over three tetrarchs, namely Archelaus of Judea, Agrippa of Galilee and Perea (the area directly east of the Jordan), Philip of the east-Jordanian territories, and a toparch namely Herod the Great's granddaughter Salome I, who had famously asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. This word occurs 4 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The verb τετραρχεω (tetrarcheo), meaning to rule as tetrarch (Luke 3:1 only).
- Together with a derivation of the noun πους (pous), meaning foot: the noun τραπεζα (trapeza, hence our English words "trapezoid" and "trapezium"), which denotes a (four-legged) table of any kind (Matthew 15:27, Luke 16:21, Hebrews 9:2), or that which is set on it (Acts 16:34), but particularly the table used by money changers and lenders (Matthew 21:12, Luke 19:23). Note that the disciples' complaint that they had better things to do than "serve tables" (Acts 6:2) may in fact have not so much to do with what waiters in restaurants do (folks back then didn't dine as we do), but rather with conducting the business-and-logistics side of the ecclesiastical operation (see Matthew 25:27: bring my money "to the tables"). This word occurs 15 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The noun τραπεζιτης (trapezites), meaning a money changer or banker (Matthew 25:27 only).